NTU YouTubers

13 Aug 2019

By Krishveen Kaur

Heng Hui Mei, 23, started her YouTube channel in 2018, posting videos of her experiencing adventure sports. She has now shifted her focus to making self-help videos. PHOTO: NATASHA GANESAN

When Heng Hui Mei, a final-year student at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, heard about the sleeping pod that was installed in the Lee Wee Nam library,, she decided that it was the perfect chance for her to film and share her experience using it in September 2018.

“I’ve always wanted to be a newscaster, so I thought that it was a timely moment for me to share my experience with students who did not want to come down all the way to see it,” said the 23-year-old.

Heng is part of a growing number of Singaporeans who use YouTube to post their own content.

According to an online survey done by YouTube in 2017, there are over 4 million people who log on to YouTube to watch videos in Singapore alone, with 90 per cent of the users aged between 16 to 34.

Thirst for thrills

A week after uploading a video of her experiencing the resting pod in NTU, Heng decided to upload videos of herself experiencing other things, such as trying out different adventure sports in Shanghai during her internship.

Nearing the end of her internship in August 2018, Heng tried things that she knew she did not have the time for back in Singapore.

Heng spent her last two weekends in Shanghai trying out and filming herself in different adventure sports, packing her schedule to the brim.

“I started by filming three sports back to back in a day over a weekend, since I had work from Monday to Friday,” said Heng.

Heng tried a variety of sports, ranging from scuba diving to sailing.

“Scuba diving was the scariest for me because I had to attach a GoPro and the bulky equipment to myself while undergoing a crash course to learn hand-signals underwater.”

When Heng came back to Singapore, she decided to kickstart her YouTube channel officially in Sept 2018 by uploading her sleeping pod review, followed by her adventure sports series which she filmed nearing the end of her internship in August 2018.

Heng hired a professional videographer to help capture her reactions as she tried the sports for the first time. One positive comment Heng picked up from her viewers was that they really enjoyed her talking to the camera while trying out the sports.

“I was really happy that my viewers enjoyed me talking to the camera. Because I really wanted to show them that none of the videos were scripted.”

But unlike the adventure sport videos she made in Shanghai, the videos Heng have made in Singapore are more focused on self-help and self-care, including meditation and gym routines.

“I shifted the focus of my videos to self-help, because I feel it is an important part of our daily lives and I want to share tips that help me de-stress,” said Heng.

Heng is currently working on decluttering the space around her to increase her productivity. She hopes to share her tips and experience with others.

Heng now makes it a point to upload at least one video a week.

“I treat this like my coursework. It’s a requirement that I had set for myself to fulfill every week,” said Heng.

“Although I started this channel with just being a newscaster in mind, my channel really took a different turn and now I just enjoy talking to the camera about lifestyle tips,” added Heng, who has close to 300 subscribers to her channel.

Catch Heng dish out lifestyle tips on her YouTube channel, Heng Hui Mei.

Cardistry with a view

Leon Tai, 26, performs a cardistry move known as “springing”. His channel has more than 1000 subscribers today. PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

For Leon Tai, editing and filming videos is familiar territory. The final-year School of Art, Design and Media student not only enjoys making short films, but also showcasing his cardistry skills on camera.

Cardistry is the act of card flourishing, where cardists carry out visually aesthetic moves with their standard deck of poker cards. Their tricks often look very difficult to execute on camera.

Tai recalls how he initially started off by making card flourishing videos in his room ten years ago, using his webcam to record it.

Back then, Tai paid little attention to the stylistic elements of the videos.

“I would just focus on my card flourishing skills and tried to come up with new moves. One such move, which I created in 2008, was called the ‘fireball’ because the cards would be shaped in a form of a star and resembles the ‘fireball’ move by the character, Charizard, in Pokemon.”

But a few years back, Tai delved into film production as he developed an interest for it in school. He wanted to make his card flourishing videos more visually appealing on his new channel Leon Tai.

“I start my videos by deciding what music to use first, then I have to pace my act according to the soundtrack,” said Tai.

“I will usually get a friend to hold the camera for me in order to shoot my card flourishing act from different angles,” he added.

Over the years as Tai grew more confident in merging his film production skills with his card flourishing skills, he gained more fans online. His channel has over 1000 subscribers today.

Last year, a Singaporean cardistry group called Virtual Souls invited him to film them on tour in Italy.

“What was nice about it was that people actually recognised me through my card flourishing videos,” said Tai.

With cardistry being a very niche interest group in Singapore, Tai was hesitant to turn this into a career option.

“The Singapore cardistry Facebook group has only around 200 members, and most members are really young, ranging from 9 to 18 years old. Cardists don't really make money out of this,” said Tai, who is one of the oldest members in his group of cardist friends.

As Tai reminiscences about his journey with his card flourishing channel, he remembers one comment that stood out to him.

“Back then when I first started my channel, someone commented on one of my videos and told me to ‘stop wasting my time’. But I'm glad I can laugh about it and say that my YouTube journey has been nothing but a fruitful one.”

All about cheap hauls

Goh Pei Fen, 23, was inspired by her favourite YouTubers to start her own channel. Her channel features videos on makeup products and clothing hauls. PHOTO: NATASHA GANESAN

Growing up, Goh Pei Fen, 23, never had cable television at home. As an alternative, she turned to watching YouTube videos.

“I grew up watching my favourite beauty and fashion YouTubers such as Canadian Beauty blogger, Rachel Allana, and they looked like they were having so much fun trying on new clothes and makeup products from their hauls,” said the 23-year-old student from the School of Social Sciences.

“I was quite bold, to try new makeup products and fashion trends I saw on the YouTube channels, so my friends would approach me for tips,” she added.

When Goh went to Korea for her summer exchange programme in May 2017 with her cousin, she decided to try filming her own clothing haul after purchasing large quantities for under $50.

After returning to Singapore in July 2017, Goh decided to continue filming her cheap clothing haul on her channel, Peifen Goh.

“I buy a lot of clothes from Taobao, and usually spend around $60 for each haul which consists of eight items. It is really fun as I get to capture my excitement or shock on camera and allow my viewers to experience the opening of the packages with me,” said the final-year student.

As an experienced shopper on Taobao, Goh is always ready to advise her viewers about choosing product materials and sizes when shopping online.

“Fashion comes and goes so you definitely don't want to spend so much. Taobao is a great place to find general trendy pieces.

“But just don't buy the graphic tees because it might come with some sort of spelling error,” said Goh.

However, Goh shares that it is stressful to juggle her school work and filming schedules. Goh recalls an incident where she struggled to upload a makeup haul in time.

“I managed to get a good quality eyeshadow makeup palette at $10 as well as other beauty products at cheap prices and wanted to share this with my viewers.

“However, the sale happened during the period where I had plenty of assignments. On top of that I could only film my makeup hauls when there was natural sunlight so it was a bit of a struggle but I did manage to upload the content in time.”

Despite this, Goh still wishes to continue sharing with her viewers her tips and tricks for good clothing and makeup buys.

“I treat my viewers like my friends. It’s nice to hear from people that you see around school but don't talk to, coming up to tell you that they find your content useful.”