Top 40 Jugglers of 2012 – an epic journey

Check out this YouTube playlist to see all the videos, or keep reading below for more information.

Back in December 2012 I wrapped up the voting process for my ten year long personal project, the Top 40 Jugglers of the Year. I solicited volunteers to help work on the results video. The plan was to reduce the work for me, but also to transition some of the work to other people with a view to me not doing the video for the 2013 poll. I set aside some time to work on the soundtrack for the project, during a work trip, but then got very ill during those days. Many weeks passed and I never managed to make my motivation coincide with free time to finish up the project.

By then it was already March, and I knew I had to pull my finger out and get something done. My girlfriend Juliane suggested I break it into smaller pieces and complete many videos in turn, and I realized this would let the whole thing become a new interactive experience for the viewers. I also knew it would take a lot of work… but a lot of work on stupid projects is what my life consists of, mostly.

After a stupid teaser video, I got to work. I began with a safe bet, the opening with a song I’d already written two months before:

As soon as I posted that video I began work on video number two. In this case I did some rapping, another safe bet, and knew it would set the tone for the rest of the videos.

The most interesting audience suggestions for the next video were “opera” and “interpretive dance”. Why not?

It was a lot of fun to both write and sing. Juliane is a classical singer, and people wanted her to take part. I also asked her to take part in the dance. We did it in one take, with no planning, purely improvised. Juliane actually felt ill afterward due to spinning around too much.

Luke Wilson re-entered the chart at number 20, so I decided to make a special tribute video just for him:

I’ve pretty much learned Luke Wilson’s club juggling routine in the months since he died last year, so I decided to match a quick run-through of mine up with his video. While I learned his routine from this video, I’d never made a video of myself and played them side by side as I did for this clip. It turns out I was a bit off with the first throw do to a slightly longer setup. Also Luke’s kickups are (inevitably) much faster than mine, so he does five kickups in the time I do four.

One of the most requested form of video was “Just show the jugglers and talk about them a bit”. I thought this sounded very boring, even though I understand why people just want the results, and don’t care about my efforts to be entertaining or creative. I set up a TV, made some note, collected some photos and videos, exported a few versions of a chart…

I only recorded one take, and did no editing. Then I had to upload it. I had a work trip the next morning, and such a chunky video took too long to upload. So I copied it to Juliane’s laptop and she took a few attempts to upload it… and between us we battled against YouTube’s “video processing” dialogue.

During that work trip I was busy with two other projects, so the Top 40 was put on hold again. Then I selected another suggestion, something like “a juggling battle”.

I hurt my voice a little doing the stupid voice. The voice is, of course, a reference to EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORY, a popular YouTube series. I’m not sure how many juggling fans worked that out. I planned to include Doug Sayers in this video (coming in a beating in a battle of clubs verses kendama), but I only set myself a single day to make this video, and ran out of time.

For the final video I took the most up-voted suggestion on video six: “Do the next one as a movie trailer!”

I had a lot of fun making this video! I could put in stupid jokes and had the time to select the biggest, best, and sometimes silliest juggling clips from the best jugglers of 2012. I selected a piece from the Face/Off movie soundtrack, mainly due to the fact I once choreographed and performed a duo club juggling routine to this music, so knew it pretty well. It was also fun to play around with titles and transitions and effects. I could have gone way further, but again I only had limited time to finish it up.

I actually exported and uploaded a version with a major mistake. I’d selected a few impressive clips for each juggler to show with their name and number in the last section of the video. Somehow I overlaid one of Wes Peden’s clips over both clips I’d selected for Patrik Elmnert. This meant Wes was in second AND first place! Oops! A few viewers caught the mistake, so I took the opportunity to fix one title and also leave a lot of blank screen at the end to put links and lists (turn on YouTube annotations). One more upload and I was done.


Last year I installed a Firefox plugin to block YouTube comments. Doing this video project reconfirmed that I made the right choice. It’s amazing how little thought or effort the vast majority of commenters put into their words. Seriously, if you don’t care to use punctuation or even bother with good spelling, why the hell should I care what you have to say? I don’t mind genuine complaints or differences of opinion, but if someone wants to influence my future actions they must first impress me with their own efforts. For each extra second of work you put into your writing means many seconds fewer of work for me.

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