Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Big Fat Brains Behind You Suck at Photoshop

I first became aware of MyDamnChannel when my husband forwarded me "You Suck At Photoshop." It appeared to be a Photoshop tutorial by someone named Donnie Hoyle, a graphic design know-it-all with a failing marriage determined to school our sorry asses in the intricacies of digital photo manipulation, but was the funniest how-to lesson ever created.

Most of the content on MyDamnChannel is from celebrities, albeit, not well known, mainstream celebrities: Harry Shearer, Don Was, Andy Milonakis, Coolio, and David Wain. However, YSAP was created by someone or something called Big Fat Brain. Who the heck were these guys?

Whoever it was, it was not Dane Cook, as some speculated, unless he learned to use of filters and curves at correspondence school. As funny as it was, Big Fat Brain was not just a comedian; he clearly knew his way around the Photoshop.

As it turns out, Matt Bledsoe and Troy Hitch, the designers of MyDamnChannel's website were also the behind-the-scenes content creators Big Fat Brain; here's an April 24 Time article on how they got started.

So although MyDamnChannel was created to showcase the work of known celebrities, their first viral hit was created by complete unknowns. How big a hit has YSAP been for the fledgling web network? For comparison, take next most popular on the site, Wainy Days, which is kind of like Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Sex in the City, starring David Wain of the sketch comedy show The State. His online show features celebrity friends (Michael Ian Black from The State, Paul Rudd from Anchorman, Elizabeth Banks from the 40 Year Old Virgin, Rashida Jones from The Office, and Jonah Hill from Superbad) but has far fewer viewers, total and by episode, than an YSAP; by my calculations today, a Wainy Days episode garnered an average of 28,343 hits at MyDamnChannel, while the average episode of YSAP was seen by 156,041 viewers.

(graph not created by Photoshop; yes I suck)

That's twice as many eyeballs with half as many episodes, not even counting the views on YouTube, which are about four times as large. Collectively, the ten episodes have earned 7.7 million hits in four months, or 1.9 million hits a month. As I discovered in researching my post "Funny Man, Straight Man--No Middle Man?" that's well above the 50,000 to 100,000 hits a month it takes for quality advertisers to take an interest.

So instead of celebrities drawing people to a network which might feature work by lesser known talent, the opposite has happened. In fact, it was only because of YSAP that I even became aware of David Wain. Boy, did MyDamnChannel luck out.

As for YSAP, the tutorial series ended with episode 10: Donnie runs from the law after his ex-wife sends a SWAT team to evict him from the house. This has spun off a new series: Sn4tchbuckl3r's Second Chance, featuring Donnie's World of Warcraft friend, Snatchbuckler. Deeply affected by Donnie's disappearance, Snatchbuckler has quit gaming and joined Peopleberg, a SecondLife-like virtual support community for gamers facing their addiction.

Given that there are more gamers in the world than Photoshop geeks (not to mention media addicts like myself), let's hope Snatchbuckler's Second Chance is even more successful and that Big Fat Brain has re-upped for a Big Fat Paycheck.

Here's the first ep:

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