Wikipedia post

The final part of the practicum was to add something to Wikipedia. The “remix” entry on Wikipedia was pretty comprehensive but I was able to add a snippet to the introduction. I had never edited on Wikipedia and to be honest I didn’t know it was as simple as clicking on the edit tab. I don’t know exactly the process they have for approving or taking down added content so I’ll have to see if my addition is still there in a few days. Anyways, like I said the post was already pretty comprehensive, even addressing the copyright implications of remixing, but I added a snippet about how contemporary remixes are often produced in Digital Audio Workstations (DAW’s) which allow producers to reorganize and add various effects to tracks. There wasn’t any other info on the page about the kind of software/hardware that is used to make remixes so I figure I may have a shot in having it kept on the site.


Technology all day

I tend to think that I am not as addicted to technology as some since my phone doesn’t have web service, but documenting how much I use technology in a day has me thinking otherwise. I may not be on my phone as much as some but I think that I make up for that with how much time I’m on my computer. I call and text occasionally, and stay somewhat connected on Facebook and Twitter. I love reading the news so I spend a lot of time on my computer searching through the internet. Today I had a few classes and took notes by hand for half of them–although I would have used my computer for all of them had I had enough battery. On my way to class I listened to music on my iPod Touch, which I recently found under a seat cushion at my house over Thanksgiving break.  I also used some of the hardware that I talked about in my remix production practicum.

Realizing how much I depend on technology is kind of baffling considering were still in the early years of the internet. All things considered, I think its kind of unique that this generation has all these advanced gadgets at their fingertips while previous generations could not have imagined it. Stepping back from it all, I’m glad that technology makes things easier for me, but its also kind of strange to consider that we are really living in a time where technology has the ability to placate people and distract them from reality.


Remix Presentation

Hey everyone! I am giving my presentation today. I am going to talk a bit about remixes and why people make them. I am also going to talk about the tools I used to make my remixes. I am showing two video mash-ups that I made during my presentation so I hope that everyone can make it.

Here are some links to the work:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jemp61400#p/a/u/1/msN1JHaJQiU

http://www.youtube.com/user/jemp61400#p/a/u/0/SCwdSJCnb1s

Don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to see them before my presentation, just try and keep in mind the question of whether or not the work is transformative and what kind of copyright issues may arise if I wanted to distribute these works as you watch.

 


Remix Production 5

I think that one important thing to point out about remixes is that they come in many forms. I was considering the “everything is a remix” idea and I think that it is true to a large extent. Youtube and Vimeo are full of thousands of remixes, whether they be photos someone posted with their favorite songs, DJ remixes, fan art, or mashups. Watching the Daily Show and Colbert Report, you can see how often photoshopped pictures of cultural icons are used to accompany the punchlines. I think this speaks to the fact that remixes are made for many different reasons.

The Constitution originally called for copyrights to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. It offered a 14 year period of copyright and an optional renewal. Todays copyright laws are a term of death + 50 years for natural authors. I think that this is hardly conducive to promoting progress with these kind of term extensions. The rise of digital technology and the ability to share media so easily has undermined the effort of strict copyright laws and has demonstrated that there are significant upsides to the free-flow of ideas and free expression. However, there is a balance that must be achieved between allowing free expression and outright piracy. Current laws treat users the same and do not do a good enough job to distinguish between the two.

 


Hulu and Youtube

 

 

The biggest difference between Hulu and Youtube is the content. The look and feel of both sites say a lot about what kind of content they put forward. Hulu has a much more corporate look with a lot of popular TV shows being advertised on the front page. The search bar automatically reveals the shows that Hulu has as you type in a search and the Hulu website basically guides you to where you need to be. Youtube on the other hand is much more user-controlled and less hierarchical. Because there are so many videos of random things on Youtube, it is easy to get lost. Youtube has done a good job linking similar videos together with its playlist feature. Hulu has a more professional layout (the site is actually very similar to HBO’s) because of the professionally produced content that it offers. Youtube is more of a place for amateurs to share videos although it is becoming increasingly filled with commercial advertisements. I think these two approaches to essentially the same service shows how content drives design.


Remix Production 4

It has been a rough venture to try and mashup a video and set it to music. For the presentation I will have 2 video mashups. The first I detailed earlier and will be sampled from MarioKart 64 gameplay. For the second mashup I took a video of Fred Astaire tap dancing to “Puttin on the Ritz” and combined it with some music. This number was included in the 1946 movie “Blue Skies” which starred Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Joan Caulfield. I will have the links to the full videos on vimeo in my post before my presentation.

I am going to try and talk about sequencing the video and music in the program Ableton Live. First, I drag the video into a track in Ableton. The program automatically registers the BPM of the song based on the soundwaves that are dragged in. I add in a drum track to play along with the video and match up the rhythm of the drums to the rhythm of the dancing. Once everything was on beat, I tried out a bunch of different effects on different video loops. Organizing everything takes a good while and I included a picture of what everything looks like in the program. The video track is at the top and everything else underneath it is audio. There is also a video box that shows what is being played.

I included a mashed up picture and a .gif. I made the .gif using GIFQuickMaker (which is free in the app store if you have a Mac). It was actually pretty easy to make with GIFQuickMaker. You can drag and drop any photos you want. I screen captured the ones I wanted from Ableton and then dragged them in and clicked create.

I don’t think that I could or should really be able to sell things like these. That being said, I also don’t see the problem in being able to spread simple mashups like this for free or for educational purposes.


Remix Production 3

For this post I remixed a song that I posted on my Soundcloud. For the remix I used part of the Beatles song “Michelle” and the AZ song “Still Alive.” The sample from Michelle is about 25 seconds into the song when Paul sings “Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble” which means “these are words that go together well”.  AZ is a rapper from Brooklyn who first appeared on the Nas album “Illmatic”. The song “Still Alive” is from AZ’s 2005 album A.W.O.L but I only used 2 out of 3 verses from the song.

I mixed the song in Ableton Live 8, a digital audio workstation that allows you to manipulate audio and play digital instruments. I created the drums in Ableton using a drum rack and arranged them with the other samples. I slowed down the sample to 88BPM and had to mess around with the vocals of the AZ verse to get them on beat. I made an instrumental version that only has the “Michelle” sample and one that combines the instrumental with the vocals. Take a listen here: Still Alive (Remix)

I don’t think there is any problem in posting a remix of this song for free (not like my Soundcloud gets a ton of views). The rights to use Beatles songs are expensive to get so I obviously could not distribute this for money. Remixes being posted for free like this have become so prevalent with the rise of the internet and increasing availability of software and hardware to mix that and I don’t really see the threat that they pose to artists. The ability to make mixes like this has definitely been curtailed by copyright law and I think basically restricts a form of creative expression.


Copyrights

I think copyright issues have become increasingly relevant to all of us because of the fundamental structure of the internet. I torrent music but not excessively and I usually stay away from downloading movies (mainly because of Netflix or 4Star). I really think that businesses are kidding themselves if they think they will be able to stop people from “pirating” music or movies. I don’t think this is good or bad necessarily, its just the way it is. It is so easy to grab music or a video from others that I don’t think it would be practical to try and stop it among average users. I especially think that the piracy video we watch was completely over the top. Stealing a car is not the same as downloading music. It would actually be more like copying someones car for free and leaving their car completely intact. The fact that companies have sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements from users that didn’t make any monetary gain from it is crazy. Music was made to be heard, not to be bought and sold and controlled by large record labels and studios. This does not mean that artists should not get benefits for their music and most artists don’t make a giant amount of money from CD sales and DVD sales. I think  that trying to regulate something as broad and pervasive as file sharing undermines freedom of expression and fair access to information that the internet ideal is based on and the current trend in copyright laws ought to be reevaluated.


Remix Production 2

It seems right that I make this next post as we get into the topic of copyrights and intellectual property issues. Besides just posting remixes and things, I am going to try and show the best I can the process and stuff I use to mix. For this post, I’m going to show how I recorded gameplay from MarioKart 64 to my computer and how I manipulated it into samples for a mashup.

Firstly, this is a list of the hardware/software that I used:

Hardware: Nintendo 64/Korg Kaoss Pad Entrancer/ El Gato USB Video Capture/HDMI->RCA scan converter

Software: Ableton Live 8/El Gato Video Capture

I began by connecting my Nintendo 64 into the El Gato Video Capture device. This is a device that takes RCA (Red/White/Yellow inputs) and converts it to a video on my computer through a USB port.  I played through a bunch of my favorite maps on MarioKart 64. It was a little weird playing this way because I had to watch the gameplay on my computer monitor instead of a TV. Doing this allowed to me to save the video on my computer as an MP4 file. I played through for a while decided which maps I wanted to use. The picture here is me playing on Grand Prix mode. I switched to Time Trials so I didn’t have to compete against computers and so the big 1st place ranking wasn’t included in the final product.

To manipulate the gameplay I used a Korg Kaoss Pad Entracer. This piece of hardware processes audio and video and lets you manipulate it with various effects on a touch pad. I used the DVI port on my Mac to send video out of my computer to the HDMI->RCA scan converter. A scan converter takes one video signal and converts to another type. In this case it takes the HDMI signal from my computer and converts it to RCA. I plug the RCA input into the Kaoss Pad and then an RCA output back into the El Gato Video Capture. I manipulate the video of myself playing the game and make a few different versions

The best things that you come up with is when you start to layer effects on top of each other. When you do this you start to end up with products that vary greatly from the original gameplay. In the end I hope to make a video that combines different aspects of maps and turn them all into one using different effects. I am thinking I will include some music with it. The issue of copyright is interesting when it comes to mashups and mixes like this. You can’t really distribute things like this for money and I am not personally convinced that distributing things like this for free constitutes infringement on intellectual property.  You can do it for educational purposes and if I had a good amount of money, I could clear these samples. I think this says something about the restriction on creative expression and lack of access problems raised by copyright and intellectual property  laws. Since this is for educational purposes, I won’t worry.

 


Google Yourself

I haven’t searched for myself on Google in a good while so I didn’t know exactly what I was going to find. Searching “mike coakley” on the web tab of Google gave me two links to the social networking site Linkedin. I do not have an account but apparently 25 other professional Mike Coakley’s do. My Facebook profile link was the next link. The other results were about a few lawyers, a life insurance salesman, and the link that got my most attention was an article that had the tagline “How do you find a casket on short notice? For Mike Coakley, nothing to it.” Obviously I clicked on the article. It was not as morbid as I thought it might be, just a story about a longtime Philadelphia newsman who had recently died. The article recalled some sort of skit he put on at the office to send off a colleague. Definitely not what I was expecting.

The image search does show my Facebook profile picture about the 3rd row down and my uncle (Mike Coakley) is the 2nd image. The video search features a Mike Coakley who is apparently a singer in an Irish band. I have linked his beautiful rendition of Danny Boy. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmaUCLV86H8