Monday, September 21, 2009

Remix: On “Open Video in Practice” Technology Review, Vol. 112/No. 5, Sept/Oct 2009 Issue

Remixing, though prevalent in our society in myriad ways, remains an area of contention between rights and fair use. Shortly before reading Lessig’s Remix, I had just finished reading an article in the Technology Review (Sept/Oct 2009 Issue) entitled “Open Video in Practice” and subtitled “How a remix was made - and how it could have been easier” (pg. 76). This short article was nestled in a larger article on “open video” called “OurTube”. This shorter article caught my attention because it had pictures of fictional character from two vampire related fictions, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight.
Technology Review rarely has pictures of standard celebrities and this article had the main characters Edward Cullen and Buffy Summers in the right hand corner. Jonathan McIntosh, a New York based video artist, created a remix of scenes with these two characters where Edward Cullen becomes a more stalker-like figure with weird facial twitches than a star-crossed lover. Using Buffy as a strong female character, Jonathan points out the innate creepiness of Edward’s relationships.
In order for Jonathan McIntosh to create this remix he had to find the right dialogue and did so by sifting through Google text searches of “fan-transcribed dialogue”. The article states that this laborious task could be simplified with open video standards. This would involve a searchable database of written dialogue coupled with video clips. Over time an archive could be developed with clips of everything from congressional hearings to horror movies.
Making these video clips available in this format would not only mean a shorter route for finding suitable segments for any given remixing project, but it also suggests a more streamlined editing process. Currently, this type of video amalgamation represents a borderland to legal precedent. No media company has yet tried to have the Buffy/Twilight remix removed. It is available at In terms of opening the world of media to creative reprocessing, this mash-up acts as one milestone towards open video standards.

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