Middle One

This is the second video work (of a planned three to begin with) of the child series. It repeats the structure of the first wo

Sean’s Blog

Welcome to Sean Cubitt, recent (well, relatively recent) arrival to Melbourne and now blogging. Sean’s writing is always

Youngest Number One

This is the first video in a brief series. I’ve discussed it earlier, and I’m currently working on the second one.

Youngest Daughter

I’ve been working on a small interactive QuickTime vog piece. It will form part of a series (perhaps 3, perhaps more) where each one of the works is about one of my kids. The first one I’ve been making is about the youngest, currently approaching 11 months old. It isn’t quite ready, but while authoring it I wanted to document and think about some of the decisions that have informed the work.

The video has been shot, all partial closeups, and compressed twice, once to colour and again to black and white. I’ve kept the resolution high, avoiding compression artefacts (though might rework them into heavily compressed abstract works). The video is 320 x 240 pixels but I’ve placed that over a 600 x 400 background graphic (taken from the video) since I’ve recently been interested in thinking about online video as not just the video pane but more like a canvas or a surface which informs or contributes (and sets off) the video.

There is a single sprite, which responds to mouse enter and mouse exit. Entering the sprite switches the video tracks so the colour track is replaced with the black and white track. In addition a textual commentary appears (at 50% transparency) over the background graphic, and partially over the video. While the mouse remains in the sprite the text and black and white clip remain. Moving the mouse out of the clip removes the text and returns the clip to colour.

It has been scripted and built using LiveStage Pro, which I won’t be able to use for much longer (they have gone broke, the software requires online authentication which no longer exists so as far as I know when I move to new hardware the major QT authoring tool is gone). The two videos are included as part of a single QT file (so the completed work consists of two separate video tracks) rather than as child movies since I wanted them to play together and just ‘flip’ from one to the other. I also did not want to play with multiple durations in the work, which is (for me) one of the major benefits and fascinations of child movie tracks.

The text appears all at once. I toyed with the idea of having each line appear consecutively, perhaps based on counting mouse clicks or mouse enters, but it achieves nothing for the work, and just makes your user jump through hoops because you can create some hoops. Sort of Pavlov’s dogs dressed up as interactivity.

As with nearly all I do, it is not narrative. It is not even metaphorical. They are just some moments recorded. By themselves they don’t amount to much. For my family they mean quite a lot. For my friends they also mean. For those who regularly come by these parts they also mean something. Blogging, including videoblogging, is not trying to tell stories for the masses, they’re small stories for small groups and the stories are formed by these collected parts (the various vogs here, the posts like this one) and each individual post or vog is not supposed to be a grand statement. It is and, and, and. Value accrues over time through serialised narrative forms, however fragmentary.

Everything Old is New Again

Google is running a test that inserts video ads into videos at intervals defined by the publisher of the video. While that is technically cool, it is yet another indication of the sadly backward looking way in which even a company as innovative as Google approaches video.

Google, the original Google, that big wonderful search engine, works and gained hegemonic sway (did I just write ‘hegemonic’?) because it understood that webpages are granular, and that it is about the relations between parts (links) as much (if not more) than the parts themselves. Google keeps this granularity so that the links go to these parts – in other words not to the front page of the blog but to the post itself, not to the front page of the site, but to the actual page where the content lives – and it is this that lets Google achieve its search results.

Then there’s video. Which, just like the web, is highly granular (storyboards, shots, and so on), but unlike the web this granularity becomes cemented, locked down, once published. Now, this does not have to be the case online. Let’s shout that one out. THIS DOES NOT NEED TO BE THE CASE ONLINE! Edits online do not need to be cement. They do not need to be hard. They can be soft, pliable, porous.

Google’s Ad pilot shows this. We can prise single videos apart. But to put ads in the middle? You mean commercial breaks? Like on TV? So we are using this possible granularity to simply mirror, reproduce, be the Oedipal avatar of US commercial television? Rather than trying to turn video on the web into television why not try to imagine video in the web. Start to make that happen and you are no longer competing with television – just as blogs are not the competitor’s of novels – you are making a new form, a new market and new expressions.

Lumiere and Saturday Nights

Andreas has a good comment on my post about his (and Aske’s) Lumiere Rules. (Follow that particular bouncing ball?) He observes that the aesthetic of the rules is not to have something happen in the last few moments of the recorded minute that is out of the ordinary. This is so that the recording is not staged, in the obvious sense of being deliberately choreographed – they should be happenstance, or happenchance I suppose.

Absolutely, though I think this was the point of the essay I mentioned by Elsaesser. He wants to argue that while they appear as ‘actualities’, they are sufficiently choreographed, or at least timed. This I don’t think is the case in the very early 1895 works (YouTube), but certainly could be the case in works only a year or so later.

In terms of the lumiere rules, you could always shoot for several minutes, simply choosing the ‘best’ minut. This would be against the spirit of the constraint, which is to record a minute and be done with it. This privileges the everyday, and any-instant-whatever, and proposes a creative come observational practice that gains its interest precisely because it is an everyday creativity. Blogging, and in turn videoblogging, is less about the grand or large scale statement than the practice that emerges from simple iterative procedures.

Comments and Posts

I never know if I should reply to comments as another comment or as a new post. Sometimes comments turn up on old posts, so if

VideoBlog and Quality

Sam mourns the death of cinema via the videoblog. Cinema is dying of itself just look at how Hollywood is now ransacking Asian cinema to ‘reinvent’ itself (if cinema was alive and healthy why would US cinema need to do this?). But that’s not the point. Don’t confuse the carnivalesque nature of YouTube. Here are some video blogs, not that “me too” nonsense:

This is literally just spending a few minutes looking at videobloggers, as opposed to using a webcam to host something via a video service. (If I make a tune in GarageBand and stick it on a music hosting service, am I a musicblogger? Why? Why not?) Some of these works are high quality, some are just elegant, some are just small moments shared. The best work is not about being television or cinema by other means, but like a good blog is not a wannabe novel it is a different sort of writing.

Lumiere’s Rules

Andreas, via Aske Dam (who I met briefly a few years ago, intriguing and forward thinking employee of Telenor at the time) has a very nice set of constraints for video production. They’re based on the conditions the Lumiere’s faced when they first started filming, and are:

  • 60 seconds max
  • Fixed camera
  • No audio
  • No zoom
  • No edit
  • No effects

These reproduce the technical constraints for the invention of the cinema, and as Andreas points out all except the last are easily replicable. The last doesn’t work because compression introduces effects of resizing and compression. Andreas is making work that follows these constraints, and is tagging them (via technorati) with lumierevideo. I like these constraints. They are simple, they fit the mode for blogged video: informal, quick, observational, personal, exploring what matters to you (on the understanding that if it really does matter then it will matter for others) and they make you, and others, have to think about what is.

[On the other hand, there’s an essay in Elsaesser, Thomas, and Kay Hoffmann, eds. Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998. The essay is by Elsaesser and is about how so many of these films seem to have something happen just in the last few seconds, suggesting care in choosing the moment of filming.]

Time Mash

Stephanie, a student in a subject I’m currently involved in, described a really interesting idea earlier this month, she calls it a time mash. It is a simple idea, perfectly transferable and reproducible which means it can work as a template for a wide range of content (and so form a series – as I’ve been trying to teach these students, a single work is silent, if it forms a series it now has a context, patterns, and is surrounded by things near enough to be the same and different enough to make a difference). You film something in three parts, the same thing. It could be a sequence with a beginning middle and end. Or not. You remove the middle sequence, but keep its sound, suggesting something about the relation of the first to the third panel (oh, they’re presented as a triptych). The discussion about time as decomposable goes off track, but the development of an iterable model to produce a range of work is good.

Interactive Entertainment Conference

The 2007 interactive Entertainment conference is being held at RMIT, December. Creative Media are the RMIT end of things (a si

Another Go at Industrial

Yesterday’s ramble on industrial institutions is, well, just a mess, isn’t it? What I was struggling to get to is