Video Contest News - Part 2 Video Contest News – Featuring News about Video Contests!

A look inside Poptent’s abandoned office space

The story of Poptent’s demise is starting to gain some traction in the media. The Fox affiliate in Philadelphia paid a visit to Poptent’s offices to see if anyone was left.  There wasn’t…

That was pretty sad. I’m glad Poptent doesn’t owe me any money because if they did, the sight of that empty office space would make me go berserk. It feels like the jerks in charge just locked the doors and skipped town.  If Poptent DOES owe you money, the time has probably come for you to get a lawyer.  A few people over on the poptent forums have been discussing their legal options.  Head here if you’re interested in maybe joining some kind of class action suit or if you just want to add your name to the growing list of filmmakers that were stiffed by the company:


Userfarm “de-merges” with Poptent and shuts down Vizy, Poptent may be heading for bankruptcy

RIP Vizy: 2015 - 2015

RIP Vizy: 2015 – 2015

In January 2015, Poptent and Userfarm announced that they were merging to form the largest crowdsourced Video company in the world.  The new site, was launched just a few weeks ago but it seems that the company and the merger may already be dead.  As of today, is offline, Poptent’s Chairman and CEO Nick Pahade has “moved away” from Vizy, most or possibly all of Poptent’s staff members have either quit or been laid off and the locks have been changed on Poptent’s Headquarters in Philadelphia.  Over in the UK, the Userfarm team is working quickly to sever their ties to Poptent and Vizy.  This morning they slapped their name on Vizy’s slick new website and moved it to  The deal was sealed a few hours later when Userfarm sent this message to their members:

userfarm-message The message comes off as a bit disingenuous because Userfarm wasn’t “with” Vizy….they WERE Vizy.  That’s why Userfarm was able to just stick their old name on the new website.  It retrospect it seems like Userfarm was the driving force behind this so-called merger.  As far as I can tell, Poptent only brought four things to the table; a few hundred active member accounts, tens of thousands of inactive member accounts, a handful of staff members and a mountain of debt.

And that debt is probably why Vizy imploded right in front of our eyes.  All these recent developments have sent scores of Video Contest Filmmakers into a furious panic because Poptent still owes a lot of people a lot of money.  These folks either won prizes in Poptent contests in late 2014/early 2015 or they were hired directly by Poptent to create content for Brands.  Poptent always gets paid by their clients BEFORE they launch their video assignment.  This process ensured that clients couldn’t back out if they didn’t like any of the videos that were submitted.  But it also meant that Poptent was able to pay the winning filmmakers as soon as the clients made their picks.

But last fall Poptent reduced their payouts to a tiny trickle of cash.  The staff blamed the delays on the impending merger and they promised that once their investors came through the company would pay everyone in full.  But according to the grapevine, Poptent’s investors never delivered on their promises and that’s why Userfarm cut them loose.

I’ve tried to contact several staff members from Poptent, Vizy, and Userfarm but I haven’t gotten an official response or explanation about what’s going on.  But that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking.  A few ex-Poptent employees were happy to share the gruesome details of the doomed merger with some of the filmmakers that contacted them last week.  I’m going to list some of their most important assertions.  Please keep in mind that these “facts” have been told to me second hand.  However, at least a half dozen filmmakers have contacted me and explained that one or more high-level Poptent employees (that were involved in the merger) have told them the following:
1.  Vizy has “de-merged” with Poptent.  The decision was made by Userfarm at their European HQ.

2.  Filmmakers and employees are owed more than $500,000 in prize money, back-pay and benefits.  It’s unclear if Poptent alone owes that $500K or if Userfarm, Poptent and Vizy combined owe that much.

3.  Poptent can not afford to pay off their debts.  The company may continue to send everyone small amounts to stave off legal action for as long as possible.

4.  Poptent is probably going to have to declare bankruptcy.

5.  If Poptent declares bankruptcy, there is almost no chance that any filmmakers will ever receive the money they are owed.

6.  At least one former Poptent/Vizy employee is telling filmmakers that it’s time for them to talk to a lawyer.

7.  The Poptent website is going to get shut down by the end of the month.
I’ve also heard from several sources that Userfarm may be in financial trouble too.  Apparently they have also fallen way behind on their payments and they have filmmakers who are also worried that they’ll never get paid.

This whole story is incredibly sad and I’m deeply disappointed by the actions of everyone who was involved in this merger.  To me it looks like they “borrowed” money that was earmarked for filmmakers and gambled that cash on a risky and ill-conceived merger.  The bet didn’t pay off and now the folks in charge are just shrugging their shoulders and walking away.

I’ll have more on this story later this week.  If Poptent or Vizy or Userfarm owes you money, I’d like to hear from you.  E-mail me at or leave a comment below.


Here’s what happens when you let Facebook Likes determine the winner of your video contest

Every spring a moving company named Arpin Van Lines runs a video contest and every year the winners of that contest absolutely blow.  That’s because Arpin always lets “the public” determine the winners via a facebook app.  The video that gets the most likes wins $3,000.  These types of contests used to be really common but they basically went extinct a few years ago because everyone realized that you can just BUY thousands of Facebook likes on a site like  Here’s the video that Arpin gets to give three grand to this year:

I think that was literally the lamest winning video contest entry I’ve ever seen.  But in a weird way I sort of respect the guy who made this.  He knew that he was just going to cheat so why should he put any effort into his video?  It’s almost like he was thumbing his nose at the people who decide to run such a lousy contest.  So enjoy your cash buddy…. you gave the sponsors exactly what they wanted; a bunch of new facebook likes.


The Sony A7S’ low-light capabilities will boggle the brains right out of your skull


The Sony A7S

“Crowdsourced Video” and Consumer-Made ads were an unexpected consequence of the DSLR revolution.  Back in the late 00’s, prosumer HD videocameras were still pretty expensive.  Most “amateurs” couldn’t afford $5,000 for a new Panasonic HVX-200.  But once the first generation of HD-DSLRs hit the market, regular dudes were able to buy high-quality HD video cameras at Best Buy for less than a thousand bucks.  But DSLRs always felt like Franken-tech to me; they were made for still photography but they could also do some of the things that real videocameras could do.  I think most videographers knew that that’d eventually they’d be replaced by gear that was a little more….robust.   Well, the next gen of promsuer HD cameras arrived last year with the introduction of several great mirrorless cameras.  But the king of the mirrorless cameras might be Sony’s A7S.  That’s because the A7S can basically film in the f*cking dark.  It’s low light capabilities are so astounding that you can use this camera to shoot believable Night for Day footage.  To understand what the heck I’m talking about, check out this review by the most famous DSLR-shooter in the world, Phillip Bloom.  Skip ahead to 21:05 to see some shocking “daylight” shots that were filmed in Central park at 9PM:

The A7S is able to get these types of shots because the camera can shoot clean footage at ridiculously high ISOs.  Footage from a normal DSLR will start to look grainy above 800 ISO.  And by 3200 the footage will look downright terrible.  But the A7 can shoot at 40,000 or more with very little grain.  It’s an amazing technological breakthrough that’s going to totally change the way low-budget films are made.  Documentary filmmakers, Guerrilla Filmmakers and even wedding and event videographers will be able to shoot great-looking footage on the fly using nothing but available light.  And if you actually have time to set up a few lights, you’ll be able to create some truly wonderful looks.  As Bloom demonstrates in his video, he was able get some mesmerizing footage just by lighting a match in front of the camera.  For christsakes, you can even use the moon as a lightsource….

I should mention that the A7S has been out for months so for all I know there’s already some new mirrorless camera on the market that can shoot by the light of fireflies or those sparks that happen inside your mouth when you crunch down on certain types of mints. So if you’re interested in buying one (currently $2,000ish without a lens on amazon) you might want to google around first and see if the next-gen next-gen camera has been released yet.


We Want Schwebel’s jingle contest winners


Nice work guys….nice work.

A few weeks ago I met some friends for dinner and on the drive home my back tooth started to hurt.  The pain just got worse and worse and worse and by the time I got home, it felt like I had an icepick stuck in my temple.  The depths and intensity of my agony is simply indescribable.  I was actually worried that the pain might cause me to have a heart attack or something.  So around midnight I jumped in my car and drove to the emergency room.   It turns out that I needed a root canal and somehow my tooth was causing pain in the Trigeminal nerve in my jaw.  I felt like an idiot for going to the emergency room for a toothache but as I learned later, Trigeminal nerve pain is considered “one of the most painful conditions seen in medicine.”  So I guess going to the ER was the right call.  A doctor came in and shot some Novicane-like stuff right into my nerve and in 10 minutes I was feeling 100 times better.

The next morning I made a 9AM appointment with the first dentist that would take my insurance.  About two hours into my root canal the receptionist came in to say that there was some kind of mix up and my insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure.  Woops.

So anyway, my insurance covered some of my trip to the ER but when all was said and done, my stupid tooth wound up costing me about $3,000.  I’ve never in my life had actual, serious, medical bills and I wanted to pay them off as quickly as possible.  So what did I do?  I entered a video contest, of course!  I did a quick search and shot a last minute entry for the biggest and best open contest I could find.  And that wound up being he Schwebel’s Bread Jingle contest.  I literally shot and edited my entire submission on the day of the deadline.  My act of desperation wound up paying off because last week I found out that my weird puppet-themed entry had won the $5,000 grand prize!

This is my first video contest win of 2015 but it’s also my first video contest entry of 2015.  So we’re five months into the year and I’m still technically undefeated!  Maybe if I break my foot I’ll have enough motivation to go out and win another contest soon.

To see the winners of the Schwebel’s contest, head here:


How much do popular Youtubers make?

If I had to guess, I would estimate that roughly 20% of my knowledge and 10% of my wisdom has come directly from puppets.  Grover taught me the alphabet, Pinocchio taught me to be honest, Cookie Monster taught me how to eat without swallowing and Team America World Police taught me that the USA is f*cking awesome.  And now thanks to “Professor Puppet” I finally understand how youtube monitization works.  A lot of goofballs are getting rich thanks to that website but few outsiders know just how much these people are earning.  That’s because youtube tells their partners that they’ll un-affiliate their asses if they speak publicly about how much ad revenue they get.  But Professor Puppet here isn’t afraid of losing that steady stream of easy money.  In this surprisingly informative video, he lays out exactly how the monitization process works and then he goes over some “hypothetical” earnings scenarios.  It sounds like the Prof is friends with a few successful youtubers so I have a feeling his estimates are pretty close to the real figures.

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