Saturday, May 05, 2012

Roflcon Keynote: Supercuts

Panelists: Rich Juzwiak (Fourfour / “I’m Not Here To Make Friends”), Aaron Valdez (Wreck & Salvage), Duncan Robson (“Let’s Enhance”/“Tumbleweeds”), Andy Baio (mod –
Baio: Supercuts are a labor of love because of how much work they require finding all instances of an event, phrase, etc. in some set of materials.  (Sounds a wee bit like vidding; interesting what kinds of claims to labor producing value get made.)
Aaron Valdez: Bill Clinton, master auctioneer, saying numbers (I don’t know why this is funny, but it surely is).  Done on real video at university.  Nonlinear video editing equipment was still very expensive, so he used 60mm found footage, e.g., a compilation of dissolves from educational films.  I’m Bruce: Bruce Willis.  Was able to monetize a Sarah Palin supercut and pay for hosting fees.
Rich Juzwiak: Primarily a writer, but the great thing about the internet is that you can express yourself in the appropriate medium if you figure it out.  Again one of the things I noticed about his description was the similarity to vidding, here in terms of serendipity/in-process revisions: once he figured out he was making a supercut, he had to go back and do a lot more work to reconstitute the thing he now figured out he was making.  I’m Not Here to Make Friends” is not comprehensive, though people think it is—there were a bunch of instances of the phrase left out!  Not in Kansas any more cliché: inherently a reference to something else, but no one quotes the line as it was said in the film.  He discussed his struggle for credit when mainstream media copied the cellphone service supercut; the ombudsman thought he was just some random guy from the internet, and he thought it was insulting that they couldn’t be bothered to click on his YouTube username to see who he was.  Based on feedback, thinks his audience likes multiple sources instead of something just from one show (or maybe they just hate Paris Hilton).
Duncan Robson: Visual effects background, motion capture & crowd simulation.  Got asked to make a supercut of tumbleweeds for an art exhibition.  Tumbleweeds: very different audience than the internet audience.  Couldn’t actually find the “iconic” tumbleweed shot of a tumbleweed rolling across the screen in an empty town; don’t see them in spaghetti westerns.  (I really would like to know the “got asked” background—the creation of social/intellectual capital is very interesting and fraught.  I also love the tumbleweed itself; the video looks like a single tumbleweed journeying through a huge number of movies, a sort of travelling gnome.)
Baio: what makes a good supercut?  (Note that I’m only about 80% confident of attributions here, since my facial recognition skills are minimal.)
Juzwiak: a good supercut has to be comprehensively researched, esp. if you’re making it for fans.  Aspect ratios and editing are very important. 
Valdez: good to make a statement, instead of pointing out something that people just say and aren’t cliches particular to cinema/TV. You could cut together people saying “How are you?” but that doesn’t tell you anything.  Also doesn’t like montage (best Hollywood kisses, best putdowns)—not even supercuts because there’s no chance of being comprehensive and it’s so general; go on forever.  (Compare his other statements about how you just need to throw enough at people that they think it’s comprehensive.)
Robson: people are using their own limited DVD collections, and what he enjoys is going over new movies/shows.  Uses TVTropes and IMDB to collect stuff, but you have to look for alternative sources.  (Ah, the politics of collecting—and always underneath, the gendering of creativity.)
Baio: most are done by fans, Dr. Who, Star Trek, My Little Pony (he says there are some amazing MLP ones; I presume by bronies?).  Pointing out lazy screenwriting and tropes.  People may not even realize they’re behaving the same way as everyone else when put in the same reality TV situation.  Showed a video of Obama cut to show every time he said “spending”—interested in seeing if this starts getting used by actual political teams.  (I thought that already happened?)
Valdez: Republicans are bad at remix.  He gets comments suggesting that he should make one for Republicans and he says “that’s not my politics, you do it!” but no one does.
Baio: Clocks supercut lasts 24 hours; has to be seen in person; not available online.  Are supercuts art?
Valdez: they can be.  More compilation/fan videos; being art was not necessarily the goal.  As experimental filmmaker, had trouble injecting humor into work, and on the internet he could be himself/not need to be serious and put total meaning behind all his work.
Juzwiak: thinks of his work as criticism.
Valdez: The boundaries are so limited: where can it go?
There was a supercut of Big Lebowski (basically all the cursing), Valdez did a supercut of the porn version of the Big Lebowski (also cursing, limited naughty bits).
Valdez: teens are remaking someone else’s supercut, aware that it’s been done before but want to try themselves. Used as entry point to get into remix.
Debut of Robson’s Three Point Landing, which shows a lot of people landing on one knee with one hand on the ground.
Q: do you ever get a sense someone’s copying your style?
Valdez: no, the form is so specific.  How would you steal the style?  Some people have claimed that I stole their style—George Bush without all the words.  There are dozens of these; there are natural responses, and limited choices of what you can do with one video source.  Sarah Palin: someone did a similar video.  If you’re making remix, you can’t complain about emulation.
Juzwiak: only has a problem when someone has taken his statement/concept—or Jay Leno copying Taylor Swift looking surprised when she won awards without attribution.  He’d used YT source and they needed HD quality sources, so they found them and edited them to match his. Leno says “we put this thing together,” which was totally true and yet false at the same time.  The controversy was actually great because it got a lot more exposure.

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