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The YouTube video shot in your bedroom now has a slicker competitor: A homemade computer-animated video, made with something called Xtranormal.

Nishat Kurwa of tracked down the people who made some of her favorite videos.

NISHAT KURWA: The video that put Xtranormal on the map has more than 10 million views on YouTube. Two button-nosed, Hello Kitty-like characters of indeterminate species confront each other in a static, pastel scene with a lone cherry tree.

(Soundbite of YouTube video)

Unidentified Woman #1: If it's not an iPhone, why would I want it?

KURWA: The video takes a satirical jab at iPhone obsession. One of these beady-eyed creatures is plugging a rival smartphone brand.

(Soundbite of YouTube video)

Unidentified Man #1: Well, it's similar to an iPhone, but has a bigger screen.

Unidentified Woman #1: I don't care.

Unidentified Man #1: The Internet speeds are around three times faster.

Unidentified Woman #1: I don't care.

Unidentified Man #1: It can grant up three wishes, even if one of those wishes is for an iPhone

Unidentified Woman #1: I don't care.

KURWA: With Xtranormal, anyone can make a computer animated movie.

(Soundbite of an Xtranormal demo video)

Unidentified Man #2: Create a presentation for school. Be the host of a talk show.

KURWA: You hop on the site and choose a background and a couple of animated actors. To cast the irrational boss or the freaky neighbor, you can pick from Lego people, robots, or a gang of regular folks. A few celebrity characters are on hand for spoofs.

(Soundbite of an Xtranormal demo video)

Unidentified Man #2: Be who you want to be. Be you.

KURWA: You type in the script, add some basic facial expressions and gestures, and publish to the Web.

And Xtranormal Chief Technology Officer Sylvio Drouin says you could soon find that your video has inspired some competition.

Mr. SYLVIO DROUIN (Chief Technology Officer, Xtranormal): People tend come to our Web site to make a movie because they've watched another movie. We never invested $1 in marketing.

KURWA: Often, videos that hit the meme-creation jackpot are bringing gripes before the court of public opinion.

(Soundbite of YouTube video, "Black Marriage Negotiations")

Unidentified Woman #2: Sisters, where are all the good black men? I just can't find one.

KURWA: In this provocative short, called "Black Marriage Negotiations," the characters hash out tensions around black love and dating. A generic-looking black man and woman face off across a boardroom table. The woman rattles off a list of eyebrow-raising expectations, which include...

(Soundbite of YouTube video, "Black Marriage Negotiations")

Unidentified Woman #2: I want someone who earns six-figures.

Unidentified Man #3: That's me.

Unidentified Woman #2: A man who will pay all the bills, yet recognize I'm an independent woman.

Unidentified Man #3: What? How can you be independent when someone else pays all of your bills?

KURWA: Darroll Lawson created the video to extend a conversation that began on his "Philoso-Gs" radio show. He figured animation could take the bite out of a contentious issue.

Mr. DARROLL LAWSON (Host, "Philoso-Gs"): The pauses, the way he looks at the camera. And him...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LAWSON: All of that lends to the comedic timing.

KURWA: Even when you're writing something that's not really meant to be funny -say, like this story - your video gets a humor boost from the computerized voice.

An Xtranormal video can be shared more widely than a Facebook status update, requires less commitment than a blog, and packs more visual allure and nuance than a Tweet. The most popular scripts have a formula. There's a wise guy who's the voice of reason and a tone deaf, argumentative partner.

In this one, a professor levels with a student who's bent on applying to grad school.

(Soundbite of YouTube video)

Unidentified Woman #3: You will teach 50 kids in one semester, while reading thousands of pages a week, and writing hundreds of pages for your jaded professors who are contemplating suicide daily. You will qualify for food stamps.

Unidentified Child: I will inspire students to think critically about literature.

KURWA: Allison Leslie made this video instead of blogging about the frustrations of humanities studies.

Ms. ALISON LESLIE (Creator, Xtranormal Video): Bloggings can sometimes come across as ranting.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LESLIE: And in this format, ranting turns into humor in a way that people can consume it in a positive way.

KURWA: Xtranormal just hit the two million monthly user mark, and adds about 7,000 new creators a day.

For NPR News, I'm Nishat Kurwa.

(Soundbite of music)


And that story is from, an online news service from Youth Radio.

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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