Radio for YouTube?

Earlier this week, I watched the movie Tarnation by Jonathan Caouette. It skirted the line between being troubling and artistically amazing. The 8mm footage made all the colors oversaturated, like we were viewing a polaroid in motion. However, what really captivated my interest was the second chapter of the movie “Once Upon a Time” which showed a series of “slides” of text followed by photographs:

I love the way the text was used – like little breaks for narrative in silent films.

It was a real democratic way of telling a story. I’m always looking for democratic ways to quickly use technology to achieve an end and I think this technique really fits the bill. Think of it as Radio for YouTube!

I tried to find examples of this at NPR, and I didn’t see this exactly. I saw slideshows sure:

The World of Maurice Sendak
The Streets of New York
The Partisans of Ali
Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton

But nothing really jelled. If there was narrative, there was no music or ambiance. If there was music, no narrative.

And only one video that I saw used text in a similar way. It was at the beginning of the absolutely chilling All Alone in the World from A War Photographer’s View of Iraq .

Imagine a lighter subject, imagine music, a narrator, interviews, photos and text. That’s what I’m talking about.

Andy Bailey, in the Filmmaker review says that Tarnation was made with a cheap video camera, consumer editing software, troves of home movie footage and less than $300. He says that it’s ironic “that a film originally created for less than the price of a plane ticket now has to obtain thousands of dollars in music clearances in order to move forward for distribution.” Okay, so edit the film with creative commons licensed music from the start, and you’re on to a real fast and democratic way to generate radio for YouTube.

Really. NPR, if you’re listening. In the absence of a YouTube for Radio. Make Radio for YouTube.

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  • Well, at least I’m listening. 🙂 There are a lot of folks here at NPR who have serious video aspirations, similar to what you’re talking about. The guys behind the new morning show in development, the Bryant Park Project, wasted no time in going out and getting a JVC Everio camera so they could start video blogging. It’s a start, and hopefully just a hint of what’s to come.

    One challenge, though, is thinking about the appropriateness of getting camcorders into the hands of reporters. Some argue that every person in the field should have a camcorder; others worry that it could be distracting from their radio duties. And let’s not discount the amazing video I know our listeners produce for their own interest and enjoyment. There’s a lot of creativity out there that I hope we’ll be able to tap in to as we ramp up our infrastructure to take in and manage video.

  • admin

    Thanks Andy! I checked out the first Bryant Park videos. These guys seem earnest enough. I’ll be sure to check back with them again soon.

    Good luck with the shift in thinking about what it takes to make a radio story.

    Part of my contention is that the visual aspect of this (in addition to adding slides of text in the editing software) could be done completely with photos, with a camera. While photography is just as much an art as producing for radio or shooting video, I wonder if taking photographs might not pose as much of a burden on reporters. Still, it’s a change…

  • admin

    And just the idea that you are considering how to incorporate video from listeners… now that I’m looking forward to 🙂

  • Oh, I see now! Yes, this is what I was talking about. Very cool:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/bryantpark/2007/05/dont_stand_so_close_to_me.html

    Do these videos get onto the radio in any way, or do they go straight to the web?