Justin Burke on Aussie YouTube stars


The Australian - The Deal - - Front Page - Story by: JUSTIN BURKE

In a medium per­haps best known for jumpy edit­ing and cat videos, Brady Haran bucks con­ven­tional wis­dom in sev­eral ways. The Ade­laide-born for­mer jour­nal­ist is a trained videog­ra­pher, and his YouTube videos, which have ac­cu­mu­lated al­most 400 mil­lion views and four mil­lion sub­scribers, ex­am­ine the world of maths and sci­ence. Ex­am­ples in­clude an episode about what the first mil­lion dig­its of pi would look like printed out and un­spooled on a run­way, and tour­ing the Bank of Eng­land’s gold bul­lion vault with a chem­istry pro­fes­sor.

“The vi­ral home movies or phone videos might cre­ate a false im­pres­sion that all YouTube videos are am­a­teur­ish or triv­ial,” says Haran. “The in­ter­net is a big, di­verse place and there can be an au­di­ence for any­thing – if it’s good enough.”

Haran’s tran­si­tion from mak­ing videos for the BBC to YouTube came down to cre­ative free­dom. “I truly loved work­ing in news­pa­pers and TV, but it’s lib­er­at­ing to be my own boss and make what­ever I want. Tra­di­tional me­dia has cre­ative dis­ad­van­tages that don’t ex­ist on­line.”

The 39-year-old, now based in Bris­tol in Bri­tain, has been mak­ing YouTube videos full-time for six years; al­though he says run­ning mul­ti­ple chan­nels in­clud­ing the Pe­ri­odic Ta­ble of Videos and Num­ber­phile is more like “five full-time jobs”.

Along­side the ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues that YouTube shares, col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Univer­sity of Not­ting­ham and the Math­e­mat­i­cal Sci­ences Re­search In­sti­tute in the US have helped de­fray pro­duc­tion costs. But he in­sists that pas­sion has to come be­fore busi­ness am­bi­tions. “When I tell strangers what I do, many peo­ple’s first ques­tion is about money,” he says. “A num­ber of my friends make a full-time liv­ing on YouTube, but I don’t think any of them started with an in­ten­tion to make money. It just fol­lowed from do­ing it well.”

Haran is open-minded about the fu­ture. “Ev­ery­thing changes so quickly, in 10 years we may be re­do­ing this in­ter­view, but about a tech­nol­ogy that hasn’t been in­vented yet.”

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