Remember the days before you could even click on a link to read an article on the internet, let alone to find news about the automotive industry? We used to read the latest reviews and comparisons and salivate over photos of cars in magazines from some of the biggest automotive media names; Motor Trend, Car and Driver, Hot Rod, Super Street, Import Tuner, Consumer Reports, and the list goes on. We would wait for our favourite shows like Top Gear and the various reality automotive customization shows to come on TV and sit down to catch episodes. Some more intrepid and younger enthusiasts would buy DVD box sets of Japanese automotive TV shows, waiting for the latest cut of racing, tuning, and lifestyle from across the ocean to arrive.
Now think about this; there is an entirely new generation of automotive enthusiasts that has little to no idea of what that means. A generation of hyper-connected gear heads that stay on top of and contributes to the latest trends and advances in car culture through organic and authentic content on social media. You follow a local friend or someone across the world on YouTube and Instagram with their build. You like their posts, get in touch with them online, learn how to work on cars and share your lifestyle with them as YouTubers who make videos that entertain you, because, in truth, they’re just like you.
YouTube and Facebook will turn eleven and twelve years old respectively this year. In the more than a decade of their existence, they have not only given content and media creators and entirely new platform to communicate with, but by their nature of accessibility have allowed an entirely new breed of content creators to revolutionize our media, and collectively change how we consume it. Automotive content is no exception. Many of the aforementioned names in automotive media have moved their shows and/or are producing new content online, engaging through YouTube and other social media outlets alongside their websites. But what’s more exciting is seeing new grassroots names, the people just like you and I who are making car and youth culture orientated videos particularly in the form of reviews, test drives, event coverage, often combined or done in the format of highly relatable video logs, or “vlogs”. That’s a neologism so new my computer’s dictionary doesn’t recognize it yet.
What is it about these vlogs and the “vloggers” behind them that makes them so relatable? For starters, the fact that they’re often produced by one person teams or a group of friends who are as already mentioned several times, a lot like you and I with our group of friends. There’s a sense of authenticity, trust, and camaraderie that comes from an ordinary person being able to pick up a camera and share both their youth and car enthusiasm with others in a mostly unfiltered way, doing the same things you like to do; driving, wrenching, hanging out. A significant source of appeal is based on the fact that cars while a major hobby are another part of life, and sharing the realities of life is something we all naturally want to do. Having a great sense of humor and developing a sense of confidence and comfort behind the camera helps as well, along with exponentially improving the quality of videos produced.
Creators including Adam LZ, Evan Shanks, TJ Hunt, and That Dude in Blue on YouTube to name a few (links at the end) are to use a very millennial phrase “changing the game”. So much so that even major automotive media houses have begun to take on their video production style. These YouTubers are in a unique way filling a void after the departure of many major automotive TV shows, including what many would agree on as the demise of one of the greatest, not to mention statistically most watched TV shows in the world; Top Gear. The British one to be specific, known the world over for its mind-boggling and rightly so award winning camera work and editing that presented cars and automotive adventures with all the associated emotion in stunningly visually engaging ways. Yes, video quality is paramount, not just in terms of hosts being great on camera and what’s being shot and shared, but how it’s made and produced especially given the continuous advances in technology. After all, none of this would exist without constant positive creativity and innovation, would it?
The presence of so many creators from all types of media using the same platforms to distribute their work, take YouTube, for example, has to lead to extraordinary growth and improvement in production quality through the ability to collaborate, communicate, access and learn from each others work. Similar shifts are occurring in all types of media, and there are countless other content creators, especially those who make daily vlogs. But perhaps none of them have inspired so many on such a grand scale as Casey Neistat. Describing Casey Neistat is a bit difficult, to be honest. I know, because I had the chance to run into him on the street. When I told my parents he was famous on YouTube, they asked me “so what does he do?”, which required some thinking because trying to put a highly dynamic and creative individual who is leading innovation in multiple areas at once into a particular category is a bit of a challenge. Or maybe not, since that seems the best way to describe it. What he is most famous for is his videos. As a filmmaker, his video production style is authentic, raw, and wildly engaging. Add constantly improving and changing film techniques that reflect his staggering creativity, along with a healthy dose of keeping it real with his visual storytelling from daily life, and you have a recipe for success.
Creators across the digital world including many automotive filmmakers like the ones named above have taken note or rather have been given stunning visual awakenings from seeing Casey’s work. As a matter of fact, some have even been directly inspired by him to fill the void and begin making high-quality automotive media with real entertainment and educational value. Why is this important? Because to be honest, it represents automotive media taking a very large step forward. For the past several years in the automotive media landscape, even with vloggers, there has been a real issue with the lack of video quality and original engaging content. YouTube and social media itself are filled with insecure half-hearted attempts at automotive talk shows, reviews, product guides, event coverage and culture videos. You can only watch so many exhaust comparison, dyno pull, or drag strip videos recorded on a cellphone, and after that five to ten-year-old viral videos from Japan about tuning, without getting bored. The myriad of short standard variety new car reviews from major media outlets are only useful if you’re considering buying a new car. It would only be a matter of time before some aspiring youth would begin to break the status quo of a lack of engaging automotive and lifestyle entertainment for viewers to genuinely feel the ability to relate to. That perhaps is the most engaging beauty of what is being produced by today’s creators; it’s fresh, authentic, youthful, exciting, honest, and constantly improving the quality of production. It is a genuine unfiltered grassroots response, and it “gets it” in terms of being what people want to watch.
So where is it going? Certainly better, and certainly not getting old anytime soon. Some automotive creators have built sizable and serious followings, even launching their own brands and hosting their own events. The most important part is the understanding of constant improvement and dynamic change. Today’s young creators understand the pace of media having grown up with it as an integral part of their social lives. Unlike in automotive media of the past, they know that the same topics presented in the same format, with the same editing style, simply will not continue to resonate with viewers. Life is dynamic and meant for growth, and media should reflect that. Many are beginning to find their own unique styles and niches in the automotive media landscape, while continuously raising the bar in their arena.
The future of automotive media is bright thanks to these creators, who are in reality people like you and I. It is more inspired than ever because more people like you and I who care about cars are leading the change to constantly fill voids and create new methods of sharing our common passion. Keep driving, growing, creating, and sharing. We’ll see where this scene goes one shift, one episode, one article, one photo, one trend, one innovation at a time.
Evan Shanks – http://bit.ly/29F5qMH
Adam LZ – http://bit.ly/29tcGhH
TJ Hunt – http://bit.ly/29IDQQW
That Dude in Blue – http://bit.ly/29WATJa
Casey Neistat – http://bit.ly/1sEbnIU