Via Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly, I learned about Andy Baio’s archive of “supercut” videos, which Kelly defines as “a video montage cut and sequenced from existing movies and TV and commercials. It creates a rapid-fire medley of shots representing a theme of some sort.” As Kelly notes, these videos are often used to depict movie or TV show cliches, or repeated elements, such as Kramer’s entrances on Seinfeld or every mention of the word, “dude,” in The Big Lebowski. I’ve discussed some of these videos in Reinventing Cinema and in passing in an article I co-wrote with Richard Edwards on political videos, but I wish I’d had the term “supercut” available to me when I was writing these pieces.
As Kelly notes, the archive is a great resource, and the video Kelly cites–a compilation of shots of Palin breathing–is positively creepy, but one of the highlights for me was a short essay on the history and formal aspects of supercut videos. Baio astutely links the practice to avant-gare filmmakers such as Bruce Conner and Christian Marclay (Telephones, 1995), but he also has analyzed the structure of supercut videos tracking the average number of cuts (around 82, with 5% of videos consisting of at least 300 cuts) and the common rhetorical effects of these films (supercuts as criticism, etc). It’s a good overview, one that I think will be helpful for fans and scholars of online video.