At last month’s VidCon, an annual convention focused on online video, thousands of teenage fans, mostly girls, descended on the Anaheim Convention Center to see their favorite YouTube personalities in the flesh.
Throughout the convention floor and surrounding hotels, these admirers, desperate for a quick selfie or hug, cornered their favorite stars as they ate lunch, stepped out of the bathroom or walked to their next appearance.
It is this unbridled enthusiasm and passion that Culver City digital media company Fullscreen Inc. is hoping to harness – and monetize – with its latest venture. Building on the success of September’s Intour, a one-day event featuring a lineup of famous YouTubers attended by 3,000 fans in Pasadena, the firm has launched a touring division known as FullscreenLive.
Its first tour, an all-female affair dubbed Girls Night In, will kick off Sept. 22 at House of Blues in Anaheim, followed by a date the next night at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. The 20-date, cross-country tour will wrap up a month later in Dallas.
Vito Iaia, who joined Fullscreen as head of its live division in April, said Fullscreen saw a gap in the market and wanted to bring more female performers into the fold.
“These tours tend to be male-focused,” said Iaia, who previously served as senior vice president of global music services at Ticketmaster, a division of Live Nation Worldwide Inc. in Beverly Hills.
“This was a product that wasn’t being served to the fan base,” he added.
The show will feature five fashion and lifestyle vloggers, as well as musician Andie Case. The most popular of the group is likely Eva Gutowski, 20, whose YouTube channel, MyLifeasEva, has attracted 3.5 million subscribers who devour her lighthearted videos proffering fashion, vacation and back-to-school tips. Gutowski has created branded content on YouTube for companies such as direct marketer Guthy-Renker and Hearst Communications Inc.’s Seventeen magazine.
Apart from the musical act, it’s still unclear what the entertainment will look like during the 90-minute show. If last year’s Intour is any indication, fans can expect a lot of casual back and forth among the stars as well as games, comedic skits and, of course, video footage.
Iaia said the company would like to operate as many as five tours simultaneously, with each one carrying a different theme.
“Our goal is to constantly be doing them,” he said.
With major Hollywood studios and larger independent producers paving the way in virtual reality entertainment products, one local company is vying to blaze a trail in the nascent field of virtual reality journalism.
Jimmie Rhee’s Virtuality Lab became the first company to cover a presidential campaign event with a VR setup, using six GoPro cameras hooked up to a specialized 360-degree rig. Rhee and his crew shot a fundraising event for Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in Van Nuys after receiving approval from the campaign.
Rhee then posted the roughly six-minute video to Santa Monica virtual reality publishing platform Vrideo and on YouTube’s 360-degree channel. While VR headsets, such as Samsung’s Gear VR or Google Inc.’s Cardboard, are required to get the full viewing experience, videos can be watched without them.
Rhee didn’t receive any compensation for the Sanders shoot, which he described as typical because the virtual reality production landscape is only just starting to take shape. Still, he said for a small company such as his it makes more sense to focus on virtual reality journalism than on entertainment, where there are so many big competitors.
“VR journalism is cost-effective for someone like me,” said Rhee. “Let the studios spend their millions.”
Venice marketing analytics company Local ID has hired Mahesh Angadi as chief product officer and Franklyn Farace as chief revenue officer. … Santa Monica anonymous social network Whisper has hired Jamie Mendez as vice president of product. Mendez joins from mobile-game maker Zynga.
Staff reporter Omar Shamout can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.
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