Tuesday, August 29, 2006

IFC Media Lab - kinda cool, kinda annoying

A former collegue of mine who works on testing and developing websites told me about the IFC Media Lab. People upload their super short films (less than 7 minutes), write a blurb about it, answer some questions and then watch as their fellow film snobs give out ratings on a 1-10 scale. The averaged score of even the highest rated films tops out at about 4.5. IFC claims the best films get aired on TV, "uncut".
There are three reasons for this low scoring trend:
1) Most of the films are extremely dissapointing. Maybe I'm a snob but most of these pieces are trying too hard and/or don't make any fucking sense. Most are poorly done and contrived. Maybe I'm not a snob (I didn't go the film school) and just don't know what "good" film is.
2) People who watch these pieces usually are the kinds of people who make films, want to make films, or just went to film school. So the average viewer tends to know when a video sucks. Even if they subconsciously think the piece is good, the viewer can avoid bruising their ego by giving out scores no higher than 5 out of 10. After all, they could have made a better film.
3) You can see how much someone spent on the film. $8000 for a 2 minute piece that sucked?!? God I wish I could burn money like that. I could heat my house burning money like that. And by "house" I mean "apartment that I share with two friends".

So while this post has had a negative slant to it, I was honestly very impressed by a few of the pieces I saw on the Media Lab. One animated/narrative/music video piece that I loved is called "Don't Fuck with Love". Seems about right. I also thought that the documentary "How to Bury a Dead Guy" was a great idea though poorly executed. I wish I could paste them into this posting but alas, IFC is far to good for that kind of sharing. You'll have to make do with the links.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sony checks into the game

Today's news in the NYTimes that Sony Entertainment just bought video-share bit player Grouper.com for 65 million is more evidence that we're in a new world of online content generation. While some companies are making some use of the concept of "crowd sourcing," a topic Wired Magazine explored in depth in their June 06 issue, other companies are based completely on it. Grouper was started with a little over 5 million, and its recent sale is another example of people getting in on a collectivist internet concept early and then cashing in big when when someone else actually makes the idea work. Grouper is completely overshadowed by YouTube but was still deemed to be a worthy "gamble" by a media giant needing to stay current.

I checked out Grouper.com for over an hour. It is hard to use, the search feature seemed to be broken, it is slow and 99% of the videos are stupid and terrible. This is a C-minus website at best. The only video I found that even appoached being post-worthy was the 'World's Longest Slam Dunk' - see it below. The best part is the faces of the people watching - it's as if they are witnessing an execution or something.

So I replaced the video with a picture because it was autoplaying everytime this page loaded. That violates the #1 rule of internet video, yet another sign that grouper.com is terrible.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What the hell is Nublu?

Nublu is a bar/louge located at Avenue C and East 3rd Street. This highly understated venue is operated in conjunction with Nublu Records - a label that is home to up-and-comers such as Kudu. And yes dear readers, they do have videos - I'm sorry to report that this link only takes you to the main page, where you must click Nublu Records and then 'video' to see some content. I know - it's exhasting...

Anyway, these folks are cool. I know this because they've decided to throw an event on September 3rd in one of my favorite neighborhoods where everyone is cool in some way. Gowanas continues to kick ass, as is evident by this sweet picture I found somewhere on the world wide web.
Thanks to Wills for the heads up!

Monday, August 21, 2006

New Current Posting - Vote Now!!! [original]

Here is a more finished version of the water taxi video. Give it the greenlight and help me get it on TV!

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Refugee AllStars from Sierra Leone

From 2002 to 2005, Zack Niles and Banker White filmed, recorded and befriended a group of musicians who had fled Freetown, Sierra Leone to seek refuge in Guinea. They had left behind a country overtaken by a group of rebels engaged in what came to be called, "Operation: Destroy Every Living Thing". Sierra Leone's infamous diamond trade was at the heart of this turmoil which in the end displaced half of the country's 4.5 million people. It also ended up bringing together the 8+ musicians that came to be called the Refugee AllStars.

The album and the documentary film that Niles and White introduced to an international audience in 2005/06 tell the timeless story of how music can be a uniting and healing force even under the most adverse conditions. Check out RefugeeAllStars.org to watch the trailer and get a taste of what this project was all about.

Fight Big Media!!!

If a single media company controls all of the major media outlets in a given area, how can you be sure that the information that you are receiving has not been utterly compromised by the interests of that company? You cannot. While the internet provides fertile ground for independent media, we cannot let media giants to do even more damage to America's media landscape.

There is currently antitrust legislation that prevents extreme media consolidation. However, in the words of ThePetitionSite, "If current protections were lifted, ONE media company could potentially own the major daily newspaper, at least EIGHT radio stations and THREE or more television stations in the same town". Let's not let big media companies bully the FCC into removing laws that exist to protect the integrity of local media. Click here to sign the petition.

Progress in Texas

Austin, Texas is viewed by many as an oasis in the mist of a vast cultural desert. It's a massive college town and plays host to one of the more important music festivals of the day - South By SouthWest. They are even starting a film component to all this and are also hosting conferences and trade shows.

They've got a healthy amount of web video content to check out, including a piece by Neil Young that makes use of footage from 'An Inconvenient Truth'. Neil has been hip to sustainable living for a long time - check out his activist tune 'Vampire Blues' from the album On the Beach. By clicking on the film section, you'll find more videos including several about how to make worthwhile web video content. Internet video, sustainable living, musical communities - 16 posts in and I've finally brought it all together. Thanks Neil!

Anyway, I started this posting with the intention of hyping up the "Sustainable Shoppers Ball," a series of events in Austin centered on the sale of goods that promote sustainable living. Like any good event throwers, they've got music and art to keep people entertained. They offer a variety of ways to learn about why their views on sustainable living are important. While this event is still in its infancy, it is yet another example of how "green" is moving past being cool and slowly working its way into the mainstream.

While I don't have the funds for a trip to Austin, I think it is a worthwhile excursion for anyone who does. It already makes the claim that it is the "live music capital of the world" (though I'm sure many other great cities would have something to say about this) and if events like the Sustainable Shoppers Ball keep rolling, it could start calling its self the "green capital of the world". Pretty odd title for a city in the middle of Texas but I love the idea.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

NYC's Underground Rhythm

Check out these two awesome video pods about a guy who goes by the name 'ShakerLeg'. You may have seen him in the Bedford L stop if you've passed through Williamsburg, Brooklyn during the last few years. The man has got serious rhythm and these pieces give an intimate perspective on the life and times of a successful street musician. If you doubted that such a thing existed, watch and learn.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Titans in Love: Google and Viacom

Advertising is big money. Just ask google, a company that has become one of the biggest and most powerful advertising companies on the planet. This trick is that most people don't even realize that ads are how they make all their boatloads of cash. Sneaky.

Viacom is company that plays the advertising game from some interesting angles as well - billboards and pop culture TV. So what happens when these two titans get together to try and find more ways to exploit the world's next great video content distibution channel? We'll see. Maybe it's more like they'll $ee...

This news is big. Read about it here. And here.

To see the kind of content that we're now going to have greater access to (although it will now be accompanied by commercials), check out some rap videos at hiphopgame.com.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Robot Music

Opening this week in Gowanus (3rd Ave between 9th & 10th), Brooklyn, is the headquarters of a very unique New York City musical group. LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots) is the brain child of the multi-talented Eric Singer and will now have permanent performance, gallery and teaching space at what is being called 'LEMURplex'. This group is in it's 6th year of existence and they are starting to spread some serious roots in this hip little corner of Brooklyn.

The music is difficult to describe. The short story is that this group of musicians/engineers/artists build robots that will play music that has been composed and programmed into a computer. The most basic way to look at each of these robots is to view each of them as technologically updated, customized and visually interesting player pianos. Each robot has a one-of-a-kind look and sound and can be used to make some amazing and haunting music. I particularly like this one piece called "Emergency Bot TV Theme" by Joshua Fried.

LEMURplex is currently offering a range of courses, many revolving around the Max/MSP/Jitter programming environments. This unique musical community is an exciting addition to an neighborhood that has been steadily filling up with artists of all types for the last several years.