In the age of jump cuts and Twitter-length attention spans, YouTubers have learned to communicate who they are with as few words as possible.
One popular way is to use a video’s background.
A plain white backdrop used to be the norm for YouTubers partly for simplicity’s sake. These days, iJustine is one of the very few long-time YouTubers that still use a plain white background.
“I have missed this white wall so, so much,” iJustine said in her recent 2:27 “askij” vlog fielding questions from her 1.2 million-strong fanbase.
The five-year YouTube veteran’s white wall is reminiscent of a professional photoshoot. Despite the traditional backdrop’s age, it still gives each video a polished look, and enhances iJustine’s supermodel looks.
John and Hank Green, a.k.a. the vlogbrothers, film before a homey backdrop that recalls the family media room. The cluttered background showcases their different vlogbrothers posters as well as their extensive book, DVD, stuffed animal, and manga collection.
It makes sense for the vlogbrothers, who have defined themselves as intellectuals, educators, and cultural critics—John is a New York Times bestselling author after all. Their fanbase calls themselves “nerdfighteria,” and new viewers can easily surmise that they’ll feel as at home in that group as they feel in that room.
These days, cluttered backgrounds seem to have taken over from stark white and become the norm.
Ze Frank, intellectual, poet—an older YouTuber—films himself in front of his bookshelf, which houses various knick-knacks, including a wooden shark.
Thatzak started vlogging in 2007 in his blue bedroom. Now he vlogs in front of movie posters for Back To the Future, Clockwork Orange, and V for Vendetta and a bowler hat. With a background like that, is there any doubt what sort of person Thatzak is?
YouTube’s first millionaire and most popular YouTuber, Ray William Johnson, used to film his videos at his desk before a brick wall. But he moved over to a cluttered backdrop featuring comic book panels early in his YouTube career, and hasn’t changed it in three years though there have been big improvements in his video quality.
The tomboyish and opinionated Brit known as icklenellierose frames herself in her messy room, surrounded by her exploding closet. She may be dressed in black from head to toe, but we can all see that frilly pink frock hanging behind her.
Philip DeFranco, known on YouTube as sxephil, may have moved into a new studio office following Google’s million-dollar investment, but he took his background with him. The iconic cobalt blue wall with a red (accessible) couch is a nod to DeFranco’s political—yet friendly—inclinations. He calls his fanbase “the Nation”—while the Angry Birds stuffed toys and the cardboard cut-out of Doctor Who’s Tardis highlight his pop culture leanings. It is unclear if anyone has ever sat on Defranco’s couch.
Defranco’s original poster designs, framed and positioned above the couch, complete the look, and are occasionally sold out on his website.
Photo via YouTube