When YouTube was first getting started, all you really needed was a webcam and an Internet connection to create videos and build an audience.
But now there’s a lot that YouTube creators can do to improve the quality of their channels. YouTube itself has invested in its creators in a number of ways, launching national ad campaigns and providing venture capital to top channels.
The company has also opened YouTube Spaces in Los Angeles, New York City, London, and Tokyo, where YouTube creators with at least 10,000 subscribers can use sound stages, editing bays, and camera equipment for free.
“We invest in our creators in a myriad of ways, and the Space is a tangible resource that can help creators towards their goal of building a business on YouTube,” Liam Collins, head of the YouTube Space LA, said to Business Insider.
We visited the YouTube Space in Los Angeles to see those resources firsthand.
The YouTube Space Los Angeles, located in the city's Playa Vista neighbourhood, officially opened in January 2013.
The studio is part of a cluster of buildings that were once a hub for Howard Hughes' aircraft company. A helicopter in the courtyard pays homage to the area's aviation roots.
Totaling 41,000 square feet of space, the building has production stages, green screens, cameras, and electrical and grip equipment. This stage can accommodate audiences of between 100 and 150 people and has hosted a number of interesting setups. One Direction recently did a seven-hour livestream event from this stage, and Legendary Pictures brought massive sets from 'Godzilla' for YouTube creators to play around with.
YouTubers must have at least 10,000 subscribers to be eligible to use the space. 'The Spaces around the world serve as incubators that accelerate what can happen when you bring creative people together and offer production and educational resources that best meet their needs,' Collins said. Here's where they can check out cameras and sound equipment, all of which they can use for free.
Being close to the entertainment hub of the world is definitely an advantage for YouTubers. '(The Space) has become a place where some of the most creative talent from Hollywood and YouTube are now convening and we've been able to offer opportunities for creators to connect their content around pop culture moments coming out of Hollywood,' Collins said. During the Halloween season, director Guillermo del Toro partnered with YouTubers to create massive horror house sets that they could use to film videos for their channels.
We entered one of the green-screen rooms to find the creators of popular comedy channel 'Most Popular Girls in School' hard at work.
The show is essentially 'Mean Girls' for Barbies, using stop-motion animation to act out a plot line heavy on high school drama. Creators Carlo Moss (left) and Mark Cope (right) are using the YouTube Space to speed up production of the show's fourth season. 'Using the stages, we were really able to condense time. It really worked amazingly. It's the first time on this show that I'm really working 9-5 instead of 80 hours,' Cope said.
The premise for the Most Popular Girls in School may seem silly, but the show has an extremely dedicated fanbase of more than 780,000 subscribers. Cope told us that when they went to VidCon, the annual convention for YouTube creators, one fan who had traveled from Argentina was hyperventilating at the sight of their Brittnay doll. 'We were able to really make the characters happen,' Moss said.
For years, Cope animated the show on his own, usually taking a full week to complete an episode. Because YouTube has approved them to use the YouTube space for free, the show was able to bring on the help of professional animators, who can work on two different episodes at once. Cope and Mess can now produce their show three times faster than before. 'I've never animated this fast before,' one animator told us.
The team can then use this audio control room, located just down the hall from the green room, to record the voice track for each episode.
Some TV networks have made use of the facilities as well. The Oprah Winfrey Network has spent several months at the YouTube Space working on improvements to their digital programming.
OWN had reserved the production control room, which has 10 touchscreen monitors in addition to a 13-screen customisable monitor wall.
All of that equipment requires a ton of wiring. The design team purposely left off some floor tiles so you could see their handiwork.
The space also provides training for creators looking for some extra help. Workshops cover topics -- like creative strategy and audience development -- that are important for people trying to build a presence on YouTube.
On top of all that workspace, there's plenty of room for YouTubers to hang out in between takes. This lobby has served as the setting for a lot of different videos, including an episode of 'Video Game High School' and a live concert event with Tyler Oakley.
Garage doors open the lobby area to an outdoor lounge area. The Space hosts weekly happy hours where anyone can come mingle with the YouTube community.
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