Episode 336 — Cinecom: Growing a Massive YouTube Business — Jordy Vandeput
Episode 336 — Cinecom: Growing a Massive YouTube Business — Jordy Vandeput
Cinecom is a YouTube channel and a media organization from Belgium founded in 2014 by Jordy Vandeput. The goal of the channel is to provide educational content for filmmakers and video editors around the world.
Jordy Vandeput graduated from a film school in Brussels, Belgium in 2012. Right after, he started working as an independent freelancer for various video-productions. One of his clients at the time was Envato for whom he made online courses about various aspects of filmmaking and video editing.
After founding the Cinecom in 2014, Jordy expanded his team. By December 2018, the YouTube channel reached 1 million subscribers. By the summer of 2019, the team started their second channel Premiere Basics.
In this Podcast, Jordy talks about starting Cinecom Belgium, the secret to going viral, how and when to grow your team, the importances of deadlines — as well as some of his projects as a filmmaker.
CineCom Website: https://www.cinecom.net
CineCom on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpLfM1_MIcIQ3jweRT19LVw
CineCom on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cinecom.team/
Premiere Basics: https://www.premierebasics.net
[03:01] Jordy Vandeput Introduces Himself
[04:41] Jordy Talks About Starting Out
[09:56] The “Secret” to Going Viral
[12:20] How and When to Grow Your Team
[16:39] The Importance of Deadlines
[23:35] Jordy Discusses His Short Film Routine
[30:56] Jordy and Allan Talk Equipment and Tech
EPISODE 336 — CINECOM: GROWING A MASSIVE YOUTUBE BIZ — JORDY VANDEPUT
This is Allan McKay.
Welcome to Episode 336! I’m sitting down with Jordy Vandeput, the Founder of YouTube channel Cinecom. You might be familiar with all the amazing stuff they produce.
Jordy and I talk about his experience starting Cinecom Belgium. Jordy also shares the secret to going viral (as a creator and a business)l, how and when to grow your team, the importances of deadlines — as well as some of his projects as a filmmaker.
Let’s dive in!
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
[01:25] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!
[37:46] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!
INTERVIEW WITH JORDY VANDEPUT
[03:01] Allan: Again, thanks for joining the Podcast, Jordy! Do you want to quickly introduce yourself?
Jordy: Thank you for having me! My name is Jordy. I run a YouTube Channel called Cinecom.net. What we do is create tutorials about how the film world works, mostly VFX. We explain how VFX is made in film and music videos, mostly using Premiere and After Effects. We talk about lighting, cinematography, effects and everything around that.
[03:37] Allan: I love that! Did you always think you’d be in a creative role while growing up?
Jordy: I’ve always done some form of art. My parents wanted me to do that. I’ve been to drawing classes and I sucked at those. For me, it was important to do something creative, whether or not I was good at it. Eventually, I studied electricity in school because I felt art wasn’t my thing. I went to IT to do programming. At the same time, I was messing around with Premiere and After Effects; and it was from there that I decided to go to film school to learn more about what film actually is. And I really liked it! So I transitioned into it!
[04:41] Allan: In the early days, how did you first get started and get traction?
Jordy: When I was 16 years old, I was playing around with Premiere. We had a group of 4 people at school: one was good with photography, another was doing audio, someone else was doing stunts on video. We made these videos and tutorials. I couldn’t find anything about Premiere online. It was the early days of YouTube. So I had this feeling I should be the one making tutorials. I made one of the first Premiere tutorials on YouTube and it was getting some [views]. So we started to make more tutorials. We’d make these designer packs which were stacks of stock clips. We did it as a hobby. We stopped doing that after school. I went to film school. After the film school, I tried to do it again but with a different group of people. That’s how I transitioned into what I do now.
[06:25] Allan: Cool! In terms of your starting Cinecom, when was that conscious decision to make an actual YouTube channel?
Jordy: After I graduated from film school, the obvious thing was to register as self-employed. You’d look for jobs, like making corporate videos or commercials, or helping out on set as a camera guy. At the same time, I was doing YouTube as a hobby. This was without getting paid. I didn’t have any sponsors. I didn’t even have running ads. It was just in my free time. At a certain moment, my audience got to 50K subscribers. I thought maybe this was something. I enjoyed doing it already. Eventually, I got someone who was arranging ads and he started getting sponsors for me. It felt like it was something. It led to getting paid a little for the videos. Slowly, it transitioned to getting more and more paid sponsors for YouTube and letting go of my local clients. That’s how it transitioned to doing this full time in 2018.
[08:18] Allan: In terms of building relationships, how beneficial is it to have a platform to get that growth? The power of the internet is that you aren’t just looking in your local town. You can look for work in the entire world. How important has that been?
Jordy: I’m not doing much in Belgium. I don’t even think that many people know we’re from Belgium. Most of our contacts go through our manager. He does these contracts, but he doesn’t look by specific countries. He looks at the entire world. It’s also important to meet your clients and sponsors and talk to them. That’s something that our manager does a lot because we’ve grown to the point where I’m not able to do that a lot. In the beginning, I was able to go to these network events and talk to other businesses. Now, it’s no longer possible. We’re creating things all week.
[09:56] Allan: Was your growth gradual or were there certain pivotal moments? I think a lot of people hope for that one video that’s going to change everything. What has your experience been like?
Jordy: I think indeed that’s something that people think: “If I just make that one good video…” And it does happen with some people. Some people. Other people try to make that video, and it’s like a molecule in the ocean. It’s hard to see it. Mostly, it’s the case where you just start making videos. For some, it’ll take 10 videos; for others, it’ll take a hundred videos — until you get that traction. You can’t put a number on it! I have no idea why it happens, it’s all about the YouTube algorithm. It was in 2018 that we started to grow exponentially. When you have your first success, you kind of know this is something the audience likes. For us, for that first time, we recreated the Bruno Mars video. That took off! From that moment on, we realized that if we try to make other videos, they might succeed as well. That’s where Copy Cats came from, which is a weekly video for us. We noticed that certain videos in that format get more views. It’s about jumping on that trend. If it’s a new movie or a music video, we jump on that trend wagon.
[12:20] Allan: With Cinecom, what was it like to grow your team? I find it to be fascinating when people do something creatively because it’s a passion. Then they wake up and they’re running a business. What was it like for you?
Jordy: I still remember the time when I was thinking about hiring my first. I went to these workshops on how to hire your first. I was trying to look for stories that didn’t end well. At the time, I was making enough money to make a wage myself. In Belgium, we have something like a 6-month training wage which is paid by the government (and then you have to pay them). I did that! I hired my first guy for 6 months. We doubled the revenue and we succeeded.
[13:57] Allan: A lot of us get that bottleneck. As a freelancer, you have too much work coming in so you think of hiring another you. But a lot of the time, your hiring someone means that your free time goes away on training and nurturing that person before you even see any payoff.
Jordy: In my case, it was a little bit different. I was still working as a freelance camera guy doing these projects. I felt if I needed to do YouTube full time, I needed to put more effort into it. That’s when I felt I needed someone’s help so I could still do my corporate videos. If you notice, the quality of the videos wasn’t where it is now because I had to train that person. In the beginning, I was working 7 days a week. Once the YouTube channel started going well, I could put away my local work. But it also meant that I needed to put more effort into the channel: I wanted to raise the quality of the videos, so I started publishing to twice a week. Then, I noticed I was still working 7 days a week. So I hired another additional person. But then I was still working 7 days a week. It just stays. I got so much work to do, I could hire 50 people and put them all to work. That’s the downside of YouTube: There is no client that asks you for so many shooting days. You can do everything yourself. Right now, with Unreal Engine, we’re working through the weekends to figure it out. No one is asking us to do that. I don’t think it matters how large your team is. You’ll make it work.
[16:39] Allan: Knowing that you’re going to put out two videos a week, you’re going to have a condensed timeline. Did you find that having shorter deadlines was more of a saving grace?
Jordy: I think it has both pros and cons.
- Having the deadline makes us have a video out and stay consistent. If we don’t have those, I can see ourselves push out the deadline even further.
- Working with sponsors is a very good thing. Oftentimes, you don’t know what to make a video about. But if a sponsor asks you to try out their product, you’re forced to make a video about that. You have a topic now! With Unreal Engine, if they didn’t reach out to us, we would’ve never learned their software. We have a deadline now. It’s good to have that consistency.
- On the other hand, we do feel that quality isn’t always there. Give us another week, it’s going to be better. Give us another week, it will be better still! Sometimes we do notice that the quality that we aim for isn’t there, but it’s either that — or not be consistent.
[18:41] Allan: It’s like that phrase, “Art is never finished, it’s only abandoned.” In terms of burnout, do you ever experience that? What has that been like? Do you have a wall?
Jordy: With what we make, I do not. But I [experience that] with the internet and social media. For YouTube, it lets it down when you work hard on a video and then it feels like YouTube is blocking us. It’s not giving us the views. Sometimes, we see the numbers drop and wonder why? And at the same time, there are these new platforms, like YouTube shorts. I find it so stupid! But we have to do that as well, in order to not be pushed back by other creators. It’s also about being present on all these social media platforms. That gives me that burnout. In my personal life, I’m never on Facebook. Never!
[20:18] Allan: I think that’s smart! I don’t have notifications on anything. I’ve noticed when people get angry when I don’t respond to those long emails.
Jordy: Yes, that’s daily! Daily! People in the comments on YouTube are expecting you to look at their whole project and help them figure out things. Or people send you emails asking to give you feedback on their short film.
[21:16] Allan: Some countries have less than 2 million people. With your channel, it’s almost like a small country. But to go to every single person can be pretty overwhelming.
Jordy: Sometimes the same goes for sponsors as well. I don’t reply to every email that wants to sponsor us. I look at the sender and their product. If it doesn’t fit our channel, I don’t respond. But they keep sending emails every week, “Hey, I saw you opened this but didn’t respond.” They keep sending emails! It feels like it’s too much!
[19:09] Allan: With Cinecom, what would’ve been some of the most memorable projects you’ve had so far?
Jordy: Like I mentioned, the first Copy Cat with the scribble animation. We also found something the algorithm picked up. As for the creative side, the building stuff. We did some videos where we built a whole camera train that went over cars. It was very DIY style! Everyone can do this. We saw people recreating our camera train. We had someone falling through the ground. We had this cube filled with gravel. Under that, we had a small hole where he could stick his whole body through. We could mask him out and put him on the street. It was really fun to build all this stuff.
[23:35] Allan: You’ve done so much cool stuff! You made a short film Routine. How did you get the idea for it? Did you always want to make a film?
Jordy: I really love making short films. Three years ago, I started doing one. The process of it was a failure, but the end result was pretty good. It took 3 years to finish it. In the meantime, I made other short films. Routine was sponsored by Adobe. I’m really happy that they came and sponsored us. They also gave us a deadline which is sometimes good to have because it forces you to finish it. They gave me all the freedom. I went for a concept that could be produced easily. It was this really raw video. The audience really enjoyed it. Last week, I released a new short film because it was also sponsored by Adobe. It was an idea I had in my mind for a year. I was forced to make it and it’s good. I’m happy I turned my idea into a film.
[26:08] Allan: Everyone’s got ideas. But what’s the secret to executing on those?
Jordy: I think for us, it was the sponsor that made us release the film on that day. But if you look at it from the angle of, “Why are we so forced to make it happen before that day?” We don’t want to ruin our reputation. It doesn’t have to be a sponsor. It can be a friends group. You could start making your film by starting to talk about. Start inviting your family to the premier. If you didn’t deliver, you’d be embarrassed. So get off your ass — and make it!
[27:34] Allan: There [used to be] a website called www.stick.com. The whole idea is that it’s an escrow website. Your friends are in charge of the escrow. So it’s all about accountability. The money is already set up. But you’re right: Accountability is everything! I have clients and I’ll work day and night to get it done. What are your thoughts on crowdfunding films? Back in the day, you had to convince so many people. These days, people can use their iPhone to film.
Jordy: I think it’s really great! How do you make money with a short film? I still don’t know. You can go to festivals. The first short I made I funded it myself because I still don’t know how I could make money with a short. Now, we have sponsors who pay for them. But I have no idea how to make money with those films. Back in the day, it was so much more expensive. You had to have film and a crew. These days, you don’t need to have all that equipment. It also seems more acceptable to not have high quality with something. As long as your story is good! I think that’s the most important factor. Even filming with a small handycam, a great story is going to work.
[30:56] Allan: Some of my favorite films take place in one single room. Some people will get angry if I don’t ask about your tools and software.
Jordy: We use the Adobe software. I started using that. I started with Final Cut 7. When 10 came out, it didn’t seem like the upgrade. So I went to Premiere. We use Photoshop. As for camera equipment, I started out with Canon 5D which was one of the first DSLR’s able to shoot HD video back then. We have a bunch of DSLR’s now: I went through GH4, GH5. We still shoot on GH 5. Most of the work we shoot on RED GEMINI and lighting Aperture, mostly. When I built the studio, I wanted to have 10 lights up there. I found a video production company in Germany that was selling their equipment. I found these fresnel lights for $50 each. I bought 10 of those. If you don’t have the budget, get those lights.
[33:15] Allan: I’ve got a $1,200 light. My friend convinced me to switch to RED. A lot of people will put so much focus into the wrong metrics. It’s usually the stuff that isn’t the most expensive. It’s all about the story.
Jordy: We shoot with a RED Gemini and a GH 5. We have done a lot of camera tests. The reason we bought the RED is because of the extra features (not just the quality). There are so many videos about iPhone and footage from a RED.
[34:56] Allan: Is there any technology you’re keeping an eye on? You’re playing with Unreal right now. What are your thoughts on the new technology coming out?
Jordy: Of course, the CineBot that always looks cool. It’s so expensive, so we’re never going to buy it. With Unreal, we’re still figuring out how it works. You need a lot of stuff around it. We have a VR system up here that we use as a camera tracker. You can go really far with these adapters that you can plug your lens into. I’m looking into that. It all looks interesting. The whole tracking suit like Rokoko looks really cool!
[37:04] Allan: Where can people go to find out more about you and Cinecom?
Jordy: On YouTube, just type in Cinecom. We are active on Instagram and Facebook. We upload weekly videos. Or visit www.Cinecom.net.
[37:37] Allan: And you also have really cool courses which I’ve been checking out. Thanks so much! It’s been a lot of fun!
Jordy: Thanks so much!
I hope you enjoyed this Episode. I want to thank Jordy for coming on the Podcast.
Please take a few moments to share this Episode with others.
I’ll be back again next week. Until then –
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