Brian Jacobson
Deep-Fried Romantic

Now with 300% more video

By - Jan 12th, 2011 04:00 am

You would expect me to be excited about the Monster Truck show coming to the Bradley Center this weekend.  You would expect me to wax poetic about pajama jeans.  But these are things that exist in the real world. This week, I instead head into the ether, specifically to the online wasteland of amateur film and video.

To illustrate my point, I present to you the opening lines from Love in the Time of Cholera, Xtranormal-style:

A bit underwhelming, I know.  Xtranormal is just the latest virtual plaything to grab attention, mostly through a series of Geico commercials. Like a Facebook game, YouTube video and iPhone app combined, the site allows users a platform to make their own “movies,” statements about life and art, albeit in a very compartmentalized way.

Of course, this is a little like saying that watercolors and crayons are only for children.  Though the possibilities may not be endless with this particular online doodad, some artist could always make something magnum out of it. But what the do-it-yourself, text-to-speech cartoon lacks artistic potential, it makes up for with cutting edge user-friendly technology.

When it comes to Xtranormal, the key to making a worthwhile video is not just valid monologues or conversation.  As can be witnessed through hundreds of available videos created by poor schlupps who plunked down real money just for backgrounds, a second character, costumes, music, and longer videos (what you see above was made for free) — it’s virtually impossible to find something with comedic timing, clever camera changes, and fleshed-out characters.  However, I imagine these things are all possible with some ambition and perseverance. Oh, and money.

Unless you’re Fred…

Sure, the Internet is forever and anything that uploaded gets eyes that were never expected. But unless you are clever and silly enough to be like Fred here, it’s likely that few will ever actually watch your mini-masterpiece.

My personal favorite bit of useless leisure technology used to create the goofy is JibJab.  Started over 10 years ago by Evan and Gregg Spiridellis as a means to create political satire via a hyper-kinetic, Terry Gilliam-esque  animation, it truly took off  during the 2008 presidential campaign. More recently, “Elf Yourself” — in which users could animate photos of their loved ones and make them dance around to Christmas tunes — has been one of the more popular Internet memes.

I pay for my service, using it gleefully to send birthday cards to friends that cast their own visages in the message.  I like it better than paying for American Greetings online cards, and I think my friends truly appreciate my thoughtfulness. After all, I do have to take the time to pick out my card, upload a photo of them and super-impose it. It’s kind of like shopping for a special gift, right?

300% – my favorite amateur video of 2010

I promised you three videos, so I’ll leave you with this: my absolute favorite video from 2010, beating out many qualified contenders. Josh Janicek’s video of his child rambling on many topics via subtitles raises what could have been a low-culture “America’s Funniest Home Videos” piece into something closer resembling  art:

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