A Fun Toy, Courtesy of YouTube

You may remember this cute, creative commercial for Google from the Super Bowl:

What you may not know is that Google created an entire project around the concept of that ad. Search Stories allows YouTube users to create their own commercial, using various Google searches to drive the plot. That last word is the most important. In the instructions, they emphasize the fact that your video should tell a story. I appreciate that emphasis a great deal.

All you need to do is think up various search terms that would advance a narrative. You can search the web, maps, products, books, images, news or blogs — mix it up for visual variety. They have a variety of music clips (good ones, too) you can set your video to, and YouTube will upload the finished product directly to your account.

If you’re doing this for fun, you probably don’t care too much what the searches turn up. If you’re doing it for a brand or organization, however, you certainly don’t want a rogue, unflattering link or image to show up in your otherwise innocuous search for “ice cream flavors” or some such. It’s worth tweaking the wording of your search to fine-tune the results (e.g. “flavors of ice cream,” “ice cream varieties,” “tasty ice cream”) and weed out any unsavory search results. You may also regenerate your video a couple times to alter whichever way YouTube randomly decides to pan and scan across your search results “screen” (e.g. if you want it to zoom in on the top result rather than scan from top right to bottom left).

So, while it’s not perfect and there are some factors you can’t control, if you’re willing to play with it for a half hour or so, you could come up with a fun, clever 30 second video – for free. Steve Garfield just blogged about this, but I’m hopeful that I actually discovered this before him 😉

I created this one for my school, timed to the May 1 admission deadline. Check it out:

If you create one, please leave the link in the comments!

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2 responses to “A Fun Toy, Courtesy of YouTube

  1. This Search Stories project was news to me, Georgy. What fun! And a very clever use by you for Tufts.

  2. Nice. It’s a fun tool.

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