Do you remember (or have you heard the story of) when MTV launched in the early 80s and propelled the concept of the music video, whose most known example and reference is still the 14-minute clip for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller?” It was the beginning of an era which lasted almost 25 years, where a music video had to be a short and entertaining film which only a few artists, generally signed to a major label, could afford.
Almost at the same time, in the mid-80s, two technological revolutions happened that would change music forever. The first one was sampling and the launch of the first affordable samplers which allowed people to take a portion or sample of a sound recording and reuse it on another recording. The second was the emergence of home studios.
These two technologies brought us Hip Hop, Electronic music, Industrial music, Breakbeat… and a few decades of exploding creativity.
Enough history, time to go back to today. Do you see what I’m getting at?
I believe the music video is about to encounter the same kind of revolution that music encountered in the mid-80s.
You no longer need to film with an expensive camera in an exotic part of the world; all the raw material is readily available on the biggest video library we have ever seen: YouTube and its hundreds of thousands of clips you can sample. Not enough? You can use Vine or Instagram or Facebook. Want to be realistic? Just show people the reality they see everyday on social networks or Google Maps… Need to edit something? Add 3D effects? You no longer need an expensive video editing station; a simple laptop should do.
A perfect example of this is Velvet Stairs’ debut video, “Superclusters.” It tells the story of UFO superclusters simultaneously invading cities around the world by using pre-existing footage and clips of social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube.
The best part is that the destiny of this video will depend on the very networks it used in its making. The loop is looped. You’ll notice for example that the video contains footage of supporters celebrating a Parisian soccer team’s victory last year. A team of fans discovered the video, wrote a post on it and shared it with their 18,000 followers!
Another example is Kanye West’s latest video for “Bound 2,” which uses pre-existing National Geographic footage.
In conclusion, as long as you’re complying with all applicable copyright laws, your only limit is your own creativity.