Video podcasts—or “vidcasts”—are video components to a podcast and uses the same RSS syndication method for delivering material to users. These are often used by big businesses like CNN and TED Talks, but they are nothing new to small-time podcasts either.
Here’s my deal: For many podcasts, they are not making a distinction between a vidcast or a YouTube series. There are jump cuts, swipe edits, the typical “hi, guyyyys” that seems synonymous with so many videos, and occasionally video clips that are somewhat shaded by fair use. So I have to ask if you want to make video, why don’t you focus on YouTube content rather than spend time and money on editing and uploading audio content?
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t make vidcasts. I think when they’re done right, they are great entertainment. In fact, I’m not even saying you can’t make YouTube videos if you’re a podcaster. So many YouTubers now have podcasts, and podcasters have YouTube videos. Interweaving media is a smart way to attract new audiences if you have the time, appropriate equipment, and willingness to be in front of a camera. However, we all need to recognize that defining line between video and podcasts.
A YouTube video relies on visual stimulation, whereas podcast focuses on the auditory senses.
So here’s the litmus test of vidcast versus a YouTube video: If you are in a car and you get in a wreck or get pulled over because you were watching your phone, that is a YouTube video. If you can focus on the road and feel like you’re not missing anything by listening to said content, that is a vidcast.
For example, I would technically consider one of my favorite YouTube shows Vaginal Fantasy, Felicia Day’s romance book club, a vidcast. They used Google+ Hangouts, which was newly renovated as YouTube Live, and they drink alcohol and discuss the romance book they had to read that month. Is it fun to watch? Yes, but I can still listen to it on a walk with the dog or in bad traffic without missing much. No, they don’t have a podcast feed, but they could easily rip the audio and put it up with minimal editing and still have the same effect.
On the other hand, the education series Crash Course hosted by brothers John and Hank Green relies on a video to convey information regarding science, literature, philosophy, etc. They use the cutest animation possible; it’s awesome! However, if I tried to consume that while driving, I would die because watching it is a very important part of the experience. That’s also the unfortunate thing about TED Talks since some of them have PowerPoints as well as live demonstrations. They are not good rush hour or workplace entertainment.
Obviously, I am not the Queen Supreme of Podcasting who makes laws and rules. Podcasters are entitled to running their podcasts in their own way, and if vidcasts work for them, then they should do it. What I do believe is that the video incorporated should be used as a supplementary element of podcasting rather than the soul focus. Mic drop—no, no, wait, that’s my Blue Yeti microphone, NO, NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.