2. Cultivate a Supply Chain
This "class" of creators is YouTube's way of developing its supply chain and helping channels of various sizes grow. YouTubers with a production plan apply online. If they're accepted, they get access to the Space for a quarter. The first class at the studio included 23 channels.
Kay was on the higher end of creators in the class. YouTube helped her get into the Space because Google wants creators to share best practices. They want a range of expertise represented each quarter.
On the lower end are creators like Nikki Limo, whose channel has a respectable 70,000 subscribers. For Limo, the Space offered her access to more experienced talent and higher-end facilities. When I ran into her, she was editing a new web series for her channel, "Audition Fail," which she shot in one of the Space's conference rooms and is releasing episodes this month (trailer above). Her access to the studio allowed her to cast YouTube stars like Grace Helbig (850,000 subscribers) and KassemG (2.2 million subscribers).
"I really wrote it to be collaborative and have guest YouTubers in each episode. Luckily I got all my first-choice actors for all of them….I’m excited," she told me.
The studio is also motivating Limo to up her skills. A novice editor, she was spending her time getting used to the latest edition of Final Cut when we met. The post-production room at the studio is, again, designed to allow for collaboration and co-teaching, so if Limo has a question she can grab a fellow editor and work on it. In general, there's a lot of glass at the Space, which Collins said was designed so YouTubers could see how others work.
To train and grow its supply of creators, the studio also hosts regular workshops and events open to creators outside the class, like the "Animation Pros" panel featuring experts like Dane Boedigheimer, whose "Annoying Orange" was developed for Cartoon Network.
All of this is very important to Collins, who has been pushing YouTube to cultivate creators ever since it acquired Next New Networks.
"After we got acquired, we immediately started advocating for this. Because at Next New Networks we always had some production space. Our feeling was that we always want to be friendly to talent. And one way we can do that is by being closer to them," he said.
3. Allow Flexibility
With so many different kinds of creators on YouTube and populating the studio, a big challenge for Collins and Google was designing a space for creators of different skills levels. The facilities are at once high end and beginner-friendly.
"It can be simple for someone like Alex G, who’s used to shooting in her bedroom, and it probably will look a step up from what she’s been doing," a Google spokesperson said. "It also has to be sophisticated enough for someone like Amy Poehler who’s used to shooting on TV with huge sets and production budgets."
The studio has three 22-foot tall green screens, which are very popular. The room is already professionally lit for creators who aren't used to shooting in such settings. At the same time the rooms have all the functions professionals would need, and that novices can experiment with.
"If they come in here, they can start to play with different lighting angles, fill lights, back lights, and appreciate what kind of a difference it makes for you selling. One of the biggest differences in selling a green-screen shoot is lighting the subject properly, so, this is a place where they can experiment with that. There’s only 12 or 24 faders over there. So there’s not too much damage they can do," Collins said.
The Space provides creators with tons of equipment, managed by an expert library at the end of the lot. Creators book equipment online, though many also bring their own. For cameras, the studio is Canon-based, with C300, C100, XF05 and 5D's in stock. The idea is to have a range so inexperience creators can experiment with higher-end fair -- something Nikki Limo did -- where experienced creators have everything they may need. “It helps them improve their content as well as their knowledge of filmmaking,” Chris, the equipment manager, told me.
The Space also has a screening room with a 4K projector, 10 editing suites and a pair of sound stages with multiple audio inputs for live recording and editing.