March 23, 2006 1:20 PM PST
Teenage auteur ignites buzz about video graphics
"Breakup," a 75-second clip produced by a 17-year-old girl who refers to herself as "Bowiechick," has been viewed more than 155,000 times and generated more than 800 comments on YouTube.com since Tuesday. YouTube, which has emerged as a major online entertainment hub only three months after its launch, lets people post homemade video clips and share them with the world.
Bowiechick, who did not respond to interview requests from CNET News.com on Thursday, has posted several video blogs on YouTube. "Breakup" is little more than the young girl lamenting a breakup with her boyfriend. As she frets over the end of the relationship, Bowiechick simultaneously cheers herself up by playing with computer effects and altering her on-screen appearance with the click of a button.
One minute, she appears to be wearing glasses, the next it looks as if she's strapped on a gas mask. At one point her nose and eyes appear feline.
Of the more than 800 comments posted on YouTube about "Breakup," dozens were requests for information about the visual effects.
"Wow, what movie maker is that?" asked one viewer. "Sorry about your breakup."
The interest was so great, in fact, that it prompted Bowiechick to post a second video to address the questions.
That video, and Bowiechick's YouTube profile, reveal that she shoots her clips with Quickcam Orbit MP by digital toolmaker Logitech. The camera retails for about $100.
Nancy Morrison, a Logitech spokeswoman, said software called Logitech Video Effects is behind the various cartoon images. Launched last August, the software features animated avatars that can make a user look like a martian, a great white shark or Santa Claus.
The software tracks a user's face so that the images stay in position even when the user moves, says Morrison.
"The software maps to about 16 points on your face," Morrison said. "When you turn your head, the effects turn with you."
Logitech offers almost 100 different avatars and all are available for download at Logitech.com. Four of the company's Web cameras: QuickCam Fusion, QuickCam for Notebooks Pro and QuickCam Pro 5000, come equipped with the software, which works exclusively with those Logitech products.
Though it's too early to tell whether Bowiechick's clips have affected Logitech sales, it's plain that many more people are aware of the company's visual graphics as a result of her videos.
Though only a teenager, Bowiechick may already be an expert on "viral marketing," the strategy by which companies try to tap social networks to generate buzz about their products.
"That was really funny," wrote one Bowiechick fan. "I wish I had a webcam cool enough to make me a kitty."
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