About Amateur Disaster Footage

Amateur disaster footage is a type of online video that depicts first-hand accounts of  frightening events. Along with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, raw footage has changed the course of political and social action around the globe. YouTube, as a video sharing platform, has the added dimension of captivating audiences with visuals. These videos have a kind of horrible allure that brings millions of views.

Producers of amateur disaster footage are usually civilians with camera phones or camcorders who were at the scene of the event at the right time to capture it. More young adults produce these videos, causing their spread across social media platforms. Shaky, low-quality cell phone footage and mediocre audio give these videos an authentic feel that makes the viewer feel like s/he is really in such a dangerous situation.

Amateur raw footage on YouTube has played an important role in increasing social activism, such as in the riots and demonstrations of the Arab Spring in 2010. Civilians posted first-hand accounts of the violence in order to spread the word about the severity of the situation. This led to a fast-paced movement in the Middle East that included thousands of people. Amateur footage broadcasted the events to the world – garnering more support and awareness from both Western audiences and the rest of the world.

In the case of localized senseless acts of violence, amateur footage is a type of “yellow journalism,” a technique to pull in viewers with eye-catching and often gruesome images. For example, the people who uploaded the many videos of the Boston Marathon bombing and September 11th were not focused on organizing widespread activist support. They just felt the need to document such a catastrophic event. Broadcast stations gathered this raw footage and used it to increase their views.

Watching footage, especially repeatedly, of these terrifying situations can be emotionally and psychologically damaging. Therefore, it is important to take small doses of this intense videography. Amateur raw footage of violence and disasters is a powerful tool for inspiring emotion and action.

Self-Portrait Videos: The Ultimate Expression

Self-Portrait Videos

The self-portrait video is a small and relatively unknown genre of the Youtube/Vimeo universe. These videos attempt to show some aspect of the videographer’s life – usually for college admissions, job applications, or experimentation. It is also common for college classes to assign the “self-portrait” video as an assignment. To that end, typical producers are students making video personal statements for college, jobs, or amateur film makers who wanted to do something interesting and unusual. Their audience can range anywhere from admissions counselors to classmates and the greater Youtube universe. They’re usually don’t become as well known and popular as other videos that have gone viral but they serve their purpose, whether it is to fulfill a class assignment or show a side of themselves for an application.

Because the concept of a “self-portrait” is so widely open to interpretation by the videographer there are no hard or fast rules about the genre. The video can be a collage of video shots, experimental, stop-motion, etc. Virtually any film technique can be used. There can be a strong narrative, or not. However, here are some of the common characteristics you’ll find with the self-portrait video.

  1. Typically lower quality/handheld (although not always)

Example: https://vimeo.com/61434

  1. Typically music soundtrack and not as much dialogue

Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCNQzL80-JU

  1. Lots of cuts going on in the video

Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A0t6Ev7I9k

  1. Very personal in nature

Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9oE0JohQz4

  1. Typically quite short

Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f07ZMYQHZwo (The length may also have to do with the fact that this is a stop-motion video, which is more time-consuming to make.)

  1. Usually “artsy” or experimental

Example: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwgw3w_i-am-a-gazelle-the-self-portrait_fun#.UPOCXB37J2A

The self-portrait video is really a chance for the videographer to be creative, to create poetry with their camera. Since there are no industry standards, every decision you make about a shot really matters and the music you choose, as well as the cuts you make are all significant.

A Look into Comedic Vlogging

Comedic vlogs comprise a genre of web videos that are extremely popular among public audiences, especially the younger generations.  Vloggers flourish on YouTube, because this is the most visited public video site, and it is very easy to upload your content.  Several comedic vloggers have been extremely successful, garnering upwards of a million views.  Some have even attained celebrity status, simply by uploading their homemade video rants to YouTube.  Prime examples of the champions of this genre include Jenna Marbles, NigaHiga, Smosh, Shane Dawson, and iJustine.

Each of these vloggers has a unique style and unique interests, making for a very diverse collection of videos within the genre of comedic vlogging.  Jenna Marbles, my personal favorite, exemplifies the genre.  In her short videos, Jenna Marbles speaks directly to her viewers as herself.  She goes on funny rants about topics such as sports bras and how to avoid talking to people, makes hilarious tutorials about things like how to make yourself look hot (not spoofs), and shares funny things that happened recently in her life.  She is very much like a stand-up comedian, only her material is designed for YouTube, not for stand-up routines.  iJustine is similar to Jenna Marbles, because she also speaks as herself, giving her viewers a look into her “funny” personal life.  She especially likes to make videos of herself dancing in public, and urges her viewers to make their own and paste them in the comments section, as part of her interactive Vlog University series.

The majority of comedic vloggers, including NigaHiga, Smosh, and Shane Dawson, take a different approach to the genre.  They focus on spoofs and parodies, taking on character roles and generally just acting silly.  NigaHiga, the most successful of the aforementioned vloggers, is a Japanese American boy does an interesting combination of character role-play and personal musings.  He will make videos like “Epic Meal Time” (about microwaving a hot pocket) where he is clearly playing a character, but in a general sense- he is being funny and ridiculous, with the aim to entertain.  He also has a series of rants called “Off the Pill,” in which he gives his fast-paced, stream-of-consciousness thoughts about subjects like Justin Beiber and noisy people when he hasn’t taken his ADD medicine.  Others vloggers like Smosh and Shane Dawson make parodies and funny skits with topics like “If Video Games Were Real” or “Taylor Swift Spoof- We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!”  Shane Dawson even made a parody of Jenna Marbles, his fellow comedic vlogger.

Comedic vloggers often use informal means of filming, such as the built-in cameras on their computers or cheap digital cameras.  This gives their videos a homemade quality that makes them casual, relatable, and spontaneous.  The success of vloggers like Jenna Marbles and NigaHiga lies in their ability and willingness to share their unadulterated, often “offensive,” opinions and musings.  The flexibility of their means of communication (YouTube) allows them to truly speak their minds, no matter how outlandish it may be, and their followers appreciate their uncut honesty and freedom of speech.

Movie Mash-up

A movie or film mash-up is a combination of multiple sources of video, sound and art from different pre-existing sources, mainly including footage from movies. Sometimes the video and music have no obvious relation to one another, but thanks to the producer/editor they are brought together seamlessly into one derivative work.

Some mash-up’s are parody’s to make fun of movie trailers, while others are serious conglomerations of all the best scenes in popular movies of the last decade.

When Youtube was created, it enabled viewers to watch many different sources of video and audio all at the same time, under the same website. A term known as “Supercuts” came about thanks to the popularity of video mash-up’s. A “Supercut” is a mix of different clips from various television shows, movies, and web videos that are all grouped together under one common theme. Usually the theme is centered around a common phrase or word that is said multiple times in many different sources of video. However, Supercuts do not necessarily have to be phrases, they can be specific emotions, or even specific actions from one person/character. One example of this is the Supercut of “Walt freaking out”: Walt Freaking Out

However, most Supercuts focus on one specific phrase and bring media together that all include that phrase within their videos. One common phrase is, “There’s no time to explain!”: “There’s no time to explain!”

Supercuts have also been made around the common theme of a person’s “last words”: Last Words

However, some editors get more creative when splicing up other peoples movies and television shows, so they decide to create their own trailers and visual works of art. Some might make it only visually appealing with one soundtrack, and others may keep the dialogue and transform the clips into a new narrative. The more popular movie mash-up’s include some of the best and well-known blockbuster hits from year to year in an “Ultimate 2012 movie mash-up” :2012

Others were made from earlier years such as 2009 with Cinema 2009

Sometimes, these videos seek to condense all of the story-lines into one short video. While some, just try and focus on similar themes within the movies, like kissing, bombs, fighting, the world ending, etc. Often times new music is used or music from another source is incorporated to help with the flow of all the different images flashing on the screen one after another.

Creation of these mash-ups has raised speculations on the definition of copyright and intellectual property. Just as music remixes were once looked down upon as “copying” or even “stealing,” video mash-ups can be seen as copying as well. Producers can illegally download movies and take clips for their own video mash-ups all the time. The very definition of a mash-up is the reuse of existing material that has already been made. So is this ethically right? Haven’t all the great creators of our time at one point copied others in order to learn? The question is still a debate today.

This whole concept of the mash-up represents a new phase in digital viewing. Viewers once needed high-tech knowledge and equipment to take video content and “mash-it-up”. But now, with the onset of JPEG files, MPEG video and Redbook audio, making mash-up video is no longer reserved to the professional editor in the film industry. The everyday curious Youtube user or consumer can make their own fairly easily.

So because of this, the typical producer of a movie mash-up can be virtually anyone who is curious about editing or wants to make people laugh (for example) by combining two distinct movies together. Producers see their audience as anyone who is interested in the different ways to edit video together, but also their audience is anyone interested in grouping movies under common themes, or mixing genres to create parodies.  Some mash-ups are created to inspire people with: Inspirational Speech

Either way, the web video genre is used for both film addicts to help themselves learn how to edit, or just someone wanting to group a bunch of films together under a common theme in a short video. The key is pretty much anyone can remix or mash-up video/audio and distribute it globally in a matter of minutes thanks to internet sites such as Vimeo and Youtube. There is no need for expensive tools, a distributor, or even skills for that matter. All that must be included are different video from different sources. I imagine in the future mash-ups will get even more elaborate on the web, but it will become easier for video enthusiasts to create these videos on their own from home. 


Flash Mobs – Post 1

Wikipedia defines a flash mob as “a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse”. Flash mobs tend to be produced by two very different groups, corporations or companies trying to advertise a campaign or product, or everyday people for fun or trying to send a message in a very public way. One again flash mobs have two distinct audiences; the people there to witness the event to take place, who film it and then post it online, leading to the second group, which is the people who hear of these online videos and watch online. The main characteristics of this genre are an intro of some kind helping to place the event, a very public place found either indoors or outdoors, a gradual growth in group size throughout the event, reaction shots of the crowd found at the event, and an anticlimactic ending.

Most every official flash mob video, official meaning the group responsible had multiple camera people there to film the event from different angles and then edit together to create a larger view of the event, begins with an intro of sorts that helps place the setting or the purpose or the event. For example, the Bristol Light Saber flash mob they spoof the beginning of the actual Star Wars beginning, with a faux 20th Century Fox logo, instead named Bristol LIghtsaber Flashmob, and a faux Lucas films logo, instead named Clatterowls Inc. They then proceed to spoof the original text found at the beginning of the film, instead saying “Not so long ago, in a mall in Bristol”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUZgrL85OKs) Other videos will just help you get a feel for the setting by showing multiple shots of the location just so the viewer has an idea of the space.

Almost all flash mobs take place in a very public place of some kind, from a Student Union at a large University to a famous monument. Their was a flash mob at the Ohio State University Student Union (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJux_VTITfI), at the Sydney Opera House (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpgr3vDK5Bc), even the famous Bondi beach has been home to multiple flash mobs. Another quality that the majority of flash mobs share is that, no matter what kind of flash mob be it a dance or a sword battle, the full group participating does not usually all begin at once. The event begins with a few of the members starting of the confusion, with more and more people joining as the time passes by causing even more uncertainty in the audience. A great example is one of the mobs that occurred at Bondi beach (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao4DkbGbxl0); it began with a drag queen hearing the loud music and she alone started to dance, only shortly after for four or five participants to pop up behind her and join in the dance.

A very important part of flash mob videos is reaction shots of the live audience to the actual mob. These reactions show the real spontaneity of the event, almost used to prove that this really was an unexpected event and a complete surprise to everyone there. They also like to show shots of these audience members taking out their phones and capturing videos of the event so they can prove they were there when it happened. A great video showing the reaction of the “audience” was the freeze flash mob in Grand Central Station in NYC (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwMj3PJDxuo). The goal was to freeze simultaneously for four minutes and then just unfreeze and continue on. The video goes so far to show a cart driver calling his superiors saying he needs help because there are all these bizarre people frozen that are blocking his way, only for the group to start moving and him to radio “never mind”.

Lastly a fair amount of flash mobs come to an almost anticlimactic end, with the group typically suddenly stopping and then fitting themselves back into the crowd of ordinary people like they never did anything. A T-mobile ad campaign created a flash mob in the Liverpool Street Station (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM), where all of the previous characteristics were portrayed, when the last song clip suddenly ended with all the dancers with the hands in the air, suddenly everyone dropping and picked up their belongings and went back to walking through the station to the places they needed to reach. This helps accomplish that feeling of a fleeting event that is unexpected and like a flash of lightening there and then gone.

Non-Official Political Advertising

Is Viral Video the Way to Go?

In this post-modern society, are viral videos the only source of media to get the people to pay attention to the world around them?

The definition of a Manifesto according to the New Oxford American Dictionary is “a public declaration of policy and aims, esp. one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.”  This definition interestingly coincides with the genre of “Non-Official Political Advertising.”

Throughout history, the political campaign seeks to draw in viewers, or rather citizens of a particular sphere, to influence their decision making about a particular event, person, and/or politician.  In a democracy, political campaigns are a rather common form of adverting through digital shorts.  Of course, just like in any other genre of film, there are multiple characteristics that define “Non-Official Political Ads.”  The genre ranges from political lighthearted, satirical— burlesque perhaps—parody to personal attacks confronting a particular subject or person.  Others go on to use sarcasm, irony, and additional forms of conventional and non conventional rhetoric.

You might be wondering right now, what distinguishes a non-official from an official political ad campaign?  The divider is simply where the funding comes from.  For example, official political ads are funded only by the candidate themselves, while non-official political ads are produced and funded by individuals looking to reach out to society about a certain candidate.  The official candidate may have no idea the non-official video exists if not in tune with the viral media world.

As stated earlier there are multiple characteristics that make up this genre, and with that idea, there are multiple levels of sophistication within non-official political ads.  There are those whom produce political ads for the consumer.  This is defined with middlebrow culture.  Examples include parody and satire in that they are clever, yet are made to entertain as opposed to being produced for consecration (in literary theory terms).  There are furthermore those whom produce these amateur political ads for the producer— defining the highbrow culture.  Examples comprise esoteric shorts that are difficult for the average intelligence to comprehend and are produced in hopes to impress others who are excessively knowledgeable about the subject.

In other words— to sum it all up— there are non-official political ads that are viral to entertain their viewer (middlebrow), and there are others that look to catch the eye of the viewer who is knowledgeable about what it really happening in the political world.

Here are some real world examples of non-official political campaign ads throughout the new millennium:

2005 General Election Viral Ad – Conservatives

This viral, non-official political ad goes to the extreme about politics.  It reaches out to an audience that is knowledgeable about what is happening to the American society.  It essentially claims that if you vote for liberal politics nobody will be willing to work anymore because they will be given money by the government, and it will be a free for all on the streets and in public areas.  Fundamentally going back to the saying, “give a man a fish or teach a man to fish.”

Child’s Pay

This is another video that seeks to accomplish the same goal as the advertisement above, yet on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

It Could Happen to You

This is an example of a campaign that uses parody to entertain their audience.  It appears this video is a lesson about some sort of viral disease perhaps, where in fact it is about the idea of “catching” hope.

Funny or Die Paris Hilton Martin Sheen Charlie Sheen

Of course this video makes the cut for this list.  The non-official short uses satire to poke fun at politics.

Or how about this explicit, burlesque viral ad produced by comedian Sarah Silverman…

Overall, the goal of all amateur non-official political campaigners is essentially identical: to corrupt unknowing voters and manipulate them through advertising and political parody to skew their vote for a particular subject or candidate.

Time-Lapse Video

Time-lapse photography is a method of filming, whereby a series of frames are captured at a low frequency, and then compiled together in a sequence to be viewed at a much higher frequency than the rate at which they were initially shot in. When the compiled product is replayed in normal speed, time seems to be moving much faster, thus highly speeding up the motion of the subjects and surroundings captured within the frame. Extremely slow processes which are almost negligible to the human sight become distinct, thus creating an effect where time appears to be highly sped up. When captured using the time-lapse technique, motions such as the movement of the sun, clouds, stars, the hour hand of a clock etc. appear to be very pronounced. The time-lapse technique is said to be the extreme form of the cinematography technique of fast-motion or undercranking. It can also be considered to be the exact opposite of the method of slow motion filming, or high speed photography.

As I mentioned earlier, while shooting a time-lapse video, the film-frames are initially captured at a very low rate. The frames are then placed in a series and then played back at a much faster frequency. For example, if the image of a particular scene is captured once every minute for a period of 4 hours, and then played back at 24 frames per second, the entire four hours will be compressed down to 10 seconds of film. Even the most subtle motions would appear much faster.

The steadiness of the camera is essential for a successful time lapse video. Tripods are traditionally used to ensure the camera remains steady for the long periods of shooting time. The steadiness of the camera enables a smooth transition from one frame to another when replayed in high speed. Other gadgets such as sliders can be attached to tripods for steadily moving the camera, in order to produce a time lapse with a moving frame. Failure to ensure the steadiness of the frames will greatly diminish the quality of the time lapse.

It is possible to produce a time-lapse video by manually capturing each frame. However devices such as ‘interval timers’ are more commonly used. An interval timer attached to a camera can be set to take photos automatically at constant intervals of time.  Such timers can be found build internally in various cameras such as the Nikon D7000. However, if the camera doesn’t come with a built in interval timer, they are also sold externally and can be attached to certain cameras. It makes the process of producing a time lapse video much easier, and the product turns out to be of much higher quality. Certain cameras such as the Brinno TLC100 are also designed specifically to automatically produce time-lapse videos.

The background audio or music is an essential element of a time lapse video. Because such videos are produced using a large number of still images, no sound is recorded.  Thus, to create an audio visual effect, the background music plays a large role in characterizing a time-lapse video.

Another classic characteristic of time-lapse imagery is the “stylized jerkiness”, where short-term changes in the scene appear as small and annoying jitters in the video, often clouding out the basic progressive events of interest. Thus, the time-lapse technique isn’t used to capture short term events, but rather long intervals as the small details of short term events are obscured.

Time lapse videos are usually made as individual works of art. Sometimes they are also used as transitional scenes in larger film projects. Some traditional subjects of timeless photography include cloudscapes and celestial motion, plants growing and flowers opening, fruit rotting, evolution of a construction project and people and cars in the city.

Examples of some interesting time lapse videos:

Terminal City- A Vancouver Time Lapse ( My own work)

Time lapse Dandelion flower to seed head

How to Draw a Realistic Eye (Time Lapse)

Time lapse from East of Ottawa to East of Quebec City at night.

Construction time-lapse samples HD


R&B Music Videos

I’ve chosen to write about music videos, specifically those for contemporary R&B music. Contemporary R&B, which today is just called R&B, uses a mixture of elements from various music genres, including rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, and hip hop. Some people call R&B “urban contemporary” music. Today, the use of hip hop and dance beats are most commonly used, and mainstream R&B’s sound is mainly based on rhythm. The abbreviation “R&B” originated from rhythm and blues music that had become popular in the 1970s. R&B is most commonly performed by African-Americans, and originated in the 1980s after the end of disco music’s popularity. The mixture of R&B with hip-hop has increased in the 21st century, with some recording artists also combining traditional R&B with different pop styles.

Music videos have 5 main genres: performance, story driven, special effects, dance, and animation. R&B music videos most commonly use performance, story driven, and dance video forms. Performance videos typically show the artist or band giving a live performance of their song in different settings that give the video a specific theme. These are beneficial in that they allow the artist to control the energy of the piece. For example, Rihanna’s music video for her song “Only Girl (In The World)” falls into the performance genre, depicting Rihanna singing in a field of flowers and other locations that give the video a surreal, whimsical theme.

Story driven music videos depict a narrative that plays out to the lyrics of the music, emphasizing the words the artists are singing. Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s music video for their song “Dilemma” uses the lyrics the artists are singing with the visual shots of the two artists to tell a story of their love for each other and their desire to be together, but how they end up with different people in the end. In Rihanna’s music video for “Unfaithful,” she is the only person singing. The video tells the story of her infidelity to her boyfriend and its effects on him.

Dance music videos depict the artist and sometimes others dancing to the beat of the music in different locations. While this form of video requires a lot of time because of the choreography involved, it allows the artist to show off their dancing skills, and the choreography emphasizes the rhythm of the music. An example of a dance R&B music video with a group of dancers is Chris Brown’s “Run It” music video. On the other hand, Cassie’s “Me & U” music video shows the artist dancing alone.

The purpose of creating a music video is to increase the fan base for the artist and make the artist more money. The most important reason for an artist producing a music video, however, is to establish an artist’s identity and shape the way that people see that artist. The intended audience for R&B music video’s is generally African-American; R&B music was even originally termed “race music.” However, these music videos also have a non-African American fan base, and focus on pop beats and culture that appeal to a wider audience.

Educational Vlogs: Introduction to the Genre

I’ve chosen to write about the genre of “vlogs”, specifically those created for educational purposes. In this digital age, it’s become increasingly popular for people to create and upload their own videos, and the endless collection of these projects is constantly expanding with new ideas. One of the most recent fads is the idea of a vlog. The word itself is contracted from “video blog”, meaning that people basically talk to the camera in hopes of reaching a larger audience. In order for a video to be classified as a vlog, it simply needs to contain a narrator whose main purpose is to address other people. Vlogs must also be filmed and edited by their narrators instead of other people, because they are meant to be individual projects Many stand-up comedians use this as a tool by which to spread their work, but vlogs are also used as a way to spread ideas, opinions, and knowledge between people who care to take the time to watch these short digital videos.

Many of the popular educational vlogs are targeted towards students. The narrators explain certain subjects in detail, usually using more fascinating examples and visual aids, in order to convey information and help a student cram for an exam. John and Hank Green, known on YouTube as the “Vlogbrothers”, have created a channel called the “Crash Course” with over 100 videos that all discuss some type of educational topic that would likely be covered in a high school classroom. The videos each describe scientific topics or parts of world history (depending on whether it is Hank or John making the vlog), and usually are humorous, insightful, and much more intriguing than your stereotypical monotonous high school teacher. The channel has earned about 22 million collective views, and its popularity demonstrates how grand of a phenomenon these types of vlogs have become.

While the Vlogbrother Crash Course videos tend to be more formal in introducing their topics, other YouTube figures take a casual approach and create more relatable videos. YouTube user “CGP Grey” has a channel entitled “Grey Explains”, which discusses various topics in depth from an educated standpoint. The Crash Course videos are usually given specific units, such as “World War I”, which are not as intriguing to people other than students looking for that particular information. Grey’s videos, on the other hand, contain more interesting and broader subject matters, such as “5 Common Historical Misconceptions”. His audience is built of people who are simply curious enough to watch his videos, and he uses animation and witty commentary to maintain their full attention. Along with this, there is a popular YouTube channel called “Brain Scoop”, run by a zoologist at the University of Montana, which talks about interesting and weird animals with the intent to be entertaining but educational, similar to the “Grey Explains” videos.

The true “blog” factor of the vlog genre is seen in videos where the narrators speak directly to their family or friends instead of to a wider audience. For instance, many kids going abroad will create short vlogs every week to send to their families as a better demonstration of what their program is like. Long-distance friendships or relationships are also often the subject of vlogs, because the short videos give the narrators more time to really be creative and unique. People sometimes just use vlogs as a personal journal, talking about their daily lives in interesting ways with the desire to just be heard by other YouTube fanatics. All of these different subgenres of vlogs are educational because of the way that they spread ideas and information. No written message or phone call can be as creative, intriguing, and personal as a short video can be, which is why the idea of vlogs is becoming increasingly popular.

Example videos:
Crash Course

Grey Explains

Brain Scoop

Relationship/Friendship Vlogs- Brotherhood 2.0

Abroad Vlog

Live Musical Performance Manifesto

The live musical performance video is any visual recording of musicians performing their work in real time. The genre’s intention is to depict musicians presenting their work without the safeguard of a studio’s post-production to the audience/viewer. By capturing the provocative nature of the musician’s work and its effect on listeners, the live musical performance video is a means of authenticating the musician and celebrating the listener. The following are defining characteristics of the live musical performance genre:

1) There are two distinct subgenres of live musical performance: the candid camera and the professionally shot performance. The candid camera is the lower budget option and is much more common than professionally shot performances. It is usually shot on one camera, uses the video camera recording’s raw audio, often uses a webcam or cell phone to record it, is typically shot on a tripod, and entails little shot variation. For the independent musician trying to get discovered with his Adele cover on Youtube, it is better to stick with a fixed shot, so that the video recording’s audio will not vary in volume as the camera changes distance from the subject. The professionally shot performance, on the other hand, achieves optimal sound by recording, mixing, and mastering the audio of the performance separately from the video. This superior sound recording is synched with visuals documenting the performance, shot from multiple camera angles. Varied camera angles can help the viewer get an idea of what the stage looks like from perspectives of the musician and the audience, as well as highlight certain musicians during a particular part of a song. Professionally shot performances are expensive, which is generally why the more famous/rich musicians have better sound quality and more varied camera angles. Note: Despite the cost of production, however, there is no amount of production that will make an untalented musician better at performing live. Buying multiple high definition cameras and microphones will not make a first year guitar student sound like Eric Clapton.

e.g. Compare Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros’s performance of “Home” vs. the Narvaez family’s cover of “Home” – the professional band has 5 times as many people but much better sound quality and several camera angles:

2) Camera time is based on the band hierarchy. The general hierarchy, based on where the typical action of a live performance is, goes as follows: lead vocals, lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, drummer, bass guitarist, and keyboardist. Musicians may advance in the band hierarchy of camera time for a number of reasons. For example, in cases where the musician is the only female musician in an all male band or vise versa, the musician plays an exotic instrument (e.g. accordion, hurdy gurdy, bass saxophone), the particular song is heavier in one instrument than others, or certain members are more charismatic and/or talented, despite their choice of instrument (e.g. Paul McCartney of The Beatles is a bassist but also does vocals, plays guitar, and writes songs; he is also exceptionally charismatic).

e.g. Radiohead’s performance of “Paranoid Android” shows a more generic band hierarchy…

…whereas Arcade Fire’s performance of “Keep the Car Running” shows a more nuanced camera time hierarchy full of exceptions to the aforementioned rule.

3) Popular shots of band for professionally shot performances: medium shot of lead singer singing, waist-level shot of guitarist/bassist that always includes the neck of the guitar/bass (head and torso may be cut from the frame), behind and to the side of the drummer most likely involving the tap of a snare, the hands of the pianist/keyboardist, horizontally panning across the stage to capture every member of the band.
e.g. Rolling Stones performing “Shattered”

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band performing “Born to Run”

The Strokes performing “Hard to Explain”

4) A producer of the live musical performance must keep in mind that a live musical performance has to give the impression that musicians are playing an instrument and/or have talent. Fans watch live musical performances to validate their admiration for musicians, and in the same way, the live music platform is a right of passage for a musician. It is a way to prove that a musician’s work can still be performed despite the lack of resources that the musician would have in a studio. There is an inherent danger to live performance—the danger of messing up—which adds a greater level of entertainment to the performance, and is even more impressive when executed flawlessly. It explains the popularity of acoustic and acapella performances, which essentially forces a person to rely solely on their inner talents, free from the buffers of instruments and other distractions. Thus, a producer of live musical performance must emphasize the mind-boggling moments of talents that musicians display. *Caveat: it is possible to compensate for those who overly produce their music in the studio and cannot translate their music in a live performance, those who are bad musicians, or both. This is done by emphasizing the aesthetic over the aural—basically, be a shallow producer and speak to the viewer’s impulses. For pop stars, this comes in the form of back-up dancers, drummers wearing sunglasses and/or a fedora, and a live band dressed courtesy of the Gap. For DJs/producers, this means having very colorful equipment (controllers, mixers, lighting), and sometimes wearing masks or being European. Know your audience, whether it be hormonal teenagers in pop music or hormonal young adults on ecstasy in electronic music.

e.g. When capturing live, untreated, and near flawless performances, there isn’t much the producer needs to do.

Same applies with mind-boggling moments like Jimi Hendrix playing a guitar solo with his teeth.

Rap star Kanye West hires an entire orchestra to play the instrumental of his song even though the DJ could have played the entire instrumental for him in order to establish the feeling of a live performance.

Pop star Britney Spears clearly lip synching in her “Womanizer” performance, but it’s okay because she’s dancing and has back-up dancers that apparently escaped from a French circus. It appeals to the audience’s aesthetic sense over their aural sense.

Daft Punk, a staple of the live electronic music genre, have incredibly colorful equipment, wear masks/helmets, and are European—the holy trinity! The visuals compliment the music nicely.

5) The audience is as much a part of the performance as the band. As I mentioned before, the live musical performance is a way to validate a fan’s admiration for a musician. Some of the more common ways of capturing the audience’s confirmed admiration include the sing along shot, where the camera cuts to a fan mouthing the words of the song in synch with the audio, and the panning crowd dance shot, where the camera moves across the crowd, especially the people leaning on the barrier, as the dance to the music. The live musical performance is a dialogue between musician and audience, with the audience serving as a performance barometer for the viewer, and is essential for establishing the performance’s atmosphere.

e.g. The Beatles…the fans’ screaming and crying mean they approve…

Festivals tend to emphasize audience shots, especially the sing along and panning crowd dance shot.

Vincent Moon’s La Blogotheque/Take Away Shows is a beautiful example of a live musical performance video series that emphasize capturing the audience’s reaction.




About: Internet Cooking Shows

The internet cooking show is a very consistent genre. The intended purpose of these videos is to instruct the viewer in the culinary arts in an entertaining manner. This can either be demonstrating a difficult culinary technique, such as dicing an onion, or the preparation of a recipe. Internet cooking shows, as opposed to televised cooking shows, typically focus on one food item instead of an entire meal. This recipe is almost always one of the host’s creation, and typically features some sort of creative element to separate it from other cooking shows.

Due to the ease of producing these short videos, internet cooking shows are often focused into a specific variety of food than their televised counterparts. For instance, televised shows might be based around Italian food as in Emeril Lagasse, while internet shows could be entirely based on the healthy recreation of American fast food as in Nicko’s Kitchen. The more popular internet shows also have some sort of ridiculous gimmick, as seen in My Drunk Kitchen, where the host is perpetually drunk, and Cooking with Dog, where the host is literally a dog.

Despite the incredible variety of cooking shows on the internet, their execution is almost formulaic. They typically feature one main cook, who is also the host and producer of the show. Often, there is also a humorous sidekick, as in SMBC’s Hand to Mouth and Cooking with dog, or a guest appearance by a notable restauranteur. The videos are almost exclusively shot in a home kitchen with typical domestic cooking appliances, so as to not intimidate the audience. There are not many cuts, and the camera angles typically consist of a medium, frontal shot of the chef where their hands are visible, interspersed with close-up “action shots” of chopping and top down shots of the stove top. The host talks the viewer through the cooking process, describing the ingredients and cooking techniques used.

There are two main audience groups of these cooking shows. Unlike many other internet videos, cooking videos are typically part of a series of episodes that follow a general theme. Therefore, many viewers of a particular video are simply loyal fans of the overall show hoping to be entertained. This is seen in My Drunk Kitchen, where the host is especially humorous despite consistently failing to give any actual cooking advice. Alternatively, because internet cooking shows focus on item of food, a significant part of the views on a single video can be attributed to people looking for advice on how to cook that particular item. This would be seen on shows known for demonstrating proper culinary techniques, such as The Minimalist and Hilah Cooking.

Internet cooking shows are an excellent example of how to combine the hilarious with the educational. They are, in essence, a how-to video, but go above and beyond a simple step-by-step delivery into something much more entertaining.

Lip Reading Manifesto

Lip reading videos are any videos that are dubbed with new dialogue.  These videos range from commercials, to clips from films, to clips from political advertisements.  As well, the videos range in how well the dubbing is executed, which is clearly visible when watching the videos.  Lip reading videos serve, for the most part, to simply be funny and mock something or someone.  But, some videos go further than just mocking, and are making the point that some popular films are overly dramatic, and that some politicians take themselves too seriously.  By using original video with dubbed words, the viewer can see that there is actually something humorous to be found in most any film, commercial, etc.  The defining characteristics of these videos are virtually any clips with new dialogue dubbed in.  Some producers choose and cut clips from movies, while others will dub over uncut video.

The most famous, and the most creative group that produces these dubbed videos is the group known as “Bad Lip Reading.”  Video dubbing is extremely well executed by the BLR group.  A great example of the abilities of BLR is the video “’Herman Cain’—A BLR Soundbite,” in which Herman Cain’s campaign motto is: “Everybody needs toucan stubs.”  Lines like “McDonald’s special.  Give me a large plate.  Then I’ll sing, sing, sing about it” and “Mexican people don’t eat sugar, especially when it’s a mixture of lice and tiger DNA” seem to fit so perfectly with the video of Herman Cain and his actual words, and really allows the viewer to see that not everything is so serious, that if you look closely enough, there is humor in everything.  BLR has the freedom to choose both which clips they want to sue and they have some flexibility with what dialogue they want to sue.  In other words, they have ability to create almost any story line they want to, albeit they are restricted by what words they can use to fit with the mouths of the characters.

A couple more great videos from BLR:  Hunger Games and Twilight.

There are other producers of these videos, another being the group with the YouTube account “Jaboody Dubs.”  This group focuses mostly on commercials, trying to point out the ridiculousness of the product being advertised.  A great example of this is the video “Snuggie Dub,” in which they mock the Snuggie.  However, in these videos, it is the narration that is dubbed, not individual characters.  So, these producers have the freedom to choose any dialogue they want for the videos because they do not have to match the dialogue with a characters mouth.  However, when Jaboody Dubs does do have to match words with mouths, they are less accurate than BLR, which gives their videos a less polished feeling.

Another commercial dubbing from Jaboody Dubs:  Loudmouth Leo Dub