After a few months of talking with Julio Ojeda-Zapata about the videoblog phenomenon, I'm thrilled that the story is published on the front page of today's Pioneer Press. Woo-hoo!

Left: Chuck and Lori smell flowers. Right: An area retarded man.

From home movies to polished productions, the Web is festooned with video clips

VIDEO: Chuck gets the early morning paper: Quicktime [10 MB] | Flash [8 MB]

Here are links to the videoblogs mentioned in the article:

  • Green Green Water documentary vlog
  • Starfire (Scott Lunt): Le Garage
  • Barrett Chase: The Product
  • Better Life Media ("What Makes You Happy?" video)
  • Rocketboom (my Living Green Expo story)
  • ...and of course, my own Secret Vlog Injection.


  • Chuck Olsen's video-blog tour
  • Vlogs: sites, background and resources

    From home movies to polished productions, the Web is festooned with video clips

    Pioneer Press

    Documentarian Dawn Mikkelson has fought to get an ecological opus, "Green Green Water," funded and finished. Now the St. Paul-based filmmaker has a new way to spread the word about her pet project: a video Web log, or "vlog," with online samples of the work in progress.

    Call it Blogging 3.0. The Internet's now-ubiquitous text-based Web logs and its audiocentric "podcasts" are being upstaged by newfangled video blogs consisting primarily of moving imagery. From Duluth and Minneapolis to Mikkelson's downtown St. Paul digs, a new breed of bloggers is festooning sites with pithy, click-to-view clips.

    The local vloggers aren't alone. Video bloggers across the country are proliferating to the point where big names in the tech and media realms have begun to take notice.

    Google, the Web-search giant, recently solicited home-brewed footage for use online. Open Media Network, a Net firm backed by Web-browser pioneer Marc Andreessen, aims to provide a mixture of professional and vlog-based video. Current, a cable-TV network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, is focusing on "short form" shows. It has staged a series of video-submission contests, offering the winners money to develop programs for the network.

    But vloggers don't necessarily need the MSM — blog-head shorthand for "mainstream media" — to get their work seen. Some are assembling their own media mini-empires. Rocketboom, a top vlog, has evolved from a Manhattan-focused amateur newscast into one that is recruiting national correspondents. The correspondents include Chuck Olsen of Minneapolis, who recently filed his first vlogcast from the Living Green Expo at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

    Olsen, a prolific videographer and creator of the recent blog-themed "Blogumentary" documentary, has tirelessly preached the vlogging gospel. He maintains his own vlog, Secret Vlog Injection. He has a companion site, Minnesota Stories, in the works. He's jazzed up the left-leaning local New Patriot political blog with video, and is mulling a New Patriot vlog. He's sweet-talked the CEO of a local company into toting a tiny video camera for a firm vlog.

    Olsen also has helped guide Mikkelson's firm, Aquaries Media, as it prepares "Green Green Water" for an autumn release.

    "Green Green Water," being created with a California production partner, details the effects of hydroelectric dams on the aboriginal Pimicikamak and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nations of Northern Manitoba. The movie has a Minnesota connection because Xcel Energy is among the U.S. utilities that buy dam-generated electrical power from Manitoba Hydro, a lead figure in the film.

    Yet few Twin Citians are aware of the topic, Mikkelson said. Rather than wait for her film to debut and, she hopes, make an impact, she is raising awareness now with a vlog featuring portions of interviews with people on both sides.

    This vlog, like others, demonstrates a growing potential for distributing video online. Internet users can subscribe to vlog "feeds" using tools called "aggregators" that alerts them when the sites have been updated.

    The latest aggregators, including the Web-based Mefeedia.com and software called ANT, are intended for vlog watching because they organize video for convenient consumption. Those using ANT on their Macintosh computers — a Windows version of the program is on the way — can access the footage they've automatically downloaded in a TV-like lineup with a bit of "Green Green" here and "Vlog Injection" selections over there.

    Other Minnesota vlogs in such an ANT array might include "Le Garage" and "The Product," both out of Duluth.

    Scott Lunt, creator of "Le Garage," said he got into vlogging because "I'm not a really good writer, and I never felt super comfortable with it." With the digital camcorder and laptop computer he carries everywhere, however, he can film and fine-tune visual nuggets of northern-Midwest life to amuse his subscribers. "I just like the happy accidents of a bunch of raw footage that would be boring without a little editing and music."

    Barrett Chase, author of "The Product," is proof that vloggers don't need fancy, expensive recording equipment to make an impact on the Web. He creates his vlog fodder using a compact, low-cost digital-still camera of the sort that also records low-resolution video onto its flash-storage card in 10- to 15-minute spurts.

    That gear recently was enough to create a multichapter masterpiece, "Making Beer w/Barrett and Paul," filmed with a pal. And one recent dawn, when Barrett, a postal worker, had finished a night shift and couldn't fall asleep, he wandered nearby Superior, Wis., and captured the eerie "detritus of the night before. On the video, it looks how it felt (at the time), bleak and just strange."

    In a sign that vlogging might spread into the business world, one local CEO has dabbled a bit in video-blog posting with a push from Olsen. The vlog veteran equipped Eric Worre, head of Hopkins-based Better Life Media, with a tiny video camera that stores footage on a miniaturized hard drive.

    The firm, which aims to become a self-improvement-themed media giant, eventually posted a handful of vlogs with such titles as, "What makes you happy?" "How not to suck at sales" and "A search for the soul of kindness."

    Olsen said the company has been less prolific and enthusiastic a corporate vlogger than he envisioned. But hey, the vlog evangelist said, it's a start.

    May 16, 2005 at 05:07 AM in Videoblogging | Permalink


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    Awsome Chuck! Congratulations, great article.

    Posted by: Verdi at May 16, 2005 7:47:47 AM

    Interesting the religious connotations they use when talking about you: "vlogging gospel","preach" and "evangelist". Could you be the second coming, Chuck?

    Posted by: David at May 16, 2005 8:30:31 AM

    aw chuck, you so famous. i'm honored to be mentioned in the same article. too bad they didn't put in the url's.

    is it warm in mpls?


    Posted by: starfire at May 16, 2005 8:35:34 AM

    They cut out all the parts where I said - don't get "left behind" by vlogging or you might "burn eternally in hell." Not sure why they'd edit that out... [this comment edited to be slightly less offensive.]

    starfire: it's warming up slowly. i bet you're frozened. also? i made a little video of going to get the paper at 5:30 am this morning, trying to compress it now but Squeeze keeps crashing. please standby.

    Posted by: chuck at May 16, 2005 8:36:09 AM

    I imagine you weren't getting up at 5:30am, but that you had stayed up, am I right? Looking forward to the video. And I have to get myself to the store to grab a paper. Can't remember the last time I purchased one...

    Posted by: Sharyn at May 16, 2005 8:48:39 AM

    Congratulations Chuck! You're may get the residents of this tech-savvy metro area to actually be tech-savvy after all. Our saviour?

    Posted by: tom at May 16, 2005 8:53:45 AM

    What a pleasant surprise! I read the strib, but happened to check out PPress online.

    Posted by: Rena at May 16, 2005 9:58:45 AM


    the paper version has the URL's.

    My bad.

    Posted by: starfire at May 16, 2005 11:19:00 AM

    Why don't they have the links in the online version? Are they afraid that's too much of an endorsement of unknown content?

    Posted by: Lorika at May 16, 2005 11:34:36 AM


    the pioneer press is so slow though. i heard about that stuff on your site a LOOONG long time ago, jeesh!

    Posted by: jess at May 16, 2005 2:30:19 PM

    yae! on this vlog - i love how you don't forget to stop and "smell" the roses... or uh whatever type of flowers those were on the way to pick up the paper. :)

    Posted by: Zadi at May 16, 2005 6:04:08 PM

    You're fucking famous man! Congratulations!

    I've been saying lately that we need to use the word 'festooned' more often. And there it was, at the beginning of the article.

    Hey, if this doesn't become a money-maker, the video shows that SuperAmerica is now hiring.

    Posted by: Johnny at May 16, 2005 6:21:42 PM

    i love 'festooned'!
    festooned with criminiality... (mr. show)
    yeah, I need that SuperAmerica job right about now.

    Posted by: chuck at May 16, 2005 6:24:09 PM

    In reply to Starfire: You're right, we should have put the vlog links online, as we did in the dead tree edition. My bad. They're in now, added to the vlog-resource page.

    Posted by: Julio Ojeda-Zapata at May 16, 2005 9:00:40 PM

    I just want to post a comment in this epic article.

    Posted by: Chris Koehn at May 16, 2005 11:01:57 PM

    We were pretty excited to see our friends on the front page of the paper, but, I dare say, not as excited/happy as that flower was to see you two. (perhaps it's the photo).

    I can't WAIT to see some garden vlogs! SEXY! (I won't tell anyone you're peddling in flora porn).

    Posted by: quasmaam at May 16, 2005 11:24:43 PM

    this article was great!
    really accurate
    nice work chuck!

    Posted by: ryanne at May 19, 2005 11:56:32 PM

    this is a real feat.
    it was completely accurate and put in perspective. you must have really influenced them. usuallynthey write all kinds of hald-baked facts.
    good for you.

    Posted by: jay dedman at May 20, 2005 12:23:48 AM

    merci ry + jay.
    i spent a fair amount of time sharing what i know
    with julio, but more importantly, he wanted to hear
    and learn all about it. we need more journalists like
    that eh? (and less half-baked predetermined
    storylines before even talking to people.)

    Posted by: Chuck at May 20, 2005 12:48:26 AM