Football on YouTube: Behind the Pixels
By Alex Fairchild
YouTube is a revolution. Not only in the way that it gives the board a cat playing a piano to view, but also in the way that it has produced a transformation of sorts in the world of football.
Need a game highlight? Want to see Gareth Bale shred Maicon? How about the best of Neymar or the movement of Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge? Scour YouTube's search engine for 30 seconds and you are bound to find something of the like.
From the senseless to the serious, the online hub, which, according to the site, has received 1 billion unique viewers since its upstart, has produced an online sensation – football compilations.
Laced with dramatized footage and songs like “Remember the Name” and “Eye of the Tiger,” the videos receive tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands, to millions of views. Fade-ins and fade-outs permeate these videos, which are devoured by those who love football.
In the age of Football Manager, in which everybody knows who the next big star will be, no player is left undiscovered. Neymar, who has had his first breakout on the international stage at the Confederations Cup, had a rise near dependent on what many saw of the talisman online. A video of Neymar by YouTube user Loco Maxwell has been viewed 19,088,988 times since being posted last year.
Keep in mind, that video does not include his wonder goals against Japan and Mexico, nor his assist to Jo against the latter. Those two events garner tons of hits having only occurred a couple of weeks ago.
Others have viewed the striker through various editors, who work tirelessly, many for no pay, to bring the average football fan the best of every footballer.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo clips are a dime-a-dozen in this sphere of video editing. Videos with posts from “Lionel Messi Amazing Goals” or “Ronaldo skills” can be found within seconds on YouTube.
These videos do not simply appear however, as they are meticulously crafted by editors.
Fredrik Aidefors, whose videos can be found on his page lfcswebranch, is a 20 year old from Sweden. Since 2008, Aidefors has picked up 4,982 subscribers on his channel.
Aidefors, who is a self-described, “massive red,” only produces videos of Liverpool players.
Using Final Cut Pro X, an Apple-related video program that goes for $299.99, he works on an average project for 1-2 weeks.
“Final Cut Pro X, the one I use, is actually a very simple program,” said the Swede via email, “It has lots of templates you can use if that'd help you. Personally, I only work with the effects and trying to make them ‘into my own.’”
Sifting through hours of material from websites that post full-length matches, the editor downloads the material and then places it into Final Cut. Aidefors previously used Sony Vegas Pro however, his move to a Macbook requires him to use Final Cut, which he describes as a simpler program.
Many of these editors, including Fredrik, do not receive compensation for their efforts, though they hope to soon.
As for earning several thousand subscriptions, he attributes that success to his high quality productions.
"When you've gained so many subscribers on YouTube, like myself, you kind of create a reputation for yourself. When I was younger, I had my favorite editors as well and often searched for their new videos. Guess that's what's happening to me now," said Aidefors.
As of July 7, Fredrik's videos have accumulated 1,114,820 views, which average to 38,442 hits per post.
He told Football.com that social media outlets, such as Twitter, where he is @lfcindex, help him promote his work to fans around the world. Supporters of his work often post to the discussion board which YouTube provides to all of its users. Many praise him for his work, while others request that he make videos about certain topics pertaining to the club, including its magical night in Istanbul.
The Swede has featured several LFC players in his creations, from Luis Suarez to Steven Gerrard. Viewers have clicked on his Philippe Coutinho compilation more than any of his other videos. The flick displays Liverpool's No. 10 embarrassing Premier League defenders in several matches after his January move to Anfield.
One of his more popular videos is the one which he enjoys most. "The Liverpool Way" saw the editor flip through years of footage. This particular series of clips from past campaigns took him longer than usual to create, due to the depth of film which "The Liverpool Way" covers.
"It's my biggest project so far as an editor," he said, "It took me at least 2 months to make. The reason is simply because it shows Liverpool's road from their season back in 08/09, when they almost won the league, to where they are today. A friend of mine described it as a "documentary" which is kind of cool."
For those looking to post clips of your favorite footballers to YouTube, Aidefors recommends that one begins by choosing what player or message will be the focus of the video, before finding a song. He says choosing the flick's tune is, "definitely the hardest part of making videos. Since lots of songs are copyrighted, it's difficult to find a song that fits perfectly."
Third, he says that an editor must collect clips and then convert them into the appropriate format. He then creates an intro with his logo.
Aidefors crops the clips and puts some effects on them, after finding the best part of the song chosen for the video. He then renders and converts the finished product for upload to YouTube. There, his compilation can be seen by his subscribers, fellow LFC fanatics, and web surfers.
The trend of football videos on the web will only continue. It is a global operation as well. High profile editors reside in England, Brazil, France, Sweden, and the United States, just to name a few.
Only a few of the hard working men and women behind the pixels will gain a career out of their hobby. Aidefors is one of the industry's younger editors and hopes to attain an internship with one of Sweden's leading sports channels in the near future.
While they do this for little pay, some, namely those who upload game highlights as they happen, skirt copyright laws (stay tuned to Football.com for a report on that later this summer). These editors do not have the glamorous life of the footballers which they portray. Nevertheless, their trendsetting productions will continue to mesmerize the world of football in a revolution that is far from finished.