The viral video hit “Apple Engineer Talks,” which mocks the new MacBook, is a scream. I nearly died laughing — along with millions of other people.
The clever parody was crafted by somebody who clearly has a deep knowledge of Apple, so I was surprised to discover its creator is actually an Android user.
Here’s how he did it, and why he didn’t make any money off his wildly successful Apple viral video.
Armando Ferreira is the brains behind “Apple Engineer Talks about the New 2015 Macbook,” which racked up more than 3 million views on YouTube this week.
“I didn’t really think it was going to get that big,” he told Cult of Mac. “I guess I’m happy about it.” Then he starts laughing.
In the age of YouTube, Ferreira’s story is a case study of how to engineer a viral hit. As the video service expands its already massive reach, everyone from indie content creators to Madison Avenue wants to know how to get attention. Ferreira’s story is instructive.
Ferreira is a 34-year-old, self-employed web developer and designer from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., whose business can be found at Web Design Lab.
He makes tech videos for YouTube as a sideline. He started his YouTube channel three years ago, building an audience with a series of Android-versus-iOS videos. His numbers aren’t massive but they are respectable. He has about 130,000 YouTube subscribers, 80,000 on Google+ and several thousand on Twitter. He occasionally guest blogs on The Droid Effect, an Android blog.
A few weeks ago, he watched a parody video poking fun at Canon’s DSLR cameras. The video is a comically subtitled clip of an old TV interview with Spanish comedian Juan Joya Borja, known as El Risitas, or “The Giggles,” for his infectious laugh.
“I was dying laughing,” Ferreira said. “I was crying. I almost died. I thought, ‘This is the new Hitler. One day I’ll use this to make a video myself.'”
Taking a whack at the new MacBook
Last Monday, Ferreira was watching Apple’s “Spring Forward” keynote presentation.
“I’m a huge fan of Apple,” said Ferreira, who owns an iPad and a couple of MacBooks. But while he says he loves Apple, he dislikes the iPhone. “That’s the one device from Apple I’ve never been a fan of,” he said. He prefers the flexibility of Android, and uses a Nexus 6.
Ferreira was hoping Apple would announce a new MacBook Air with a high-resolution Retina screen at Monday’s event. He was sorely disappointed by the radically stripped-down machine Apple presented instead.
“It’s almost ridiculous to say this is better because it’s a few ounces lighter (than the current MacBook Air),” he said of the Force Touch MacBook. “I wanted to see a MacBook Air with a Retina display. That would have been perfect.”
He didn’t get the MacBook he wanted, but he spotted some great material for a satirical video.
He started work on a script for the subtitles but initially found it very difficult. He wanted to stick to the Canon script — to reproduce it almost exactly — but it wasn’t working. He labored for hours and almost gave up. He finally started to make progress after he abandoned the idea of reproducing the Canon video exactly.
Ferreira speaks Spanish, and tried to match some of the comedian’s phrases, hand movements and body language to the script he was writing. Suddenly everything clicked, and he finished most of his video before he went to bed.
“I woke up pretty early,” he said. “I was excited about it. I didn’t sleep all night. I was able to finish up in 30 minutes.
“Every time I watched it I was laughing,” he added. “If I was laughing every time I played it, I knew other people would like it too.”
He uploaded the video Wednesday around 10 a.m. Pacific and posted a link to his followers on YouTube, Google+ and Twitter. He didn’t publicize it in any other way, like sending it to tech blogs.
The viewership started modestly — 1,600 views in the first hour — but doubled every hour after that. It was picked up by some big tech blogs — including Business Insider, Wired and Cult of Mac — and by noon Thursday it peaked, being watched 100,000 times an hour.
At first the video had ads on it, but after a copyright complaint from the owner of the original clip — Radio Television de Andalucia — it was flagged by YouTube. Ferreira appealed and was able to keep the video up, but had to remove the ads.
“It’s a parody so I could use it under fair use, but I couldn’t monetize it,” he explained. “If it had been able to monetize I would have made several thousand dollars.”
Instead, he annotated the video with links to his other videos, whose views have skyrocketed. “Even if it’s not monetized, its still helping my channel,” he said.
Money would have been nice, but Ferreira is delighted with the response his video received. “Worldwide, people are laughing, and for a moment when they are watching the video they are having a good time,” he said. “I’m happy about that.”
He has a new idea for another jokey MacBook video, but next time, he’s not going to use any copyright-protected video. Until then, you can enjoy “Apple Engineer Talks” below.