Archive for youtube

Far from the Madding Crowd

Posted in digitalent, Inspiration, Music Clips, Videontology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2010 by re: turn on

Whether you like his music or not, you have to give props to Trent Reznor for his balls, flying in the face of music industry copyright convention and giving labels the finger. In 2008 he privately releases the mammoth Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. Three days ago he announces the imminent release of concert film “Another Version of the Truth: The Gift”, whose post-production was entirely crowdsourced to fans. NIN’s 2008 tour Lights in the Sky was shot professionally, but without a distribution deal to finance post-production, a finished film looked unlikely. Instead, Reznor released 405gb of raw footage freely online for his enthusiastic fanbase to edit and soundmix. They self-organised into an online collective called This One is On Us to crowdsource the production of a concert film that would have been a herculean task for even the most robust studio.

The inspiration originally came from “The Downward Spiral: Live at Webster Hall“, a concert film that was entirely crowdsourced from camera to DVD. I’ve long been a proponent of artists and corporations relaxing their copyright to accommodate the rising mash-up symbiosis (see my guest post for Julian Cole’s top blog Adspace Pioneers) and Trent Reznor continues to make my case for me. First he instates an open camera policy, rare for popular artists afraid their dubious talent might be shipwrecked upon the great ocean of YouTube. Webster Hall asked exorbitant fees for allowing crews to film, but they couldn’t police fans who brought their own cameras (that’s a copyright issue usually of concern solely to the performer/s). NIN’s open camera goodwill was reciprocated by fans, who aggregated footage from camera phones and video cameras, crowdsourced post-production and authored DVDs and torrent streams.

Artists take note: THE FUTURE IS NOW PRESENT
You lock yourselves in castles and build ramparts around your precious copyright, hoarding it away from the peasants who toil in your fields. You’re feudalists living in an anarcho-syndicalist commune. Just ask Dennis…


Fashion’s Audio Visual Gestalt

Posted in Fashion, Videontology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by re: turn on

Photography is the principal medium for documenting and expressing fashion. But film is the only medium that portrays the fall, flow and form of garments; the step and gait of shoes; the light, weight and movement of accessories. Encompassing all art forms in an audio visual gestalt, film is able to succinctly express a label’s complete artistic vision and reference inspirations. Some designers and labels are already way ahead of the curve.


Thom Browne’s installation at the Pitti Uomo menswear fair earlier this year was captured as a celebrated fashion film, simply evoking a 60’s business style reminiscent of Mad Men. The production design is impeccable. 40 identically dressed models arrive for work with military precision to antique typewriters on sparse clerks’ desks. The Istituto di Scienze Militari Aeronatiche in Florence provided the perfect location, with its parquetry floors and art deco design unchanged since it was built in 1938.


My favorite fashion film remains 24hrs, an epic series of innovative visual motifs for Yves saint Laurent in 2007, with a unique video for every hour of the day. SHOWstudio called for YSL admirers to submit treatments for each hour’s section and shot it live for broadcast on BBC and streaming from YSL’s website.

Oyster Magazine, the Australian based international fashion mag, launched Oystervision in early 2007 as an online video channel for fashion. As with its magazine counterpart, Oystervision covers emerging designers and major fashion events, but also produces fashion films for designers and labels who want an audio visual gestalt of their own. Established by colleague/buddy Alex Goddard, I helped out with the early episodes, covering Gail Sorronda’s debut show and Kit Willow’s wickedly sexy Helmut Newton inspired lingerie installation.

on productions did a seasonal retrospective for fashion retailer Barkins called “Dollhouses”. A distinct fashion film was created from footage originally shot for the year’s TVCs, using a technique I developed called “composicam”. (From our fashion showreel – the 1st minute 30 seconds is Barkins “Dollhouses”, the rest is RAFW 2008).


Fashion films generally disappoint in their online implementation, where they ultimately draw most eyes. Most fashion films are simply embedded into the label’s website, on a functional yet uninspired page. With their virtual salon, Viktor & Rolf demonstrated that streaming video and website should be aesthetically harmonious. The online experience need not be elaborate and expensive, if the website is an elegant expression of the label’s style, the fashion film should be produced to complement it.

YouTube is also curiously neglected by labels with fashion films. There may be a marketing rationale for restricting video to the label’s website, like maintaining exclusivity or controlling consumer traffic. But YouTube has vast potential to augment the audience for fashion film and increase the label’s exposure. YouTube has a built in audience that will broaden the reach of a fashion film and enable easy sharing. Labels can generate additional traffic to their website by linking back from their YouTube channel, which equates to revenue for transactional sites. The ability to freely embed video encourages blogs (like Vogue’s blogs worldwide) and online publications to further spread fashion film. YouTube serves as a social media platform, a means of engaging admirers/fans/customers and encouraging conversation. And that is, like so hot right now.

Julian Cole wrote a great rundown on 15 fashion retailers successfully employing social media strategies in his blog Adspace Pioneers.

Elevator to Heaven or Hell

Posted in Videontology with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2009 by re: turn on

Videontology may seem a little focused on online video, but I ♥ all aspects and mediums of moving images. Italian video artist Marco Brambilla has a daunting body of work behind him. He recently collaborated with design studio Crush on an installation called “Civilization” that is staggering in its lavish aesthetic, complex application and simple execution.

A visual depiction of Dante’s Divine Comedy, “Civilization” is installed in the elevators of the Standard hotel in NY, synchronously panning up and down with the movement of the elevator. At street level you get Inferno and the penthouses are Paradiso, subtly encouraging premium bookings.

In keeping with Dante’s self-referential flourishes, Marco Brambilla selected familiar images from films like Zack Snider’s Dawn of the Dead and 300, Mel Brooks’ To Be or Not To Be, Star Wars, Dark City, Jacques Tati’s Playtime, Ghostbusters and too many more to mention. Along with stock footage and stills, he collated materials over three months and worked with Crush for another 6 weeks (after hours given the budget of the project) to create a 2D draft that would subsequently be rendered into a 3D vertical plane by Flame artists. CGI like fireballs and lighting were also rendered in Flame.

Its by no means perfect; some of the loops are distractingly clunky, the train and rollercoaster just disappear or fade out, the depth ascribed to 3D planes occasionally looks unconvincing and composited elements’ colour grading is inconsistent. But these are minor quibbles, given Civilization’s epic scope and visual opulence, not to mention its novel application.

You can read more from Marco Brambilla and Crush on “Civilization” here.

UGC Campaigns – Profits, Prizes and Pitfalls

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2009 by re: turn on

Like a Lothario at a bar re-using his best pick-up lines, digital strategists continually fall back on the social media marketing campaign inviting consumer contributions as a YouTube video. In the past 6 months we’ve seen two massive Australian based UGC marketing campaigns; Doritos ‘You make it, we play it’ invitation for UGC commercials and Queensland Tourism’s ‘Best Job in the World’.

B&T reported backlash against the Doritos competition by applicants unable to submit their entries. The disgruntled vented upon their YouTube channel DoritosYouMakeIt, commenting like it was Britney Spears’ latest muffin top poppin escapade. The Gruen Transfer online forum was similarly inundated.

Community Girl questioned whether Doritos could have handled the situation better. I’m a firm believer in prevention over the cure. Like JetStar’s 5c sale-fail, you cannot cultivate demand and then fail to meet it. Its like prick-teasing, except in this case the virgin’s parents fitted her with a chastity belt. Doritos is bearing the brunt of their digital producers’ failure to meet demand. But the uproar does subtly indicate that the competition was wildly popular and increases Doritos’ exposure. Certainly can’t see it being any more harmful to a corn chip than the mono sodium glutamate its dusted with.

As a filmmaker, I’m naturally skeptical of these UGC campaigns taking advantage of upstarts desperate for a break. But I also love seeing unseen talent uncovered and nurtured. Its a mutually beneficial symbiosis, companies build a community and get content for next to nothing, users get the chance to showcase their skills.

We produced a short pilot that made it to the finals for Comedy Gold, Austar’s The Comedy Channel. As one of five finalists, we were invited to pitch our comedy series at the Screen Producer’s Association of Australia (SPAA) annual conference, paneled by Austar execs and HG Nelson. We didn’t win, but it was a helluva party, the contacts I made in 10 crazy hours alone were worth it.

I recently caught up with Darren Chau, Group Programming Manager for the Comedy Channel, to ask him what their objectives were for Comedy Gold. While most UGC campaigns are community building marketing exercises, Comedy Gold primarily aims to add new talent to The Comedy Channel’s stable. They have the option to produce the winner’s pitch and pilot into a series, although after two years of Comedy Gold, they’ve yet to produce a winning comedy. However, this is indicative of the mind-bendingly arduous development process more than their commitment to the winner’s series treatment.

Comedy Gold doesn’t attempt to build an online community or overtly market Austar or the channel. Twelve semi-finalists are picked out of the submissions by the judges, which are then available for users to view on the website. Votes determine the five finalists invited to pitch in front of an audience of producers at SPAA. You cannot comment on the videos or even see how many votes each has. It would seem obvious to use this competition as a marketing opportunity for Austar, but Darren told me that might taint the primary objective of Comedy Gold, to find untapped talent.

Does anyone think this is a noble idea or an idealistically short-sighted missed marketing opportunity? Sometimes underwhelming with a brand is the best branding exercise. Can anyone suggest how Comedy Gold could improve the competition and online component?


Posted in digitalent, Videontology with tags , , , , on May 5, 2009 by re: turn on

This is what YouTube was made for! Comedians empowered by online video to make UGC that’s actually entertaining. A comedy duo from North Carolina must have seen their fair share of zombie marketing on local television, so they made a sublimely surreal satire that Barack Obama would approve of…

It was shown on local television, but online popularity and the resulting news coverage yielded exposure of incalculable value. It recently peaked online, likely due to the drop in media interest (its over by the time CNN does a story).

Any decent online video campaign needs a making of and this one’s no exception.

This and many other infomercial parodies were created by comedy duo and “Internetainers” Rhett and Link. They kind of remind me of Flight of the Conchords back when they were still doing stand up in New Zealand and making YouTube rap video parodies of Lord of the Rings. Music and comedy; goes together like chocolate fondue and marshmallows.