The spacious lobby at YouTube's production facility serves as its main public meeting place.
The entry is dominated by wall of 36-screen interactive monitors hanging above the reception desk, displaying videos — think of it as YouTube's version of the Times Square Jumbotron in New York. A recording studio at the far end of the lobby allows visitors to observe recording sessions through a wall of glasspanes. And an elevated screening room, which looks like a raised box with a glass wall, looms above the lounge area, which is filled with colorful couches and chairs, a collaboration desk, an arcade area and small kitchen.
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Throughout, Hanadel tucked in cozy private meeting spaces — placing couches in areas along the main corridor (and above, in elevated crow's-nests) where creators could hold a script workshop, chat or read a book.
The most striking element — aside from the juxtaposition of modern furniture and contemporary lighting in the historic space, where the exposed beams hint at its earlier, industrial heritage — is its use of natural light.
"We wanted to take advantage of what for us, as East Coast people, is this amazing resource on the West Coast — this beautiful, steady light," Hanadel said. "We wanted to flood it into the place. At the same time, we needed to control it. That meant we pushed all the production facilities against the south wall and we opened up the north wall."
In addition to the technical resources YouTube plans to bring in experts drawn from YouTube and the broader Hollywood community. It is recruiting a handful of successful channel creators to serve in a longer-term residency program, in which they would teacher and mentor upcoming creators.
Freddie Wong, who together with Brandon Laatsch created one of the most popular channels on YouTube, the FreddieW Channel, is contemplating taking up temporary residency in the space — perhaps for a new YouTube project or production of a second season of "Video Game High School," an action-comedy series in which the best young gamers are recruited by elite boarding schools to sharpen their skills.
"I'd very much like to teach classes here, because it's the kind of thing we like to do," said Wong. "We're very instructional, because at the end of the day we know there are people out there like us. When we were teenagers, we were going through the special features on DVDs and trying to figure out how they did things. Now, it's like, 'Hey, we have this knowledge. Let's share.'''
Kim Evey, who together with "The Guild" star Felicia Day founded the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry, was given early access to YouTube's space to produce a new Web musical, "Learning Town." The 10-episode series revolves around comedic musical duo Paul and Storm's (Paul Sabourin and Gregory "Storm" DiCostanzo) attempts to revive a flagging children's show as they battle a hipster-run rival kid's program, their own incompetence and lots of flammable puppets.
On a recent Friday afternoon, the "Learning Town" production filled a large cinema stage. Storm and guest star Freda Foh Shen spoke with director Sean Becker on the set, as a full production crew of grips, makeup artists, wardrobe and props people, cameramen and sound engineers waited to resume production.
As a Web producer, Evey has worked in far less professional settings — including shooting two seasons of her Web show, "Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show," out of her garage.
"We have probably 50 people every day, including actors and sometimes extras. So just being able to come to work every day and know where you're going to be, know where you're setting up, know where everybody is — it's much easier," Evey said. "That's the biggest complication with production, when you're moving around, every single time you have to figure out, 'Where do we put everybody?' We've done things before where it's such a puzzle."
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