Web3 Galaxy Brain 🌌🧠

Web3 Galaxy Brain

TheDefiant and BasedAF with Robin Schmidt

28 October 2022


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Nicholas: Welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. My name is Nicholas. Each week, I sit down with some of the brightest people building Web3 to talk about what they're working on right now. Today, I'm joined by Robin Schmidt, video creator and former head of video and content at The Defiant. In this episode, Robin and I talk about his love of cinema, 16mm film, Firewire, and anamorphic lenses. Robin tells me how his team found their groove making irreverent explainers and analysis with their video about Curve, and we discuss how The Defiant's video team scaled production to seven videos a week. Robin also sheds light on Based AF, his upcoming PFP collection, and his ambition to create the MTV of the metaverse. It was great talking with Robin about his experience building at the intersection of crypto and the creator economy. I hope you enjoy the show. Hey, Robin, how's it going?

Robin Schmidt: Hey, how's it going?

Nicholas: Welcome, welcome. I should give a little preface. I know I mentioned over DM, but for listeners, I'm calling in from Columbia for DEF CON. Yeah, I'm in a beautiful location outside of Bogota. DEF CON starts next week, and I'm here for a little pre-event in the countryside, in the hills in the countryside, full of cows and horses and stray dogs. It's actually beautiful. I've never been to South America before, and it's truly gorgeous. Have you ever been to a DEF CON yourself?

Robin Schmidt: I've been around them from time to time. I went to one in Berlin a few years back, but generally, it's been quite difficult for us to just travel and kind of get to places and still get the content done, because the moment we leave the office, it gets a lot harder to just make stuff, and we were on schedule. It hasn't really happened.

Nicholas: Yeah, so tell me, what was publishing schedule for you? I guess, have you officially left at this point, The Defiant?

Robin Schmidt: Yes, I left The Defiant at the end of last week, so that was Friday.

Nicholas: Congratulations on your tenure there. How long were you producing content at The Defiant?

Robin Schmidt: We started July 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago, and you kind of have to remember that that was suddenly had this validation moment, and so that was when we started. We were only doing one video a week, and if we couldn't make a video that week because we were being too ambitious, we just didn't. The Defiant wasn't actually paying us. I was actually at Harmony at that point and was trying to get a sort of footprint for Harmony in DeFi through making content, because we just didn't really have one at that moment in time, so that's what we did. Then when I went full-time with The Defiant, I'm struggling to remember how many videos a week we were doing, but I think it was three, and then it became four, five, six, and then it was seven. So it was a lot of content. That's wild.

Nicholas: That's wild. And was it, like, I think people maybe are familiar with your more produced cinematic videos as well as the kind of interview video one-on-one podcasts on YouTube. Was it one a week of the more highly produced ones, or how did you think about it?

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, that's a good question. We always wanted to maintain a certain level of production value. It's not because that makes any difference to the content itself. It's more just like, what do I want to put out in the world, and what's my background, and where do I come from, and how do I keep some connection to all the stuff that I've learned how to do over the last 20 years, making commercials and making films and generally getting good at making commercial content. And so there was always this idea, the minimum you can do is set up some lights. And that became how we did things, and we shoot on nice cameras and we have nice lenses. But again, if the person in front of the camera can't speak and isn't very good at communicating, then it doesn't matter how many lights you have, it's still going to be garbage. So initially, we put a lot of work and effort into taking the crazy stories of DeFi and everything else and giving them the treatment we felt they deserved that nobody else would bother to do because it was just way too difficult. And that was what we called the DeFi Weekly, and the template for that was set when we did the Curve video, when Curve launched. I basically had this idea in my head that this whole situation was bananas, so I was going to make the video use bananas. So in one shot, I've used the banana as a phone, and then I have bananas hitting me in the face. It was just a whole bunch of stuff that we did, and that sort of became the template for it. It wasn't like I deliberately set out to say, this is the tone of voice, and this is what the DeFi is going to be. Because if you look at the DeFi, and you look at Cameo, and look at what the DeFi was about, you'd be hard-pressed to understand why on earth a guy's getting hit in the face with bananas. But Camillo was always very supportive of that, because he said, the space is strange, and we don't need another Bloomberg. We need a media source that is completely unique and born from this space, and that tells the stories kind of the way they feel, and not necessarily the way we would traditionally cover them. So that's kind of what we tried to do. And that became the DeFi Weekly, and the promise of that was, you'll see something probably a little bit crazy. It wasn't always possible to do that. Some weeks we would really push ourselves to try and find a way of getting into the story in a meaningful way. Honestly, it's this. If you're going to make that much content, some of it, you just need it to have a creative peach to sink your teeth into. Otherwise it just gets really hard to consistently come to the table to talk about the same things in the same way, in the same context, to the same audience again and again and again. I just don't have that muscle. I have a huge amount of respect for people that can. Like Pomp, for instance, can talk about the same thing in a different way every day of the week, twice a day. I would just grow so bored. The bankers guys do it as well. They can talk about the same things and make them interesting and make the content and make it work. Again and again, I just don't have that. I'm constantly in need of visual refreshment and idea refreshment. A lot of what I was doing was just hunting for the quirky ideas, the odd ideas that nobody else would cover because they just weren't cool and they weren't going to generate lots of views. Those were always the things that, for me, were a bit more interesting. We had this strand called First Look, which went out on Wednesdays where we just deliberately go and look out for just something that was bizarre or different or interesting. because so much of what happens in this space is everyone copies everyone else. You get the same basic structure, same basic idea, but now it's on Avalanche or it's on Solana. After a while, it becomes really hard to be enthusiastic about that because who cares? I'm much more about the idea.

Nicholas: It's part of the nature of the open source that things are getting forked and repeated so many times that it becomes boring. But also, I think the bananas and the cinematic elements that you're introducing are humanizing of something that can be so esoteric and difficult to grapple with and unrelatable. You also had a longstanding interest in cinema, right?

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. I mean, gosh, I started my career back in 2002 when I was shooting extreme sports films with very cheap consumer cameras, basically. Big bulbous thing, very slow, very expensive. But the goal was always to make things look more cinematic. So you put widescreen bars on them, you would do this thing called deinterlacing where you would strip out one from the digital signal and that would create the illusion of 25 frames per second because interlaced footage looks like 50 frames per second. And if anyone saw The Hobbit in the cinema, they would have had this feeling that it felt cheap. And that's what interlaced footage feels like. It feels like television. It feels cheap. Now, television these days is all shot interlaced. Sorry, it's shot progressive, as they call it, which looks like 25 frames per second. Traditionally, yeah. So films have always been shot on film negative at 24 frames per second. 24 frames per second is very cinematic. It just has this slight kind of flicker to it. And that's what we associate with films. TV didn't do that because for all sorts of different reasons, the technical standards led to a certain place. So you could trick a digital camera signal into looking like it was 25 frames per second by stripping out one of the fields. So you do that. It was very processor intensive. But the result you got, if you put widescreen bars, you did that. And then you added a bit of just basic color correction. You could get something that looked not like it was shot on a consumer camcorder. And so that was that we were just trying to hack the signal as best we could to make it look more like we wanted it to look. That was always the adventure. That was always the journey. And then as you graduate up through the ranks of small budget to bigger budget, you can afford better cameras and then you get to play with lenses. And then you can shoot on super 16, which is like the best format in the world. But I'm sorry, it just is.

Nicholas: What do you love about it so much? What makes it so enigmatic?

Robin Schmidt: So many things. Okay, so the first part is it's film. If anyone's shot on film, they know. They know this thing like there is something magical that happens when you process light through a lens onto celluloid. Something magical happens. And it's really hard to explain to people what that is until they've shot something for themselves, had it processed, and then watch it back on a computer. And you just see all these imperfections. and there's weird things the light does and the weird way that the chemicals from frame to frame don't quite react the same way. It's utterly incredible. Now super 35 is also an amazing format, but the cameras are bigger. The negative is it is more expensive. So super 16 was just this real sweet spot where it was within reach and it had all this lusciousness of film. The lenses which cheaper, you know, with a smaller frame size, which is 16 millimeter frame sizes, sort of a little bit smaller than APS-C. If you're familiar with shooting on a DSLR.

Nicholas: APS-C is that full frame DSLR?

Robin Schmidt: No, that's the next one down. So that's the cheap version. So APS-C is like the kind of 1.66 times or something like that. Exactly. So with 16 mil film, you've got a smaller thing, but like you can shoot on Zeiss lenses and also the cameras themselves, they're just like, they're just these magical boxes and they're mechanical. And then, you know, you have to put an egg into a magazine in a blackout tent for obvious reasons. And that takes time. And then like you have this stack of rolls of film, like sitting there and you watch it slowly go down and you know that they cost real money. It's like 135 bucks per film roll. So that gives you basically 12 minutes of footage. It's 135 bucks. And then like you hear the camera and it's going and you just know that that's money. It's like literally is the money princess. You just hear the money just going. So what happens is everybody on set goes quiet. When you're shooting digital, you just spray and pray and you don't give a shit. But like shooting on film, you have to be so disciplined because you know that every single time that you could have called cut and you didn't, you just pissed like 20 bucks up the wall. It's there's something so focusing about that. It's awesome.

Nicholas: Shades of paying gas for transactions a little bit too. Not quite.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah, it really is. So now we have DSLRs and amazing lenses and amazing digital cameras that do an incredible job of taking all of that away and putting incredible tools in the hands of people who are doing spectacular things to them who would never have had access to that in the first place. But like when I was doing it, we had to really work our way up through like these different tiers like where you would deem good enough to get a budget of like 25 grand and that will get you like maybe a day shoot with film like shooting on 35. Wow. If you could shoot on 35 for 25k, I mean that was done really well.

Nicholas: 2002 was before mini DV and like Firewire, iMac.

Robin Schmidt: Ah, you're speaking my language. No, that was exactly that era. So when I started editing, it was Mac OS 9, Final Cut Pro 1 and Firewire. So Firewire, you know, signals. Yeah I mean and that's where the creator economy started. That kind of ethos of having cheap digital tools that you can still compete with in some way or shape and learn to do things. That was before YouTube obviously.

Nicholas: That was kind of how it all began. I mean it was before, I remember the first computer I ever owned of my own was an eMac, the educational Mac, which was the first one that shipped with OS 10. You actually had the option OS 9 or OS 10. I opted for 10 because I was a child. What did I know? And it was in the era before Steve Jobs and company had come up with iPod and post PC devices and were still focusing on like making the world into video creators actually with Firewire and OS 9, OS 10 and iMovie and this kind of stuff, Final Cut. I often think that like Evan Spiegel and Snapchat kind of delivered the ultimate version of that Jobsian vision from the early 2000s by compressing a lot of the challenge and just friction of nonlinear editing in something like iMovie into something that purely linear where the compositional frame is building. the story format that Snapchat created kind of gives you a really simplified stripped down version of what iMovie at that era was trying to do and also no need for mini DV and importing your videos at 1X.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah.

Nicholas: That was brutal.

Robin Schmidt: It's like, oh, well that was the thing, right? You would shoot on tape and like, man, I went back to my old production company and we had all the tapes in a drawer. I was like, what? Because you know, each tape is probably two bucks. And that was just this, like just the cost of all of that. And then the wastage, like once you started shooting on memory cards, all of that went away. and then you had a whole different problem, which is like, okay, now where are we going to store the media? How are we going to do digital archiving? All these kinds of things. That was a problem. But yeah, the other problem with DV cameras is they would drop time code. So basically like the worst thing in the world was a time code break on a tape. The best thing that would ever happen is you would start recording at the beginning and it would go from zero all the way to 60, the other 60 minute tape, and there'd be no break in the time code. But what generally happened was if you turn the camera off, for some reason, the camera would then decide to start the time code back at zero. And that was a huge problem because the tape would be given a number like reel one, reel two, reel three. And then what normally would happen is like within that reel, you have X amount of time code. And then you know that if I put reel one in and I go to this specific time code on that tape, then the shot I want will be there. So people will go through and they would say, right from this second to this second, there's a shot. that's really good. And we're going to log that, but then we're going to ignore the rest of it because media storage was a problem. You can't just ingest the whole tape, but then you have a time code break. So you have two instances on that tape where you have second two or minute two to minute five, that happens twice in the same tape. That's a real problem. Computer can't doesn't have a clue what to do with that. So you would end up ingesting the wrong bit of the tape. So I mean, man, like just the complete.

Nicholas: But two things. First off, it's interesting because it's tape, but it's not film, right? It's sort of magnetically encoded digital data rather than actually exposing the film, although it is a kind of tape. It is actually digital. But the Super 16 cameras that you were shooting on, why were you choosing to use those instead of because of their silky smooth actual film quality or access?

Robin Schmidt: Well, I mean, I mean, I wish I could have owned one. I mean, I shot quite a few projects on it. I think the thing that really sold us was seeing surfing on Super 16. You couldn't take a super 35mm camera into the ocean, but like a Super 16 one, you could.

Nicholas: They sort of look like a gun handle, right?

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, basically. But once you see surfing in slow motion on film, man, just the way the water reacts, it doesn't look the same on digital, even as good as digital has got. It still doesn't look the same. There's just I don't know. This is something about it. And this is like real nerd stuff. You know, when Christopher Nolan laments the death of film, like, yeah, he knows why. And there's like this never decreasing band of people that that love this stuff. I always joke we should maybe just do an episode for YouTube where we try and shoot.

Nicholas: Yeah, I was about to ask when the Defiant film version, I would look amazing.

Robin Schmidt: Well, I mean, it wouldn't. it wouldn't be the Defiant, but like, yeah, because who cares whether it looks amazing or not? Like we can make stuff look amazing with digital cameras and the lenses that we have now. And we can even shooting anamorphic now is relatively cost effective. You can get some cheap anamorphic lenses and make that look pretty decent because shooting anamorphic is a bit of a pain in the butt. And anamorphic lenses are very expensive normally. But you can get some cheap versions and get some nice looking stuff for that. Do you need me to explain what anamorphic is?

Nicholas: Wide screen, right? Wide lenses.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, basically. Yeah, it all comes out of the fact that like 35 mil film is a certain shape and you can't really change that. Right. So what they did instead was because they knew that the screens that we're going to be projecting on were much wider than the frame they were actually shooting on. They built these lenses called anamorphic lenses, which squeeze the image so you can fit a much wider image onto the same size of film. And the end result of that is it does some really weird things to the bokeh, which is the out of focus area in an image. But it also does some really weird things to faces as well. So you get these kind of strange, very specific artifacts that you only get in film. And like most of us don't really notice them. But for instance, if you see a like fairy lights and they're out of focus in the distance, the fairy light, the image will look stretched vertically. It will look like an oval rather than a circle, which it would be if you were using spherical lenses. And then you get these flares like the classic example is J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek. He was just. this is like blue streaks across the whole thing the whole time. But, you know, even if you look at like Rays of the Lost Ark, there's a lot of torches in that film. And when the torch sort of swings past the camera, you get this big flare and it's this big streak that pings out left and right. And that tells your brain that this is cinema. And that's what anamorphic lenses give you.

Nicholas: It accentuates the wideness of the shot to have all the bokeh.

Robin Schmidt: But it's not even the wideness. When you compose for anamorphic and compose for widescreen like that, that this 2.35 to 1 frame, your brain has to be completely rewired for thinking about composition because you get really accustomed to like, well, a 35 mil gives you this or a 50 mil gives you this and an 11 mil gives you this. But when you switch to anamorphic, you have to completely reprogram your brain to understand the composition and how. a close up isn't really a close up anymore because there's so much negative space.

Nicholas: Right.

Robin Schmidt: On the other side of the frame.

Nicholas: More stuff in your shot.

Robin Schmidt: Or less stuff. Or a close up can be a very different thing. Like, you know, when I think of a close up on a spherical lens, it's kind of usually from like just below the chin or just above the head. But like on an anamorphic lens, it's not that at all. But it still feels like a close up in the more traditional spherical sense. So there's a lot of film language and photography language that the cinematic lenses and tools that we have can give you. But I think most YouTube creators are not thinking about that at all. But I do.

Nicholas: Do you think the audience, you know, does it come through to the audience? What was your experience of the audience feeling?

Robin Schmidt: And to be honest with you, I don't think it really matters because I don't need the audience to decode the way I shot things. At the end of the day, when we try stuff out, we will generally do it for a reason. And a lot of the time that's just because we want to try it out. When we shot in the Arctic, for instance, we did everything widescreen. But those widescreen bars are not, it's not because it was anamorphic, it was because we just put widescreen bars on it. But we were in the Arctic, so it made sense to make it feel more dramatic and that kind of thing.

Nicholas: I think that does come through to the audience, because even if they don't know the specific techniques you're using, the general aura of like with anything, the care that's put into the construction of the work is comes through to the audience if they're not educated.

Robin Schmidt: Well, I mean, you'd have so the lens you shoot on has a specific effect that you're trying to achieve with it. And lighting plays into that as well. How you light something has a huge effect on the emotion that comes out of it, every bit as much as the piece of music you use. So, you know, depending if you light from below, it tends to make things feel demonic. And if you light from above, it tends to make you feel more like a prison setting. I think I'm trying to remember the last thing we shot fully on anamorphic. I think it was the 90 minute documentary on NFTs called The Greatest NFT Film Ever Made. And that was totally shot on anamorphics. And you'll see right at the beginning, I deliberately shine my phone's torch into the camera to create the flare. And I use that as a transition to get out into a different scene. Awesome.

Nicholas: Awesome. I mean, definitely the best filmed work related to crypto that I've seen. And to me, it really does come through you talking about lighting. And I think that's one of the most striking things, even when you just see a thumbnail or just a tiny clip of the work you did at Defiant is the lighting is really just a level beyond, frankly, most YouTube, but definitely within crypto number one in my mind. So congratulations on that.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. Well, what you don't realize is that there's some really good YouTubers out there and specifically some really good cinematic YouTubers who really care about this stuff. It's just that none of them are in crypto. So there's like...

Nicholas: Are there any channels you admire? Any creators you like?

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, there's one who's just incredible called Josh Yeo. His channel is Make Art Now. And he was a big inspiration for when I was trying to put my spin on the Defiant because he'd just go out of his way to do the most insane things he could because that was just what he wanted to do. He doesn't post that regularly, but he was just kind of pushing himself really out of his comfort zone to make things, have a story or have something weird about them and go way beyond what the story required. There was a lot of people who were following the Peter McKinnon playbook of Cameron Photo Blog and talking about specific pieces of tech that they used and Ronin's and all these other things. And there was just a ton of people doing very similar content. And then there's Josh, who just used to be an actor and he's just got a very different vibe on things and he's massively talented. And it just stands out because it's not just about a beautiful image, which is, to be honest, quite easy to get these days. But his storytelling and the way he put himself in the story and had a secondary character is really cool.

Nicholas: I'm curious, what kind of television do you watch or what kind of films are you enjoying lately?

Robin Schmidt: That's a really good question. It's funny because I've done throughout my career, I've literally done everything. I've done music videos, been signed to production companies. I've done commercials. I've shot, I've directed a feature film and I've done reality TV as well. One of the last things I did before leaving the UK was a show called The Indestructibles, which is basically like top gear on a budget with extreme sports. OK, building, building, building crazy stuff and blowing things up and generally just being idiots. And like I used to just watch, I used to try and watch a film every single day, which is nuts now when I think about it. And some somewhere after 24 happened, like I slowly started devouring more and more television. So I went through Lost. And Breaking Bad and The Wire. And then suddenly I was like, I'm only watching TV. So now I hunt relentlessly for great TV. And it's out there. There's not a lot of it, but it definitely is out there. And generally, probably the best stuff that I really enjoy is usually on HBO. And the two shows I've enjoyed the most, well, three probably, are Euphoria, Succession and Dave. Three shows which have nothing in common with each other, but they're just spectacularly well-made and very different examples of the same commitment to craft.

Nicholas: So Euphoria is beautiful. I haven't seen Dave. What's Dave?

Robin Schmidt: So Dave is Lil Dicky. He's a comedian, comedian, rapper, and they gave him a TV show and it's brilliant. It's brilliant. It is so funny. Like the first season, he's kind of finding his feet a little bit in the show. But the second season, they really let him loose to go and pursue the weird, wild world of Lil Dicky. And it's just genius. I absolutely loved it. Very cool.

Nicholas: Have you seen How To with John Wilson? I think it's also HBO.

Robin Schmidt: No, I haven't.

Nicholas: I think you would enjoy that. Check that out. He's a documentarian in New York who does very left of very, very oddball documentaries.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, well, that sounds exactly my jam. I mean, it's not like I necessarily always seek out the weird stuff. I mean, I mean, for better or worse, I really enjoyed the Hawkeye Marvel series. I thought it was. it was just really sweet and really beautifully well done. Well acted. But it was great. And I'll watch stuff like I watched the the Fuji Eco Challenge on Amazon. This was just epic because I'm training for an ultramarathon at the moment. So it was kind of like just putting your body through pain. And there's a great show on Apple called Bad Sisters with an Irish drama kind of comedy drama that I'm watching at the moment. It's really, really good. Oh, yeah. What was? there was a severance on Apple. God, that was good as well. OK. I watched a really good show.

Nicholas: One episode. People people seem to love that show.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, it's great.

Nicholas: Do you watch anything non-English language? Anything comes to mind that's been influential to you from from other parts of the world?

Robin Schmidt: Used to watch a lot. So there was this this period when there was a lot of Mexican filmmakers that that sprang up. So Del Toro, Iñárritu, and there was a film called Amores Perros, which is Love as a Bitch. And like all of those filmmakers ended up having huge careers in Hollywood. But like there was this period of just Spanish language cinema that was just really epic. And all those Mexican filmmakers were just doing just the most incredible work. So I watched a lot of that. I went to school in France for years. I used to watch a bit of French cinema, but it's kind of just reduced down now. So like there's just so much content to consume. And I tried to keep up with all of it. I tried to keep up with all of it, but I can't. And I have to kind of focus down on what we're doing now and try to make that as good as possible. Otherwise, you just kind of end up just watching stuff all the time.

Nicholas: Totally. So this is a good point to ask. So what is next for you? I know you're working on more than one project. So what are you doing immediately first?

Robin Schmidt: I'm actually not. I'm working on one project. Just one?

Nicholas: I thought multiple.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. No, it's called Base Day F. And it's basically where The Defiant is going as a brand and where I wanted to go as a brand. I think we're going in different directions. That's nobody's fault. I mean, The Defiant is, I love it. I had the best time working there. And the kind of ideas that I wanted to explore were more around NFT's, what's being created. And also when you think about who's going to inherit the metaverse and who's going to be the prime user of it, like the people who are really going to use the metaverse, they're like eight years old. How is sticking the knife into Zuckerberg relevant in any way, shape or form? So I'm fortunate. I have kids who are eight and ten. So I use them as my sounding board for stuff like, would you laugh at this? Because it's funny. And that keeps it very real because they play Roblox and they play Minecraft. And it just shows you like what they're thinking about, how they view the world. They don't give a crap about any of this stuff. They love VR.

Nicholas: They've never had a Facebook account and they might never.

Robin Schmidt: Exactly.

Nicholas: Then I want to come back to Minecraft and Roblox. But I want to ask you first, just what? when you think metaverse, when you say metaverse, what does it mean to you?

Robin Schmidt: People ask me this and I have no good answer. And that's kind of the problem, because I don't think anybody has a good answer. I think a lot of people think they know that it's sort of like a game or something. I don't think anyone has a good answer yet. And that's both an opportunity and a threat, because if you're trying to plant your flag in a landscape where there's no good answer for any of this stuff, like how is anyone going to ever going to find you? But at the same time, you can also be part of defining what that is. I mean, we can talk about like persistent 3D environments, social presence and all that stuff, but it's like. in no way, shape or form is it really crystallized yet. I kind of like that. I like the fact that it's emerging and it could be a bunch of different things and it might be VR, it might be AR, but ultimately it's probably just going to be like this secondary layer that sits on top of things and how we travel into that and out of it can be a number of different ways. But what you're looking for is just an upswell of ideas and creativity and a willingness to go and explore that that territory and try and figure out how we do it. And the people that do that early, because we are early, let's be honest, will be remembered by probably nobody. Let's be honest. We've done a lot of thinking recently about why we keep going back to 1981. Like in our own heads, we keep looking back to 1981 and then probably 1991 as well. But it's about MTV. So what happened in 1981? MTV was launched. Suddenly you had music videos on a TV channel and then that gave birth to Cribs and it gave birth to Jackass and all these reality formats and weird things that now like YouTubers just use as the platform for everything that they make. But like that all came from MTV and you suddenly realize just how important it was. So in my head, I'm like, well, what is the MTV of the Messiverse? How do we create a place in which people can see just the wildest, weirdest stuff and it doesn't matter. And actually, that's the reason you would go there. And you think that's YouTube. But I think like what is? there's going to be a thing beyond YouTube somewhere in the Messiverse. And I'm really excited about figuring out where that is and what that could be and hopefully playing a part in making that grow. So you ask me what I'm doing next.

Nicholas: But just for you, Metaverse is primarily because there's some people who would say like Ethereum is the closest thing we have to a metaverse, which is to say like a fully interoperable computer or maybe the web or the Internet are closer to like what a pure original definition of a metaverse was rather than this new version of the term metaverse where it's kind of used to describe 3D social platforms that often are not actually interoperable with anything outside of themselves.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. So I think we can talk about features of a metaverse rather than what the metaverse is. And like Tony Parisi has done a pretty good job of something that Matthew Ball obviously as well. And it like interoperability, the social component, which is not there for most of that stuff. So we have to figure out how to make that stuff fun and make it work. But there's no doubt like you see how much money is being poured into the metaverse. It's like if you really want to define what the metaverse is, it's an epic piece of IP that nobody owns. And in that case, you might as well just go and fly your flag and start doing stuff. And that was kind of where we came to it from. I mentioned I feel like it's a really underserved or undervalued area for journalism or content creation because I don't think anyone quite knows what bit of it to attack except Zuckerberg. So every time Horizon Worlds, there's a bit of negative publicity, but just bleep on it because they want to hate on him. But I have to say, I'm kind of slowly becoming team Zuck, not team Facebook, but team Zuck. Just in terms of like how I hear him talk about it. I listen to that Rogan podcast and like there's a lot of stuff that you like, really? But like when he talks about his experiences of using virtual reality and how physical it is and him training MMA, there's a lot of stuff like, yeah, that's exactly how it is for me. So I think the thing that troubles me is that there's a vision of the metaverse that feels like the end of Wall-E. And when you've got all these fat humans sitting in kind of chairs with wires plugged into them going like just zooming around, being fed everything. But I think it's kind of like this weird, no crashy thing where you're just you're jacked in and like that's kind of how we perceive everything. But for me, I don't think it is that. And there's a very physical kind of almost parallel version of things. And so when we're coming up with ideas for films around the metaverse, very much trying to make them physical and humane and human, obviously, to try and tease out the ideas that will preoccupy us when we think about the metaverse, but not do them in a way that's massively off-putting because I don't do VR or I don't do this. But I try and find the angle in that's like, oh, man, OK, so you're you're doing this, but you're adding this bit on it to it. OK, that makes sense. Well, then maybe the metaverse is something I can look at. So it's not our job to rebrand it, but it's definitely our job to be a different on-ramp to understanding it than we get at the moment.

Nicholas: So your goal is to make experiences, media of some kind for 3D social spaces or to create the space itself?

Robin Schmidt: Though that sounds very noble. I think me saying the MTV of the metaverse really neatly sums it up, which is we want to be an entertainment channel in which you'll find a variety of different things. And the thing instead of it being music is the metaverse. And that's so broad. I appreciate that. Like really, there's quite a few different pieces to this and some of them are web 3 and some of it's about kind of disrupting the YouTube model or finding a different model. But fundamentally, it's like we will be a YouTube channel that has short content and live streams and all this other stuff. And it will just be obsessed with the metaverse, but it will be obsessed with trying to be like Mr. Beast. And it's the easy example to say like Mr. Beast. But if you think about the way he's obsessed over winning the YouTube game, winning the algorithm game, we just have to come up with great stories, great concepts, and then trust that the way we tell them is going to hook an audience to keep coming back for more. And then through the course of that, they'll get exposed to why we're obsessed about the metaverse, because if we stand up on a soapbox and say, yeah, but man, the metaverse has to be open, has to be this, like nobody's going to care. But if they see and they experience it with you and then they kind of get an idea of why that might be a good thing without you preaching at them, then I think we can get somewhere and then we can start to kind of explore some really funky ideas about what to do with kind of big audiences and shaping the future of the Internet.

Nicholas: So you'll be creating content in metaverse experiences or creating your own experiences on top of other platforms or protocols, whatever it might be, that allow you to have these 3D social experiences and then publishing edited recordings of those to YouTube in order to draw people into the kind of community that you're building.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, probably something like that. They won't always work as well. So some weird. if you think about the YouTube schedule, six videos a week. we were doing it for the fun. There's no way we can do that. Now, as we expand the team, we can. we can start to put out short form content or, for instance, a react channel, because there's a lot of crap that comes out in the metaverse and someone needs to call it out. But at the same time, probably for nightly for the big tenfold pieces. And they really are big tenfold pieces, the most outrageous things we can think of, because that's the way this thing this is the way the game is played at the moment. It's you have to respect that and understand that that is a field you're playing in. But alongside that, some other content will be shorter in nature and acts effectively like a sidebar. So if we we skate over the fact that we're using, for instance, the new quest headset, we might do a sidebar where we unbox it, for instance, or we might do a sidebar where we try and find like, you know, whether to compare playing Bone Lab on it to the old quest to something like that. So there's other content that we can tease out. But it's really hard to build in, quote unquote, metaverses at the moment. They're all pretty clunky. And I think they know that. compare the user experience of like building an Instagram story. It's so intuitive now and it's so simple. You try building an experience in a metaverse and it's like, yeah, it doesn't really work. And that's kind of what Matthew Ball says. There is no metaverse. There is only the metaverse. And then these worlds like Crypto Boxes or Decentraland or Wilder World, there are instances in the metaverse. And I guess that's just semantics, however you want to think about it. But we kind of have to think of the metaverse as the Internet. We don't say this is an Internet when we're talking about a web page. We don't say that. Right. And that's the same for the metaverse, probably. But again, like who knows? Who knows what any of this stuff is? What I do know is that the true birth of metaverse was like 30 years ago and it was military. It was a thing called SimNet. It was basically a way of training U.S. soldiers in battlefield operations in a way that they could repeat over and over and take the lessons from and then apply them to the Gulf War, which is wild.

Nicholas: Not unlike the Internet. OK, so for you, we're in this inchoate moment. It's unclear exactly what the metaverse will be, what it will mean. But it does mean sort of the big tent of everything that is interested in being connected to the metaverse, which is to say social, 3D, spatial, Internet connected experiences, whether or not they make a point of being particularly interoperable with each other. Currently, you can bridge the gap sort of on your local machines and create a content channel that is encompassing of all these different types of experience that are branding themselves as metaverse in order to discover what exactly the metaverse is going to be.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, something like that. I mean, you talked about interoperability there and like it's very clear that like that will be sold pretty quickly. There's so much energy. You think so?

Nicholas: You don't think Facebook is going to try to keep a moat around whatever horizons or social experiences? I mean, right now, Decentraland and CryptoVoxels and Sandbox don't work at all together.

Robin Schmidt: No, no, not at all. But I think it's Adobe, Nvidia, Unreal, Unity. They're all working together to figure this stuff out. And it's happening pretty fast. It's like this USD universal scene description format. It's not like any asset can appear in any world. There needs to be a kind of location specific thing where like if you're playing a like a World War II simulation, a noun or a board game that has no place in that world. So, OK, don't put them there. But in terms of the portability of formats, like it's going to be sold pretty quickly. And there's just...

Nicholas: Really? I'm not sure I believe you. I'm pretty sure everyone's going to try and create an account lock in system like the App Store and iCloud and Apple ID accounts or Facebook accounts.

Robin Schmidt: I don't know. I don't I don't get that feeling like, well, maybe I'm being naive. I just don't think Facebook has the clout in this particular space that we all think it does, because it doesn't own.

Nicholas: I mean, they make the best headsets, more or less, or the most accessible quality headsets.

Robin Schmidt: That's not the full picture of the metaverse. Let's be honest.

Nicholas: No, but if you have to, I mean, you no longer need a Facebook account to use Oculus, but you do need a meta account, which is essentially a Facebook account by another name.

Robin Schmidt: It's essentially a Facebook account. Yeah. So I'm like, you know, I'm generally on my Oculus. I mean, I used to be on it like an hour and a half a day. I just spending time training my eyeballs to understand. Yes.

Nicholas: Saber or VR chat?

Robin Schmidt: Pistol whip pistol pistol is my game of choice, but because I can pick it up and play it and then stop playing and I'm not sucked in for the next hour. It's like one of those things where I play a three minute song on Dead Eye and try and be like top of the leaderboard. Like I'm quite I'm not like one of the. I'm a pretty good player on this. the web like globally, probably like so I have like a.

Nicholas: Have you ever seen this channel Surmore on YouTube? S? Y R M O R person does interviews in VR chat. These like really in-depth personal often about like PTSD or bullying at school or different subjects. Have you seen that?

Robin Schmidt: Oh, that's awesome. Yeah. There's a feature film called I want to say it's we fell in love in VR chat. But it's basically it's a documentary about people who fell in love in VR chat and got married or form relationships. Wild, which is I mean, it feels wild, but like I remember World Warcraft 90s. No, no. It's from the early 90s. Like there was a film called Lormo Man with Pierce Brosnan. And like that was the era when VR had this sudden explosion. We thought we were going to all be like having sex in VR with cyber dildonics and this kind of thing. It's like what? And then it died. But like VR chat feels exactly like that. Those clunky and weird and like just kind of strange. I think anything goes. So it's not like it doesn't feel new in any way. It's like, oh, that's cool. That's fun.

Nicholas: Well, I think the one thing that feels like the art is that it lets you import any character with great difficulty and doesn't seem to respect any IP rights, which is different to the Facebook as much as memes and stuff have. And Google image search and YouTube have sort of liberated people about using. I remember in school, they used to not let you use images unless they were Creative Commons images in a PowerPoint. But nowadays, nowadays anything goes. But at the same time for 3D models, it doesn't if you're going to sell it. But you can't do it in Roblox, maybe. But in VR chat, you can have like, I don't know, Marge Simpson talking to a hot dog, talking to a big lamp post or whatever. There's. it has that kind of crazy feel that feels like WebOne or something pre sanitized social media.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, totally. That is definitely what it feels like. where it's like the GeoCities moment, isn't it? Where it's like, yeah, a web page can be whatever you want it to be. And no one really knows. It's like try stuff.

Nicholas: But it is social, which is different, which is cool.

Robin Schmidt: Yes, it is social. And I mentioned BoneLab before, but BoneLab allows you to do the same thing. It's like you can use your own avatar to play the game. BoneLab is quite hard work. If you're not used to VR, the manipulation engine, how you manipulate objects and stuff can be a bit clunky and a bit weird. But like the ability to import your own avatar and play as it. It's pretty wild. You have this little string on your wrist. You pull it out and you can change character. And each character has a different way of going through the level. So you can decide how are you going to play the game.

Nicholas: I've watched videos, but I haven't tried it. I'm going to have to give it a shot. I want to open this up to questions. if people have questions they'd like to ask you. So if you do, please request. In the meantime, so what is the name of the new project? What's it called?

Robin Schmidt: So it's called Base. They are. we are launching a. yeah, we're launching a project. We've had to redesign the timeline because basically what we're trying to do is too ambitious. We are too ambitious, obviously. So we're probably going to be releasing the PFP around the end of November. Now, it was going to be the beginning of November. But yeah, we just need a bit more time and then we'll be doing a special at the end of the year, which I will reveal details about at a later date. But I've already given a clue away in this Twitter spaces to go back and watch the whole thing. Yeah. And and then next year we get into full production. At the moment, we're just curing up and putting a team together. So if there are any unity developers out there, hit us up, because that seems like that is what we need more than anything else at the moment. And it turns out that you developers are like solidity developers. They are unicorns. They're out there somewhere, but you can't find them.

Nicholas: So yeah, dangerous game of all.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, basically.

Nicholas: So the project will essentially fund your development team, your studio to build out this MTV of the Metaverse experiments. Is that right?

Robin Schmidt: So we did do a VC raise. We can't announce who's in that at the moment because we're not fully closed. But we did raise what we needed to raise. And that has given us X amount of runway. And the project will give us the balance of that. I don't know if you've noticed, but the market isn't great. Right. Yeah, it's not the best. So we said we said a conservative target and deliberately forced ourselves into kind of thinking lean. But I mean, at the same time, like the marketplace that we're launching into and the way that we want to launch into it, we can't be thinking like a hundred thousand subscribers in 12 months is a good result. We just won't be. We have to be thinking like a million subscribers in 12 months is a good result. It's the minimum that we should be shooting for. There's lots of different reasons why you get to that number and why that is a valid number. But primarily, it's just a stretch target that looks kind of sexy. So why not?

Nicholas: And how did the PFPs tie into the narrative of the unity work you'll be building?

Robin Schmidt: Well, that's a perfect experience, a perfect question to us, because a lot of the metaphor spaces that we've been building on specifically in the last couple of months are built on unity and unity's. Unreal's been grabbing all the headlines because of its ray tracing and real time lighting with Lumen, the incredible way it handles meshes and this kind of thing. But what that gives you is an incredible cinematic result in a local station for web based metaverse experiences. Obviously, we look at improbable on the other side. That's an insane level of kind of having 4000, 5000, 10,000 people simultaneously. It's like the mind just cannot comprehend how they're doing that. But you look thinking about something like Monaverse, for instance, it's built on unity. You have to think quite compact.

Nicholas: For getting it into people's hands, it's you're saying it's better.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. And when you think about the friction points like I love Somnium, for instance, but we still have to download the Somnium client. You can only do it on a PC. And there's a certain amount of friction involved in that for us. We wanted to have an experience where a you can access it through a web browser. So be anyone can build on the land without having to buy land. Because I think right now in the space that we're in, like just rent seeking, just selling land and the the weird hierarchies that pop up around where your land is and value of that land, everything else just kind of gets in the way. So that's why I bring up Monaverse. But anyone could build in Monaverse. You don't need to buy the land. It's unity. So there is some friction there in terms of building out your own thing. But you can just get hands on and start creating something that you want to show to people or share with people. And we kind of like that.

Nicholas: So the PFPs will allow people to build in the space?

Robin Schmidt: No, of course not. Of course not. No. People have asked us, why do a PFP? Isn't that played out? Like we we looked at it and I love it. It's not played out. PFPs have got so much more to give. They're great. But there's two reasons. First of all, we're in the business of attention. Right. So for us to be a success, we need to garner a lot of attention and we need to do that after a few different ways, one of which is creating a great concept and making a very entertaining video. Fortunately, YouTube is now evolving away from just a guy shouts at you for 10 minutes. And it's so fast that you can't look away to more human storytelling. Casey Neistat started vlogging again, which is a great sign that the YouTube kind of paradigm is shifting more into our realm of expertise, which is great. I'm very happy about that. So that's one part of it. But then second part is like the audience. The audience is everything. And I think where the creative economy has gone has become a little bit concerning and just in terms of like grow really big to like 10 million subscribers and then sell stuff. So sell much, sell courses, just sell stuff. And like the audience, the people that are doing the sharing, the liking, subscribing kind of just are this piggy bank for creators. And I find that somewhat problematic. So what we're trying to do is figure out a way to even out the balance of it. And it's like I don't have the all the answers trying to figure out this stuff at the moment. But what I have realized is that NFT communities, BFP communities in general are the craziest motherfuckers on the planet. And they will jump into the pit with you and try this stuff out if you are leading the charge in a way that they can relate to. So that's one of the wonderful thing about being a creator is that you get to have that relationship with an audience. And so that's part one. Part two is there's a lot of cool stuff that happens in the metaverse and no one shows up. So we had to bake in a way for us to when we do stuff that we had a crew that would turn up because otherwise what's the point? So it's not like every single film that we ever do will have the ability to plug in the audience. But wherever possible, we will make the base heads, because that's what they're called, integral to that story in a way that can only be accessed if you have the BFP. There's a bunch of stuff that I can't even talk about because legally I would get into trouble if I did. And I will only reveal that once we've done the sale, because again, I just can't talk about it. I would get into so much trouble if I did. But even just me saying that, you can kind of see where I might be going with it. But there's just a different version of the creator economy that has this, I call it the third pillar. So you think about the creator economy is build an audience and then monetize that audience. That's the model. And lots of different ways to monetize that audience. We think there's a third pillar, which we call share the spoils, build an audience, monetize the audience, and then you share the spoils in some way. And the Web3 version of that has always tended towards something that is driven by markets. So add a token, drop another NFT, and then it's like, OK, great. So how do you do that share the spoils thing without dropping an NFT and without just adding a shitcoin to what you're doing? And that's a really big challenge. But it's also the one that ultimately is the most sustainable. And like, fortunately, you know, with what we do, there is a way to do that and to do it safely and to do it correctly and to track the right kind of data to enable the right kind of rewards to go to people for the things that they have done. So those tools are sort of starting to emerge. But the wonderful thing is, as an emerging new creator channel, we can bake that in from the start, whereas I think it'd be quite difficult for like a THC or an Emma Chamberlain or even a Casey Neistat pivot to that model because it just wouldn't make any sense. So that's kind of one of the advantages that we have. That's where the base heads come in. They're so important, but they represent our audience and our audience will be a big part of what we do.

Nicholas: So my question is, the Unity spaces that you're making are going to be used like film production stage essentially, or something that your community members can also come in and visit?

Robin Schmidt: Oh, yeah, totally. There has to be. So one of the reasons we're doing it at Monoverse is that we can we can just drop a link and people can go and follow along or do what we did in that space. And it's not like we're going to be bound to Monoverse. I think the idea for us is to explore all sorts of different versions or visions of the metaverse and figure out a way to do something cool there. I mean, we can pretty clear that the other side is going to be a place where a lot will be possible. And we're kind of thinking already about how we would do something there. But the fact that it's Unity is just simply because those are the platforms that we're using at the moment. But Unreal Engine and motion capture will be a big part of what we do as well. And so these game engines that are kind of powering these 3D experiences are things that we need to get really good at.

Nicholas: When you say MTV, you're really interested in producing essentially media across whatever metaverse platform makes sense, but creating experiences that are attractive enough to people that they actually show up and participate. Yeah, basically.

Robin Schmidt: So I think of it like the UFC. So the UFC is a show and it goes to different stadiums around the world. And, you know, you get the soap opera of the show, but essentially it's an octagon and you know what the show is. That's basically what we are. So imagine that different metaverse implementations are the different stadia around the world. The UFC remains constant. So the show will be constant. It'll just be witnessed in different places, something like that. I wish it was that simple. It's really not that simple, but it's something along those lines anyway.

Nicholas: As you said, end of November, is that the target launch date?

Robin Schmidt: It's looking like end of November. Yeah. I mean, it was a hard conversation to have today, but we just we're pushing so hard to do something that is, I mean, it's easy to say different, but like I think the most important thing is it should be authentic to me and to us and to what we do. And like, have you seen the stuff that if you liked what we did that defiant, the cinematic, the weird, the quirky stuff, it'll be that. If you don't like that, then it's probably not for you. But what I can guarantee is that we're going for it because there's no reason not to at this point. The market is where it is. And, you know, like you've got to try pushing the boundaries of things, but also within the boundaries of what people know you for. And that's the most important thing.

Nicholas: Is there anything that we didn't? I know you want to talk about the creator economy. You touched a little bit on some of how you feel the monetization is maybe perverse or not ideal and Web3 can can change that. Do you have any other thoughts on the creator economy that you want to share?

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, I'm looking at different models of how the singular creator model is quite strange because it enforces this notion that there is a human and they have all the answers that the value should flow through them. And I think where Web3 has done quite well is creating environments in which that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. But it's definitely a hook to hang things on. And it definitely helps. So I know that my face in front of a video will lend. Itself to a certain thing, but I'm quite keen to kind of move beyond that to something that's called like a metal label. There's a brand called Mischief in New York where they they do these drops that are all sorts of different things, all sorts of different artists. And it's like it's really cool. Dows kind of run a little bit like that way. But you should definitely check out metal label. that X, Y, Z is really interesting thinking going on about how you can do that. Kind of like a grown up version of a Dow that has a creative or creative end goal to it. But again, it's not an old idea. It's just kind of powered in a crypto way. That's kind of fun. And I think it was just a lot of a lot of frothy, crappy companies that grew up through 2021 because during the pandemic, everyone was creating. Everyone was making content. Everyone was making videos and sharing that vision of what was going on. And a lot of that has gone away now because the world has opened up again and it's no longer necessary to just somehow find a way to create from your bedroom. So a lot of those kind of secondary things that were helping creators manage businesses or build businesses or capture different slices of value, that's all evolving. And then there's another big piece of this, which is like, oh, if winter is coming and we're going to hit a recession, like what does that mean for the AdSense revenue? What does that mean for the brand integration? Are brands going to be nervous about spending money on influencers and creators? I guess what I see is that the creative economy is really exciting. It is a big sea change. And the way direct to consumer now plays in purchasing decisions, it's like it's just a it hasn't gone away. And so I'm just obsessed with it. Absolutely obsessed with it. Because in so many ways, it feels like it's dark and so in need of kind of. But at the same time, it's also growing up in ways that kind of play more into my expertise, like YouTube is becoming more like TV. They're really trying to attract TikTok, this kind of thing. And it's a soap op, right? You know, it's just like, what did the algorithm do today? Like what's happening here? It's just a fun world to be in. And it's just if you can find a niche that's got some some juice in it, like I think the metaverse does, then it's like, OK, cool. We can do something here.

Nicholas: Mark, you had a question.

Robin Schmidt: More of a statement. I just wanted to tell Robin that I really loved everything you did on Defiant. All the quirky metaverse, unity based stuff that you did and experimented with was really eye opening and just it really got me hooked on it. And I'm really excited to watch you boys trail forward. And I'm going to sit back and watch you experiment and see what works and what doesn't. But I'm really excited and I can't wait to see what you do going forward. I appreciate that. Well, you said boys and we're also very aware that the metaverse isn't just for boys. We're trying to balance out the team a little bit. Not doing a great job at the moment, but yeah, definitely trying.

Nicholas: Awesome. Well, Robin, this is great. Great to hear about your future plans based AF and hear a little bit about your experience at the Defiant. Thanks so much for coming to tell us about it today.

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. Thanks for having me, man. Really, really awesome.

Nicholas: This is great. Looking forward to seeing the collection drop whenever whenever it's ready.

Robin Schmidt: Absolutely.

Nicholas: All right. Thanks. Thanks, everybody, for coming through and see you again next Friday for another Galaxy Brain. Bye. Bye. Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of Web3 Galaxy Brain. To keep up with everything Web3, follow me on Twitter at Nicholas with four leading ends. You can find links to the topics discussed on today's episode in the show notes. Podcast feed links are available at Web3GalaxyBrain.com. Web3 Galaxy Brain airs live most Friday afternoons at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, 2200 UTC on Twitter Spaces. I look forward to seeing you there.

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