Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My favorite YouTube channels

I have stopped watching TV well over a decade ago, but recently, I started to watch YouTube a lot. Subscribing to channels I like and checking updates on them has become part of my routine leisure time activities, much like reading up my selection of magazines and newspapers. Since many YouTube channels thrive on mouth-to-mouth-propaganda and you can gain new insights with new channels, I thought I'd share my favorites so you might find new stuff that interests you and can point me to stuff that might interest me in the comments. In the following, I'll give you a quick introduction to each channel (in alphabetical order) with a little commentary. Let's have at it. 

Upload Frequency: Medium. Wouldn't you know it, the host of the show, Joe, reviews stuff while angry. Most of the time it's video games, but he also does movies and board games. The only watchable clips though, are, in my opinion, the structured and well-made reviews, while the discussions and the table time is too meandering for my tastes.

Upload Frequency: Low. Belated Media reviews movies and analyizes scenes as well as it talks about specifics of film making. Sometimes, the topics are pretty niche, and new videos are uploaded only very infrequently, though. 

Upload Frequency: High. With several subchannels about movies (including various lists), this channel I subscribe mostly because I like their film school stuff.

Upload Frequency: High. Current home to the Nostalgia Critic, one of the most prominent faces in reviewing movies on YouTube. His videos are very elaborate in their productional values and editing, but his humor can be pretty obnoxious, so you have to check out whether or not you like it. He's also reviewing pretty obscure stuff, so you need a certain love for the hilariously bad.

Upload Frequency: High. Chris Stuckmann reviews movies, at least once a week. He has a very nice and amiable style, coming off as authentic and not too scripted, but the videos are edited well enough that it's no amateur show. While the channel would benefit from some more intercuts to the movies in question, Stuckmann's short reviews merit a look in any case. Frequently, he also reviews old movies, oftentimes in themed specials (like all Star Wars, all M. Night Shamaylan, etc.). 

One of the biggest YouTube channels, CrashCourse provides a wide range of educational videos. Originally hosted by John and Hank Green, it now includes other people as well. Hank and his associates are usually doing science topics, while John and his guys are more into the humanities. The personalities of the hosts are very much in the foreground of the fast-paced, funny and professional videos, which makes them hard to watch if you don't like a particular style. I for one don't like Greg, which ruins the series on Government and Politics for me, which is a topic I usually enjoy, for example, while Phil Plait of the Astrononmy course tries way too hard at being cool and funny.

Upload Frequency: Low. In this channel, a professional editor - Tony - shows the intricacies of film editing. Different shots, how to cut movement and other stuff are explained with tons of visual examples in an easy-to-grasp way. Tony himself keeps to the background and doesn't appear even once, instead refraining to narrating the whole thing in a well-spoken and well-paced way. 

Upload Frequency: High. This channel by some video game developers is exploring unusual games, explains several mechanisms of game development and has its own history show. It's well-made and really interesting and insightful most of the time, although I'm not a big fan of the videos that James narrates himself because he's not that much of a video person.

Upload Frequency: Usually low. Anita Sarkeesian's channel. Here she hosts her series on Tropes vs. Women, and you can also look into her older videos going back to her days in 2009, when she reviewed pieces of popular culture in very short segments. Obviously highly recommended. 

Upload Frequency: Medium. The channel produces all kind of videos related to movies, but the most prominent (after which it is named) are the cartoons with more or less funny alternate endings to movies. I find myself enjoying those less and less, as the humor is wearing thin after a while, but if you never watched them, you might get some enjoyment out. 

Upload Frequency: Medium. The just a little bit pretentious title is of its own sort of brillance, as the host is exploring several scientific issues.

Upload Frequency: Medium. Jill Bearup is a nice English lady reviewing movies and talking about Nerd stuff. Her angle is hard to compress into a single sentence, but I like her understated Britishness and the fresh ideas she brings into the mix.

Upload Frequency: Medium. Both channels are hosted by Laci Green, who engages in sex education and feminist topics for a young audience. Her style is very required to get used to, as she's pretty high-pitched and fast-paced, but I enjoy her dynamic appearance and take on the topics, even if I'm not exactly her target audience. 

Upload Frequency: Medium. This is the official channel of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver, simply the best political comedy that's out there. While HBO doesn't upload the entire show, they upload the core of each, the long segments in which Oliver is exploring an usually overlooked issue in depth. 

Upload Frequency: High. A sister show of CrashCourse much like SciShow, Mentall Floss offers weekly lists of random stuff, answers a question and teaches you about some misconceptions. While having the high production values of CrashCourse, it's a tad shallow and can be consumed while doing something else.

Upload Frequency: Low. Since he lost his gig at the Escapist, MovieBob can be found here, reviewing movies like he did back in the day but also producing the long and insightful "Really That Good" series, in which he explains in detail while certain movies like "Independence Day" or "The Avengers" are really as good as people say they are.

PBS Game Show
Upload Frequency: Medium. The host of this show is exploring mechanics or oddities, trying to analyze games with the some rigor that is nowadays applied to movies. For my taste, the topics are a bit niche too often, but it's interesting nonetheless.

PBS Space Time
Upload Frequency: Medium. In this PBS channel, you get in-depth treatment to the physical concepts of Space Time, like relativity and stuff. Expect it to be accessible, but requiring your full attention. Videos will build on each other, and you need to really have your head in the game if you want to follow along.

Upload Frequency: High. A sister show of CrashCourse, SciShow is explaining new scientific developments to you. The show is very accessible and easy flowing, and the hosts are professional.

SciShow Space
Uplodad Frequency: Medium. A little sibling of the SciShow, this channel is exclusively talking about space topics. If you know CrashCourse or SciShow, you know this channel, and it has the same strengths and weaknesses as they do.

Screen Junkies
Upload Frequency: High. Although they're offering a wider range of videos, I watch this channel only for the Honest Trailers. They're pretty hilarious, but I'm a bit sceptical about their attempts at exporting the epic voice into other areas, and as with such stuff, after a while, it's beginning to wear thing.

The Dice Tower
Upload Frequency: High. This channel, run by Tom Vassel and friends, is the most popular channel about board games, hosting a ton of reviews and the about hour-long Top-Ten-Lists for which I mostly watch the channel. Well made with knowledgable though not overly engaging hosts, if you like board games, check it out.

The Dom
Upload Frequency: Medium. The Dom is usually comparing movie adaptions to their written source, and he does so without being a dick about it and always strongly preferring one to the other. Rather, he methodically points out differences and similarities and tries to put changes into context before jduging the stuff on its own merits. He tries to build in little antics in the vein of the Nostalgia Critic which aren't quite as succesful all of the time, though.

The Film Theorists
Upload Frequency: Medium. This channel has three subchannels: Frame by Frame, which explores certain movies or genres and how they work (for example, how Terminator influenced Action Movies); Film Theory, in which theories to movie plots are discussed (like whether or not Neo is The One) and Did You Know, in which you get trivia to certain movies. I like the Film School stuff the most and occasionally watch the rest as well.

The Game Theorists
Upload Frequency: Medium. The channel, like its movie counterpart, has several subchannels of which the one exploring game mechanics is the most interesting for me. The voice of the host is pretty annoying, though, to be honest. 

The Great War
Upload Frequency: High. This channel has the idea to give you a weekly update of what happened hundred years ago in World War I, in real time, supported by supplementals about persons, strategy and stuff. The idea is interesting, but a year into the war, it continually runs into the limits of the format, as it really struggles to show larger developments over weekly updates. The show usually tries to create a weekly angle, like the first gas attack, but it isn't able to convey longer developments very well. The host of the show, while by no means being bad, is also a little bit tone deaf on many issues, not really deciding whether he wants to do a faux-newsreel or a documentary.

Upload Frequency: Medium. The video channel of vox.com occasionally offers big interviews (like the one with Obama or Ta-Nahesi Coates) that are really interesting, and in the meantime gives short explainers on various topics. Those aren't really world-changing, but well-made.

Westeros History
The channel is hosted by two "A Song of Ice and Fire" fans who talk about different topics, usually - you guessed it - concerning the history of Westeros and its politics. The discussions are very long and are best enjoyed as podcasts, though.

Upload Frequency: High. Also supporting several subchannels like "Thug Notes", I only watch it for "Earthling Cinema", which is as hilarious as it is insightfu.


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