Hi, I'm Charlie McDonnell: Video-Blogger, musician, and nerd. Have a poke around this website using the navigation bar at the top, or catch up with what I'm up to at the moment with my written blog, which you'll find below.


Still Got Legs

June 7, 2011

As I write this, I’m sitting in a mixing room listening to Kiss The Girl blast at me through a huge pair of speakers, and I’m watching Michael and our mixer, Trevor, make the final tweaks to the album that we’ve been working on for about five months: Still Got Legs. We’re finally getting to a point now where this project is almost done, and I’m pretty darn happy, mainly because this is an experience that I’ve never actually had with a Chameleon Circuit album before.

Back in 2008, when we were in the process of recording the first CC album, I took a three-hour trip to the producer’s house (who I won’t name and shame here) so that I could record the vocals on my final song, Friends Of The Ood. When I turned up, however, I was given the files of everything that we’d done on the album up to that point and was politely told to go away. The producer didn’t want to finish it for us, and so it just never got finished. After months of trying to find someone new who could help us out, we were eventually forced to release the music uncompleted. I’m sure that we would have been inspired to make a second album at some point, but the urge to make the most decent Chameleon Circuit album that we could, one which we didn’t have any regrets about and more importantly one that was actually finished was definitely the kick-starter for this CD.

Still Got Legs has had its fair share of producer related problems, though just with a different twist. A lot of you have probably already heard about Michael’s forced vacation to France, but to sum it up: Michael, who came over from the US to produce this second album, got stuck in France for two months due to reasons that we’re all still a little unsure about. Basically, the people at the border just didn’t like him very much and initially wouldn’t let him back into the UK, and so production of the album was moved to Paris for a month. It was nice of them to eventually let him back in, though, even if it was just for a week so that he could wrap things up here. I guess it’s our own fault really that Chameleon Circuit is cursed; we just had to name our band after the one part of the TARDIS that didn’t work properly…

Regardless of all the obstacles that were put in our way this time, though, we’re almost there. On June 3rd and 4th we had a couple of listening events where people could come and hear the album in its current state. “The last album was a great album about Doctor Who” someone said “but this is just a great album in its own right.” This comment made me really happy, and I do hope that the rest of you feel the same way if you decide to get a copy. The physical CD is currently up for pre-order (you can get it here) and it’ll be released there and on iTunes etc. on July 12th. Also, here’s the album artwork and track-list; just click on it to make it bigger:

Dude it's so pretty looking

One thing that I should mention, something that I’ve seen a fair few people bring up, is Doctor Whats absence from the album. Unfortunately, this was one of the later songs that went through production, and we didn’t really feel like we could find a good place for it on the CD simply because it was too different from the other tracks. The choice was either to release a bastardised version of it to force it onto the album, or to release the song later and give it the treatment it deserves. It’ll be available at some point, but in the meantime you’re obviously welcome to listen to the version on YouTube as much as you like.

By the way, to the people who are nice enough to actually read this blog: sorry for neglecting you recently. As you can probably tell from the fact that my last video took me two and a half weeks to get up, I’ve been pretty busy recently and have had trouble maintaining all of my online spaces. I’ll try to be better. Over the last couple of months I started to convince myself that I wasn’t updating my blog because I didn’t really like writing blog posts, but I have actually quite enjoyed putting this one together. So, you know, maybe I’ll make a written comeback now. Maybe being the key word in that sentence.

{ 324 comments }

It's my face. On a wardrobe.

In a video that I posted about about a month ago, My Crib 2, I made the mistake of mentioning to you all that I had a story to tell, and then decided not to tell you said story – a decision that seems to have left many of you in a state of dire frustration. It’s like when someone tells you that they have a secret, but follows straight afterwards with an oh, I wasn’t supposed to mention that – forget I said anything. It’s always massively maddening, and they’re lying in a sense anyway, because they know that if they really, truly, honestly couldn’t tell you the secret, then they wouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place. And then of course, eventually, they give in and spill the beans anyway, which is exactly what I’m going to do now. So, with all of that in mind, here’s The Story of the Wardrobe Face. But be warned, it really is a bit odd.

It all starts when I was in my early teens (probably) being forced through the ritual of getting your school photos taken. I say forced, but school photos were never really that big of a deal for me. We got to miss first period, I was always pretty ace at pulling the right smile, and unless it was a milestone year for me, my Mum didn’t particularly mind if she received a copy of the photo or not anyway. On that particular year though she decided that, sure, I’d like one of them, and so the photos arrived in due course. The important thing to point out here though is that we didn’t just receive a single photo that particular year, but also a bunch of little, passport photo sized versions of the main photo. Which were all completely useless as actual passport photos, because I was smiling in all of them. But, you know, we bought them, so we kept them.

Months, or possibly years go past. If you haven’t already noticed, I don’t tend to remember the dates of events like this very well, just the events themselves. I was a bit older, not at all wiser, and in the middle of a prank pulling phase – a phase out of which I’ve never really escaped. My Mum was dating a guy called Lee at the time (who’s a jolly nice bloke, I still see him sometimes) and they’d been seeing each other long enough that she had a few pictures of the both of them in her bedroom, and in other areas around the house. And so, seeing pranking opportunities where nobody else would, I decided to cut out all of the passport sized photos of my younger, uniform clad self, and replace any photo including Lee’s face, with my own face. Yes, just like how some kind of insane, serial killer would. It was very creepy, I was very proud of myself, and the reaction from my family was one of confusion, followed by “oh, Charlie” chuckles.

Over time, for no particular reason, one of the the little photos from the prank made it’s rounds around my house. I stuck it to our front door at one point, on the inside just above the handle, so that everybody could leave with a little picture of my head in their, well, heads. It actually stayed there for years, because we completely forgot that it existed for the longest time. However, after rediscovering it later I stuck it to my bedroom wall, and then later still took it on the journey to London, where it now resides. For the most part, I now use it as an aid for framing my videos correctly. And now you know.

Although that story is a bit weird, to be honest, my main reason for not mentioning it in the video was that I just wouldn’t have been able to fit the entire tale in there. I think I kind of needed to put it in a blog post, so that you could all have the freedom to sit back and digest the mad thing that I did. Because it is still a bit weird. But you asked for it, and you’re welcome.

{ 639 comments }

My Crib 2

February 12, 2011

At the beginning of this year, the only resolution that I gave myself was to try and focus on quality over quantity when it came to my videos. There were definitely moments in 2010 when I felt like, given the schedule I had forced myself onto (trying to upload a video every week or so) I was 1) making videos just for the sake of trying to keep up to quota and 2) uploading videos that I wasn’t always completely happy with – stuff that I knew I could probably have completed to a much higher level had I given myself more time.

A couple of weeks ago, I almost broke my resolution, and ended up shooting a video which was just an update on various things that were going on in my life at the time. To put it simply, I knew I needed to get something up that week in order to earn some cash, and the video had no real purpose other than that. I watched it back, realised how boring, vapid and useless it was, and then deleted it pretty promptly so that I could move onto something new. It was at that point that I also set a new rule for myself: If I was going to make a video, it had to be something that I actually found fun, and that would be fun to watch. It can be too easy to lose sight of why I even make YouTube videos sometimes, which I think is a bit of a common problem for partners who hold YouTube as being both a hobby and a job simultaneously.

There are definitely some people on YouTube who have decided to let the job aspect of their channels overtake the hobby side, and I don’t have a problem with those people at all. Some of them make absolutely brilliant videos, on a schedule that they stick to religiously, MysteryGuitarMan being a great example. There are also people who definitely opt for quantity over quality, and again I have no problem with anyone who wants to do that. Sometimes I really enjoy watching videos that have lower production values, so long as the content/person in the video is engaging. But none of that works for me. I’m not on YouTube to try and pull in eyeballs, I’m on here to try and make stuff that I’m really proud of.

I’d love to be able to make a short film at some point in the near future (something that I’ve already started work on actually, though it’s early days) and then maybe even a feature film after that. To feed that ambition, what I’m trying to do currently is stick with the exact same style of videos that I feel I’ve always made, while also doing my best to use those videos as a training ground for new ideas and techniques. My latest video, My Crib 2, is an example of that. I basically wanted to use the challenge as an excuse to play around with camera lenses, to practice composition, writing a shot list, cool transitions, directing a cameraman (Michael did almost all of the filming for this video) and to have a go at some more advanced rotoscoping (the effect at the start of the video where I come up in front of the titles). It was really fun for me to do, and I feel like I’ve come out with a much better piece of content as a result.

Just to be clear: I don’t mean to imply by any of this that I’m going to be changing my schedule to one video a fortnight or anything like that. I am still going to keep the once-a-week plan at the front of my mind, but I’m also going to allow myself more free time to work harder on a video if I feel like it’s going to benefit it in the long run. I’ll try to provide both quality and quantity when I can, but I’m going to prioritise the former over the latter. I have received a lot of emails from people, especially recently, saying that they’d like me to make videos more often than I do, and all I can really say to that is sorry, really, but that’s just not the kind of YouTuber that I am. I’ve never been like that. In theory, any videos that I do post from now on should be of a better quality, and more worth your time, so I hope that makes up for any noticeable drop in frequency. And as always, thanks for watching :)

{ 502 comments }

This video seems to have sparked a fair few comments which need responding to, but I’ll address the most important one first: Alex’s Mustache. Is it real? Well, it’s kind of real, but not really real. When I told him about a week ago that I wanted to shoot another episode of The Alex and Charlie Format, but set in the past, I pretty quickly came up with the idea for a mustache, which I then asked him to start growing. There wasn’t any resistance on his end when I asked him to do this by the way, he’s a pretty good friend, eh? On the day of the shoot however, it wasn’t quite as hairy as I would have hoped, so the solution we came up with was to extenuate it with some mascara, lent to us kindly by Beckydoll. Thus, Alex’s slightly pedophilic tashe was born. Don’t worry, you won’t be seeing it again any time soon.

Next up, the old style VHS effect. Simply put, what you’re looking at isn’t actually an effect at all, but real footage from a VHS-C camera that I inherited from my Gran a year or so ago. As soon the camera came into my possession I knew that I just had to make a YouTube video with it, how could I not? But it was a long time before I came up with the idea of shooting an Alex and Charlie Prequel, and even longer before I actually got everything I needed in place to be able to make the video. I bought some software so that I could digitise the composite signal from the camera, then some new VHS-C tapes to record onto, and managed to borrow a 1995 CRT computer from a lovely guy called Martyn who I met on twitter. It wasn’t a 1991 computer, sure, but seeing as I didn’t have to spend a penny on it, and that it was in perfect working condition, it worked brilliantly for what I needed.

There also seems to be a scary number of people commenting on the video who are confused by the fact that it’s set in 1991, but that Alex and I seem to be exactly the same age as we are now. My hope is that, at the very least, most of the people leaving these comments are posting them self-aware of how silly they are. But for those who really aren’t sure, there are two solutions to your problem. Either Alex and myself have somehow acquired the fountain of youth, (or some similar method to reverse the aging process) or, we were just joking and we filmed the video yesterday. In fact, a pretty important rule that you should follow about watching me in general, is that you shouldn’t always take everything I say seriously. Teasing you is fun for me :)

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httpvp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B7C0C7636F1C8A5B

Watching Doctor Who is never going to be the same for me. I know a few people, and I expect that there are many more out there, who love the show to bits but just can’t bring themselves to watch the behind the scenes companion show Doctor Who Confidential, and with good reason. There’s a certain kind of TV magic that comes with Doctor Who, one that only really exists in science fiction shows, and one that seems to disappear once you see a Dalek with his head off, or The Doctor wondering around a car-park listening to his iPod. I have the utmost respect for people who want their magic to stay magical, though I’m not one of those people myself.

While a bit of the magic might disappear after watching an episode of Confidential, nothing can prepare you for the severe magic removal operation that takes place after actually being there on set, a shock that I’ve experienced over the last couple of months. Even though you’re wise enough to know that there isn’t really a man traveling through time in a blue box, when you watch the show, or experience any good story for that matter, it starts to feel real. But for me, it just doesn’t feel real anymore. The magic is all gone. Boo-hoo.

I should point out though that I’ve never really been one for magic, I’m much more interested in finding out how the trick works than being duped by it, so for me, this is a welcome change. A very welcome change. If you saw the Doctor Who Confidential videos that I made for the BBC recently (you can find them at the top of this post) then you may have noticed that, at points, I seemed a little bit underwhelmed by the whole thing. And I’m not going to lie, it’s because at points, I was. The first time that I stepped onto the TARDIS set – a moment that happened off camera – honestly felt a bit like falling in love. But the moments afterwards where I had to try and make it interesting, while nothing was going on, were more like finding out that the thing you’d just fallen in love with was, on closer inspection, not actually going to be able to take you to Space Florida and back.

In my personal opinion, the last two videos, the ones where I’m actually doing stuff on set rather than just pottering about and telling the camera how lost I feel, are much more interesting, and if I made any more of these things, that’s the kind of route that I’m going to be going down. Much less “look, a christmas tree!” and much more chatting with the cast and probably having a go at all of the various jobs that people do on set. That’s the kind of stuff that’s more fun for me, and judging by the comments that I’ve already seen, that’s the kind of stuff that you’re much more interested in too. As always though, if you have any thoughts on the videos that I’ve made, do post them in the comments of this blog post so that I can do my best to make any future videos as good as possible!

Although the magic is all gone for me, after watching the most recent episode of the show that aired on Christmas day, it’s been replaced by something new. Seeing everything come together on the other side has filled me with an appreciation for the work that goes into the show, an appreciation that I don’t think I’d be able to have if it hadn’t been for this new job of mine, and as someone who hopes to be able to direct his own stuff in the future, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for having that opportunity. My friend Michael reminds me often of this Chuck Jones quote: “Making art takes a lot of work and a lot of love. But when you’re good at it, all we ever see is the love” which makes me think that I was just used to seeing the love behind Doctor Who. It’s only now that I really feel privileged to be able to see the work too.

After I watched Doctor Who on Saturday, naturally my next port of call was to watch the episode of Doctor Who Confidential that aired straight after it. I’ve honestly been watching Confidential ever since I realised that it existed, but I practically have an obligation to watch it now that I’ve become friends with the people who make it, and am involved in the show myself. And then, by golly, after Confidential was over, the continuity announcer for BBC 3 said my name. On the TV. On Christmas day. That’s a kind of magic that still hasn’t disappeared for me just yet at least :)

{ 281 comments }

In my latest video titled “Magic Mars Bars” I did my best to make a case for why I don’t think illegal file sharing is really all that bad. Or at least, as a musician who’s just released an album, why I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and fight against it. The entertainment industry has done it’s best to criminalise people who do file share for a while now, and although I am still on the fence about whether file sharing should be made legal, I think the worst possible thing to do is try and stamp it out. All that does, in my view, is alienate the people that really matter. I feel pretty confident in my viewpoint on this, but I think that the best thing you can do when you have a confident viewpoint is to leave it open to be challenged so that you can expand your scope. And so, if any of you agree or disagree with me then I’d love to hear what you have to say!

As I also said in the video, my album is now officially out, and you can listen to the whole thing for free by going to the Music page here on my website. In regards to the album, I received an email from Hank Green this morning, one of the co-owners of http://dftba.com, who informed me that this has been their biggest release ever. Like, ever guys. So much so that, like the Nintendo Wii or the original Buzz Lightyear toy, we honestly didn’t expect that so many of you would want to get one. It’s the first day, and we’ve already had to contact the CD manufactures to make a ton more so that we can meet demand. You guys are the absolute best, and I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say that this is probably one of the coolest moments of my entire live. That either means that my life is pretty lame, or that you are the coolest audience that someone like me could ever hope for, and I’m sure you’d prefer the latter.

However, this has also been one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my entire life, and so hearing and seeing all of the messages I’ve received so far from you all has very much put me at ease. I’m really glad you all like it so much. If you are still hoping to get a copy then I do want to quickly address one query I’ve noticed: will the album be available in, like, real music stores? Unfortunately, DFTBA Records is an indie label, so if you want a physical copy of the CD then you’ll have to order it through them. They are completely trustworthy though, they are my friends, and no matter where you are in the world, if you want a CD, they will send you one. Another worry I’ve seen commented on the fact that all of the prices are in US Dollars, but I can also promise that, no matter where you buy the CD from, the currency will be converted automatically. I hope that makes things clear, and as if I haven’t told you enough already, you can get the Physical CD here and you can get it on iTunes here. And I think that’s enough about my album :)

{ 429 comments }

I Made You An Album

November 7, 2010

When you’ve been continuously plugging away at something like an album (my best guess is that I’ve been working on this for about six months) having everything finished feels incredibly strange. On one hand, this is probably the longest amount of time that I’ve ever spent on one individual project, and it’s an absolute relief and a joy to have it all come together. But on the other hand, I feel like I probably could have worked on this album forever. I’m worrying about little blemishes that I might have missed, about if I made the right artistic choices, and importantly, about what you’re going to think of it. After all, I didn’t make this album to try and storm my way into the charts and become a mainstream musician, I made it because you asked me to. So your opinion, really, is the thing that matters the most.

However, obviously I couldn’t slave away forever trying to make it as perfect as possible, or else the damn thing would never be released. It’s all done now, the songs and the artwork have been sent to my friend Alan at DFTBA Records to be printed, packaged, and plopped onto the servers of all of the digital download services. Essentially, this album no longer belongs to me – whatever happens now is completely out of my control, and I’m fine with that. It’s still yet to be released, it’s only available for pre-order for the moment, so while you’re waiting for December 1st (release date!) to roll around, I thought I’d chat a bit about the album artwork.

This is the thing that’s most fresh in my mind at the moment, as I actually only finished it over the last couple of days. I basically wanted to design the whole CD like I’d completed a “My First Album!” kit, a pack that you could buy in a shop and fill in yourself. Given that this is my first album, and that it many ways I still don’t really feel like a ‘proper’ musician, I wanted to make something that captured that naïve feeling. I designed the kit myself, printed it out, filled it in, and then scanned the whole thing back into my computer. I also did the same thing with the 8-page booklet which comes with the physical CD, in which instead of just writing down the song lyrics, I talked a little about all of the individual tracks on the album. I’ll leave that booklet as a surprise to those who get the CD, but the front and back of the album look like this:

"This Is Me" - Album Artwork. Click to enlarge.

I spent quite a while trying to figure out what I was going to put on the front in the “insert album artwork here” section. To start with I was going to flick through some old baby pictures and use one of those, to try again to capture that naïve feeling, but the more I thought about it, the more that just seemed a bit too obvious. I even played with the idea of doing a young me/now me style picture (inspired by Ze Frank), but that didn’t really work either. Then I finally realised that, if I had just bought a ‘first album’ style kit, I’d probably just have to take a picture on my phone, of myself, by myself. The picture that I chose was my second attempt. My some miraculous intervention by the gods of photo-framing, the picture came out just right, with a neat reflection of me taking the photo in the background to make it obvious that I was doing it myself, and an expression that summed up my nervousness about releasing the album. I’m really happy with it.

The album comes out on December 1st, and is available on it’s own as well as part of two bundles: The World Is Mine bundle, because I’ve “twinned” my album with my friend Alex Day, and the Cloning Charlie T-shirt bundle, because as well as lots of requests to make an album, I also got quite a few messages from people asking me to make a Cloning Charlie T-Shirt. Hopefully your needs have been fulfilled! Also, I should mention that if you pre-order then you’ll definitely get everything in time for Christmas, that DFTBA will ship to anywhere in the world, and that both of the bundles will vanish once the CD is out. If you do decide to buy any of this stuff then I really hope you’ll like it, and I look forward to hearing what you all think on December 1st :)

{ 590 comments }

Nerd-Off

October 25, 2010

The idea of “Challenge Charlie” has become a bit vague as of late. For example, If I was to tell you that I had two new videos lined up, one where I reel off a list of all of the nerdy things about me, and one where I do a 160ft bungee jump, you might expect the latter to be the more challenging one. Apparently I don’t work like that. To me, bungee jumping is something that I just want to do anyway, while partaking in a Nerd-Off is an arduous task to which I have to throw down my gauntlet. I’ll point out that this is something I’m completely cool with, because while I still will be using Challenge Charlie to do things that are, you know, actually challenging, at the end of the day I just want to make fun videos. I can’t always come up with the best stuff on my own, so having you guys as an asset, a video idea fountain as it were, is something I really value. Even if most of your suggestions seem to involve me dressing up as a girl (not going to happen).

I’ve loved watching through the video responses that have been coming in so far – it’s always great when you can be a nerd, acknowledge that fact, and be proud of it. And even if “nerd” isn’t the first word that you’d use to describe yourself, celebrating whatever nerdy tenancies you might have is also brilliant, because to me, being nerdy just means having something that you’re intelligently passionate about. I’ve noticed a few commenters over the years proclaiming “you’re not a nerd, Charlie! You’re too [insert superlative]” probably because the word has some negative connotations attached to it, but I’m not interested in pretending, I’m completely happy with my nerdiness. Actually, you know what, it’s pretty futile for me to even start talking about how great nerds are when John and Hank have been doing it for years already. Just go and watch all of the videos they’ve ever posted, and report back here once you’re done.

However, even if I am proud to be the nerd that I am, it was clear to me from the start that I’m not the cream of the nerd crop, and I’ve definitely already been out-nerded by some of the people who have posted video responses. The guy that I would place right at the peak of the pyramid currently would be this guy. Computer programing conference shirts, super-old-school video games, writes and publishes quantum physics papers for fun, has seen every single episode of Doctor Who (original series), only ever had one girlfriend, glasses, nerdy posture, nasally voice, and best of all he’s a rocket scientist. I tip my hat to the good man, and can’t wait to see if there’s anyone that thinks they can top him.

Now, Sons Of Admirals! First off, most importantly, I need to tell you all that I didn’t tell Tom to smash an egg on his head. Seriously, all I said to him was “do something quirky” and then he sent me a video of him smashing an egg on his head. That guy is the best. And secondly, although the infomercial style sequence at the end of the video was very much tongue-and-cheek, the bundle itself is an actual, like, real thing. http://dft.ba/-sons is the link if you’d like to get it, or any of individual bits of the bundle, though buying everything together is considerably cheaper. Although I do need to point out that, at time of writing, one of the videos as part of the bundle is called “To Our Fans” which, I’m aware, is one of the most pretentious titles for a video in the history of iTunes. It was meant to be called “Meet The Admirals” but there was a bit of mis-communication down the line. Such is life… but anyway, I digress. All that’s left to say is that if you do buy it the bundle then I hope you like it, and I’ll see y’all soon ^_^

{ 354 comments }

College Survey

October 14, 2010

Recently, a nice girl called Megan got in touch with me and asked if she could interview me for a College paper. For me, doing interviews are like doing those MySpace surveys, a fun way to pass the time while thinking about your life in a way that you don’t usually get the chance to. Though with interviews it’s even better, because not only are the questions tailored to you, but you’re also not wasting your time filling in a MySpace survey like a loser-face.

The unfortunate thing about this interview however is that, unfortunately, I sent Megan the answers a bit late and so she had to find someone else, which is completely understandable. But because I put quite a lot of effort into writing my answers, I thought it’d be a shame not have them be used somewhere. So, dear blog readers, this one’s for you! Though I warn you, it’s strictly for those people who want to know much more about my life than is probably healthy. Feel free to skip it, I won’t be offended, promise.

Tell me a little bit about your background and childhood.

I have a fairly mundane origin story really, the first born child to a not-very-well-off family living on the outskirts of Bath in Somerset, England. I was always a very shy kid, which my Mum noticed and tried to help me out of by sending me to weekly speech and drama classes when I was about seven. Little did she know that this wouldn’t exactly help me out of my shyness, but rather give me a passion for performing. I stayed an introvert all throughout secondary [high] school, but my interest in acting kept on growing. The school I went to didn’t teach drama, so instead I went to a bunch of workshops outside of school, learning both how to act for television and for theatre. Once YouTube hit me I decided to step back from those classes, although I still enjoy doing a bit of acting from time to time, regardless of the fact that I was never very good at it!

How did you feel about YouTube before you started video blogging? In what way has that opinion changed?

It’s become a horrible cliché to say this now, but before I started vlogging, I thought YouTube was just a website where you went to watch clips of TV shows and videos of dogs riding on skateboards. Like most people, I had absolutely no idea that there was anything resembling a community on YouTube, but after discovering vlogging and giving it a go, members of the community slowly started to appear, and I started to realise how much more there was to the website. Video-Blogging still is just one small part of the mass of content you can find on YouTube though, nowadays I usually describe YouTube as having “any kind of content you can imagine for any kind of audience you can imagine” … except porn, of course.

How did you get started posting on YouTube?

The first community based video that I ever watched was back in April 2007, which was called ‘The Liker Chain Resurrected’ – a video which went through a list of video-bloggers who were making good and notable content on YouTube at the time. I picked out a couple of names from the list that I thought sounded interesting, started watching them, and must have thought “hey, I can probably do that.” My dad had just bought me a laptop of my own, my brother had just relinquished ownership of his webcam knowing that he was never going to use it, and I had just discovered Windows Movie Maker. Plus, I was really, really bored. I was in the middle of exam revision at the time and needed a form of procrastination to get me through it, and so, enter YouTube.

How has being on the internet changed your life?

Being the shy kid that I was, I never found it very easy to make new friends, or know how to conduct myself around new groups of people. If was only after YouTube came into my life, and people starting watching my videos and giving me praise for them, that my confidence started to build. Also, it was a lot easier to make friends on YouTube because everybody had this common ground, and we tended to bond very quickly. It hasn’t just given me confidence though, before I joined YouTube I was on the path to a deadbeat job, and it was only with the internet that I was given the opportunity to take a hobby and turn it into my career. I’m still so incredibly grateful that I get to do what I love and get paid for it, and I try not to take that privilege for granted.

What has been your best encounter with a fan?

When people used to ask me if I got recognised in the street, I’d say that it happened every now and again, but not really that often. That was until I realised that it was happening pretty much every time that I left the house to pop into central London, so nowadays, it happens quite a bit. Which means, of course, that it’s very hard for me to pick a favourite! Though there was one time when I was out with my fellow YouTuber and now flatmate Alex when someone recognised the both of us, and literally screamed “OH MY GOD!” which made us all laugh hysterically. Nowadays, whenever I meet someone in person, I give them a little “I Found Charlie” pin-badge, though I’d be surprised if anyone actually wore them in public. Really, being recognised from time to time has just made the whole world a bit of a friendlier place, which is fine by me.

How do you feel knowing that the videos you post are watched by over half a million people?

I can’t really fathom it, honestly. I try and imagine myself standing on a stage in front of half a million people telling them about my day, drinking ketchup or painting myself purple, and it just doesn’t make any sense … but that idea really isn’t all that different to how it actually is. I tend not to think too much about a mass of people watching me though, I’m very aware that when I watch videos on YouTube it’s just me and my computer, so I don’t make my videos for an audience, I make them for the one person who’s watching it. I also just make them for myself, doing my best to make videos that I would want to watch, and that I can be proud to share with the world and say “I did this!”

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Bungee Jump

October 13, 2010

If you are reading this, then I strongly recommend that you, at some point in your life, have a go at bungee jumping. If you have a serious fear of heights, sure, maybe you should give it a miss, or if you’re pregnant, yeah, it probably wouldn’t be the best thing to do. But to the rest of you, the adrenaline rush that you get from feeling like you’re about to crash head first into the floor is, in a word: nice. Though you probably shouldn’t think about the crashing into the floor bit. It’s safe, I swear, I checked on Google before I did my own jump to see the statistics, and nobody died while I was there or anything. And I didn’t die either, apparently. Sure, it’s always better to make decisions based off data, and not from an anecdote from some guy on the internet, but just this once, hear me out. Go bungee jumping.

I had another one of those opportunities recently where a company came to me and said “Hi! We like your YouTube stuff” and then asked if there was any way that we could do something together. For me, if I’m going to be working with a company on something then my aim is for it to result in a better video, and one that I wouldn’t have been able to make without their help. When they suggested the idea of the bungee jumping record and the chance to give it a go myself, I knew straight away that it was an chance to create something that I wouldn’t otherwise get to make. So I jumped on it. Get it? Jumped? I’m so lame.

After Alex and I had completed our jumps, we were both approached by a lovely guy called Pipa, which is, as far as I know, a girl’s name. But Charlie is a girl’s name too so I’m not judging. Pipa works for Extreme Element, the company who put on the bungee jumping event, and was telling me and Alex about other EXTREME experiences that the company does, like skydiving for example. Bungee jumping is, after all, pretty much a skydiving practice run, so if things go as I’m hoping they will, who knows. There might be more videos of Charlie jumping into the air than you’d originally bargained for.

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