Saturday, June 30, 2007

Agriculture: Emile Vig - The Future Farm

This is a second contribution by producer Emile Vig to Current TV. His first, A Midwest Oasis, was a study of the Milwaukee art musiem. It was chosen by the web community for TV back in April. This latest upload of his looks like it will be taking the same route as it is presently number one in the community picks. This one tells the story of a progressive farm in NY that is trying to be a model for local, sustainable, agriculture.

Saturday Feature: Michael Moore - Farenheit 911

This is Michael Moore's weekend with the release of his new movie Sicko so I thought I would honor him by posting his last attempt at bringing hard information in a world full of distractions and misdirections.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Animation: Colby Buzzell - Men In Black

Colby Buzzell
(such a cool name) was a solder who served in the Iraq war and became a blogger while serving, (and I must say he really has good taste in blog templates!). His blog became very popular and, after completing his service, the blog entries were edited together into a book titled: My War.

An Excerpt from this book was illustrated by artist: Christopher Koelle and those illustrations were animated by a studio named: The Law Of The Few. The result is what you see above which was broadcast as a segment in PBS crossroads and also posted on their website as a text transcript under the title: Men In Black.

His book has won many awards and much acclaim. The military has since clamped down on blogging from the battlefield. I wonder why.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Music: Ship of Fools Productions - The Channel 101 Musical.

What I love about this video is that it really goes for a full blown desktop musical with original music and everyone singing on the recording and then acting it out with simple DV production values. In this case it is a little cheezy and "insider" but it is really a concept that could strike a bigger chord if it is done correctly.

Ship of Fools Productions is a project that began in 1999 and it is a collaboration of 3 men: Actor Mike McCafferty who has had some success as a Hollywood actor, Jason Makiaris, who is a collaborator and composer, and Ben Plummier who is a writer and director of photography. Together they have made over 25 short films and counting. There motto is to always be shooting which I think is good advice [YouTube posts HERE]. The above playlist is all 5 parts of an episodic series that was submitted to a web competition known as Channel 101.

Channel 101 is an interesting story in itself. It is a website presenting itself like a TV channel that always has 5 shows running. The shows come from a competition where producers submit a pilot to be reviewed. Not all of them get past that stage. If the pilot is accepted, it is then screened before a large audience that meets regularly to review the submissions. Each show is rated and they are either canceled or greenlighted based on the ratings that this audience gives. If it is greenlighted, it goes on the front page of the Channel 101 website which is what they call their "Prime Time" spots. They then have a deadline to create a new episode which is then rated by the same audience in the same manner except it is competing with all the past winners and new submissions all over again. Eventually the show gets canceled but the trick is to see how long you can keep it running in the competitive bloodbath.

Now, back to Ship Of Fools Productions. Ship of Fools created a full blown musical about people trying to come up with a great idea for a Channel 101 TV show. It was so unique and clever that it became incredibly popular. They did several more episodes and claim that they were the only show ever in the history of Channel 101 to make as many episodes as they want and then walk away on their own terms. Quite an accomplishment.

Article Link: $10 DSL!!

As part of the multi billion dollar merger agreement with Bell South, AT&T must offer a $10 per month DSL package. This is much cheaper than their existing packages. It is also supposed to be rather hard to find that plan through their website. Imagine that. . . The article is HERE. The plan itself can be found HERE. New customers only apparently.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday Feature: The Corporation

The Corporation is one of my favorite documentaries of all time. Created in Canada by writer Joel Bakan and filmmakers Mark Archbar and Jennifer Abbott the movie explores the darker side of this legal person who is no person at all. They have released this movie as shareware in hopes that people may like it enough to buy their own copy. If it has as profound an impact on you as it did for me then please consider buying one or even just making a small donation to their effort through their website. I gather they are still recouping the money that it cost to make which is a shame considering how powerful and important this movie is.

Video Game Filmmaking: Douglas Gayeton - My Second Life

The Submarine Channel sponsors a website called MiniMovies which is beginning to showcase short episodic documentaries by various directors. This one, by director Douglas Gayeton, is shot entirely in the new online community "Second Life" Gayetons bio on minimovies reads:

Douglas Gayeton wrote and directed, together with William Gibson, 'Johnny Mnemonic', the first interactive cd-rom based movie, for Sony Imagesoft. His digital animated series 'Delta State', was named best animated TV series of the year at the 2004 Annecy Film Festival. Gayeton has also created or designed online social networks for such clients as AOL, MSN, Vivendi and Napster.

Flakey Internet

Apologies if the content is not coming in as fast recently. My internet access has been getting flaky this weekend. It was out all day today. I was surprised to find myself online when I got home tonight. I may not be when I wake up tomorrow.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Music: Andy Mckee - Drifting

Andy Mckee is what they call a finger style guitarist. Andy's variety of finger style is basically a mash up technique of two handed tapping, strumming, finger picking and, in this case, also hand percussion accompaniment on various parts of the acoustic guitar body. This makes him a sort of one man band with an acoustic guitar. He has other videos on YouTube and more samples of music, his CD, and tablature are all available through CANdYRAT Records.

I have come across a lot of finger tapping stuff during my research for the production of Stick Man. Even among all that, Andy still stands out to me. Enjoy.

Comedy: Dave & Tom - The one wish Genie

Dave Beeler and Tom Konkle first met in 1999 when they performed together in a theatrical comedy performance. They realized that they had a good comic chemistry between them so they teamed up and began writing and acting out comedy skits which they shot and uploaded across the internet on hosts that include YouTube, iFilm, Veoh and probably others I didn't find. They have now been developing TV shows, feature length movies and they are selling their work through Veoh as well. There is also an interview with them on Veoh's viral video show.

This sketch is one of the more recent works. A genie get's punked. Bigtime.

Video Evidence - American conduct in Iraq

I'm posting these two above videos as examples of why I believe we are failing in Iraq. It is not just the bad planning or the corruption or the Abu Ghraib and Haditha and Fallujha incidents alone that are wearing down the publics patience and building resentment. It is episodes like these and the hundreds of thousands of other similar incidents that kill us with lots of small cuts to our reputation as fair and reasonable people. They are like the mortar that holds the rest together and makes for a strong wall of hate. Arrogance breeds hatred and hatred multiplies hatred. The anger from every such incident reverberates through the family and friends of those involved like ripples in a pond. Why don't people get that? I guess because a lot of people seem comfortable with the idea that these people are beneath us and when we do things like this it is OK because individually they aren't that important and we, the important people, know what is good for the world in the big picture. Remember, we are making sure all this happens in their country so we don't have all that messy business over here where it can disrupt out precious way of life.

The first video is from PBS. It depicts what looks like a twenty year old kid with a tank explaining how he is going to teach these Iraqi men (and child) about law and order because they were "looting" scrap wood. His punishment is to use his tank to crush their car and leave them to walk home. Oh and oops. . . by the way. . the guy was a taxi driver and the car was his livelihood. I wonder if Blackwater shot anybody in New Orleans when they were "looting" for stuff to help them survive that ordeal. If you remember from New Orleans, the difference between looting and "finding supplies" depends on how much the the person defining the terms likes you.

The second video is one that has been floating around the web for a while that depicts a drivers view of unnamed soldiers driving their Humvee through traffic in Baghdad. I realize there is a safety issue here. If they stop too long they could get hit. I just wonder if their solution to that problem stops people from wanting to shoot them.

Documentary: MEF - The Myth Of The Liberal Media

Another good one from the Media Education Foundation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Web Activism: Baba Ali - Muslim While Flying

Ummah Films is a film production company that has been very active on the web over the past year. Their goal is to provide an Islamic message to both Muslims and non Muslims. They want to use entertainment, in an Islamically permissable way, to reach out to people and help educate them about Islam. Baba Ali is the primary human force of Ummah films (he would say only the mistakes are his). Most or all of the blog is entries by him. The YouTube account shows 25 videos released to date. Ali has a real talent for standup delivery and his videos are all one man performances about various issues. I do not know if his name is his birth name or a web personality name but I do still find it to be an interesting ironic and clever twist that a guy who is trying to help break Muslim stereotypes has a name that is Ali Baba backwards.

I am really impressed with Ali. He and I both do web commentary. . though I think he does it far better. . .and he is working to deliver his very important message in a lighthearted way designed to reach people through humor. I am posting the above video from his Metacafe account because it is in the producer rewards program there and all views from that location will eventually put money towards his cause.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Video Activism: Save The Internet! is an activist organization that is fighting hard to keep our government from letting internet providers create toll roads on the internet. They have made some very good videos on the subject. Everybody should be active in this. Go visit their site. . get involved!

Or this could happen:

Documentary: twodee - 245 MPG

David Forlano and Debrianna Mansini are collaborators on two documentaries that have been uploaded to Current TV under the producer name: twodee. Their previous upload, Doing My Part/Solar Energy was chosen by the Current web community to be put on the National Network. This is their latest effort that is still in competition at Current. It examines an electric car concept that is an alternative method of travel for short trips in the neighborhood. It's called the NEV: Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. If you like what this video is saying, as I do, then go create a Current TV account and give it a greenlight.

MC Original Release: Plisko - 2 videos

As a way of testing out Metacafe further and to promote this blog, I have uploaded 2 more videos as "Media Crashers Original Releases" That makes 3 including the ones below. My metacafe profile with the videos can be found HERE.

The two new videos under this blog's name are:

A Chapman Stick Demonstration by Michael Kollwitz which is additional footage from a previous project:

And a morphing animation I did of Ann Coulter a while back while doing prep for a sequel to a previous project. The sequel was never finished and It was a shame to waste some of the work I did so I uploaded one of the bits in the hopes that it might bring in a little viral traffic:

The way that the producer rewards program at Metacafe works is that uploads have a review period when they are uploaded. The video is public and it is getting views and rankings by a group that looks at videos early. It is not listed on their primary web page yet, however, where it will be seen by the community at large. Part of what they say a video needs is a rank of 3 stars of greater. The ranking system is pretty harsh in the beginning so if anyone wants to participate in the competition, feel free to create a Metacafe account and throw some star love the videos if you like them. The video also needs to hit 20,000 views to begin really taking off so feel free to watch them multiple times if you like them. . lol. . .

Views and ranking can be tracked from this page and watching them from this location counts as much as it does from the Metacafe site. Enjoy

Monday, June 18, 2007

Documentary: Brave New Films - Blackwater, America's Private Army

Brave New Films is an independent production company in Culver City California headed up by Robert Greenwald. They have done several feature length documentaries including Out Foxed, Iraq for Sale, Wallmart, and Uncovered. They have also done a great deal of short form web activism. Their crusade against Fox news has taken maximum advantage of YouTube's viral opportunities. Their video Fox Attacks Obama has been viewed half a million times and it was a driving force in the netroots campaign that eventually led to the withdrawal of the Nevada Democrats from a Fox News sponsored Democratic presidential debate.

The above clip is a short documentary that was produced during the making of Iraq For Sale. It examines Blackwater Security and its role in Iraq.

Music: Animusic - Pipe Dream 2

Animusic is a company founded by Wayne Lytle who had always envisioned electronically synchronizing music with animation on a computer [Wikipedia link]. In 1995 he teamed up with computer Artist David Crognale to create a project for a commercial client. Since then Animusic has produced what they call video albums that is a CD like group of songs, only on a DVD, with animations to go with them. The first one was released in 2001. A great deal of their stuff has found it's way onto the internet. This clip is from their latest video album "Animuisic 2"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Spiritual Studies: ARI - Perceiving Reality

The Ashlag Research Institute Is an organization that promotes the teachings of what is known as the Kabbala, which is an ancient tradition of religious wisdom and insight that goes back to the time of Abraham. They do online classes that teach the concepts and they have released a number of videos that cover some of the basics. This one examines the idea of reality. It's pretty deep.

Animation: Metacafe - Plisko - Desktop Danceoff

Desktop Danceoff - The most amazing home videos are here

I discovered Metacafe while doing a google search last night at about 2AM my time. I noticed it was a video hosting site with embeddable videos. Since we are in the business of surfing around on video hosting sites like this I decided to take a look around. Then I noticed they had this thing called a "Producer Rewards Program" Intriguing. . . Upon closer examination I discovered that this is another uploading site that will pay people for their videos! I immediately did the upload embedded above to test it out. It's a little doodle I did testing out a free Mac application called Single Framer which makes stop motion or timelapse Quicktime files with a DV camera plugged into your Mac. I have also now included Metacafe as part of our collection of video host links in the right column.

I am a little embarrassed that I have missed them up to now. They have over a million unique viewers per day and it looks like they've been around a couple years already. The way it works is a producer uploads a video as a special submission to this rewards program (they host lots of other stuff too). If that video gets 20,000 views it qualifies for the program and they will pay the producer $100 for the 20,000 views and $5 per 1000 views after that. This is a non exclusive agreement which means you can license the video anywhere else but metacafe will retain the right to use it themselves and market the video to any other media. . . forever. It looks like that means they could distribute it as part of their podcast or any number of other things as long as it is their own use of the material.

As I browse through the videos that get paid it appears like a mix of attention getting schemes like amazing shots of this or that, mechanical stunts, magic tricks etc. There is also a lot of short, how to videos and of course. . woman in bikinis on the grass, women getting wet, women in low cleavage shirts on a bed playing with kittens. . . . you get the idea. There is a martial arts/acrobat that is the highest earner. He did a montage video of his moves that has had over 5 million views and earned over $26,000.

It seems like it may be a challenge for anyone who wants to earn money with videos that are trying to make a difference in the world. It is a lot easier to find a woman in a bikini. There may be room, however, for the John Stewart approach that is grabbing attention and entertaining people while also being informative. It remains to be seen.

Metacafe is also the first commercial video hosting site I have found of this kind where there is actually and adult video category which appears to have nudity of the rated R variety.

Music: Sunday Morning Old School Gospel - Don't Take Your Joy Away

I was surfing around YouTube and I came across this video of a gospel music performance by Kirk Franklin and The Family that just blew my mind. We hear this in pop music now but it is easy to forget that this sound, and this style of singing, was born as a form of worship. These people are in Church. This is a prayer. Why can't the whole world worship this way?

I know it's a real old school style, and it's actually a clip from TV apparently but. . wow. . if this womans voice doesn't make your spirit soar on a Sunday morning. . . I don't think anything could. The hip hop video that follows it is a horribly jarring crash back to earth next to that gospel song . . . I don't know why they put them together like that. Unless you are a big rap fan then feel free to ignore it

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday Feature: Loose Change 2nd Edition

This movie uses a lot of titles. If they are too small to read, go to the Google video page where larger view options are available.

Loose Change is a feature length documentary by Dylan Avery, Korey Rowe and Jason Bermas that challenges the official story of 9/11 and points to evidence that it might be an inside job [Wikipedia link]. It is a huge grass roots success story but it is also very controversial for obvious reasons. It was first released on the web in 2005 and it got massive attention. There were then critics who began tearing the film apart including Popular Mechanics Magazine. The filmmakers listened to the criticism and re-cut the film into a second edition and then, after more criticism, it was re-cut again. This new 2nd edition is what I have posted above. For a little perspective on the popularity of this project, this version alone has been viewed over 6 million times. There is now a final cut that they plan to release on September 11, 2007. They have only released a teaser for that version.

I will admit right now that I have been very skeptical of the 9/11 conspiracy movement. It is just such a hard notion to accept. I must also admit, however, that the official story always seemed lacking and many actions and explinations from the government were suspicious and I have lots of questions still. This movie is probably the single best attempt I have seen to bring all the conspiracy claims together into one body of work that I must admit had my eyebrows going up more than a couple of times.

What I find particularly brilliant about it is that it used the web as it's development tool. They knew they would make mistakes and, by releasing it on the web, they allowed it to be vetted by anybody that wanted to take issue with it. They then took all the criticisms and used them to create progressive drafts that tightened up their information. They also built up a huge cult following both for it and against it.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts after seeing it.

Documentary: Made In USA

This is another great example of the power of Current TV! It was one of the very first videos I watched on the site and it really opened my eyes to how important citizens armed with cameras could be. It is especially powerful because it is shot and told by someone who grew up in a communist controlled state and we get a completely different perspective because of this. The video takes place in New York City's Thompkins Square Park and it focuses on a demonstration that was broken up by the NYPD. How the NYPD breaks up this demonstration is what makes this piece so intriguing.

It was produced by Voytek Szczytko and Kashka Glowackawho, both from Poland. Voytek studied literature and journalism at Warsaw University. In addition to a stint as an ad agency copywriter, he's worked as a print journalist and for TV stations including MTV Europe, Vision Sport, TVN, and TVP. Voytek currently works full-time producing short narrative films with developmentally disabled adults.

Kashka, together with Voytek formed, a New York based Film Production Company, where Kashka focuses on cinematography, editing, and graphics.

Voytek and Kashka shoot documentaries, events, short films and music videos. The company's first short film, "Walls Are Doors," was accepted by more than 20 film festivals, winning five awards and landing international DVD and cable distribution deals.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Comedy: Jeff Lew - Killer Bean 2: The Party

This is a great web success story. It is another one of the classic web videos that put iFilm on the map. It also put Jeffry Lew, it's creator on the map. He did this video as his first 3D modeling project as an homage to John Woo's The Killer. He used a bean as his character because it was the easiest kind of 3D character he could think of to model and animate: A sphere with arms and legs. Since it's release on iFilm it has become number 2 in iFilms top 100 of all time and 28 in the top 50 3D projects of all time by 3D world magazine. Jeffrey Lew has also gone on from there to do professional 3D work including the lead animator of 20 different shots in The Matrix Reloaded.

Documentary: Jonathon Porritt - Consumerism

Runtime: 36 Minutes

This documentary first appeared on UK television and it is currently available on YouTube where I have assembled the 4 parts into a playlist for your convenience. While this is longer than the average post here and technically it's not a web video, I think that UK Television is a different enough system from our own mainstream media that their perspectives can be valuable over here at times. This in particular is a very important subject that we hardly ever hear about. The only consumption people talk about these days is oil and electricity. They forget that even if they use green power and take a zero emissions car to the store, the stuff they buy at the store burned oil and electricity too. . .along with the mining of resources to make it and the human exploitation to build it. .

Jonathon Porrit is a British writer and political insider who you could think of as the British version of our own Al Gore. He was the co-chair of their version of the green party and he was appointed by the prime minister as the chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission in July of 2000.

In this documentary, he explores the problems with and solutions for the new religion of the modern era, consumerism. Today people have learned to feel they can buy any amount of junk they want to and then throw it away to buy a newer junk 2 years later. If we wanted everyone on earth to live this way we would need 2 extra planets worth of resources. How long can we sustain this?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Video Activism: The Battle for America

Directed by Alrick Brown and written by Max Skolnik, The Battle for America, came to life shortly after the 2004 elections. The piece was one of the most popular videos that ever landed on It was also one of the first videos that I saw on the website and it really made me understand the impact one video could have. It also helped me to understand that was not just another lame video site featuring crazy stunts, but an actual outlet for creative minds wishing to make a real impact on society today. This video is a great example of fusing poetry, film, and politics to inspire. For more information on this video and the story behind it visit director Alrick Brown's website

Journalism: Kevin Epps & Njeri Sims - US Vs Josh Wolf

Josh Wolf was a freelance videographer who often posted his work on blogs. In July of 2005 he captured footage of a protest in San Fransisco. There was some disorder at the protest and the federal government tried to subpoena his equipment and his footage as part of the investigation. Josh believed that his footage didn't show anything significant and that the disorder did not warrant a federal investigation. He believed that the government simply wanted his tape so that they could use it to identify the people at the protest for their homeland security database. He offered to let the judge see the footage but refused to give over the tapes to the government, citing the first amendment and freedom of the press. They said, among other things, that he didn't count as the press and threw him in federal prison on April 1, 2006. He has since been released after posting his footage on the internet.

In all honesty, when I watch his footage, I have a hard time not concluding that some of the anarchy demonstrators were indeed out of line but I think this story still says something important about the state of our country today with it's hysterical fear of terrorists and "subversives". They put a guy in jail to get his camera footage of a protest.

Regardless of which side of this issue people fall on, I think this really opens up some important legal questions: who exactly counts as the press these days now that pretty much anyone can publish on the internet? How far does the first amendment go? Should journalists be able to refuse grand jury subpoenas? Does raw footage of a public event, with no participation from the observer, constitute the creation of some property that can then be protected by the first amendment?

This video was created by two allies of Josh as part of the movement to get him out of jail.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Video Activism: - Stop The Clash of Civilizations posted this video on YouTube and I really like the way it uses simple, primitive animations and a creative sound bed to present its message. describes themselves like this:

"As major new challenges like climate change and escalating religious conflict threaten our common future, people from around the world are coming together to take global politics into their own hands. (Our name means "Voice" or "Song" in several languages including Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Nepalese, Dari, Turkish, and Bosnian) is a community of global citizens who take action on the major issues facing the world today. Our aim is to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people -- and not just political elites and unaccountable corporations -- shape global decisions. members are taking action for a more just and peaceful world and a vision of globalization with a human face."

Media Crashers Contributor: Scootmac

Based in Salt Lake City Utah, Scott Lambson, better known as scootmac on the web, is a partner at Stone Chapel Films, and independent production company. In 2002 they released their first feature "Where It's Still A Game" which has had huge success on regional public television. Their second feature, "Following The Music" was released in 2004. They are currently in pre-production of their next release "The Cain Tapes"

Scootmac has been a very prolific contributor at Current TV where he has had success with both his own work and works that were commissioned to him by Current. 8 of his uploads are being broadcast on the cable network with more on the way.

Here are 3 selections from his Current TV uploads:

Documentary: MEF - The Overspent American

The Media Education Foundation describes itself as an organization that:

". . .produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical reflection on the social, political and cultural impact of American mass media."
Their board of advisors includes names like Jeff Cohen, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein to name a few. They have released a whole bunch of short videos on the internet. There were so many good ones I couldn't decide which one to post. Expect to see more from them.

I think this particular video shares a very important message that most people just don't think about enough.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Video Activism: Good Magazine - Internet Porn

Good Magazine is a new project that launched earlier this year who describes themselves this way:

While so much of today's media is taking up our space, dumbing us down, and impeding our productivity, GOOD exists to add value. Through a print magazine, feature and documentary films, original multimedia content and local events, GOOD is providing a platform for the ideas, people, and businesses that are driving change in the world.
An interview with the founder can be read HERE. Good media has released several short documentary like releases over the internet. This is one of the more controversial ones. It inspires me because I like the contrast they create between the sexy, attention grabbing shots and the titles they are writing on the object of our attention.

Comedy: Current TV - Super News - Gates Vs. Jobs

Current TV is a national cable TV network that was founded by Al Gore. It is targeting the intelligent wing of the MTV base and it is the strongest advocate I have seen yet for the new media generation. One of the primary features of Current is that about 1/3 of it's content is created by independent producers who upload their work to the website. The website has an interface similar to YouTube in some ways but with specific requirements for the kinds of content they will accept.

They want ordinary people to create short 2-8 minute documentaries or satirical shorts, which they call "Pods" and post them on the website. There, both the web community and the Current programming staff review the submissions. If the programming staff like something, they will pay the producers to broadcast it. If the staff don't choose your work, there is still a chance for it because everyone who is a member of the website can cast a vote for any Pod they think should be on TV.

There is a ranking list that puts the pods in the order of their popularity and the number one choices are automatically picked for broadcast twice a week. Along with pods, Current also offers opportunities for people to submit raw footage, homemade commercials for their sponsors and promo spots for the cable network. The upside of all this is that it is a great place for talented people to get their work in front of a national cable TV audience. The down side is that once you are paid for your work, Current has the exclusive right to that particular version of it forever.

I and my fellow contributors have all been very prolific on Current TV and we have each been through this selection process several times now both by the community and by the staff. I must admit that I have had strong disagreements with Current on some of the new directions they have taken since they began. However, I still think Current is the best idea that has come around in the media for a while. It is very fertile ground for grass roots producers and amateurs who want to showcase their work, give and get constructive criticism and share stories and ideas that aren't being found on TV.

Current is also a great place for people who want to find web videos that are trying to be productive rather than just getting attention. We will be sharing many of them here in the future. This time, though, I thought it would be fun to share a funny spot that was done as one of their in house productions: Super News

Monday, June 11, 2007

Video Game Filmmaking: DAoC - My Immortal

This video was created using screen captures from the massively multiplayer online roleplaying video game Dark Age of Camelot. The characters in this game can do various emotes such as drinking (with invisible mugs in this case) or dancing, laughing,crying begging etc. This allows for a primitive sort of acting. Another character is played in first person view and that one acts as a second camera. Between this perspective and the primary characters own camera (played on a seperate computer) a great diversity of shots can be achieved. Other players are recruited as a supporting cast, a screen capture program is used to turn the game play into video clips and they are edited together with sound and/or music like any other footage.

I love this new generation of short films that are being created in video game engines because it represents a really innovative way to create 3D animation sequences. Look for more examples of of this approach in future posts. I have a feeling it was works like this that inspired the Southpark Episode that takes place in the World Of Warcraft.

Unfortunately I don't have much information about the producer of this video since the credits all seem to list people only by their character names in the game.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Technology: Michael Wesch - The Machine Is Us/ing Us

This is the final version of an experimental documentary by Michael Wesch exploring the ideas behind web 2.0. The original version has had over 2.5 million hits on YouTube. Michael is a teacher of "digital ethnography" which is the study of the digital culture, at Kansas State University. He made this video using screen captures of different actions he would type or perform on the computer. He then did some pans and zooms and cut it all together with an electronica soundtrack. He is also part of an interesting looking web project that is designed to turn visitors into their own webmasters.

Just when you thought you were beginning to get a handle on how the internet all works. . . they go and add a new upgrade that makes it super awesome but unfamiliar again. I was just beginning to remember little bits of HTML code and now we are off on a new tangent.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Producers to Watch: Ava Lowery - WWJD

As far as I know, this is the video that started it all for 16 year old Alabama web video activist Ava Lowery. She founded the website Peace Takes Courage and this was one of the early videos she posted as a very simple flash based slide show. The video began to be a viral hit after she submitted it to The Huffington Post as part of a monthly contest. It drew the wrath of angry Bush supporters, some of whom sent death threats. Word got out about this through the net-roots and it brought defenders in the form of Cindy Sheehan, Air America Radio and the liberal blogs who all saw her as both an inspiration and a sympathetic character who shared their beliefs. She has been one of the few web video producers I know of that have been embraced by the netroots in this way.

She has since had major media appearances where she talks about her work and, at times, seems to completely baffle them. She has been amazingly prolific. Her website lists at least a hundred more videos, many of which now incorporate combat camera video footage and are immediately promoted by various netroots outlets. There is a good Buzzflash interview with here HERE.

Documentary: Ge Jin- Chinese Gold Farmers

This video is by chinese documentary filmmaker Ge Jin on YouTube. He describes it as a work in progress and there are a couple different versions. This one has generated over 800,000 views.

Chinese kids are hired to play online role playing games that require extensive time to build up characters. These kids build up characters and money which then becomes a commodity that can be sold to Americans on eBay. The American gamers call them "Chinese Gold Farmers." They save the buyer the tedium of slowly building these up themselves. This has been a fascinating subject to me as a former online gamer. I believe there are Americans who also do this for money but the Chinese have a much better labor exchange rate.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mission Statement

We are the new media generation! We've got cameras and we know how to use them! We're here to crash the party that the big media gatekeepers have been having at our expense for about the past 25 years. If it's relevant, independently produced video using the web and we can find it, talk about it or make it ourselves, we want to share it here. We love the new developments the web is bringing when it comes to sharing information on video. We see every new video we find out there as another crash of the battering ram against the gates of the media conglomerates, especially the TV news media.

The universe of internet video is growing larger every day. A lot of it is just promotions or clips from regular old TV and a lot more of it is barely watchable. Then there's all the cute pet and people tricks. . . . The good news is that there are also a lot of great independent video producers and journalists out there that are just starting to come into their own in this new outlet. It is their work we want to share with you.

We are web video producers ourselves and we want to bring our own voices to the table in this universe but we also want to help show you all the great stuff by other people who inspire us. We want to seek them out from many different domains and bring them all together here in one convenient place where we can all learn from what we find.

You are important in this journey too. Let us know if we miss something:

What Kind of Media Do We Post?

We look at all kinds of media but Media Crashers is primarily a web video related site. Pictures, articles audio and other media forms will will show up here but the primary focus is on good video content that is independent of media conglomerates and originating on the web.

There is no particular subject that we want to stick with or exclude. You will find a little of everything. It could be a music video, a creative slide show, a documentary, a short film. It could be entertaining or informational or both. It could be news, commentary, politics, technology, cooking, skiing, fishing. . . you get the idea.

One thing you can count on is that our choices will usually be examples of what we consider the "new media." This is a development over the past 5 years that began with the text based blogs and is now quickly incorporating audio and video. It is a wildly independent media being built by ordinary people and creative entrepreneurs.

Another thing you can count on here is that the media we post will usually have a meaningful perspective. We want to show the world that the work being done on the web is more than pets, stunts and webcam videos. There is a growing body of independent producers doing good work on their own out here that is really beginning to show some relevance. Distribution is the final frontier for the desktop video producer and YouTube is just the first ship that started bringing people there to explore it. The very definitions of "People's Media" and "New Media" are still being written. We want to help show what we think they are becoming.

Finally, we generally look for work that stands out to us in some way. This is hard to define. It may be a story that isn't being told by the mainstream news or a famous person doing independent work outside the system. It could be something that is a past web video success somehow and we are cataloging it. It could be something that got grass roots recognition like lots of views on YouTube. It may be an inspiring approach or technique, it could be something that makes a great statement or a point that needs to be made, it could be just a great work of art.

This is all a tall order we know. Fortunately, we love digging this kind of stuff up so hopefully we can get it right more often than not.

Short Film: iFilm - 405


Posted Jun 06, 2001

iFilm is the web video site that validated my interest in internet video waaay back in about 1999 or so. This is the place where my mind was first blown about the potential of this media on the internet. At the time it resembled a 24 hour online film festival where anybody could send in their work and get comments and ratings by thousands of people in the iFilm web audience. They would then rise or fall on the rating scale and the best performers would be on the front page. Sound familiar? It is today but back then it was like: "holy shit!" There was no uploading , you sent your DV master in directly. The idea was all in place though. These guys had the right ideas before Google was God and before YouTube was born.

The site is a lot more commercial than it was back then. It was bought by Viacom in 2005 which means they hawk all kinds of commercial stuff and the online film festival aspect has become much less significant in their business plan. They are much lower on my list of places to visit today but they are survivors from the era when everyone was failing at web video efforts because it was a little too early. YouTube came along about 5 years later I think. I am sad to see that they basically sold out to the dark side but they have historical significance and they are doing the YouTube approach now so I might still poke around from time to time.

This short home made action film, 405, is one of the first shorts I saw on iFilm, it is now a classic web video (circa 2000). The two guys that made it had experience in the special effect industry but they wanted to do an independent effort with minimal tools. It it ended up being one of two huge viral hits that put iFilm on the map in my opinion. It landed them a Creative Artists Agency contract and, for me, it was part of that "aha!" moment when I saw the potential of clever experienced people with the right tools and the right concept using the web to reach people. This is who many of us want to be today. This video has had a little more than 5 million views in the 7 years it's been available.

Comedy: Jessica Delfino - I wanna Be Famous

Technically this is a music video but I think it is a comedy first. Jessica Delfino describes herself this way:

"I am a filthy stand up comic with a perverted sense of humor who plays guitar and sings vulgar little songs."

She had a hit with this video on YouTube which combines one of her songs with the animation skills of Nick Fox-Gieg. It has had 638,000 hits and counting. If you want more, there is another song of hers called Sudden Change on her profile at garage band. It isn't supported by a music video but it has a similar kind of humor.

This one didn't do much for me at first but as I got into it and saw what she was saying it caught me by surprise and made me laugh. It is the truth of the satire that I think makes it more relevent that just fluff comedy. The VA Tec shooter killed those people because he wanted to be famous and the mainstream news made it so. That kids face was everywhere and the whole country now knows him as someone that will live in infamy. . . otherwise knows as famous.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Video Activism: Whose Streets?

This video, from dunnlap31 on YouTube is pretty disturbing. He or she points to The Portland Media Center for more information. I have a friend in Portland who has shown me similar photographs he and others have taken at demonstrations. Somehow the police always seem to takeout fire extinguisher sized canisters of mace and start shooting large groups of people who don't look that threatening. . . other than. . you know. . protesting.

I have been worried that since "The War On Terror" has begun that authorities have suddenly been taking more latitude when it comes to getting people to "comply" or pushing around protesters. This video was used as evidence in a complaint against the Portland Police department. I think it is a good example of how the pen may be mightier than the sword but video is mightier than the pen.

Producers To Watch: Lasse Gjertsen

Lasse Gjertsen isn't your typical YouTube video creator, he's actually good... scary good. The quirky young resident of Larvick, Norway (age 22) has, for the last year, had his videos seen online by scads (think: 10,000,000+) of webizens. And he keeps getting better at it, that's the scary part.

In the first video he posted, he edits a series of beatboxed drum beats, and in the editing style of Acid or Ableton Live, put it all together through editing, a compelling, creative short video called HYPERACTIVE.

A self-professed electronic musician, Lasse then created his first huge, and I mean HUGE, viral video by filming himself playing on a drum kit and then on a piano. Editing the footage to the note and the beat, he sequenced an experimental movie called "Amateur", which has been viewed over 4.8M times. Lasse's self-admission on the video is that he can play neither the drums nor the piano. He sure fooled us.

Now if that impressed you, his latest video (in 2 parts) shows what he's been doing since he learned Adobe After Effects and teamed up with Cellist Giovanni Sollima to edit his playing of Sogno ad Occhi Aperti in stunning style, layers and musical tracks. He said the piece took 5 months to edit, and I think it was well worth the wait.

Watch Part 2

I think Lasse is a great example of how the Internet has allowed for creative minds in obscure parts of the world to not only expand their craft online for all to see, but also allows us to watch them grow as artists over time. The level of creativity that keeps growing in this young man is very inspiring to me as a videographer. And for an artist, he has some fairly strong views on the commercialization of his work, check out his own position on using his talents for advertising:

"To All Advertisement Companies: ...A long time ago I promised myself never to do commercials. That's because I don't think it's right to push (usually unnecessarily) products on fellow human beings, and I'm not very fond of advertisement because it's annoying and nothing more than annoying, and in my eyes a evil way of marketing. I also consider myself a true artist, with a conscience and a soul, and I would not feel good at all if I used my (so called) talents to promote a commercial product. I know I might get a lot of money from it, but I would feel awful if I made money in such a dishonest and cynical way. In fact, I see no difference in doing a commercial than sucking an old, fat, rich white guy in a suit's little dick and getting paid for it. I will much rather starve to death than being a part of your huge corporate marketing empire, scouting the world for things you can claim ownership over so that you can make more dirty money, lowering the quality of entertainment, society and life in general for the rest of us. So if you ask me to do a commerical, you're offending me, and if you, like some companies have allready done, the egoistic human filth and shit as they are, use my ideas without my permission, and make money on it, I sincerely hope that you all get heart attacks on Christmas Eve and slowly and painfully die in front of your crying families, while everything is being filmed and put on youtube for all of us to feel better..."

I like this kid.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Documentary: No End In Sight

What? Another movie about Iraq? The answer is a resounding YES from the chorus, but with an addendum of "but it's not what you think"... Well, actually it is if you go by it's press kit description of, "a jawdropping, insider’s tale of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality."

But that is where that comparison between this film and the usual political ascerbic ends. Even the movie's website gives an inkling that this could be another hitjob on an already weakened Bush administration. But the film dramaticaly turns what could have been drab recitiation into intriguing storytelling, and documents the events following the fall of Bagdhad, including 3 principle errors, which may have led to the rise of the Iraqi insurgency.

The film contains numerous interviews, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine, General Jay Garner, Lawrence Wilkerson, Iraqi civilians, reporters and U.S. soldiers. These interviews slowly devulge a timeline which shockingly documents how allowing these three major errors in policy had far-reaching ramifications:

1. Allowing the widespread looting following the fall of Bagdhad,
2. De-ba'athification of the government,
3. Disbanding the Iraqi army

All these conditions created widespread mistrust of the U.S. forces, rampant unemployment, the exodus of Iraq's professional/ middle class and a rise in religious fundamentalism. All these factors helped to create an Iraqi insurgency.

Shocking at times, but well paced and evenhanded, this film is an exercise in documentary storytelling, using a very good 'connects-the-dots' approach, and is far more than the usual 'talking heads'. Cut from over 200 hours of interviews, calling this film thorough is an understatement. Opens June 27.


Documentary: VBS.TV - Heavy Metal In Baghdad

Part 1

Part 2

Go see the rest of it

VBS.TV is a web media network in Brooklyn that looks like it could become a real player on the web media scene pretty soon. They have recruited Spike Jonze as their creative director. I had the pleasure of working with Spike on that Daft Punk video with the guy in the dog suit. Spike is a very talented guy and he is giving this network startup an edgy young vanguard feel and a web user experience that makes your computer feel like a TV. They are offering what looks like a mix of all original high end (in the MTV reality show sense) and lower tec looking productions such as video logs and journals under a variety of subjects. The flash based media player that VBS offers is a very slick experience including a decent full screen view. It looks like they are going to take a traditional TV advertising approach to support the programming eventually.

Above are two episodes around 5 minutes each in a 5 part series: Heavy Metal In Baghdad. This is an interesting story about two VBS producers who got in touch with a Heavy Metal Band in Iraq and arranged to visit them and do a story. Things don't go as planned and the story becomes much different than they expected. What inspires me about this work is that they took a very empathetic subject, Iraqi guys trying to be headbangers, and told two stories at once. The story of the band, and the story of the world they live in which has become very hostile and tragic. American influenced artists, living under American occupation, dodging bullets, gangsters and kidnappers. It grabbed me immediately. It also has a really well put together vanguard style.

If you want to jump right in you start from the top on their own website you can begin HERE. It will go through the whole series hands free. Or, you can continue after watching the clips here. If you really like it there are two more series after that. One is 6 parts and the other is 7.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The McDonalds Video Game

This is a really inspiring to me as a creative way to get a message out. Supersize Me was cool but this is a video game! Who wouldn't want to play a video game? See if you can run McDonalds without destroying the rainforest, feeding steriods and sewage to your cattle and bribing health officials. . . I dare you!

Click Here

If you like this sort of thing I found it at Strike Arcade but it seems to be all over the place. The home page which includes stand alone versions is HERE

Media Crashers Contributor: Plisko

Roy Plisko, better known as just Plisko on the web, has had formal training in music, video, and film production from both The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and New York University. He lived in New York City for 9 years after graduating NYU where he worked full time as a freelancer on the production of major music videos, television promos, commercials and feature films.

Plisko has been a web video enthusiest since the .com bubble in the late 90's. As the infrastructure made it more and more possible, he began tailoring his projects specifically to a web audience. In 2006 he teamed up with America Blog founder John Aravosis to produce "The Path To Mickey" a parody of the ABC/Disney Release "The Path to 9/11", which received over 35,ooo hits on YouTube in the first 48 hours it was posted (and has since been taken down when the Aravosis account was singled out by YouTube for posting John Stewart clips and closed). He has also been very prolific on Current TV where 5 of his uploads were chosen by the web audience as the number one pick to go on the TVnetwork. He has also maintained a web presence on YouTube, and mania TV.

Pisko now lives in Phoenix Arizona where he is raising a family and doing freelance commercial video with his production company: Zebra Motion Arts. He is also a video blogger, a teacher of video production at The Art Institute of Phoenix and a drummer/singer for a professional Irish rock band.

Selections from Current TV:

Selections From YouTube:

Selections From Metacafe:

The Path To Mickey on LuLU TV:

Note: This version of The Path To Mickey is a third party post from someone who must have grabbed it from YouTube before the account was closed.

Media Crashers Contributor: K-Drew

Allen McInnis, AKA K-Drew has been making movies and videos in Canada through his production company for several years now. He has had his work broadcast on TV locally and a movie of his will also be hitting the small screen soon. He has also been regular contributor to Current TV. Where he has had two of his submissions chosen for broadcast on the network. As of this writing he has another video on Current that is in the top 10, a feature length documentary in development and more Current pods in pre production.

Here are 3 of his successful videos at Current

Media Crashers Contributor: Zenbeer

Scott Caplan, better known as Zenbeer, has traveled all over the country doing video work with Major League Baseball covering stories and doing historical documentaries. Zen has been very prolific on Current TV as both a website contributor and a citizen producer focusing on independent movies that he believes needs exposure among other subjects. 4 out of 6 of his uploads were chosen either by the web community or by the programming department at Current for broadcast on the network. Today he operates his own production company in New Jersey, Triad Media where he continues to work on web productions. He is also in pre-production for a feature length documentary.

Here are 3 of his successful uploads to Current:

Documentary: Aarron Russo - America from freedom to Fascism

Aaron Russo is bes known as Bette Midlers manager and the producer of the feature films: The Rose and Trading Places. In this documentary he explores some pretty disturbing accusations about the American income tax and banking system. I'm not quite sure what to make of this movie except that it really disturbed me and made me wonder if we really are all living in The Matrix. This one is a bit long but it is definately an eye opener.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Food and Drink: Tiki Bar TV - Drink Bot

Tiki Bar TV is a mixed drink show that has a really high production value for a low tech production and they use very clever editing to effectively to cover for what looks like increasingly drunk actors. They perform a new skit every episode (while drinking) that takes place at their apartment sized tiki bar and revolves around a particular mixed drink that they will eventually tell you how to make yourself. There are 3 main characters: A cute girl, Lala a goofy bartender, Johnny Johnny and Doctor Tiki who eventually prescribes the drink to solve the problem of the day. These are supported by a huge cast of guest appearances by nobody anyone has ever heard of. . . but it all looks like a blast and God bless em for it!

I have always thought this podcast was an amazingly clever approach and it is a very popular iTunes subscription. I am subscribed to it myself because it is very inspiring to me as an example of a snappy delivery using the basic tools of editing, color manipulation and composition as the primary engine for it's motion. There are people with some skillz on this team.

This is one of their most famous episodes. Some might call it a mini epic.

Music Video: TIMZ - Iraq

An Iraqi American rapper defending his old hood in rhyme. Not something you see every day. This video originated on YouTube where there is now a collection of videos documenting TIMZ's activism.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Documentary: Raw Bird - Me And My Medical Marijuana

Raw Bird is a two person production team in California that has been very prolific on Wow TV and Current TV. This video or "Pod" as Current calls them, was recently chosen to be broadcast on Current's national cable TV network. It is a fascinating personal journey into a subject that I think a lot of people are curious about.

Article Link: Apple and YouTube up a Tree . .

Apple TV, the new set top box that streams iTunes to your home entertainment center, will now also be able to access YouTube video content as well. This is a big development. Apple is already doing a great job of leveraging it's music distribution infrastructure into a major TV distribution network. Now, with YouTube aboard, they will be bringing grass roots media to the TV set as well. If Apple TV is as successful as I think it might be, how long before other internet video hosts follow this lead? Google video? Yahoo Video? Current TV?

There is a full article on this development HERE

Friday, June 1, 2007

Documentary: Votergate

Votergate was a short 40 minute independent production that was distributed on the internet via their original website (which is now gone) and a bunch of help from mirror sites. They went on to shoot more footage and put together what later became the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy which can also be found HERE. This has been a very important independent, grass roots, media effort to cover things the mainstream basically blacked out completely when it really mattered. This couldn't have happened without major internet support and it shows the kind of work we can and should continue to do.

Journalism: Greg Palast - Talking about elections

Greg Palast is one of those investigative reporters that really seems to get into the scary stuff. He is an American but he works for the BBC because none of the American media will run his stories, even when they have sharing agreements with the BBC and they could do it for free. Greg is the first person that I heard use the term "Electronic Berlin Wall" to describe the American Media's control over the information that gets to the people. I couldn't agree more. He recently placed his latest book Armed Madhouse into a creative commons copyright status which basically means public domain.

This is part 1 and 2 of a series on YouTube where he is at a speaking engagement with Robert Kennedy Jr. Greg does a lot of independent internet video outside the BBC. He also writes a lot of text articles. It's worth scanning around to see what Greg has to say about things.

Part 1

Part 2

See the rest here

Experemental: Dave Media - Ritual

I often find David Huth's experemental videos refreshingly creative and insightful. He pushes the envelope at times but even then I appreciate his quest for originality. His blog can be found HERE and his Blip TV channel can be found HERE