In any novel, play or film, every scene, every movement, every word, is there for a reason. And in film, especially when every frame is so expensive with respect to dollars and time to tell a story, every frame is there for a reason. Whether it be required by the narrative, to construct characters, motive and objective, or for emotive, themic or artistic reasons, every frame has its purpose.
Throughout history, we as an audience have been treated to content carefully manufactured for us, and as such we are trained to subconsciously accept every frame as part of a grand design by the director or artist.
Compare this to amateur video, or videoblogging, where people untrained in the art of editing for profit, are producing videos which challenge the way every commercial audiovisual medium we’ve ever seen, has been created.
It is partly* through this conditioning that I believe we are able to tell the difference between amateur and professional content.
You could argue that videobloggers are the same, in that every frame is selected by the creator. But with amateur editing technique, poor storytelling ability, limited understanding of frame by frame selection and no requirement for profit making**, videoblogs more often than not break the mould of what we expect and are used to, because they include segments of content which we feel has no reason for inclusion. Perhaps this is partly why people are quick to dismiss videoblogging as boring, monotonous, and home videos on the Internet, and why it is still content makers, artists, and people less conditioned, that are the majority of the audience.
Is it a surprise then, that the videoblogs we find interesting or entertaining, such as Chasing Windmills, Human Dog or Ryanne’s Video Blog, are either produced by experienced and/or professional writers and editors, and are more often than not scripted or planned in a fair amount of detail.
We keep saying to ourselves (as videobloggers) that we are different to big media, because we are showing real life. The problem with this is that real life is predictably linear in time, and unless you shoot a single scene without any edits, you’re not shooting real life, you’re making editing decisions based on your time limit and what you think is good art or narrative. In effect, you’ve already started down the path to creating content for a conditioned audience, who now expect you to complete your journey “to the dark side” and compete with other carefully constructed content for attention.
Is there a way to make video content which does not conform to the constructed content norms? This is why Adrian Miles‘ work is so exciting.
The question that I keep asking myself is, are we as an audience changing what we will accept as interesting content, thus validating the call for citizen media and videoblogging to take over the media, or are we stuck in a short term fad where the excitement of producing content and posting it on the Internet to an equally fad driven audience, has blinded us to the fact that we still make amateur and uninteresting content? If you will, we are blinded by the fad itself.
And in closing, will the still conditioned majority, ever see past the fad and embrace videoblogging as a mass audience? Unfortunately I tend to think not, and in fact as cream usually rises to the top, so will those videobloggers who have both the narrative and technical skills which bring them closest to the idealism of every frame has a purpose. I’m already starting to see the trend, as the vlogs I regularly watch, are higher up the experience and quality chain than Joe Blow on the street uploading home videos to the Internet.
* There are obviously other reasons as well.
** At least in theory, because I think the majority of videobloggers are secretly hoping their content will eventually bring them income.