By Jesse Brown - Friday, January 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
Vine lets you shoot and share videos with your phone. Big deal, right? But six years ago, I heard about Twitter, an app that lets you share sentences. I said “big deal” then too. I could already do that, just as I could already make and share videos.
Twitter turned out to be a big deal indeed. Its genius was its simplicity. Sure, I could already write sentences–lots of them–on my blog and share them with the world, but by constraining me to 140 characters and feeding my tweets into an opt-in stream with pushbutton network effect (the brilliant “retweet”), Twitter removed all barriers to real-time chatter with an unlimited audience. The result, we now see, was a pretty significant transformation in communication.
Vine applies the same factors to video. It constrains you to six seconds, max. It removes all trickier aspects of video production–even basic editing tools are absent. It processes all videos into files similar to animated gifs–those lightweight, looping meme-able moments that proliferate wildly. Vine is integrated with Twitter (naturally), so you can attach one to a tweet as easily as you would a photo.
Early hype has it that Vine will be huge. I’ve learned my lesson and won’t predict otherwise, but I do have some reservations:
- The written word is incredibly efficient. You can say a lot in 140 characters. But video? Less may be more here. Moving pictures often convey less info than still photos. What can you say with a six-second clip that you couldn’t say with a TwitPic? I guess we’ll find out.
- Streamlining video is a step in the right direction when it comes to the instantaneous culture of social media. But even constrained to six seconds of compressed loopage, a vine is much more data-heavy than a tweet. It apparently takes a full 30 minutes for Vine to process and post each clip. On the receiving end, the burden of loading a constant stream of twitching videos is already crashing and clogging twitter clients. (Incidentally, I’m not embedding any vines in this post, since this page filled with them keeps crashing my browser.)
- What the heck will we use it for? Twitter succeeds (for Twitter, at least) when it becomes second nature–when you barely think before you tweet. But people seem to be having lots of trouble thinking of anything substantive to share through Vine. Day one has brought us a barrage of pet videos and cinematic panoramas of people’s desks.
I look forward to eating these words in the days ahead, as users the world over stretch the limits of the micro-vid.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By macleans.ca - Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:46 PM - 0 Comments
Jonathon Gatehouse on Gary Bettman and the NHL
So despite the howls from fans and media for Gary Bettman’s head, Jonathon Gatehouse says the commissioner of the NHL remains as secure as he’s ever been. His current contract—worth $7.98 million this past year—runs through 2015. From there it’s just a short two-year skip to the league’s centennial. How long will Bettman, already the most powerful figure the game has ever known, stick around?
For more, read Gary Bettman is here to stay.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
Before photography, newspapers hired illustrators to draw the news. Seriously, illustrators weren’t artists, they were reporters. Readers took drawings for truth. Why else would they be in the newspaper?
Then along came photography, which instantly discredited drawings as works of journalism. After photos, the only reason to bother drawing something was because it didn’t exist in reality. If it did, you’d just snap a picture of it and have proof. Suddenly, drawings were for lying. And so illustrators became liars (artists), instead of reporters, and the comic strip was born.
Of course, photos lie too. They always have. I’m not even talking specifically about dark-room trickery. Different lighting, angles and compositions tell different stories. And for every photo of an event that sees print, there are usually dozens that don’t, because they suggest a different truth than the one chosen.
Photoshop, as cartoonist Art Spiegelman observed, didn’t turn photographers into liars — it just made lying with photos super easy. He “outed” the medium as being as subjective and as easily-manipulated as any other. Today, if we see a photograph of Barack Obama giving a fist bump to Osama Bin Laden while throwing up a Sieg Heil, we recognize it as fake, regardless of how real it looks. We can’t surrender our judgement to photographs any more. We now have to actually think about what we’re seeing.
But video? We still trust video.
The mass proliferation of smart phone video cameras only increased video’s credibility. A written report of a politically explosive event will be instantly scrutinized and questioned. If a written report can’t be discredited and debunked, it will be spun. But video? Think about Romney’s 47 per cent clip or Obama’s “cling to their guns” video, or the Hussein execution – yes, they all turned out to be real, but nobody doubted them for a second. The shakier the footage, the poorer the lighting, the lower the resolution, the more “real” it all seems.
That’s why yesterday’s hoax was so great. When a Hollywood director blows a million dollars a minute on a CGI scene, they make damn sure we can see it. The footage is bright and glossy and sharp, the monster or superhero placed in the center of the frame. The baby-snatching eagle video is brilliant because it all looks so amateurish, just like “real” homemade video. The students behind the clip are being praised for their animation and compositing skills, but their handle on cinema aesthetics is what truly sold the shot.
From now on, we’ll play a fun game with viral videos (and hopefully, with news videos too). Something incredible will make the rounds, and instead of dropping our jaws, we’ll knit our brows. Self-appointed video experts will analyze shadows and angles and search for traces of green-screen noise.
The rest of us will just have to use our brains.
Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Scaachi Koul - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
Blackberry is going to keep on loving you
In another marketing attempt, RIM’s BlackBerry recently released a promotional video on YouTube. What some thought was a parody is actually a very real, very ’80s, music video.
BlackBerry hired all of your dads to cover REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You,” as an ode to developers during RIM’s time of transition, pleading with them to stick it out. BlackBerry, they sang, “Is Going To Keep On Loving You.”
The online response to the video is but another blow for a company already considered too out of touch to bounce back with users. Business Insider called it “beyond bizarre.” GigaOm was kinder, simply calling the video a must-watch.
The video thus far has done little more than make iPhone users clutch their phones close to their chests, and laugh about the long-forgotten days of the QWERTY keyboard.
Weird, RIM. Very weird.
By Blog of Lists - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
1. Star Wars Kid
In 2002, Ghyslain Raza of Trois-Rivières, Que., made Internet history by leaping around with a makeshift light saber. He needed psychiatric care for all the subsequent bullying, and his parents sued the families of the classmates who leaked the video. It’s been viewed an estimated one billion times.
2. Walk off the Earth
The indie band from Burlington, Ont., who covered Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know—with all five band members playing one guitar—earned a record deal, and inspired a parody song during the Vancouver Canucks brief 2012 playoff run. YouTube views: 113 million.
3. Ultimate Dog Tease
Halifax comedian Andrew Grantham gave voice to a German shepherd being teased with meat, and it became Canada’s second-most-watched YouTube video of 2011 (Rebecca Black’s Friday was No. 1). YouTube views: 108 million.
4. Lady Gaga Girl
With just a piano and her powerful voice, 10-year-old Maria Aragon recorded herself singing Lady Gaga’s Born this Way last year and got a flood of online attention, including from Gaga herself. A chain of Philippine malls later hired Aragon as their holiday season spokesperson. YouTube views: 51 million.
5. Emerson Baby
Under the title “Emerson—Mommy’s nose is scary!” five-month-old Baby Emerson from London, Ont., is both endlessly terrified and delighted by the sound of his mother blowing her nose. YouTube views: 36 million.
6. S–t Girls Say
When Toronto-based artists Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard spliced together stereotypical girl-talk banalities, it was the meme that launched a thousand social analyses—and a book deal with Harlequin. YouTube views: 29 million.
7. Corey Vidal
In 2008, Corey Vidal made a video of himself singing a four-part harmony for Star Wars (John Williams is the Man), a compilation of Star Wars-inspired lyrics sung to the composer’s most famous film scores. YouTube views: 17 million.
8. United Breaks Guitars
After a flight aboard United Airways in 2008, Dave Carroll of the band Sons of Maxwell discovered his $3,500 guitar had been broken. When
the airline refused compensation, he wrote a song about his ordeal that drew worldwide attention and a book deal. YouTube views: 12 million.
9. Hélène Campbell
When 21-year-old Campbell found out she was ill, she created @alungstory while awaiting a double lung transplant, garnering thousands of followers, including Justin Bieber and a surprise video call from Ellen DeGeneres. She received her transplant in April.
10. Arrested Drunk Guy
In November 2011, Robert Wilkinson of Edson, Alta., was arrested by RCMP for allegedly driving drunk. Proclaiming himself sober from the back seat of a squad car, he launched into a passionate, and remarkably accurate, a cappella rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody—all six minutes of it. YouTube views: 8 million.
Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The answers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists, hitting stands in time for Canada Day.
Buy your copy of the Maclean’s Book of Lists at the newstand or order online now.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, October 17, 2011 at 12:02 PM - 2 Comments
You may have seen this article last week about the decision of several companies to suspend production of film cameras, further signaling that high-definition video rather than film is the format of the future. This has been going on for a while (companies have been slowly phasing out film of various types for several years), but was accelerated by a sudden and mostly un-heralded shakeup within the TV industry a couple of years ago. As the article notes, the TV producers were in a dispute with the Screen Actors’ Guild, but made a congenial deal with another union, AFTRA, which had jurisdiction over taped shows—including shows shot on high-def video. And so within a year, most of the producers switched production of their pilots from film to digital video, so that their shows would be covered by AFTRA contracts. And that was that:
Whereas, in previous seasons, 90 percent of the TV pilots were filmed, and under SAG jurisdiction, in one fell swoop the 2009 pilot season went digital video, capturing 90 percent of the pilots. In a single season, the use of film in primetime TV nearly completely vanished, never to return.
There are still some existing shows shot on film, including some very good-looking ones (I think Fringe and The Mentalist are or were shot on 35 mm film). But eventually, all TV shows will be shot on HD unless the creators have some very specific aim in mind; part of the point of shooting on film is to look like a feature, but since features will increasingly abandon film, there’s not much point in using it for TV.
It’s actually amazing that film lasted in television for so long, since producers have been trying to phase it out of TV ever since the invention of video tape. (The Twilight Zone famously experimented with switching to tape for a few episodes in its second season, giving up when it became clear that it didn’t look as good as film. In the UK, for many years, tape was used for anything shot in the studio, with 16 mm film used for outdoor sequences only because tape cameras weren’t mobile enough.) But the prestige of film, as well as the visual beauty it could provide at its best, kept film going in TV for many decades; in fact, there were times when film would become more popular rather than less – as in the ’90s, when most U.S. producers dropped taped sitcoms and switched to film instead. It proved remarkably resilient.
As to whether we should mourn the death of film, I don’t think there is much point in that, and it’s by no means the biggest change to hit motion pictures in Continue…
By Tom Henheffer - Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 10:13 AM - 0 Comments
George Clooney and Paul Giamatti stop for a chat