Archive for November, 2011

Supercut Analysis

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.

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Special Effects at In Media Res

In Media Res is focusing its lens on special effects this week, with a series of clips organized by Bob Rehak, Dan North , and Michael Duffy. I have been invited to contribute a clip, and my post, “Avatar Comes Home: 3D and the Death of DVD,” will appear on Thursday. My post will be looking at the challenges that 20th Century Fox faced in selling the Avatar DVD, given that the movie was marketed as offering an unprecedented 3D theatrical experience. Advertisements for the Avatar DVD also faced the challenge of selling DVDs in an era in which audiences have begun to question the necessity of collecting movies, especially given the new forms of access promised by digital delivery. I’ll save further details for later when my curator’s note goes live, but I recommend checking out all of this week’s clips.

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This weekend, I ran the City of Oaks Half Marathon in Raleigh, the first time I’ve run that distance since 2008, when I ran the Outer Banks and Atlanta Half Marathons less than a month apart. I’m not really sure how three years have passed since then, but I stopped running halfs for a while due to some leg injuries–mostly due to shoes with unnecessarily high arch supports–and other assorted busy-ness. My training schedule has also been somewhat uneven, so I was, as my wife will quickly confirm, unusually nervous about running. Add to that a Seinfeld-induced fear that I would oversleep my alarm clock(s) due to the time change, and I was pretty skittish.

But thankfully, once I arrived at the race, which began (and ended) at the Bell Tower on NC State’s campus, my nerves settled down and I was ready to run. I liked the course, which leads through downtown Raleigh, past the Capitol  building (where a few Occupy Wall Street protestors were cheering us on), briefly along Glenwood Avenue, and out toward the State Fairgrounds before culminating back on NC State’s campus. The course itself has some mild hills, especially in the 6-10 mile range, but fortunately my neighborhood trail had prepared me for them.*

As usual, the cheering crowds along the trail made the race even more fun. It was great to see parents with children, students, and other volunteers cheering us on, many of them in humorous fashion (my personal favorite was a sign that simply read “Something Encouraging”). And the post-race food area was more than adequately stocked with plenty of water, bananas, pizza, and even beer, a nice reward for a long run. A post-race massage was a nice bonus, but of course the best part of the race was having the Best Wife Ever waiting for me at the finish line, cheering me as completed the race.

I didn’t quite get my personal record–I actually missed it by 18 seconds–but I finished pretty fast, running the second half of the race  about 8-10 minutes faster than the first half. The raceday environment is pretty addictive, and it’s always fun to be part of a big crowd in which everyone has the same goal of finishing the race. More than anything, the race was a reminder of how much I enjoy the rush of completing a challenging race and the excitement of moving through one of my favorite cities.

* I also played my usual game of counting Starbucks and Waffle Houses along the course. Alas, downtown Raleigh is far too eclectic for the game to work well. The two chains ended in a 1-1 tie.

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