Introduction: How to Make a Hidden Camera YouTube Video
It's been a while since my last instructable; it's been almost a year actually. I still frequently peruse the site, but my creative efforts have shifted. I went through a strong photography phase for a while, and now I'm interested in videos. This change in what I make isn't bad, and if anyone out there is considering trying something new I wholeheartedly encourage it.
Anyway, to get back on track, I've been interested in making videos for a while now. The end goal is to direct films, but for now I want to start small: with YouTube videos. Inspired by the works of LAHWF and Stuart Edge, I decided that this summer I want to make social experiment/prank videos. I hesitate to write that, though, because prank has a negative conotaiton. I think most people think that a prank has to be at the expense of another person's downfall, and that we are laughing at as opposed to with. On the flip side, social experiments are more awkward, which still can make the person being 'experimented' on feel discomforted and, well, awkward. My goal was to make everyone happy: me, the people I'm interacting with, and the viewers. I'm going to stop here because this transitions well into the first step. C'mon, follow me!
I figure right here is the best place to put my video. Enjoy!
Step 1: Figure Out What You Want to Do
First, you have to figure out what you want to do. As it was briefly described in the intro, there are a lot of different interactions you can have with a hidden camera set up. I think the most popular are the stereotypical prank videos, which usually are slightly mean-spirited. A great example is VitalyzdTv. His top videos are slightly mean spirited. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty funny, but they're also kind of mean. And yet, he has 6,253,773 subscribers as of June 23, 2014! There's a huge audience for these types of videos, but you have to get over the fact that you are basically making fun of the people you are interacting with.
The next genre down the ladder of hidden camera line is social experiments. Popularized by LAHWF, who right now has 1,570,532 subscribers (still a lot!). These awkward videos are just that, awkward. They don't really make fun of the people you interact with, but you do put them in awkward situations. And whenever ANYONE gets put in an awkward situation, that person always acts different from their natural person. Maybe a little more defensive, maybe a little more awkward, who knows? These videos are usually hit-or-miss, and if you look at LAHWF's top 5 videos, only about 1, maybe 2, is/are really awkward, the rest are pretty good-natured and fun.
That leads me to the third hidden camera genre. It doesn't really haver a name, but I'll just call them feel good videos. Feel good videos make you happy when filming them, because you are doing a good thing. It's just like how you feel better giving a gift than receiving one. Also, it makes the people you interact with happy, because you are doing something nice to them. They'll usually act even nicer than usual, to be honest. And finally, the viewers are happy when they watch feel-good videos. Why? I dunno, some part of your brain just likes seeing other people happy, I guess. In turn, it makes you happy! IT's a win-win-win!
All this being said, I decided to (try to) make feel-good videos. That was my decision, and you may have a different one. That's okay, I don't judge! Let's go to the next step!
Step 2: Equipment
So you figured out what you want to do, huh? Great! Now to another fun part, the toys and gadgets!
Let's start with cameras. There are a lot of cameras out there that can shoot video, and you could probably figure out a way to make it work with any camera. That being said, some routes are easier than others. There are really only two easy routes, dedicated video cameras (camcorders), and DSLRs.
Lets start with camcorders, because these actually spilt into another two groups! I know, how exciting! We'll be looking at the prosumer models, and the professional models. There are consumer models, but the price difference between those and prosumer ones is virtually nonexistent. Alright, let's start. Camcorders are what you think of when you think of a video camera. When it comes to the prosumer (professional consumer) models, they are pretty cheap, and you could get one that meets your needs for a couple hundred dollars. Looking at B & H's best sellers list, I found a model: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/963130-REG/c... that would fit the needs to most. What's weird is that the higher end prosumer camcorders are a couple thousand dollars, and you can get a much nicer professional camcorder for that money. Ah, marketing. The professional camcorders are beasts, however. These are big cameras, which can be a deterrent (especially if you want a hidden camera video!). However, they are the best video cameras out there; there is a reason Hollywood uses them.
The other type of camera is a DSLR. For a while, these bad boys only shot pictures. However, once the Nikon d90 came it (it was the first DSLR that shot HD video), the game was forever changed. Then Canon introduced us to the Mark II, I believe, which became the industry standard for DSLR video filming. What's great about using DSLRs to film is that you can use different lenses. Zoom lens, close up, it doesn't matter. Also, most DSLRs these days shoot comparable, if not better film than camcorders. DSLRs are pretty cheap too! However, the lens can easily be twice as much as the camera, especially a nice telephoto, so be wary of that. The final advantage of a DSLR is that it gives your cameraman more of a disguise; people constantly ask my cameraman if he's a nature photographer! I use a Nikon d5200. I'll recommend it, but it's really the only camera I know, so not much to compare it to. That being said, I think you're better off with Canon cameras, especially the t2i, t3i, t4i, and t5i line, or if you can afford it the Mark line. I bought a Nikon because I already had Nikon lenses from my photography phase.
Basic Needs Of Your Camera
- You want to be able to shoot 1080p, at 30 frames per second (fps). 60 fps would be even better, but its not necessary. Having 60 fps vs. 30 fps would just result in a smoother video, by the way. Also, make sure you get a camera that shoots 1080p, not 1080i (p stands for progressive, i stands for interlaced; again, p will give you a smoother video). Also, you don't want 720p, or lower.
- Most camcorders don't have an interchangeable lens feature, which means you can't change or put on a new lens. That's usually fine, but make sure it has a nice zoom. If you have a DSLR, you want a nice zoom/telephoto lens that can get you 300mm. If your not sure about the zoom capability of a camcorder, go to a store and test it out. If you can't go to a store, I'm sure there is a YouTube video that showcases and analyzes the zoom.
- This shouldn't be a problem with DSLRs, or newer camcorders, but I recommend having a camera that uses memory cards. They're cheaper than tapes!
- A good battery life is nice, but not crucial. You can always buy another battery to swap out during shoots, too.
- A good autofocus capability is nice, but I recommend having a manual focus as well. I always use manual focus, because while you might have small changes in focus when I walk, you'll never have the huge changes that can occur if the autofocus finds a new subject.
- Finally, sensor size. Arguably the most important thing for ANY camera. Forget megapixels and the price tag, the sensor size is what makes a great camera. The bigger the sensor size, the better the picture. It really is that simple of an equation.
A good, sturdy tripod makes a huge difference. When it comes to buying better tripods, you basically buy them in halves. There is a bottom part (the legs), and a top part (the head). There are some heads made for video, which I recommend, but I have one for photography which I have found a way to make do with! Here's the tripod I use: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003WKOENO/ref=oh... Some YouTubers use monopods, but I recommend a tripod. You'll get smother video, and you can always (kind of) turn a tripod into a monopod!
Arguably one of the most important features, the microphones. Unfortunately, you can't really substitute a good, albeit expensive, product when it comes to audio. Really the only way to get audio for hidden camera videos is with a wireless lav mic (you could have an audio recorder on person when filming, and then try to sync it up during editing, but that would be a lot of work. That being said, I think Stuart Edge does this...). Anyway, to save time, and for better quality (if you don't edit right), invest in a good lav mic. I own the Sennheiser ew112 PG3, which I know a lot of YouTubers use (I even think LAHWF used them once). They come with my highest recommendations, but with one warning and several pieces of advice. Warning first, there are several different channels, which deal with groups of frequencies. Sennheiser has a chart somewhere that can show you which channel (A, B, or G) would be best for where you live. I found the chart kind of confusing, however, but after an hour or so of frustration I determined that the G band would be best for Chicago and bought it. No problems so far. I got them used, from ebay (the seller was fplogistics), for $470. LAHWF uses http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001I1SZRK/ref=as... (Sony UWPV1), which Amazon doesn't show a price for, but I believe are around $500.
The advice I mentioned a couple sentences back should apply to any wireless system, but just know that it is intended for the ew112 system. First, at each location you have to set up for a new frequency. For the ew112, while KEEPING THE TRANSMITTER TURNED OFF, you have to set the Squelch setting to low, then go to easy setup, scan new list, and then wait for it to search the frequencies. It will give you a bank with a number of free frequencies (max is 12, I believe), and the default choice is the one you should pick. Then turn the transmitter on, sync it, and then you could return the squelch to medium, although I kept it on low and it worked fine. Also, there are two important settings that you have to play around with, AF Out and Sensitivity. After experimenting, I decided to keep the AF Out at 0 dB and the Sensitivity at -21dB. These setting worked perfectly for me, but you should play around with it. Finally, I have the most general piece of great advice that will apply to all wireless mics (that I had the unfortunate experience of learning the hard way). Test the range of your mics, because as you become out of range the audio cuts out. I lost an entire day's worth of footage because I was too far away. The solution was to find a closer hiding spot for my cameraman. :)
Computer and Editing Software
I use a MacBook Pro. It makes a huge difference to edit on a Mac, but I'm guessing I won't change the minds of any PC-ers. However, if you are getting a new computer and think you want to pursue any form of art (includes building!), get a Mac. As far as software goes, the basic programs like iMovie will work, but the better programs do help. Fortunately, Apple lets people use a 30 day trial of the FULL VERSION of Final Cut Pro X. I'm still on that time, but when it runs out I'll probably buy it. It's a great program.
External Hard Drive
You don't want to slow down your computer with all the gigabytes of footage, and it helps to have your footage in a safe place!
Finally, there are some small things that I'll just name that you should always bring with you. Camera bag, back pack, spare change of clothes, gum, snacks, lots of water, duct tape (to tape the mic to your body), and your notebook of ideas (see next step).
Step 3: Ideas
Coming up with ideas is fun, but very challenging. Try to be original with your ideas. Copying ideas is fine and all, but you won't feel as successful or happy once you're done. For example, Whatever (YouTube channel) started off redoing LAHWF ideas, but after a while they started filming their own ideas. And for those keeping score at home, Playing Pokemon in The Library is probably in my Top 5 Best Pranks of all time.
Here's the thing with coming up with new ideas. You realy only need one good one a week (most YouTube channels only put out one video a week). While that seems like that would be easy, it's actually pretty hard. And of course, when you do come up with a great idea, 99.99% of the time it's when you are just about to fall asleep, or when you're out to eat with your fiancé and their parents, and there is no paper or pen to be seen. In those cases, you have to write it down, even though its inconvenient. Put it on your phone, write it on your hand in blood, whatever it takes; well, maybe not the blood thing. Then, the best thing you can do is grab one of those hardcover journals. Write down all of your ideas so that they are in one place. Also, write down tips and tricks, mic settings that work well for you, whatever. It's nice to have a hardcover copy of things.
Step 4: Location, Location, Location
Once you have all of your goodies and ideas, you need to find a good place to film. The place should have a moderate amount of foot traffic, but not too much or else it'll be too loud. But you want a decent amount so that you have your choice of people that you can interact with.
You also want a place that isn't too close to busy streets, airports, or other noisy situations.
A nice green place with some nice grass and some cool trees helps because I'm told it's athletically pleasing. All jokes aside, the greenness does put people in the right mindset.
Also, you want people that are 18 or over. Why? Boring legal issues. Long story short, I'm fairly certain (although I have done next to no research on this) that kids need parental permission to be filmed. You might also have to fill out release forms, blah blah blah. With adults, what I do (and have seen others do) is to make sure you ask them if it's okay for them to be in a YouTube video (make sure you film them saying this!), and that's it. It is perfectly legal to film in public places, but if someone doesn't want you to use their reaction/footage then either blur their face, or just don't put them in it- it's not worth the risk.
All of these rules and guidelines to where you should film; is there even a place that would fit all of these criteria? Yup, and they're all over the place. College campuses. Ideally, a quad like place is where you would film.
*Make sure your cameraman is close enough so that he won't cut out, but far enough so people won't suspect anything (100 ft is ideal range). Hiding places help, but make sure they don't get in the way!
Step 5: Lights, Camera, Action!
Not much to say here. Make sure you get to your place early so that you can get parking, you can scout it out, find a place, and start filming. Film more reactions than you could ever need, so that way you can pick the best ones when editing!
Also, make sure to have a good cameraman. Mine is horrible; he didn't film/deleted six reactions one day. Just kidding, kinda, because my cameraman is my brother. But this goes along with a piece of advice. You can find someone to film for you to free. My brother knows next to nothing about cameras, but it doesn't matter because I can set it all up. All he has to do is turn it on, press record, and occasionally focus. Doesn't sound so hard, now does it, brother?
Also, another pro tip. Make sure to watch one or two of your first interactions on site. Make sure they look okay and sound okay. That way, you don't have to waste an entire day of shooting, you can just fix the problem on site!
Step 6: Editing
I read a lot of articles and saw a lot of videos that instructed me on Final Cut Pro. I'm by no means a master, but I have the basics down. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, but feel free to ask questions in the comments below!
Make sure to correct it for color, and maybe mess around with the sharpness. The audio can always be fixed, and make sure it's not too loud. Finally, make sure to optimize the settings when you save the master file.
Oh, and adding background music helps. Here are two great places to get free music that is royalty free: incompetech and YouTube.
Step 7: Uploading and Publishing
YouTube makes uploading easy, so go ahead and upload your video. It might take a couple hours, so I like to upload it at night, and then publish in the morning.
Unfortunately, it's not just uploading. You need a description. I just write small things along the lines like, "Thanks for watching." Make sure to give your links to your social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or Instagram.
You also need tags. Tags are just keywords to help people find your videos. It's pretty obvious that you should add words like your video title, your channel name, and other words pertaining to your video. But, it's also helpful to write very popular phrases, like how to kiss a girl, or the names of very popular videos at the time of your uploading. I've heard that keywords don't really matter, but do them anyway.
Next up is the thumbnail. Pick a high quality image; ones that feature attractive guys or girls (depending on your audience) help. Some people add text to their thumbnails, but I personally kind of find that a little obnoxious. My strategy is clean and simple. Pro Tip: VERIFY YOUR ACCOUNT AS SOON AS YOU CAN! There are many helpful advantages to it, but one is that you can upload a custom thumbnail. It helps, because that's the first thing people see of your video!
You can also monetize your videos, which I do. Ads are annoying, but if you could get enough money to buy better equipment.... It's up to you.
Finally, make sure to pick a category for your video. I choose entertainment, although comedy is the one I probably should do. I think it was Stuart Edge who said you should pick entertainment... Again, it doesn't really matter.
That's really it! Click publish and you're done!
Step 8: Getting More Views
First things first, you should upload your video on either Monday or Tuesday. The weekdays are when videos are watched the most, so might as well take advantage of time. It also makes sense to upload in the morning (for us Americans), because that is a time when the majority of your potential YouTube audience is awake and at work.
It helps to share your video on social media as well; get the word out! Have your friends and family help too!
To be honest, though, once your "in", your "in". If you have a million subscribers, do you really need to advertise your new video? Not really. But for the rest of us, we have to get the word out somehow. I haven't had success though with any outside sites to put out word for my video. I dunno, maybe you will. If you do, tell me! Just kidding. Kind of.
Step 9: Your YouTube Channel
You need to make your channel professionally looking too. I drew a picture for mine, and it actually kinda looks cool. Most people have photographic portraits of themselves, which I'll probably change to soon.
Make sure you maintain your image everywhere, though. Engage people when they comment in a positive way. Also, make sure you are up to date on your social media!
Step 10: Final Thoughts
If anyone out there has questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer ASAP! Thanks for reading all of this, and sticking with me! You guys are the best.
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Funt brought his program to ABC television in 1948 and then switched to NBC in the fall of 1949, with Ken Roberts as his announcer. The show moved to syndication in 1951 and continued for three years before returning to NBC in 1958 as a segment on Jack Paar's The Tonight Show. The segment reappeared in 1959 on CBS as a feature on The Garry Moore Show, then it became a stand-alone show in 1960.
The network TV version celebrated its 35th anniversary with an NBC special in 1983. Four years later, a series of occasional Candid Camera specials aired on CBS with Peter Funt, Allen's son, as co-host. The show also aired a season in daily syndication (1991–92) with Dom DeLuise as host and Eva LaRue as co-host.
A British version of Candid Camera began in 1960 and ran for seven years. It was initially presented by Bob Monkhouse and featured Jonathan Routh and Arthur Atkins as pranksters. An Australian version of Candid Camera, with the same name, began in the late 1990s and ran until the end of the 20th century. It was successful until the show was canceled for unknown reasons.
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Las Vegas Show Reviews
Extreme Hidden Camera Pranks: Sadism in Sheep’s Clothing
Hidden camera pranks entered the zeitgeist back in 1948, courtesy of Allen Funt’s then-groundbreaking television program Candid Camera. The premise was simple yet universal: trick everyday folks with lighthearted gags, film their reactions, then watch the laughter wash over them when the hoax is revealed. Although comedy aficionados aren’t typically invested in the “televised pranks as humor” model (more on this later), the formula has endured for a solid three generations.
The past decade has given way to a new era of hidden camera shows. Harmless and occasionally charming pranks still make the rounds, but – as with any beleaguered format – the ante has been upped to maintain footing in this fractured media landscape. The biggest change: any attempt at comedy is often replaced by full-blown schadenfreude.
Best known to the under-40 set is Punk’d, the on-again off-again celebrity “gotcha” show (recently on again over at BET). Although predictably obnoxious, the antics pulled are of the “We painted Pharrell’s Lexus pink while he was scarfing back lobster ceviche at Nobu” variety. Our celebrity winds up confused, and possibly annoyed, only to guffaw along with the crew when presented with the big ol’ reveal.
Punk’d is far from the only game in town, and it’s downright genteel compared to much of its competition. These are the productions that inflict genuine suffering upon innocent people under the guise of “comedy.”
For over 15 years, Canada’s Just For Laughs Gags has been the world leader in hidden camera shows, its “dialogue-free hijinks + wacky music” model seamlessly infiltrating dozens of countries. While most pranks fall into the “obvious but innocuous” category, others are surprisingly mean-spirited and dark. Some kooky trivia for you: Just For Laughs Gags loves killing kids! In front of unsuspecting bystanders! In the aptly-titled “Kid Falls In Hole,” a rotating series of good Samaritans agrees to watch a six-year-old boy while his mother visits the port-a-john. (Side note: Just For Laughs Gags is obsessed with port-a-johns.) They then watch helplessly as the child jumps into what seems to be a puddle, only to disappear down a watery sinkhole, presumably drowning. Even to those in on the “joke” (a.k.a. we, the viewers), the visual is jarring.
Those seeking a companion piece to “Kid Falls In Hole” need look no further than “Statue Crushes Crying Baby.” The gist: various passers-by witness a giant boulder crush what appears to be an infant in a stroller.
Notice the unsettling disconnect between the canned laughter and the horrified onlookers believing a baby has just died in a gruesome manner. Another disconnect being the breezy, upbeat musical underscoring, on hand to remind you this is, in fact, a comedy show. Worth keeping in mind that only those who agree to sign personal release forms end up on Just For Laughs Gags. The myriad other folks too distressed to laugh at the reveal don’t tend to make the cut. (Nor are they compensated for the disquieting experience.)
Death is often a constant in these productions, particularly when tethered to supernatural elements. In this clip from NBC’s 2009 primetime prank show Howie Do It, A man named Fred Kuhr takes a not-so-dignified job delivering singing telegrams in an adult-sized bunny outfit. For the first assignment, he’s sent to croon for a fellow named Jerry Franks. Joke’s on the bunny man though, because it’s a funeral and Jerry is the stiff inside the coffin. Kuhr is quickly ushered to the front, where the faux minister pressures him to sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Desperately wanting to keep his new job, Kuhr obliges, only to be greeted by tormented sobbing from the dead man’s widow. Cut to the Howie Do It audience, laughing manically at the heartbreak and humiliation on Kuhr’s face. As if to ensure every last negative emotion makes its way through Kuhr’s soul, the corpse then shoots up from his casket and delivers a terrifying “Thank you!” Kuhr admits that although he wasn’t personally offended by the put-on, the shock nearly gave him a heart attack. Someone in lesser health wouldn’t have fared nearly as well.
Shock and embarrassment aside, there’s a second level of malice at play here. “I was told Toronto’s only remaining singing telegram company was hiring,” Kuhr says, explaining the show’s recruitment process. “Was I interested? As an underemployed actor, yes of course I was interested.” What ensued: after the pranking, Kuhr was advised his new job didn’t actually exist, but he could still pocket $300 by signing the release form allowing Howie Do It to use the funeral footage. Like many in his situation, he took the money, figuring some form of token remuneration was preferable to none. Hey, what’s more funny than a man losing his job, right?
Aside from canceling Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Syfy isn’t typically known for its cruelty. Yet the network’s long-running extreme hidden camera show Scare Tactics (2003–2013) regularly pushed the limits of basic decency. Easily two or more times per episode, unwitting targets were made to believe they were about to die – usually in a heinous fashion. One early installment features Dennis, a friendly, soft-spoken Korean man who recently immigrated to the US. Still learning English, his survival has depended on low-paying blue-collar work. As with Kuhr, his much-needed new job – overnight groundskeeper at a local cemetery – turns out to be a sham. On Dennis’ inaugural shift, a body emerges from one of the yet-to-be-interred caskets and assaults him – a scarring and brutal scenario regardless of one’s belief in the occult. As Dennis attempts to keep the attacker at bay with a series of kicks, he’s – eventually – given the news, “You’re on Scare Tactics.” (A nonsensical combination of words to any newly-landed immigrant.)
As Dennis struggles to recover from the harrowing ordeal, his not-actually-a-boss jokingly asks, “Do you do judo or jujutsu or something?” To toss a little extra casual racism into the mix, we cut back to host Shannen Doherty in studio, who smugly adds, “How about that Dennis, breaking out a little of the Crouching Tiger.” (He’s Korean, not Chinese, but close enough, right Shan?) Given the callous tone of the show, a more apt closing line might well have been, “By the way, Dennis: It’s back to the unemployment line, you broke, gullible foreigner. Ain’t life a crazy roller coaster?”
Here’s a fun fact about the human brain: It’s not particularly shit-hot at glossing over severe trauma, even after the event is later recontextualized as “harmless.” Which means nightmares, panic attacks, and other PTSD-related symptoms can easily take root, despite some toothy host having popped out to say, “Just kidding!” Two pranks that aggressively disregard this paradigm come courtesy of ¡Qué Locura! – a South American hidden camera show about as subtle as its name. (Translation: “What Insanity!”)
First up is a video compilation of people trapped in an elevator. The lights flicker, then black out. For the average person, this is already a nightmarish ordeal. When the lights switch back on, a dead-looking young girl (clutching a creepy doll, naturally) appears, as if out of nowhere. She unleashes a blood-curdling scream, the lights cut to black, then switch back on. The girl is gone. The victims are devastated, fearing for their lives and their grip on reality. Some are left a quivering mess on the floor. Lather, rinse, repeat. (In a variation on this theme, elevator riders are methodically attacked by a man emerging from a coffin.)
The potential for psychological trauma is only part of what makes this “gag” irresponsible. Anyone legitimately fearing for their life (and again, they all were) could have easily snapped this kid’s neck, with producers having zero time to intervene. Before being removed for copyright violations, the “Dead Girl With Doll” clip racked up 98 million views on YouTube. (The above video is an alternate link.) 25,000 people had given it a “thumbs down,” a figure that pales in comparison to the 307,000 who opted for “thumbs up.” Although this ratio paints a garish picture of society’s take on abuse, perhaps more alarming is the fact over 97 million people weren’t affected enough to voice their disapproval with a simple click of the “dislike” icon.
Which brings us to the insidious ¡Qué Locura! ”Ghost Bride” prank. Many women are on high alert when walking alone in underground parking lots – particularly at night. The target of this clip finds herself in such a situation, and things get hella sociopathic hella fast. Upon entering her car and closing the door, she’s accosted by a shrieking, hooded figure in the back seat. Panic-stricken, the woman escapes the vehicle and screams for help. She’s in hysterics, inconsolable, hyperventilating, barely capable of standing upright. A male parking attendant (in on the gag, of course) attempts to calm her down. It’s all in your imagination. Look, see? I just opened the car door and there’s nothing, silly girl. The woman then points frantically to the demonic figure racing away behind him, but – surprise surprise – it’s gone by the time he decides to turn around. Once again, the attendant goes the gaslighting route, suggesting she’s just “seeing things.”
To give viewers more bang for their buck, producers run this prank three different times with three separate victims. (Perhaps more: these were the only clips that made it to air.) And yes, in each instance the person being terrorized is a young, attractive female, because hey, ratings, you know?
With little support from the parking attendant, each woman eventually gets in her car to leave, only to be stopped – and aggressively pursued – by the disfigured, dead-eyed ghoul, who’s soon joined by two accomplices. One crashes her car while attempting to flee. Just as the assailants close in to presumably end their victims’ lives, the host and camera crew present themselves. Cue silly, upbeat music. The women, all physically and mentally tormented to their breaking point, somehow never get around to smiling for the camera once the “joke” is revealed.
Here’s one of the many YouTube comments praising this clip (four times as many likes as dislikes, by the way):
lol i cant stop laughing. this isn’t even that cruel compared to japanese pranks. they once put a pill in this womans drink to make her sleep, then they took her to a church, and just as she was waking up they shoved her in a coffin and locked it shut. there was a go pro inside showing the horror and screaming on her face, they finally got her out about an hour later. now that was funny.
In our disconnected online culture, empathy is often the exception, not the rule. Although the video the commenter describes isn’t readily accessible, a similar enactment plays out in this French TV commercial for Cuisinella, where real-life pedestrians are shot sniper-style with red paintballs, carted off into an ambulance, made to believe they’re gravely injured, and then locked inside a coffin as they wail in terror.
These pranks – and the viewers who support them – follow the belief that physical and psychological assault on people (particularly women) is both funny and socially acceptable so long as perpetrators are presented in an exaggerated manner (e.g. ghouls, vampires, aliens, zombies, demons). The rationale being, “Hey, those things don’t exist, so it’s ridiculous for anyone to be afraid, right?” Because as we know, folks decked out in colorful costumes are incapable of committing heinous crimes. Just ask John Wayne Gacy.
The above clips are far from outliers. Some are culled from television, others crafted specifically for YouTube, with many far worse than what’s been linked to here. For a significant faction of the population, it’s easy to forget these aren’t amusement park House of Horrors-style scenarios, where those involved are willing participants, eager to face what comes their way. These maneuvers occur without consent, often at the expense of those with pre-existing issues exacerbated by acute distress.
In fact, prank shows that adopt this approach shouldn’t be categorized as comedy at all. This is not meant as judgment, but rather as practical evaluation. All comedy subsists, in one form or another, on the element of surprise. (Surprising the viewer or listener, that is, not an unsuspecting victim.) Yet these “gags” consistently follow the same rigid formula:
1) Present a set of circumstances designed to severely impact a subject in a negative manner. 2) Execute this set-up. 3) The subject experiences suffering, reacts predictably.
Viewers, fully aware of the process by step 1, do not experience surprise at step 2. Which implies any laughter at step 3 doesn’t stem from comedy (i.e. the unexpected punchline), but from the enjoyment of witnessing the subject endure misery. This most certainly ain’t humor, and classifying it as such only contributes to further acceptance.
Some perspective: Remember the Australian radio hosts who lost their jobs and were roundly vilified after their prank caused a woman to commit suicide? All they did was call a maternity ward and pretend to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. It was kinda dumb, and not particularly funny, but certainly “harmless” by prank standards. Except it wasn’t harmless at all. Which affirms the larger point: It’s nearly impossible to assess whether a prank can dangerously trigger one of its victims. That said, cause and effect suggests the more traumatic the experience, the greater the hazard. Sadly, there’s little chance of these risk-taking stunts being curbed until further tragedies give way to public outrage.
Here’s a rule of thumb: If a so-called hidden camera “comedy prank” involves terrifying somebody into believing they’ve lost their sanity, witnessed somebody die, or are about to die themselves, it’s not comedy – it’s sadism in sheep’s clothing. Suggesting otherwise is turning a blind eye to one’s own shaky moral compass. It’s also kind of a dick move.
Steven Shehori is an award-winning writer living in Los Angeles. He says pithy things on Twitter and co-hosts the seven-minute You Better DON’T! comedy podcast.
For the cartoon, see Elmer's Candid Camera. For the exhibition, see Candid Camera (Australian photographic exhibition).
American hidden camera reality television series (1948-2014)
Candid Camera is a popular and long-running American hidden camerareality television series. Versions of the show appeared on television from 1948 until 2014. Originally created and produced by Allen Funt, it often featured practical jokes, and initially began on radio as The Candid Microphone on June 28, 1947.
After a series of theatrical film shorts, also titled Candid Microphone, Funt's concept came to television on August 10, 1948, and continued into the 1970s. Aside from occasional specials in the 1980s and 1990s, the show was off air until making a comeback on CBS in 1996, before moving to PAX TV in 2001. This incarnation of the weekly series ended on May 5, 2004, concurrent with the selling of the PAX network itself. Beginning on August 11, 2014, the show returned in a new series with hour-long episodes on TV Land, but this incarnation only lasted a single season.
The format has been revived numerous times, appearing on U.S. TV networks and in syndication (first-run) in each succeeding decade, as either a regular show or a series of specials. Funt, who died in 1999, hosted or co-hosted all versions of the show until he became too ill to continue. His son Peter Funt, who had co-hosted the specials with his father since 1987, became the producer and host. A United Kingdom version of the format aired from 1960 to 1976.
The show involved concealed cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, sometimes involving trick props, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed or a car with a hidden extra gas tank. When the joke was revealed, victims were told the show's catchphrase, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera." The catchphrase became a song with music and lyrics by Sid Ramin.
The show often played its hidden-camera pranks on celebrities as well: one episode had actress Ann Jillian scheduled to make a small donation to a Lithuanian charity. When police officers informed her a con artist was behind the charity, they convinced her to donate a much larger amount with the assurance that he would be arrested when he accepted the check. After the arrest attempt, Jillian was told the man was running a legitimate charity, a set-up that forced her into acting as though she had intended to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars all along.
In another episode, the show filmed the reactions of citizens after they saw the former President Harry S. Truman walking down the street. After being advised that the former president and his Secret Service entourage would be taking a walk in downtown Manhattan, the program tracked them with a hidden camera in a van. A young woman who was a champion runner was planted at a street corner they would pass, and she was asking directions from a passerby when she saw Truman and shouted hello. In a stunt suggestive of the classic radio play The Hitchhiker, she then ran around the block so she could be ahead of Truman and was at the next corner where she again said hello to him as he approached. After this was done several times, she asked President Truman if something seemed familiar. The former president replied he expected she had something to do with the van that had been following him, and pointed straight into the camera with his walking stick without turning to look.
Some of Funt's pieces did not involve pranks but consisted simply of interviews with ordinary people. There were bizarre sequences in which people, sometimes children, gave one-of-a-kind interpretations of works of art. A little girl once told Funt that The Discus Thrower by Praxiteles showed a man throwing his little girl's allowance to her while she stood in the back yard.
The Candid Microphone was first heard on Saturday, June 28, 1947, at 7:30 p.m. on ABC radio. That series came to an end on September 23, 1948. The announcer for the radio program was Dorian St. George (1911–2004).
Beginning June 6, 1950, The Candid Microphone was broadcast by CBS on Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., sponsored by Philip Morris, which continued for three months until August 29.
Funt brought his program to ABC television in 1948, using the Candid Microphone title of the radio series, and then switched to NBC in the fall of 1949 (for Philip Morris, with Ken Roberts as his announcer), at which point its name was changed to Candid Camera. The format moved to syndication in 1951 and continued for three years before returning to NBC in 1958 as a segment of Jack Paar's The Tonight Show. The segment reappeared in 1959 on CBS as a feature on The Garry Moore Show, before once again becoming a standalone show in 1960.
Its longest uninterrupted run came in the CBS Sunday evening version. Debuting in October 1960, dominating its 10pm time slot for seven years, the program reached its peak in 1963 placing second for the year in the national Nielsen Ratings. In these shows producer/host Funt was joined on stage by several co-hosts. Veteran CBS broadcaster Arthur Godfrey for the first season, Garry Moore's long time announcer and sidekick Durward Kirby from 1961 to 1966 and, for the final prime time season, TV hostess and former Miss America, Bess Myerson. The 1966-67 season, with Miss Myerson, saw the series first use of color film. Appearances on the show by silent film comedy legend Buster Keaton were included in the 1987 Thames Television tribute documentary "Buster Keaton: A Hard Act To Follow". Among the standout favorite segments was 1965's traffic cop Vic Cianca with the Pittsburgh Police, who gained national exposure through the show and later appeared in Budweiser commercials, as well as Italian TV and the movie Flashdance. A then-unknown Woody Allen was one of the writers for the show in the early 1960s and performed in some scenarios. Though a rarity, a few celebrities appeared in the last CBS season; among them were baseball legend Jackie Robinson, impressionists George Kirby and Rich Little, singer Mike Douglas and rock vocal group The Four Seasons.
Following an ABC special in the summer of 1974 celebrating the program's 25th anniversary, Candid Camera returned that fall for a five-year run in weekly syndication, with Funt as emcee again and John Bartholomew Tucker and Dorothy Collins as early co-hosts. Fannie Flagg, one of Funt's writers during the 1960s run, also shared emcee duties with Funt during the 1970s era, as did Phyllis George, Betsy Palmer and Jo Ann Pflug. This version was taped at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City for its first season, then moved to WTVF in Nashville for the remainder of its run.
The network TV version celebrated its 35th anniversary with an NBC special in 1983. Four years later, a series of occasional Candid Camera specials aired on CBS with Peter Funt joining his father as co-host.
The show also aired a season in daily syndication (1991–92) with Dom DeLuise as host and Eva LaRue as co-host. Produced by Vin Di Bona, Funt authorized this version, but did not approve of the format or host. He stated in his biography Candidly (1994) that he deeply regretted his decision (which he made strictly for financial reasons) mainly because he did not think DeLuise understood the spirit of the show or was an appropriate host, and also because he felt the bits were weak, uninteresting, and too preoccupied with incorporating the show's sponsor, Pizza Hut, into them in an overtly commercial way.
A 1996 CBS program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the format (dating back to the Candid Microphone days) led to another series of occasional Candid Camera specials, and then to its return as a weekly CBS show with Peter Funt and Suzanne Somers as co-hosts. The show moved to the PAX TV network in 2001 with Dina Eastwood taking over as co-host, remaining on the air for three more years before suspending production.
In April 2014, it was announced that the TV Land cable channel was reviving the show, ordering ten episodes. Peter Funt returned as a host, joined by actress Mayim Bialik as co-host, with the series premiering on August 11. However, it was not renewed for a second season.
This section needs expansion with: information on other versions of the show. You can help by adding to it. (August 2014)
The 1960–67 run was arguably the most successful version of the show, according to the Nielsen ratings:
In 1970, Funt wrote, narrated, directed and produced an X-ratedCandid Camera-style theatrical reality film, What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? A second film, Money Talks, followed in 1972.
What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? eventually led to a series of videotapes of an adult-oriented (containing nudity) version of Candid Camera, produced in the 1980s, called Candid Candid Camera. These videos were shown on HBO and the Playboy Channel.
The Candid Camera crew is currently[when?] working on a documentary about Allen Funt.
The 1960s version was seen in reruns on CBS daytime at 10 am EST from September 26, 1966 to September 6, 1968, with local stations continuing to air the series for the next several years. It also aired on the Ha! comedy network in 1990-91.
The 1970s version continued to play on local stations for several years after its cancellation, followed by a run on cable's USA Network later in the 1980s, and another go-round on both Comedy Central and E! in the early 1990s.
Reruns of the late 1990s version and the Pax version were carried by GMC TV for a time in 2011. The final season of the 60s version and first season of the 70s version aired on JLTV from 2012 to 2013, and returned to the weekday schedule in December 2016.
No episodes from the 1991-92 season were rerun.
A British version of Candid Camera began in 1960 and ran for seven years. It was initially presented by David Nixon or Bob Monkhouse and featured Jonathan Routh and Arthur Atkins as pranksters. The show briefly returned in 1974, hosted by Peter Dulay, with Arthur Atkins and Sheila Bernette. Another series was aired in 1976 with Jonathan Routh in charge, with Dulay as producer. These two 1970s series reappeared in 1986, with an opening sequence from Peter Dulay. Jeremy Beadle made his name hosting prank shows, notably Beadle's About in the 1980s and 1990s. Channel 4 and Dom Joly developed Trigger Happy TV in the early part of the 21st century. A similar style show with no real presenter went out as Just for Laughs on the BBC around the same time.
An Australian version of Candid Camera, with the same name, began in the late 1990s and ran until the end of the 20th century. It was successful until the show was canceled for unknown reasons. Quebec saw its own adaptation titled Les insolences d'une caméra.
A German variant of Candid Camera, known as Verstehen Sie Spaß?, was begun in 1980 and continues to air as of 2019.
A wave of other American hidden-camera prank shows began in the 1980s: Totally Hidden Video was shown on Fox from 1989 until 1992. MTV's Ashton Kutcher vehicle, Punk'd, devised elaborate pranks on celebrities. Some shows have been criticized because of the potential cruelty inherent in the pranks, such as Scare Tactics. Oblivious was a series which gave cash prizes to unsuspecting subjects in the street who answered trivia questions but did not realize they were on a game show. More recent prank shows have been Girls Behaving Badly, Just for Laughs: Gags,The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Boiling Points, Trigger Happy TV, and Howie Do It. Perhaps the most ambitious of all was The Joe Schmo Show in which Matt Kennedy Gould was surrounded by actors and hoaxed for the entire series.
One episode of Supermarket Sweep from 1991 featured Johnny Gilbert mentioning during the Big Sweep to a team member named Barry (who also appeared on Monopoly): "He thinks he's on Candid Camera, but he knows he's on Supermarket Sweep!"
In a 2010 interview, Peter Funt commented on some of these shows, saying,
We’ve always come at it from the idea that we believe people are wonderful and we’re out to confirm it. Our imitators and other shows, whether it’s Jamie Kennedy or Punk’d, often seem to come at it from the opposite perspective, which is that people are stupid, and we’re going to find ways to underscore that.
In 1964, Cornell University's Department of Psychology asked for and received permission to maintain an archive of Candid Camera and Candid Microphone episodes for educational research and study purposes.
- Candid Camera Christmas
- Candid Camera Golf Gags
- Candid Camera's All-Time Funniest Moments Parts I & II
- Candid Camera's Biggest Surprises
- Candid Camera's Pets & Animals
- Candid Candid Camera (adult content)
- Candid Kids
- Best of the 1960s Volume One
- Best of the 1960s Volume Two
- Best of the 1970s Volume One
- Best of the 1970s Volume Two
- Best of the 1980s Volume One
- Best of the 1990s Volume One
- Best of Today Volume One
- Best of Today Volume Two
- Candid Camera: Greatest Moments
- Candid Camera: Fooling The Senses
- Green Kid
- Inspirational Smiles
- Most Requested Characters
- The Funt Family Collection
Classic audio CD
- ^"The Return of Candid Camera". Haphazard Stuff. September 25, 2014.
- ^ abcdDunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 135–136. ISBN . Retrieved November 11, 2019.
- ^Berkowitz, George (July 19, 1947). "Candid Microphone (review)". The Billboard. p. 14. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
- ^Nereim, Vivian (January 26, 2010). "Obituary: Victor S. Cianca, Sr./Famous city traffic cop". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
- ^Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2009). The complete directory to prime time network and cable TV shows, 1946-present (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 216. ISBN .
- ^Reed, Allen Funt with Philip (1994). Candidly, Allen Funt: A Million Smiles Later. New York: Barricade Books. ISBN .
- ^"'Candid Camera' Gets a TV Land Reboot: EP Peter Funt Talks 'Derivative' Shows, Drones, and a More Gullible Public". TheWrap. April 9, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- ^"TV Ratings: 1960–1961". Classic TV Hits.
- ^"TV Ratings: 1961–1962". Classic TV Hits.
- ^"TV Ratings: 1962–1963". Classic TV Hits.
- ^"TV Ratings: 1963–1964". Classic TV Hits.
- ^Just for Laughs: GagsArchived September 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine "This crazy Quebec-based troupe uses the city as its stage, and its inhabitants, or victims, as characters! People are caught in a twisted yet funny web of comedic deception. This updated Candid Camera is a tad more risque and a little kookier with its practical jokes. The little snippets last only a few minutes, and some look more painful than others."
- ^Video on YouTube
- ^Glasgow, Greg. "Peter Funt carries on 'Candid Camera' legacy". University of Denver. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
- ^Segelken, Roger (September 8, 1999). "Allen Funt's Candid Camera stunts still inform, prompt smiles in academia". The Cornell Chronicle. Ithaca, NY. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- Funt, Allen. Eavesdropper at Large: Adventures in Human Nature with "Candid Mike". Vanguard Press, 1952.
- Funt, Allen. Candid Kids. Bernard Geis, 1964.
Camera funny youtube hidden videos
.Best of Terrible Adults - Just for Laughs Compilation
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