Be Happy: Internet Video Production is Simple

Apr 02, 2014
Jason Baumann


The neighborhoods of Chicago’s southside are among the poorest and roughest in the country. In the heart of Chicago’s southside lies a school that produced one of YouTube’s latest viral videos – The Kenwood Academy Happy Video. In contrast to some other viral videos, there was no budget, storyboarding or expensive production studios. It was just a few students, a thought, some bad weather, a catchy tune and video camera.

It’s March in Chicago. Usually by now, the weather is getting better. But it has been a crazy year. A city that has one of the most unique weather histories has been undergoing one of the most bizarre weather years. We have been through a polar vortex (or two) and a snowpocalypse. All this has done is made some very unhappy people, including the Kenwood high school students.

To make light of this snowy situation, a couple of students approached their assistant principal with an idea to bring some happiness to their school. The students explained that they wanted to make a video to combat this nasty weather and the bleak view of Chicago’s public school system. The assistant principal and principal agreed to play the song between classes until the teens got enough footage. They spent a little time in their computer lab and what happened was a very amusing, “Happy” video. It went viral – not crazy viral – but enough to rack up about 40k views in a month. It was a very impressive showing for no budget and just little free time.

Clients often ask about how to produce a viral video. In fact, on February 12th of this year, I wrote about it in this blog. The magic component to any viral video is emotion. I looked at the West Jet “Christmas Magic” and attributed its success to the emotional response that was evoked from viewers.

Just a few years ago, if you wanted to produce a video and were not a production studio, you were looking at spending a minimum of $10k to get started. It took camera, lighting, and audio rentals; a full production staff; an editing crew; and a marketing staff to get your message across. Nowadays, you can get almost the same quality from a new iPhone and someone with a decent eye. What about the editing? There is even a service called Candidio ( that allows you to plan your videos online, upload your video and then have professionals edit your video and send you the new file. Video production is now simple.

The Internet and social media are making so many things easy. One of those is video production. Nowadays, many people are carrying around a device in their pockets that produce better quality video than what was possible professionally ten years ago. That device is a smart phone. Mine is an iPhone. The best advice I can offer for video is to just try it out.

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