I get home later than expected—around midnight—and decide that, given my track record of taking 2-3 hours to record and perfect a 10-minute video, I should probably go straight to bed. Instead of rushing the video or staying up until stupid o'clock working on it, I decide that I'll finish recording after I get home from work on Monday. It'll still be April Fools' day, and it might even catch people off guard if they think they've already seen everything the Internet had to fool them with.
So far, so good.
Recording proceeds as planned, and I manage to have a completed video together in an hour—probably a new record for me. Having agreed to spend some quality time watching anime with my wife, I set the video to process and then upload privately while my attention is directed toward a pasta dinner and the first few episodes of Squid Girl.
Then tragedy strikes. The punchline of the video is the old bait-and-switch—it's supposed to look like Part 1 of my long-delayed Mega Man 7 playthrough...but after a minute or so, it turns out to be something completely different. YouTube offers me three thumbnails for the video, all of which give away half the joke. I have three options:
1.) Go ahead and release the video with the spoileriffic thumbnail. (No.)
2.) Monetize one of my videos and figure out how to become a YouTube partner so that I can hopefully get instant access to the button that allows me to pick my own thumbnails...while trying to keep my attention focused on Squid Girl. (No.)
3.) Re-edit the video to strategically place an appropriate image that YouTube will capture as the thumbnail instead. (I guess.)
My first solution is a quick fix: Shove a second or two of black screen into the point in the video where one of the original thumbnails came from. Easy enough to write it off as a graphical hiccup, when it's really an excuse to have an innocuous black screen for a thumbnail. After three attempts—each one longer and more disruptive of our couple's time than the last--I determined that YouTube actively dances around having a black screen for a thumbnail. Short of inserting a whole minute of dead air in the middle of the video, this first solution wasn't going to work.
However, it did give me an idea.
Desperate to post something while it was still April Fools' Day somewhere in the world, and eager to put this to rest so I could finally sit down and spend a proper evening with my wife for the first time in a week, I copy/pasted the footage of the MM7 title screen about two dozen times, until an entire half of the video was nothing but MM7 title screen. So help me, if YouTube didn't pick up on that as a thumbnail, I'd have to throw out or redo the whole thing.
During the process of researching how best to get a desirable thumbnail, I came across an article suggesting that you could intentionally let your video run too long, pick the desired thumbnail from the end of your video, and trim out that extended section so that the footage is no longer present in your video, but the thumbnail you've chosen from that section remains. I figured I'd give this a shot.
I've always been wary of YouTube's post-upload editing options. It was bad enough to insert properly-timed comment bubbles the one time I did that for comedic effect in a video; physically cutting out sections of a video with YouTube's editor seemed like a very bad idea. But hey, I was holding up my evening trying to get this to work, and I really didn't want to have half the video be the title screen—I only wanted that image, and I'd rather pad the video than ruin the surprise with a spoileriffic thumbnail. Maybe I could have it both ways. A quick self-taught crash course on how to use the editor, and my video was successfully trimmed down to just the part I wanted (with the extended title screen footage completely cut out), and the thumbnail of the MM7 title screen to throw people off the scent. YouTube informed me it might take a while for my changes to take effect. Satisfied, I posted the video publicly and went to watch anime.
Two hours later, I checked in on the video comments to see what people thought. At first, I was pleased—a few people are always sore about April Fools' pranks, but the vast majority seemed to really enjoy this one. Then, instantly, the comments turned from positive to scathingly negative. "YOU SUCK," "This isn't funny," and "Unsubscribed." My heart sank as I went through comment after comment like this. I expected there to be some folks who didn't approve; suddenly, it was everyone.
Until someone pointed out that it was four minutes of the title screen, and some random split-second clip of a totally unrelated video. YouTube retained the end of my video that I thought I'd trimmed off, and cut out the actual video. Stars alive, no wonder my subscribers were angry.
I quickly got to work writing a personal apology to anyone who got upset, trying to restore the video to how it was originally uploaded—to heck with trimming anything out; I'd rather have people scratch their heads at the surplus footage than get angry for my ineptitude at handling the YouTube editor—or at YouTube's ineptitude at applying the changes I requested.
To anyone who caught the wrong version of the video: I'm sorry. Next time I upload a video—especially an April Fools' prank—I'll make sure my attention's not focused elsewhere until everything is definitely finalized.
Alternately, shame on you, April Fools' day, for interrupting Squid Girl.