An Interview with Vimeo’s Content & Community Coordinator – Cameron Christopher Dunn
Cameron Christopher Dunn (above: photo by Ryan Pfluger) is a photographer and designer who also happens to be a part of the great team over at Vimeo headquarters in NYC. I got in touch with Cameron to find out why he loves Vimeo and to ask a bit more about some of his wonderful images.
When did you first become interested in art and design?
My family is very artistic so I’ve been exposed to this since I was a kid and find it very interesting. However, it wasn’t until high school that I found out exactly what design was all about, which is essentially problem solving. That’s what I really like about design. So, I ended up going to school for 5 years to study Interior Design. I still love the idea of design—how people move through space—but elements of this are changing and expanding. For example, here at Vimeo, I often have to use my design mind to figure out user experience problems; there are so many ways people use and interpret design.
Where you interested in film and video before starting at Vimeo?
I’ve been working at Vimeo since June 2012, but I’ve been part of the site for nearly 7 years; I’m old school Vimeo! In that time, I uploaded almost 200 videos. They were my way of participating in the community, and also how I got to know people on the site. However, I didn’t make videos to be a filmmaker; I just thought it was super interesting, and a great way to connect with people. However, I have become more interested in the technical aspects as an employee of Vimeo, mainly because so many of my co-workers have been through film school and make beautiful work.
What is your job at Vimeo?
I’m Content and Community Coordinator, which mostly involves answering questions; basically solving the problems and easing the minds of our members. We really believe in handling each case personally, and interacting with the community by watching and commenting on as many videos as possible. I also have the honour of organizing, writing and judging the Weekend Challenges. This is my favourite thing. I used to participate in these Challenges a lot before working at Vimeo and used to dream of one day being able to write them! Dan, the director of Vimeo Video School, happily gave me the job!
Are the challenges your original ideas?
Most of them, though I remind everyone on the Community Team about the Challenge and welcome him or her to bring any ideas to the table. My friend and co-worker Rebecca “hosted” one recently. We have a lot of ideas that have been sitting in a to-do list for years. For example, last weeks Challenge, The Scavenger Hunt, has been in my head for a while. The list actually came from my friends when I asked them to call out random objects: “a shadow, something falling” all of which found there way into the Challenge!
I always have an idea in my head that I wish people would do, but I have to ensure that I make the Challenge broad enough for people to interpret it how they wish. People often ask little questions, but I always tell them not to worry when slightly breaking the rules and to experiment.
It’s such a great community. I got started in my first year of College. It was a very friendly online community and I got to know some of the people who went on to work at Vimeo. I remember when Andrea was hired from the Community, and she is now the ‘face’ of Vimeo and Director of Production! I really wanted to work for Vimeo for the same reasons I liked using the site. I also love answering people’s questions, especially those of the more advanced in age. There’s one person I’ve had nearly 70 emails back and forth with; she also shares her family videos with me!
Have you always been into social media?
I had a friend in College who would sit in her room and read Jane Austin all day. She didn’t see herself as a ‘connected’ person and used to joke about how ‘wired’ in I am. But, now, amongst my co-workers, I’m closer to the middle of the spectrum. I’ve had a blog for over six years now, which has gone from being my whiney life journal to a place to collect design and illustration (with a bit of whining still). I do share a lot of stuff on Facebook for family as well. Twitter, however, is harder—I feel like you have to witty and I could never figure out what to say. In middle school, I used to meet people in art community forums and that led me to Vimeo, which was the first online video community.
Who are your influences in the world of design and photography?
Recently, I’ve had the good fortune of befriending some great photographers, Ryan Pfluger and Daniel Seung Lee, who inspire me. I also love a lot of work that I don’t do, for example portrait photography. I love natural opportunities for photography and design, and like to keep an open eye and be observational. Sometimes I’ll look at something and blink, which reminds me of a camera shutter, which in-turn reminds me to take a picture of it. I do edit my photographs, but I never cut and paste stuff; I’m heavy handed with color. This is because I like the picture to look like the vision I had in my head, so if this is gold and glittery, that’s how I’ll design it. I’m very taken by the ability to freeze a moment in time.
Any projects you guys over at Vimeo are working on, or you yourself?
Currently, at Vimeo, we’re coming up with an exciting new series of videos for Video School, as well as some new features for the mobile app. It’s the first time we’ve built an entire set for these videos, and it looks amazing — the production team does such amazing work. We’ve also just pushed out a new version of Vimeo pro with some cool features. Personally, I’m working on video from a recent vacation for my Mum!
Where do you see the future for online video?
I think it’s about giving as much power as possible to the creators, which I think we’re doing with Vimeo On Demand. We want to be a friendly platform where people can distribute their own work and have the chance to make real money from their work, moving the power away from organizations that may take away 50% of a creators profit. I’d also love the creative community to continue to flourish. Vimeo is a place for quality videos by great filmmakers, which I love, but I don’t want anyone to ever avoid uploading to Vimeo because they are intimidated. This is the main thought behind the Weekend Challenges! I want everyone to participate and have a go at making a video. In my dream future, the Internet (and specifically Vimeo) is a platform to upload and share work with no self-conscience.
Any advice for people of creative content?
I find myself always comparing my work to others. As a person very interested in art, design, or film, you are going to find numerous elements about others’ work that will inspire you. You will end up trying to make this thing. Everyday, I’m surrounded by such creative people, and I end up getting tired of trying to be these people. I can’t vocalize it any better than Ira Glass, who said: “For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.” I have a really strong taste in the art that I like, but I can’t draw like these artists. I think you should try to work consistently to a level that, within your own bubble, you think is really good. You shouldn’t always compare this work to where you’re trying to get. Don’t say, “Why can’t it be like this other thing”. Take one step at a time. Appreciate the making of something.
Visit Cameron’s website here.