Belfast through the eyes of an outsider looks like a really cool place…

Yesterday I was at the Power of Video Conference held at the shiny new Waterfront extension. As you may have guessed from the title, it was all about using video online.

Video can be enormously popular online. The video below was put on our Facebook page a few months ago and so far over a million people have watched it. Bonkers.


For those of us over a certain age the whole Youtube stars thing has probably passed us by. In brief, these days most young people consume video content on their phones. Sitting in front of a TV is soooo 20th century. All that staring at phones means that Youtube now has 4 billion video views a day.

The growing popularity of Youtube has created a new class of self-made Youtube celebrities. It is easy to dismiss a lot of these people as self obsessed narcissists who did not get hugged enough as children. But when you put aside your cynicism there is something really interesting going on.

One of the speakers at the conference was Casey Neistat. Mr Neistat is a big cheese in the Youtube world with over 3 million subscribers and not far off a billion video views. He seems to be full of boundless energy as in between his speaking engagements he took time to run, jump, and skate round this fair city of ours. All documented on video:

The video is surprisingly entertaining. I know some of you will sneer and soon as you see a baseball cap and skateboard but give it a chance. What is most impressive about the video is Belfast looks class. The sun is shining, the people are good looking (well some of them), Belfast looks a hip and interesting place to be. A video that Mr Neistat knocked out on his laptop in his hotel room is on course to be viewed by over a million people. Off course Casey is a skilled and talented film maker but he is doing all this on standard equipment that most of us have or could easily afford.

Very nice and your point is?

Well a few things. A video created for free will have more impact on tourism than hundreds of thousands spent on traditional marketing. By being imaginative and clever we can boost the image of brand NI for very little cost. The barriers to entry for creating video have fallen dramatically. Anyone with a phone and a bit of imagination can reach a global audience.

For organisations and companies, video is a great tool to get your message across for a very low price. Here are some tips I got from the conference:

  • Keep your video short and simple.
  • People prefer authentic video. You don’t need to hire a video person. Just whip out your phone and hit record.
  • People respond better to videos with people. So stick your mug in front of the camera.
  • If you have a Facebook page shove some video on it, it gives you the best results.

We plan to do more video on Slugger. We just need to book us all a slot at the beauty salon first 😉

Well done to the people at Speed Motion Films for organising the event. They are one of the many new companies out there creating jobs and doing great work.

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  • EssCee

    Ben Brown was here too…check out this video from the 3 min mark…

    Also here…

    Northern Ireland looks fantastic!

  • Great stuff Brian,

    Look forward to watching. Was thinking the same the other day – Belfast really does look fantastic these days if you look at it in the right way.

  • Teddybear

    Looking forward to the videos of the deprived areas and the not so young and hip. Tourism – the only industry where barefaced lying is acceptable

  • Brian O’Neill
  • Brian O’Neill

    Thanks. Good find 🙂

  • Declan Doyle

    Belfast is most definately the jewel in the Crown when it comes to Irish cities at the moment. After decades of right wing conservative misrule from city hall, it has become a beacon of cead mile failte with tonnes of ri ra agus rula bula. Similar to Cork and Galway it is capitalising on tourist opportunities and showing off the infamous Irish charm, a charm that Dublin last to some extent during the celtic tiger years. Buladh bos Beal Feirste.

  • Gopher

    So it was the right wing conservatives blowing Belfast up not the IRA?

  • Brian O’Neill

    Both of you. Please stick to the topic.

  • Gopher

    Suns out, Belfast looks good, plenty of tourists running around . Tip to National Trust and Assembly, reform licensing laws and let the Crown open earlier to accommodate the tourists milling around outside it. Second tip to Belfast City council is employ some students in an official capacity to walk about the streets of the city centre and help out our lost tourists get to where they will spend money. Incredible as it seems every 30 yards there are tourists with their heads buried in maps.

  • Declan Doyle

    They were conducting violence in Belfast well before the IRA came along.

  • Declan Doyle

    I think I was.

  • Gopher

    Yup every single thread your on the same topic

  • Gopher

    What area would be a deprived area of Belfast today?

  • Declan Doyle

    He replied to your comment mate not mine. I gave an analysis on Belfast and you went off on your IRA tangent. Try keeping on topic please, it is about Belfast and how much we all love it. Try.

  • Gopher

    I dont really think that after blaming the woes of Belfast’s past on the “Right Wing Conservatives” in a positive thread about Belfast and a Belfast looking to the future is constructive. For balance if we were digging up the past yet again to pollute the thread with politics we needed to mention the IRA and their bombing of Belfast to the most unpopular tourist destination. We also need to mention the vast investment HMG and the private sector have made to rebuilding Belfast after it was destroyed in a campaign to get Marty deputy first minister. We just need to score those points. Its not as if there arnt plenty of other threads to do it on. I don’t think “Irish charm” alone brought Belfast back on the tourist map I think it was investment.

  • Declan Doyle

    Try to focus on the point of the OP and celebrate Belfast’s rebirth as Ireland’s glowing city.

  • Gopher

    Maybe you should edit your first post and then we can concentrate on a non political thread

  • Declan Doyle

    You don’t get to censor other people because you have trouble staying on message, sorry.

  • Gopher

    I am I’m positive about Marty getting to open all these new buildings and open new offices and bring Employment to Belfast such a change dont you think? To be fair Derry was more the deputy first ministers bailiwick or does corporate responsibility cover Belfast?

  • Declan Doyle

    Whats HMG?

  • Declan Doyle

    Here u go

  • David McCay

    hahaha – loved the first 10 seconds of that video – much more representative of Belfast than the other 10mins – ‘….Get out tha fuckin road…..dickhead’ !!! Enough to make me miss home 🙂

  • Jollyraj

    Belfast is in the UK, isn’t it?

  • John Collins

    Corporate responsibility did not seem to apply to Derry when it was bypassed for an airport fit to cater for transatlantic flights, and had that opportunity for growth handed over to the about equally well located site at Shannon, or when Coleraine, with one third of its population, was favoured over it for the location of a University. Even today it is the only city of its size in the island that does not have a motorway reaching it. I have no time for Marty or indeed SF, but that is hardly all his fault. Anyway a Deputy First Minister should not be just a person who only ‘gets things’ for his own city or town

  • ted hagan

    Looked fantastic and the skateboarding was fantastic even if the Sean Penn character was bit too much.

  • KiLlerWiLd

    ‘standard equipment that most of us have or could easily afford.’

    If you’re taking the gear that he currently uses to produce these videos as easily affordable then I don’t think you’re taking into consideration how much it all costs, together what he uses in an average video costs around around £3000 which is not affordable to the extent anyone could just go and buy it whenever they want.

  • Reader

    Brian O’Neill: What is most impressive about the video is Belfast looks class. The sun is shining, the people are good looking (well some of them),
    The tourist board couldn’t make a video like that. I think when the sun comes out they all take a day off.
    Wouldn’t want to waste the good weather.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Nope. The first part of the video is shot with a Sony RX100. I have one of those and you can pick them up for £200-£300. Also most modern phones can do HD video no problem. I may not look quite as slick as this video, but it will defiantly be good quality. You can edit the video in imovie which comes free with all iphones, ipads etc or edit it online.

    Edit: looking at the video again i think its actually a Canon PowerShot he is using. But the point is HD cameras are pretty cheap these days. You do not need high end gear.

  • Reader

    John Collins: Even today it is the only city of its size in the island that does not have a motorway reaching it.
    Just eyeballing the map, it looks like all of the motorway made in Northern Ireland to date would scarcely reach from Belfast to Derry. That wouldn’t have been the best result for so much effort.
    And as a Bangorian, I have a suggestion about the best place for another 14 miles of motorway…

  • John Collins

    I was in Ballyclare the Ulster Folk Park, out near you, but only for an hour. Lovely staff and absolutely brilliant facility. I am looking to going back for a full day.
    Word of complaint hpwever. I had often seen the Ulster Folk Park at Mountjoy, near Omagh, advertised and had been there a few times, but I never saw any ‘shout outs’ for Ballyclare and only found it by chance.

  • Gopher

    Mptorway to at least Holywood switch the sides between the railway and road along the Sydenham by pass and get rid of the absurd Dee st lights. Admittedly it’s not in Derry but if we get it we could call it the “Marty Mc G Way” and get President Higgins to open it.