Case study — Buzzfeed Tasty

Affordances (Bradley)

The term “affordance” originated in the context of perceptual psychology, referring to the interaction between actors (people or animals) and objects in the world (Norman 2004). Each object has a set of affordances which are specific properties or attributes that govern its relationship to an actor — for example, its material properties, how the actor can use and interact with the object, how these interactions change the object, etc. In contrast to affordances, objects also have constraints, which are limits on the object’s affordances and the ways in which an actor can interact with the object. In the context of online media, affordances define the properties and attributes of a particular platform or media format, and constraints can be either inherent in the platform or artificially enforced (for example, a short time limit on video duration).

Online Video Practice — Buzzfeed Tasty (Bradley)

Example post: French-style apple tart

The Buzzfeed Tasty page posts recipe/cooking videos with a very specific and consistent style. Visually the typical Tasty video depicts a person, mostly unseen apart from their hands, performing the steps required to make a particular recipe in order. The footage is shot from above, as if from the point-of-view of the cook, focused very tightly on the subject — which is, more often than not, a mixing bowl. The subject is always very brightly lit and the footage is extremely crisp — likely shot on a DSLR attached to a static tripod or rack to keep the POV shots consistent. Captions (such as steps in the recipe method, food measurements, etc.) are presented in a white sans-serif font which is also very clean and crisp. There are occasional cutaways, close-ups and other shots — usually captured with an extremely shallow depth-of-field — to better illustrate particular steps in the recipe or to show a closer view of what the product should look like after a particular step.

Most Tasty videos make use of techniques like quick cutting and fast-motion footage to save time (since cooking is a long, often laborious process) and make the video more engaging to casual viewers. Rather than showing the cook prepare each of a dozen apples, for example, the video will show the cook preparing one fully and then quickly and repetitively cut to illustrate that a further 11 were made in similar fashion.

Each video has a generic, upbeat soundtrack and no important information is ever communicated aurally — this is because the expectation is that most viewers would see the video while scrolling through their Facebook news feed and therefore without sound, so anything communicated aurally will be lost. This is always why Tasty videos start with action immediately and have no introduction or logo at the beginning, to take advantage of one of the main affordances of Facebook video (i.e. that videos start playing automatically without sound).

The overall effect of these cinematic techniques is that Tasty videos have a distinct “food porn” quality that encourages casual watching even by those who don’t plan to make the recipe themselves. This quality is achieved entirely through post-production techniques and editing — the raw footage would be exceedingly long and boring to watch, but when presented in the quick, clean style of Tasty, the videos are incredibly engaging and addictive.

Service Context — Facebook (Khanh)

Facebook pages allow you to upload and author your own videos and distribute them. People often post a video on Facebook with accompanying text and a link to other pages or back to Buzzfeed. This is referred to as a caption of the video. When posting however you can comment on the video like you would a normal Facebook post status and it will show the status and the video caption. After posting videos to Facebook, other viewers watch and comment and they also have an option of tagging their friends to watch or share to other viewers. Authors can easily distribute videos making them viral this way on Facebook. These photos are shared with other social media services too like Instagram and Snapchat. The videos are a lot shorter on Snapchat as they have a 10 second limit but the videos of Tasty on Instagram are pretty similar to the Facebook ones but it doesn’t have the video captions. It is also limited to a 1 minute video as opposed to on Facebook.

These videos show up on people’s feeds if they follow the Tasty Facebook page or if one of their friends have liked/commented or shared the video. It plays in silent if you don’t click on it and you scroll pass it. If you click on the unmute button it will play on your newsfeed. If you click on the video, it will open up into a “night mode” sort of video player and maximises into a bigger video. It shows how many comments, reactions, views and shares. You also have the ability to like, comment and share. The expanded mode also shows the video captions. You can click the likes/comments numbers to open up a side panel showing the page name (Tasty) and the photos. It also shows date posted and comments and reactions to the video alongside the status that accompanied the post of the video. Upon research, the maximum you can upload to Facebook is 45 minutes or no larger than 1.75 GB. Most Tasty videos never get even close as they are focused on being short, punchy, fun videos.

Constraints (Lan)

The constraints of uploading a video to Facebook probably are the format of a video and the duration to upload a video successfully on Facebook. Although Facebook allows the users to upload any kinds of video files such as .MP4, .AVI, .MKV format video, it will be much easier to convert a video to .MP4 and then upload to Facebook. This is because Facebook recommends the users to use the .mp4 or .mov format so the videos can have the HD quality. There are some cases that the users can not post any videos with the format of .AVI or .MKV due to some problems, therefore, it is advised that the users can use the FreeMaker Video Converter to convert their videos to .MP4. Second constraint is the time taken when uploading a video to Facebook. The duration taken when uploading a video to Facebook depends on the size of a video and the Internet connection, therefore, sometimes if the videos are the large size, the users have to wait until the video is completely and successfully uploaded.

The videos can be shared not only to Facebook but also any kinds of social media the users want to upload. The videos do not have to be authored in another application beforehand. The decision based on the users. Tasty has the videos that could both shared between Instagram and Facebook. Basically, when you create an account of Instagram and you use the Facebook account to log in Instagram account, it is a connection between these two platforms and whenever you upload to Facebook or Instagram, it will be posted to another if you allow the videos to be. The users who might be the fans of Tasty can easily comments, likes and shares on any videos they like which were already uploaded to Facebook or Instagram. They can also save the videos if they want. Through the tags that the producers make, the fans can easily type the tags down the search engine and the lists of videos which contain these tags will appear.