Monday, 4 June 2012

Hello again
Did you experience the spectacle this week?

Here at FMGTTI we look at the ways in which internet videos are changing film and moving image culture.  This post we want to expand on our last story about the Daft Charleston.  

Wuziq's synching of Daft Punk's "Around the World" to an old video of the Charleston dance rings a lot of bells.  Synching an old video to new tunes has happened before, and to much greater effect.  This may be old news for many of you, but FMGTTI thinks that we should take another look at this incredible story.

Let's rewind: June 1969, The Ed Sullivan Show.  On comes Gwen Verdon and her two sidekicks performing a a dance devised by Gwen's husband, Bob Fosse, an America choreographer and all round creative (he directed Cabaret!).  Gwen and her friends perform this pretty muted, unsexy but still very enjoyable little jig called the Mexican Breakfast.  Then, the show is over and little is said of the dance since.

Years later, after technology/computers/internet/youtube, a fellow user uploads the Mexican Breakfast routine onto the tube (FMGTTI can't find any information about this user: their account has since been terminated).  The video floated around for a few years, until 2007 when an employee of Diamond Creative, a Los Angeles based design company, replaces the video's original elevator soundtrack with UNK's Walk it Out, a hip hop track that had been released the year earlier.  

The video goes viral, and gets recognition from some major institutions (NPR, USA Today, Perez Hilton).  But no recognition is as big and effectual as that of Beyonce Knowles.  She stumbles across the clip, calls it "genius", and proceeds to use the YouTube clip and Fosse's choreography as inspiration for the music video of her own Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it).

The story doesn't end there.  Single Ladies becomes huge.  So huge, in fact, that it sells 6.1 million digital copies worldwide, becoming one of the best selling singles of all time.  The public catches on pretty quickly the similarity between the two clips, and finally Beyonce herself admits the genesis of her video in this interview:
The music video then spawns hundreds of rip offs, most notably this one:

The video clip has since been acknowledged as one of the best music videos of all time.  It won MTV's Music Video of the Year for 2008, and also sparked the Kanyegate scandal,  where Kanye West infamously jumped on stage to hijack Taylor Swift's speech after she won Female Video of the Year: "Imma let you finish", he starts, "but Beyonce had one of the best music clips of all time!"  He then jumps off stage to leave Taylor Swift looking tugging on her dress and staring at the ground like a nervous child.

All of this, because some bored genius decided to sync Walk it Out to Bob Fosse's Mexican Breakfast.

And why did this video produce such a sensation?  According to Priscilla Pena Ovalle of the Film and Media Studies at the University of Oregon, it's the fact that we are seeing a hip-hop soundtrack over pastel-clad, dorky dancing white female bodies.  There is a dissonance between the image and sound that disturbs the viewers assumptions of both hip-hop music performance and 1960's white female bodily vocabulary.  Combining the sterile, hunky-dory performance of these white women from the 60s with a dirty, sexual, bass heavy hip-hop record from 2006, and the fact that they are synched so accurately, highlights the schism between race, sexuality and era.  It produces a new aesthetic that I doubt that anyone in the world had seen before.  

This is the kind of story that affirms everything that FMGTTI stands for.  Some normal person somewhere in the world rips a clip, has a spark of creativity, applies the golden triangle of copy/combine/transform and suddenly starts a global dialogue that eventually transforms the video we see around us.

Until next time, enjoy the spectacle
And remember: copy/combine/transform
FMGTTI over and out

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Welcome to your definitive guide to video and moving image that is made for or found on the Internet

My name is Tiyan Baker and I will be your guide today.

I thought we should get started on the basics.  Here at A Film-maker's Guide to the Internet we look for short, entertaining and brilliant videos that web users make for the internet.  These videos may or may not be made by professionals, may or may not have a budget, but at all times must be a show of a person's awesomeness.

No big directors, no famous actors, just mad bitches who wanna make shit.

Let's start with some elementary examples:

Youtube user wuziq created this kicking video that has become part of our staple diet here at FMGTTI.

Wuziq is a software engineer from San Diego and also a full time mad dawg.  He says he made this video as a response to a video he saw where the audio was simply dubbed over the video.  Wanting to do well by the youtube community, the publicly acknowledged hero decided to do a proper sync using Sound Forge and Avisynth.

The sync has 429 693 views, which is outrageous compared to the numbers for his other videos, such as "cute redhead bird" which has 20 views and is stupidly boring.  The video has since inspired a rash of charleston videos, particularly synchronisation with other music genres, including a terrible "Charleston step" (dubstep) video.  But none have been so outrageously rad to inspire such responses as

Why do we like this video so much?  Because it is a contemporary reinterpretation of an old idea, and that makes it exciting and inspiring.  Two things that everyone likes have been combined to make one new amazing organism.
This is the one of the defining features of web videos: copy/combine/transform 

What would be seriously swag is if some bad boy decides to bring back the Charleston into clubs in a contemporary form, because I WANNA DANCE THIS BADASSERY!

Can someone please do this... that is what God gave us internet for.

Wuziq's video is the kind of thing we're looking for here at FMGTTI - short, creative, inspiring and made for the intrawebs.... You will not see this in cinemas or on tv.

FMGTTI over and out.