Last weekend, at The Winnies in LA, there were some telltale signs of an online video-oriented event. For one, nearly all those who attended the Irina Slutsky-organized, Secret Santa-inspired awards show had cameras, so by the time you walked in and said your first hellos, you’d been there for 5 minutes but there was already an aggregate 45 minutes of you on video.

Second, everyone you didn’t already know or immediately recognize looked vaguely familiar, like you’d seen them somewhere before, probably because, through myriad venues of social interaction now available to your connected online video connoisseur, you had.

But that’s about where the resemblance to an average online video event ended. The fancy dress, faux red carpet, and seven hours of open bar, made it feel like a casual, semi-swank industry party. And that’s what was so cool.

I caught up with Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodston — two videobloggers who’ve been intimately involved in the space from the start — on the windy streets of Hollywood to ask what they thought about the scene:

While its progenitor, The Vloggies signified that online video had arrived, The Winnies hinted a little bit at how it might evolve. The list of attendees ran the gamut of online video, from hardcore personal videobloggers like Clints McGintus’ I Do IT Digital (full disclosure: I love that name), to popular online show producers like Jeff Macpherson of Tiki Bar TV (Tilzy.TV Page) and Kent Nichols of Ask a Ninja (Tilzy.TV page), to the creators of more mainstream fare, like Big Fantastic and even some actors from their series Prom Queen (Tilzy.TV page). No, bigger Hollywood names like Marshall Herskovitz weren’t there, but it still felt like a big happy family of creators, fans, and friends coming from all areas of online video.

Is such a pretty picture sustainable? As the industry grows, and as old media networks and new media studios start producing more content, can a community with individuals shooting with such a diverse range of camera qualities survive? Or will it grow to encompass the big budget mainstream?

It would be interesting if it did, but I don’t think it will. I don’t picture Don Was, Harry Schearer, Bob Odenkirk, Maria Bamford, Scott Zakarin, and definitely not Michael Eisner, showing up at an event with any self-proclaimed videoblogger anytime soon, or at all.

For better or worse, the side of the industry with money and the side of the industry with community will continue on the same trajectory, but likely on different planes, with different awards shows, and different semi-swank parties. There might be a little bit of crossover, but those will be the exceptions that further expose the stratification.

 

Of course people are still using the “Wild West” as a metaphor for the space, so it could turn out to be one big gray mess.  But if the above does happen, it’s still okay.  With open distribution, independent content producers seeking fame and fortune will still have an easier time in new media than old to break into the entertainment industry’s upper crust, and those that just crave community have already fostered and maintained a powerful network of relationships that will continue to grow.

 

There’s money in the latter, too. If there were enough funds for Slutsky to be put together an “excuse to throw a $20,000 party,” just wait until this whole monetization thing gets figured out.

Photo courtesy of Luis Muna, who was the official photog at the party.  Considering he managed to make Jamison look almost halfway decent, he’s good. Real good.

 

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