REM: Final Video

I went through a lot of trial and error for this last assignment. The general idea I had was to use 25 well-known blockbuster films and turn them into something completely different and original. The first thing I decided to try out was placing them all over the top of each other with varying degrees of opacity so make one crazy overlapped film. This was a pain to get right, however I really liked how it looked. I could have spent the full 2 hours watching the video as there was something very mesmerising about it, however I knew straight away that it wasn’t original enough to be called my own. It’s uploaded here, because I think it’s really interesting to watch.

I decided to take a different approach and sped up each of the films as much as Premiere would allow. Each 2 hour long film was reduced to about a minute, but it was still very recognisable, so I exported it and sped it up again. This didn’t help much, as regardless of how short a film has been compacted to, if you pause at any moment, you will still see the original work.

I thought I’d try to blur it so that I could get rid of anything that is recognisable. It was successful, however it ended up being a blinding video of flashing colour and light. It was awful to watch, so I decided to go back to the drawing board. Both of these progressions are uploaded here.

Somewhere along the way I decided to play around with sound. I used a song from a video game soundtrack and slowed it down to 20%. I thought it sounded really cool, but there was still a chance it could be recognised as what it was originally, so I played with the pitch and lowered it down to 20% of what it was also. The result was creepy, dark and menacing sounding, which I was very impressed with considering it sounds absolutely nothing like the original.

I decided to completely flip my idea on it’s head, and instead of using popular films, use my own creations. I’ve been editing videos (for school and for fun) since year 9 of high school, so I thought it would actually be really interesting to show how they’ve progressed. The old videos are truly embarrassing – which made me think, ‘how can I make this not totally cringeworthy?’. I tested out ideas and used inspiration from my other remix assignments, and ended up trying to make my crappy old videos into a horror film. There is a very loose, general sort of plot or chain of events that follows: the lost, the stalked, the strange and the death. However, I didn’t want anyone to watch the film and understand it – what I like about it now is that it doesn’t really make much sense. It’s a conglomeration of horror at first look, but underneath it is embarrassing videos from my teenagehood.

In order to get the videos to fit the mood I wanted, I generated a circle to darken the edges and used a bleaching filter. I kept the same sound as I had created, as it was what gave me the horror idea in the first place – except I also decided to keep the audio of each video in, but slowed down, pitched and quietened.

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“This video is my own. It is all original content. The only part I did not create from scratch is the soundtrack, however it has been edited to a point that it is no longer recognisable and does not bear any similarities to the original.”

REM: Innovation (or lack thereof)

“The system is designed to promote innovation, but the consequence of granting a limited term monopoly [as is done in both patents and copyright] is that restrictions are put on what others can do.”

This is a really interesting point made by Ian Heath, director of IP Australia, that I believe has a lot of truth to it. We are all told that we should be creative, innovative and original in everything we do. All the way from primary school to tertiary education, we are assessed on our ‘originality’, yet the kids that read lots of books, watch lots of films and study lots of art, are the ones who come up on top. And why is this? Because they’re learning from other people’s work. We improve every day by watching and learning how others do things. This may mostly seem to apply to ‘creative’ subjects like art or english, however when you think about it, it’s the same deal with maths and science. We’re given formulas and theories and told to solve equations with them, and we need ‘proof’ to back up scientific arguments. There is hardly any room for innovation when it comes down to it. So, it is completely contradictory to both promote ‘creativity’ and ‘originality’, but praise those who stick to the mould and copy what has already been done. Which comes back to the restrictions of patents and copyright. We’ve always been told that in order to succeed, we must copy and replicate those that were successful, but suddenly, copying other people is illegal? I’m starting to see why we have a remix culture in the first place.

“To say copyright stifles creativity is ridiculous. If you put those two things together, copyright is the end process, it’s what protects creativity. And to suggest that copying is creating is ridiculous.”

Simon Lake, CEO of Screenrights has a point as well. If we do want to be truly creative, we should come up with our own, individual content. However, the way we have been raised, the way we have been put through school and the way we have watched people succeed or fail in society, simply doesn’t allow us to do so. We’ve been brought up in a culture full of remix, regardless of whether we realise this or not. We have been remixing our whole life – piecing together essays, writing history reports, applying formulas and just learning from other people and applying their knowledge to our own work. Remix has been there throughout our entire lives, from the very first time we sung ‘twinkle twinkle little star’, so it only makes sense that we’re continuing to be what can be described as ‘unoriginal’ and ‘uncreative’.

REM: Cryptomnesia

One of the many reasons that we are constantly re-telling stories that have already been told is a phenomenon known as ‘cryptomnesia‘. A lot of the time we re-use stories and tropes consciously as certain ideas sell well and because frankly, everything has already been done before. On other occasions, similarities can be found within content that is not consciously copied or replicated from content that already exists – however this may not simply be a ‘coincidence’. We each keep memories at the back of our brains that we forget about or repress. Sometimes, these memories reappear, but we don’t realise them as the memories they are – instead we believe they are new experiences or thoughts. So if we come up with an idea that we eventually realise already existed, there is a chance we have a memory of the already existing story that we forgot about.

This is arguably one reason as to why films, tv shows and books seem to be ripping off, or even ‘plagiarising’ other works that existed before them. While it is undeniable that the media industry is purposefully re-using old content (the most obvious examples being Disney using old fairytales and Marvel or DC films adapting comic books), there are a lot of less-obvious, subtle similarities to old works that may not have been intentional. Funnily enough, as a society we seem to think that completely re-creating old ideas in the form of ‘adaptation’ is okay, but accidentally finding small similarities to other works is not.

It all comes down to the fact that everything has been done already. In some cases, we may never know the exact extent as to which an idea we come up with is ‘original’ or not.