Teen YouTube Sensation Sends Beyblades Spinning Into Pro Level Video Production
By: Claudia Kienzle
“3-2-1, Let it rip!” shouts YouTube teen sensation Zankye as he launches Beyblades into battle inside special Beystadiums from a basement room in his parent’s house in Toronto, Canada.
You may not know but millions of Beyblade aficionados around the world do. Beyblades—a popular spinning top toy—is the featured attraction of Zankye’s “Beyblade World,” a YouTube Channel fast approaching 100 million views.
Zankye is young José Lemos (pronounced Joe-ZAY), borrowing his dad’s nickname from his surfing days in Portugal. Fernando José Lemos, the devoted dad behind this very successful teen-preneur, is selflessly committed to his son’s hobby-turned-business.
“I tell my son, ‘You are the messenger. If there’s anything new to report about Beyblades, we need to upload a video about it right away,’” said Fernando. “If there’s a new product, a big event, a tournament, or anything really big, we have to cover it for our audience.”
The center of the Beyblades universe is Japan—where the toys were first invented and released in 2000 to a global market that has made them one of the most successful new toys in years.
Not all Beyblades are created equal. There are different brands, models, and types, each of which has a unique strength or purpose, such as aggressively attacking, mounting a strong defense, showing great stamina, or a combination of traits. How players strategize the match-ups makes Beyblades exciting, unpredictable, and addicting, and the videos of the spinning tops are downright mesmerizing.
Since their 2011 launch, the channel has expanded into a huge, multi-faceted video showcase exceeding 100,000 subscribers on YouTube.
When Dad isn’t working at his full-time commercial landscaping and snow removal business, and José isn’t in school, the two are hard at work producing enough videos to upload a fresh clip every day.
YouTube eventually offered to monetize their channel by placing advertising at the front of the videos. This new opportunity yields ad revenue for Zankye’s college fund, plus a little extra to pay for new and better video gear.
By the fall of 2014, things were going so well for Zankye’s viral Beyblades channel that Fernando began to look for professional video equipment to replace the rudimentary video production set-up they had outgrown in their basement studio.
“We had several video cameras, including a 4K camera, but we were missing something production-wise,” Fernando said. “I wanted our videos to look like television, with greenscreen chromakeys, slow motion replays, transitions, lower third supers, intros and outros, and all the whiz-bang effects people are accustomed to seeing on TV. We wanted to produce a higher-quality show, including live streaming with green screen effects.”
An online search led him to tech reviews by Lon Seidman, who in turn recommended NewTek’s TriCaster Mini, a live production and streaming solution with four HD camera inputs. Fernando uses the system’s iVGA input to bring in desktop computer images, such as shots of Zankye’s Beyblades E-commerce site on E-Bay.
“When I first saw the TriCaster Mini, I said, Wow. This has everything we need. It’s going to save us so much time,” Fernando said. After watching VideoLink’s reseller demo in Toronto, Fernando bought the system in February 2015.
Now, instead of having to shoot each shot separately and tightening up the show in post-production editing, the TriCaster Mini gives Fernando the ability to manage the entire multi-camera production—including audio, graphics, text, B-rolls, greenscreen keying and virtual sets—from a single user interface.
With a new wireless mic clipped to Zankye’s shirt pocket—and an Audio Technica RF receiver on the camera—this young Beyblades rock star is now free to move around the set as he delivers his very enthusiastic, spirited presentation. And his TD/dad is now free to cut between different camera angles, and enhance the show with CG, keys and effects, making the experience more engaging for their predominantly young viewers.
The videos start off with a very high-energy program open, rich with background keys and effects that include a spinning show logo and an electrical current sizzling around a spinning Beyblade. After welcoming everyone to Beyblade World, Zankye talks right into the camera. If he refers to a particular Beyblade on the table in front of him, there is a cut to a close-up of the product.
When Zankye talks about upcoming events, text overlays appear on-screen to reinforce the pertinent details. An array of graphics files can be selected by clicking on them during production. And they use their own custom virtual set featuring the Toronto skyline.
As he goes over to the stadium, picks up a launcher and sets the tops in motion, the TriCaster Mini is used to cut between different camera angles and to display the scoreboard for each battle round, complete with logos of the Beyblades that are waging war.
The virtual set and other graphics are keyed into a professional green screen that makes the small studio look bigger than it is. At the bottom of the green screen, there is a 6x10 square foot area of green rubber floor tiles that allow the background keys to spill over onto the floor. There are also LED lighting panels positioned around the set.
The HDMI camera complement consists of a Sony 4K camera, a Sony SD camcorder, and a 3D Sony camera bought in Japan. There’s also a miniature Sony HD camera that’s taped to the side of the stadium to shoot through the clear sides of the plastic bowl.
One of the Sony cameras can be manually positioned directly over the Beystadium to get a birds-eye view of the tops as they spin around and collide with each other. To support the camera, Fernando installed a 1.5-foot swivel arm camera rig by removing a ceiling tile and mounting it to a ceiling beam. He then ran the camera cabling through the drop ceiling, and back down into the TriCaster’s camera input.
“We now have our cameras positioned exactly where we want them, with a variety of angles and perspectives to choose from,” Fernando said. “With the TriCaster, it’s so easy to just switch between the cameras, compared to the way we used to work.”
Rather than using a slomo camera for slow motion and replays of the battles, Fernando uses software called X-Keys, which enables him to program macros into the TriCaster. The macros automatically execute the steps necessary to slow the video down for the slomo effect.
Many of the technical advances that Fernando has made on the show have resulted from his own research, college courses he took on graphics and Web design, and experimentation. For example, he’s had to try different audio mixers to find one that cost-effectively produces the high-quality sound he’s looking for. While he’s had a few challenges, the TriCaster Mini hasn’t been one of them. He says that it has proven to be very user-friendly, reliable and affordable.
“We feel we made the perfect decision for our YouTube channel. If you want to boost the production value of your live video show and streaming media, nothing compares with the quality and affordability of the TriCaster Mini,” Fernando said. “Since it helps you build the audience for your ad-supported show, it’s an investment that can quickly pay for itself.”
Together, father and son have traveled to Japan—from their suburban Toronto home—on three occasions since they launched their channel in 2012, taking the nearly 13-hour flight just to witness the unveiling of new Beyblade product lines by such makers as Takara Tomy.
During two of their Japan trips, they also visited Akiras Daddy, a Japanese Beyblades expert whom Fernando credits with inspiring his son’s interest in the toy.
Today, Beyblade World is the second most popular Beyblades channel on YouTube.
- Beyblade World, launched in 2011 on YouTube
- Hosted by Jose Lemos (son, A.K.A. Zankye) out of parent’s home in Toronto, Canada
- Directed by Fernando Jose Lemos (father)
- YouTube Silver Play Button recipient for exceeding 100,000 subscribers
Regular Beyblade World features:
- Unboxing – of new Beyblades
- Giveaways – free Beyblades go to lucky subscribers
- Bey Hunting – shopping for Beyblades in stores
- Beyblade Battles – two colorful Beyblades try to out-spin each other in specially-designed 20-inch plastic basins, called Beystadiums
- 2nd most popular Beyblade channel on YouTube
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