YouTube Limelight: Synapse

If you have ever watched those 10 minute highlight videos of League of Legends streams on YouTube, you know the typical. A girl in the thumbnail, clickbait titles, routine trash. These videos are usually a drag to me; especially those created for pros and streamers for their personal channels get boring, because not enough captivating content is available on the daily.

However, one channel stands heads and shoulders above the rest–so much that his name has become a Twitch chat term; almost a League of Legends-specific synonym for PogChamp. Synapse stands out as the premium version of highlight channels, and for multiple good reasons. As someone who has a hard time committing to YouTube videos longer than 6 minutes, it’s a testament when I say I will watch any video this channel puts out, at any length. Watching the daily Synapse video is a ritual for me, a highly anticipated ten minutes of joy. It is the first channel that I have ever turned on all notifications for. Intrigued? Here’s why Synapse is so good.

First, he carries himself very professionally and cleanly. While most highlight channels stoop to lewd thumbnails, clickbait titles, and scavenging and stealing Twitch clips to generate views, Synapse is careful to source things himself, receive community contributions, give credit all the time, and respect the wishes of streamers who do not want to appear in his videos. For example, following the recent return of Tyler1 to Twitch, Synapse waited to acquire permission to use clips from his stream before publishing them in his videos. Pretty admirable and honorable compared to the self-elevating, scavenger attitude of most other highlight channels, if you ask me.

The second thing about Synapse is how clearly he communicates with his audience and integrates the audience into the daily experience; not only are viewers invited to submit clips they have taken themselves, and given an opportunity to appear as the comment of the day (through which his hilarious sense of humor is portrayed), but when something irregular comes up in the schedule, it is communicated.

Synapse is also marked by extreme quality. With so many highlight videos coming from every direction every day, viewers can be picky about good editing versus bad editing. Some editing is too obtrusive, some editing is too random, but the art of the edit that enhances humor and skillfully directs the viewer’s attention is laudable. Not only is Synapse’s editing among the best, but his popularity and name reach helps him crowdsource the best clips every day. You go into watching every clip expecting something funny, clutch, or unexpected to happen, and it delivers every time. That’s how I would define quality.

Lastly, something that characterizes Synapse in particular are the running gags he pursues. One of the most famous ones he was responsible for was hashinshin’s “Unstoppable btw,” which he found funny and applied to a lot of other clips. Some others include Kev1n’s bizzare “Outsmarted!”, Pinkward’s non-response, and (one of my favorites) Trick2g’s “I think that was a mistake.” Recently, it’s been hashinshin’s new hit song, “League of hourglass.” (Personally, I don’t find hashinshin very funny, but some people come back just for that, you know. It works.)

As to schedule, it’s roughly every day, but sometimes it’s not every day. It depends on how much content Synapse receives, and, I imagine, a normal life schedule. Also, somewhere after episode #100, he let his viewers know that he would be posting at erratic times of day, because certain trash channels had chosen to copy his work and re-upload it as their own. I mean, that’s when you know you’ve made it, when people are stealing your stuff, right?

Yes, Synapse really only uploads one type of video (he used to upload other kinds before the explosive popularity of his highlight videos), but do you really need to post anything else if what you’ve got it working crazily well? Here’s an old episode that will speak for itself.

I hope I’ve sold it–if you like League of Legends, Synapse is the best you can get. A high quality channel with morals that knows its audience. Personally, I’ve never liked any channel on YouTube more, from any genre. I’ve been watching every episode since shortly before episode #100, and here we are, almost at #300. I genuinely hope this guy goes down in League of Legends history as a pillar and servant of the community., looks like you’re out of a job. I can get all my top-notch highlights every day in one place.

YouTube Limelight: Synapse

YouTube Limelight: jacksfilms

I spend so much of my time watching YouTube videos, that, hey, it’s become one of those things that defines me. In YouTube Limelight, I’ll feature a content creator whose work stands out to me. Roughly put, the majority of YouTubers can be categorized as Vloggers, Gamers, or Musicians. Here are my favorites.

Another sub-category not mentioned in my intro that I quite roughly (and not literally) place under Vloggers is Comedy. There are a select few comedy channels I enjoy, but I think I’ve have discovered some entertaining ones. jacksfilms is one of them.

Combining a good taste of deadpan, music, legitimately funny cheesy effects, and a little bit of self-deprecation, Jack conducts many series of videos all with the same running theme. Just a few of the running jokes on his channel involve his channel sucking, his ‘biches’ (a YGS #1 mispelling that has become the name for his fanbase), him being gay (he has a girlfriend), and light switches (more on that later).

Some other short things about Jack: he’s fond of his dog, Klondike, his girlfriend, Erin, and green screens. Somehow, he is the only person who convincingly makes me want to listen to his sponsor plugs, even though I am disinterested in what he advertises; they’re gripping in a surprising way.

A word of warning: Jack’s channel is not exactly clean language, but the good thing is that the ‘bad words’ are not the brunt of the comedy or what makes it funny. He’s also a drinker, but he’s also an adult. It’s funny sometimes.

One of his most famous series is Your Grammar Sucks, in which his fanbase sends in horrible YouTube comments, Facebook posts, tweets, etc. from all over the internet, and he reads them aloud comically. Here is one episode:

His second most famous is probably JackAsk, in which people send in questions to him, but unlike other Q&A vlogs, he answers them satirically.

Most recently started, he is running YIAY, or Yesterday I Asked You. Each day, he posts a short video less than 2 minutes long reading comments as usual, which are answers to yesterday’s question (often a prompting question that calls for creativity in humor). At the end of the video, he asks the next question. These are incredibly hilarious for such short videos; he even mixes it up, sometimes adding music or special challenges for the comments. What I appreciate most is that he does it every day, it seems like an easier, shorter video for him to produce, and as a viewer, I don’t have to watch a long video to pack a huge punch of entertainment. (And for the light switch joke, check out YIAY #21 and YIAY #54.)

He also has a hodgepodge of other videos which he collectively calls PMS: parodies, music videos, and sketches. There’s rarely anything that isn’t funny. Here’s a demonstration of his original music videos; this one stemmed from YGS.

A small series that happened that I really loved was called News in Haikus, in which Jack boils down huge current events into haikus. Unfortunately, it kind of trailed off and there were only 5 in total. Here’s is the last of those:

Jack is also a well-connected guy, dating back quite a couple years, he is friends with many gamers, vloggers, and singers, such as Tobuscus, Grace Helbig, and Tay Zonday. His friends have been periodically featured on his channel. He also appears on other channels, most notably TheFineBros, for YouTubers React and MyMusic.

Apart from making hilarious comedy, Jack stands out as a great YouTuber because of who he is as a person. Both as part of a sponsorship and improving his lifestyle, Jack took part in a health challenge that considerably changed his health and living. Even though he comes off as a huge joker, he is quite obviously a hard worker as well. Jack has one of the most reliable schedules any YouTuber can boast, much better than many others I follow. Staying on top of a self-imposed schedule is impressive. In his comedy, Jack may come off as jester, but sometimes he’s almost there at role model status.

The last thing that really sets Jack apart is that he is truly connected to his fanbase, and it shows. Nearly every YouTuber constantly thanks their viewers for supporting them and watching them, and mention how they wouldn’t be where they are without them, but Jack doesn’t do that; instead, he thanks everyone by simply being in there with them and constantly being friends. The majority of his videos rely on comments submitted or collected by his viewers, which he personally reads and selects, and especially with YIAY happening daily, he’s reading comments daily. One of his long-running outros for YGS was a video of him and a bunch of fans singing the song. It’s safe to say Jack’s videos couldn’t even exist without viewers’ participation, and that makes it so much more personal and special.

So, if you can be above crude language and drinking for the sake of comedy (and this is one of the smallest for the sakes ever), I’m not sure who Jack couldn’t make laugh. He’s, at the time of writing, currently on the rise to 2 million subscribers, and will certainly be there soon.

YouTube Limelight: jacksfilms

YouTube Limelight: Pentatonix

I spend so much of my time watching YouTube videos, that, hey, it’s become one of those things that defines me. In YouTube Limelight, I’ll feature a content creator whose work stands out to me. Roughly put, the majority of YouTubers can be categorized as Vloggers, Gamers, or Musicians. Here are my favorites.

Pentatonix is an a capella group who made their breakthrough on the TV show The Sing-Off, and now resides and makes their name on YouTube. They’re one of the biggest YouTube artists today, and they even had the #1 selling Christmas album in 2014. They even recently won a Grammy award for arrangement. They’re practically my favorite artists in my entire music library. And yes, we’re talking about YouTubers here.

The main distinction which sets them apart from other musicians and a capella groups is their group dynamic and their unique talent. Scott has a beautiful baritone, Mitch is able to sing in what’s usually a girl’s register, and Kirstie tacks it down by joining Mitch in the higher notes. These three were friends since high school, already forming a strong core bond. In 2011, the addition of Kevin, the beatboxer (who can also play cello and speak Chinese!), and Avi, their bass (who can hit extremely low notes–it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard), marked the culmination of Pentatonix.

But it does the band injustice to single out their individual talent and present them as such–Pentatonix is truly Pentatonix because they combine to form one inseparable group. One doesn’t listen to their music and say “oh, he’s the best” or “her part was amazing”; even on the songs clearly designed to feature one of them–their music is one big conjoined group effort. You can’t pick it apart.

Not only do they cover, rearrange, and write a wide diversity of amazing music, already making them an exceptional a capella group, their dynamic on top of this is heartwarming. The group already represents so many different backgrounds come together as nothing less than a family–gay, Christian, white, black, Jewish, and so on–and it speaks to how we can still have our differences and be the best friends there are.

In terms of being YouTube content creators, and since they’re in the music division, their music videos, it never fails to match how well they sing. Whatever they do visually for the video is almost as entrancing as the sound. Sometimes they’ll sit in their signature order for a live cover, or there’ll be a tiled visual of each of their faces. They’re also fond of occasionally dressing up (Radioactive, Daft Punk, Love Again).

But what I cannot express in words is their unique sound. Let the music speak for itself; here are some of my favorites that they have posted on YouTube.

Pentatonix’s main signature is covering pop hits in the musical world. A look down their YouTube videos reveals a potpourri of hits, whether they were from last fall or two years ago. One of my recent favorites is their cover of Clean Bandit’s Rather Be. This is also an example of what I said before–it’s designed to feature Kirstie, but you can’t ignore the group as a whole.

Pentatonix also does live covers, mashups, arrangements, so forth…here is a very popular video of theirs, which is a four-and-a-half minute time travel through music history.

Although not the first I heard, their Carol of the Bells is the first song that truly hooked me into listening to them. Probably one of their more intricate arrangements, I still love this one.

In terms of accolades, Pentatonix isn’t nowhere. They won the 3rd season of The Sing-Off, and most recently, they won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Arrangement (for Instrumental or a Capella)–for their Daft Punk Medley.

In addition, they write originals. Love Again is one of them which is on their channel, and there are a couple more on their most recent EP, such as See Through, On My Way Home, and Standing By (which I all love).

I could go on, but I could also bore you with too many videos. If you would like to listen to more, their YouTube channel is here. If you need even more, they have three EPs, PTX Vols. I, II, and III, as well as two Christmas albums, PTXmas, and the aforementioned 2014 #1 Christmas album That’s Christmas To Me.

Pentatonix has one of the most unique and pleasing sounds I’ve heard from a contemporary genre in a while, and to top it off, they have the most loveable group dynamic. Ruling the top of the YouTube-based music channels, I can’t wait for the day when bands like them will be equaled with traditional music artists.

YouTube Limelight: Pentatonix