intellectual property

Mash-Up Reflection (Part One)

One thing that took me a while to realize while I was making this mash-up is that I need to not only consider the ideas I’m putting across, but the actual genre in which I am composing. My first drafts seemed to get a clear point across, but seemed more like a series of blunt and uncreative juxtapositions and montages. When I started to make the music and clips speak to each other—general things more in line with mash-up conventions—I started to see a much more interesting and clear product. For instance, I started to make the people in the video dance to the music (Rick Perry rocking his head at :18, Mitt Romney rocking his head at :31, Gary Busey at 1:32). Doing this engaged the ‘characters’ into the ‘play.’

Not only is this more entertaining, but if forces the viewer to engage with the song as well as the video. And once the viewer becomes the listener, a whole new mode of communication opens up for me contribute to the main idea: science + politics = bad. Oingo Boingo’s song, “Weird Science”, is a perfect way to play with this idea, so I decided to make the song speak to the video and vice versa. For instance, when the singer goes, “It’s my creation,” I made it match up to what was going on in the video (once at :48 when it goes to a clip of Mrs. Garrison from South Park teaching evolution, then at 1:47 when electricity passes through the doll which eventually gets turned into a person in the movie, Weird Science).

This was far from easy to do. Every time I’d change just a second from one point in the mash-up, everything else after it would be changed. I decided to adapt to this by replacing certain clips with clips that were exactly the same length of time. Doing this had its own problems, though. Some clips needed to be longer whereas their replacement clips would need to be a tad shorter. So, with that, I’d have to take a fraction of a second off of one clip, and then another fraction of a second off of a different one. After a while, editing this mash-up turned into juggling numbers—almost like balancing a budget for a business. Perhaps that’s just one essential part of video editing that I didn’t know about.

I did a lot of reflecting on the technology that goes into certain types of composition while making my mash-up. Certain technologies are more stable—or at least generally more dependable. I’ve never had even close to the same technological frustration with a pencil as I have with video editing software. With a pencil, I don’t need to format a .mp4 to .avi or vice versa. Nor do I have to make sure my trial subscription to the program hasn’t run out. It’s a fair trade, though. The compositions you can make with newer technologies are so much more engaging and can simultaneously utilize different modalities to zoom in on an idea or message.

Reflecting even more on the technology, I wonder if a lot of my frustration wasn’t necessarily from any inevitable difficulty of editing software, but rather from the time I’ve taken in developing literacies in different modes of writing. For instance, is video editing software any more sophisticated—or at least harder to use—than Microsoft Word? The more I think about it, the more I think not. The only difference is that Microsoft Word serves the function of a much more institutionally-dominant mode of writing: alphabetic text. If I had spent one percent—and I’m not being hyperbolic with that number—of the time I have spent writing essays on Microsoft Word and used that time to use video-editing software, I’d be pretty proficient at it. Furthermore, I’d probably be a lot more perceptive of the different elements of composition as a whole, outside of alphabetic texts alone.

Using different technologies to write has also brought to light my use of other people’s expressions of ideas. I have to admit that I felt a bit uneasy as I binge-downloaded video after video off of Youtube, but the more I thought about what I was doing with them, I realized that I was doing nothing wrong. I like to think about it in the same way I’d consider intellectual property when writing an essay: you don’t feel uneasy about using any excerpt as long as you cite it. It would seem so absurd for novelists to get together in movements to stop people from using their excerpts. Of course when money is being made, different issues arise. However, when people are making statements, ideas, and messages all for the sake of communication as we are with our projects, the sky should be the limit. When downloading these videos, I was merely participating in a conversation. And ultimately, the more that I saw was out there for me to use, the more liberated and enabled I felt in getting my point across.