Now that’s what I call a remix: confessions of a YouTube-oholic

November 8th, 2010 by

C-mon & Kypski More is Less videoYouTube can be a dangerous place. A place where your time, and occasionally your sanity, vanish without trace. Trouble is, it’s also the best place to find out what crazy, creative stuff the “crowd” is up to. What I bring you today, after many hours of dangerous research, is some of its latest work. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Shining happy people
Previously on this blog we explored fan-made, “sweded movies” (essentially parodies of big, Hollywood productions). Believe it or not, there is an even more bizarre cult of cinema crowdsourcing: the mood-changing remix. Here fans get busy cutting, pasting and changing the soundtrack in order to transform trailers – or even whole movies. You can now experience The Shining re-cut as a feel good comedy, The Big Lewboski as a story of moving friendship, or (at the risk of losing precious childhood memories) watch Mary Poppins turned into a hellspawn witch.

Forty-one milliseconds of fame
Music is another example of a field where experimentation with widesourcing (a clever new word CrowdCloud dreamed up) never seems to stop.

Leading the way is the band C-mon & Kypski who’ve put together a crowdsourced video. In ‘One Frame of Fame’ each person is asked to copy the pose of a band member and take a picture (it’s indie music, so strictly no air guitar). The website uses software that runs on all browsers and, after rendering each shot, updates almost in real time. If you’ve always dreamed of leaving a mark on Earth for future generations, this is your chance (the video is already nominated for the UK Music Awards).

Innovative artists and hobbyists – who treat their followers as a resource, not an enemy – don’t just crowdsource, they source a new crowd. C-mon & Kypski have over 25,000 participants in their video. That’s 25,000 people who’ll want everyone they know to download the track. Fans also have deep pockets: Public Enemy have just announced they’ll be recording an entirely crowd funded album, after raising around $60,000 through Sellaband.

With a little help from their fans
In sharp contrast to the music industry (whose legendarily conservative attitudes I’ve been wincing over in the book Appetite for Self-Destruction, The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age) the gaming world seems eager to let the fans do the work. Acclaimed LittleBigPlanet for PS3 has over 3 million user created levels, with a sequel due out that allows even greater customization. Meanwhile converts to the retro sandbox game Minecraft are so keen they’ve made fan-based trailers to help spread the word – that’s before the game is officially out of development.

In the past, fans have famously tried to fight change (like the audience booing the night Bob Dylan went electric). Now they’re pushing it forward, showing artists how to get the most from new technology. The creative potential of the YouTube crowd is clearly immense, even if their projects are still a little rough around the edges. Left unhindered, people are often able to rethink and remix material in ways that would astonish (in a good way, well, mostly in a good way) the original creators.

So, I invite music execs, film producers and game designers to join me and spend a few hours surfing the YouTube crowd. It could just turn out to be the most valuable time they’ve ever wasted.