Watching a video go (almost) viral

It seems that hovering over a computer, waiting for a video to go viral is kind of like watching paint dry or waiting for water to boil. If the conditions are right, you know those things will happen. On the other hand, if there isn't enough heat under the kettle, or the video isn't appealing enough, no amount of staring at them will change the results. And in neither case will fixing your eyes on it produce results any faster. Somehow, we found ourselves doing it anyway.

We have quite a collection of videos building. A few of our favorites are in the video portfolio on More random stuff, including outtakes, things not quite relevant to our usual medium, and favorites posted by other people can be found on our YouTube channel. A week ago we created one of those random, off-beat pieces that steps outside of our usual art work. And we shared it on our blog. We didn't expect everyone to go crazy over it. It amused us, like some of our other adventures in food art. This time, it was an experiment in stop-motion animation with Oreo cookies. Kelly had carved a cameo out of the cream of an Oreo before. She wanted to take it further. I gotta tell ya, carving frame after frame of an animation is definitely taking things further.

I could talk for a while about the technical aspects of creating the video, but in reality it was kind of a dull process. Kelly opened cookies and carved the filling with needles and Exacto blades. I shot everything with a DSLR camera and assembled the frames into a movie. There were no fancy guides used to position cookies in each new frame. There was no fancy software to do onion skinning or motion tracking. We didn't even use our good studio lighting. We just worked on the dining room table while the kids were out. The process was made better only by the need to eat our mistakes and wash them down with a bit of milk before anyone else could see them.

The fun part was watching social media as this thing took off. We posted it like every other video we've made. People loved it. We've had popular videos before. We've even had things that generated more web traffic for us than this did. Still, this was different. This was a 30 second video that we did because it was a silly idea and it generated more varied responses than normal. We were fascinated by the reactions we saw and had to keep watching what was being said in various places around the web.

Here are some of the things that happened that made us think it had viral potential:

  • In under a week, the video had been viewed over 10,000 times. That's not quite viral yet. But the fact that it had reached that level with very little promotion on our part was a strong indicator that other people liked it enough to share it. 
  • We started seeing copies of our video on other sites that we didn't post it to. I'm not talking about embedding our youtube video in another site. That would be fine with us. It would still be our video that we controlled, with our names attached to it. But some folks actually downloaded it from youtube and uploaded it to their own accounts on other video sharing sites without crediting us. That's not cool. On the other hand, we decided that if someone wanted to steal it that badly, we must really be on to something.
  • Our work has appeared a few times on the pages of Make and Craft. As really big fans of them, we always get excited when we get a mention. We never expected to see our food art in there.
  • We appeared on This was a first for us. We were under "The Next Big Thing" category for a while. We sat and watched it move up and down the page, always hoping it would hit "What's Hot." Oh well.
  • We started seeing our names copied so often that misspellings were showing up. And the misspellings were being copied. I wonder if after long enough, misspellings of misspellings would reach the level that we have all new names. (Maybe that explains the case above where we couldn't find our names in the credits.)
  • We started seeing tweets crediting Nabisco for an awesome new ad. Well, we admit, this was unintentionally an ad for Oreo. To us it was just a medium to work with, but it's true that no other cookie would have been quite the same.
  • We seem to have created a new job category: Oreo stylist. It was the best way to describe the job Kelly did on the video. Surprisingly, people started using the term in blogs. We even saw a couple people say they wanted that job. 
  • And now Huffington Post had an awesome article about it our fun little animation. The best part is that it was in the food section. We've ended up on blogs under categories like "art" and "weird". But we've never been listed under food before. Maybe we should dump the whole balloon thing and do only edible art.

More than 1,000 views a day is really nice. Not nearly viral, but it's still nice to know people like it. thanks for all the support and sharing of it. Maybe if it gets shared by our regular followers a few more times we'll get to be the next viral sensation out there. If any of you want to help us accomplish that, we'd be grateful.