DocLab Shorts 24 Nov at 19:45
A program of short stories that would never have existed without the internet.
The Web Rocks
Exploring the web as a platform for innovation in the music video genre.
Music and documentary go way back. Amongst many others The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Madonna and Bueno Vista Social Club have been documented in sometimes legendary films. The web provides new means of presenting musicians and music scenes and gives directors and musicians a chance to interact directly with their audiences.
iRock lets you explore the backstages of the Eurockéennes rock festival in Belfort, France. You can pick your location at the festival, or the artists you want to follow.
Likewise you can dive into the lives of inhabitants of different parts of Paris in Les communes de Paris Not a music documentary as such, but driven by strong music.
Here, the director talks, in very rapid French, about the birth of the project http://blog.progress-in-work.fr/post/2010/07/28/Auteur-Simon-Bouisson
Slightly similar to iRock Mathieu Rochet and Nicolas Venancio made New York Minute, a six part mini series following members of the hiphop scene in New York.
In an interview done by French blogger Adrien AkA Big Ad, the makers were asked if was their objective to create an interactive encyclopedia, as their project is described on Arte’s website. Apparently, their starting point was documenting the stories, and internet merely provided some extra tools…
Mathieu Rochet: On est d’abord parti des histoires, et ensuite on a réfléchi aux moyens à disposition… L’interaction, c’est souvent un gimmick pour faire “web” : les types font un chat juste parce qu’ils peuvent, ils te demandent si tu veux d’abord questionner Pedro ou plutôt Chico, comme dans “Le livre dont tu es le héros”… Là on s’est rendu compte qu’on pouvait et qu’on devait permettre aux gens de partager. Le concept appartient à New York plus qu’à nous, donc c’est normal d’imaginer que les New-yorkais et tous ceux qui kiffent cette ville puissent raconter sa légende avec nous.
Nicolas Venancio: La définition du “documentaire” ne change pas avec le “webdocumentaire”. On profite simplement des nouveaux outils : le fait de combiner texte-vidéo-son, la possibilité de faire collaborer les internautes du monde entier.”
A band which clearly understood how to use the possibilities of the web is Arcade Fire. For their song We Used To Wait, Chris Milk built an interactive music video using the latest open web technology like HTML 5 video, Google Maps, audio and canvas.
“I hadn’t heard the song when we first started talking about this project. The idea really came about as a way to bring two ideas together. Aaron Koblin and I were discussing Google’s interest in coming up with some way to showcase what was possible on the web with HTML 5. Aaron works at Google Creative Lab. I was friends with Win in the band and knew they’d be looking for something visually interesting for the upcoming album. After a few conversations it became clear that it was a perfect fit.
The process of actually coming up with the visuals you see on the screen is about as boring, unsexy, and far from a “big inspiration” moment as you can get. It involves me sitting around my house and listening to the song 6 or 7 thousand times while jotting down ideas in a notebook. The majority of the time I am not wearing pants. That’s about the extent of it.”
Michelle Castillo: How long did the project take from inception to release?
CM: The whole thing was a really long process. I started talking to Win about it in January. At the time they didn’t have any songs finished yet. I listened to an early unfinished version of the track in March, went to see the band in Montreal in April, wrote the concept in May, started physical production and web development in June, shot the film portion in July, finished everything by the end of August.
The editorial process was really interesting. A cut/edit has a certain weight to it. You use that weight as a tool. But a whole new browser window popping up with a new film element in it– that has its own percussion and tone. We had to edit differently than we normally would. It’s a different canvas than a television or cinema screen. It’s more comparable to plasma scenes popping up all over your wall– needless to say, it’s an effect you need to be a little careful with.
MC: Why did you choose to go with Google Chrome?
MC: What was the best part of making the project for you?
CM: I love technology. I love trying to tell stories in new ways using technology. My biggest concern though was finding something that would emotionally resonate with people, without getting them bogged down in that technology. It’s easy to lose the humanity when you start showcasing tech. Google maps and streetview embody that contradiction though. It’s cold high-tech that can be incredibly emotional when used in the right context. The whole piece is full of contradictions. It’s essentially human nostalgia produced by the most advanced technology available today.
My real motivation came from my quest for music videos to have the equally soul-touching emotional resonance that straight music does. Honestly, I’m not sure they ever can. Music scores your life. You interact with it. You listen to it in the car. It becomes the soundtrack to that one summer with that one girl. Music videos are very concrete and rigid. They don’t allow for that emotional interaction. My first attempt was for Johnny Cash, where viewers could draw their own portraits of Johnny in a drawing tool built into the site. Those handmade portraits then became the individual frames of the video.
It is a super cool project and it has meant a lot to the many Johnny Cash fans who have been able to participate on that deep level. They have personally built Johnny’s last music video. All of their work combined makes for a beautiful tribute. But it required a large time investment for the individual on the front end, with their portrait only showing up for 1/8 of a second. With this Arcade Fire project I wanted to try to flip that equation: to require minimal time investment up front with maximum “you” in the film. The only way to do that is to deliver a different film to every viewer.
MC: What interactive features with online video are going to be crucial to the development of the medium?
CM: Interactive tech features will continue to advance at a breakneck speed. What we need though are compelling human stories that blossom inside the technology.
That’s the future. Computers telling stories about computers is not something you’d want to sit through.
MC: Do you think that this kind of user activity will ever be able cross over into the real world experience?
CM: It will. Keep an eye out for “The Wilderness Machine” on tour with the band.
MC: What ‘s next for you?
CM: I’m hoping to do my first feature film soon. I have two projects I’m developing right now.”
And check out the Augmented Reality video Nightmoves by The Lost Valentinos. Simply download your markers, print them out, and watch the bandmembers step right into your room.