Online Video… What Is That? (Week 2)

As a potential future media professional, I intend to create online video content that excites and inspires the viewer. I find the degree to which well constructed video material can create a feeling of happiness or excitement in the viewer to be quite amazing. For this reason I decided to analyse an example of online video practice that I believe to be a fundamental example of this influential style.

.                                                                                 © Julian Melanson (DRNTube)

Julian Melanson’s ‘Art In The Streets’, is an artistic video that communicates a valuable message and thus inspires and excited the viewer. To explore notions about what online video is exactly, an analysis of ‘Art In The Streets’ is useful. Ten criteria were explored to try and position ‘Art In The Streets’ within the world of online video.


  1. Provenance

‘Art In The Streets’ was written, directed, filmed and edited by Julian Melanson, a young aspiring videographer based in Los Angeles, California. Julian is the artist behind the popular YouTube channel DRNTube and has progressed in the field of video production from originally making skateboarding videos with friends, to a professional level, having been responsible for the creation of videos for labels such as DJ DIK, Harlequin, American Gentlemen Magazine, IVI Vision and many more. The footage for this video was captured partly throughout the streets of Los Angeles, as well at the Museum of Contemporary Art. ‘Art In The Streets’ was produced in June of 2011, commissioned by and Levi’s for display at the MOCA Art in the Streets exhibition. This exhibition was the first time a historical collection of graffiti and street art was exhibited in the U.S. and traced the art form from the early 1970s, to the phenomenon it has become today. Since the video was originally commissioned for artistic exhibition, it seems less likely to be suited for the online medium.


  1. Purpose

The piece intends to contrast two artistic practices: graffiti painting and skateboarding. This contrast highlights the similarities between the mediums in terms of the constant regression and societal disapproval both art forms receive. Furthermore, the footage of the MOCA Art in the Streets exhibition, complimented by narration of a local graffiti artist expressing his passion for both art forms, indicate that the video is designed to celebrate the beauty and enjoyable nature of both practices. Overall, ‘Art In The Streets’ proposes a fight for general acceptance of graffiti art and skateboarding.


  1. Idiolect

The speech habits and language used by the narrator (Freddy Quintana) in the video are notably informal and casual. The interview appears to be recorded in a relaxed environment with little scripting. Thereby the language used is indicative of contemporary teenage slang, which could be used to target an audience of a young demographic, as well as situate the viewer within the culture of skateboarding and graffiti art. The culture of viewing online video content is often relaxed, disregarding a need for intense concentration. Therefore the idiolect used in ‘Art In The Streets’ suits the online environment.


  1. Appearance

The video primarily features unsaturated, pastel colours. This sets the grungy nature of the work and positions the viewer at the core of the street scene in Los Angeles. This also creates a juxtaposition between the pastel backdrops and the saturation of the graffiti art, highlighting its importance. The lighting is often stark and features a recurring film burn visual effect. This effect corresponds with the elements of a skateboarding or street sport video. As well as simulating a music video transition, paralleling other forms of online video practice.


  1. Atmosphere

The atmosphere of the video is primarily created through the use of music and sound effects. ‘Art In The Streets’ features a journey from a soft, slow atmosphere throughout the introduction, into an intensified montage during the middle of the work, before returning to a relaxing finish. This balances a sort of euphoric appreciation of the art with an intensified, exciting display of the art museum. The music used throughout the introduction to the video features soft clicking and deep distortion, similar to crickets in the evening. This is symbolic of nighttime and helps set the scene to create a mood associated with skateboarding and graffiti. In addition, the combination of sounds of graffiti cans and skateboard wheels creates a blend, which further presents the contrast between the art forms. The created atmosphere helps the viewer engage with the content and react in a certain way.


  1. Appeal

The appeal for watching this material comes from the video’s ability to incorporate key aspects of a skateboarding video, as well as an artistic presentation. The cinematographic techniques used throughout the skateboarding segments of the piece closely align with techniques used in professional skateboarding videos. Most likely due to the artists video background, the use of smooth panning and tracking of the skateboarding subject produces appealing footage, which parallels a professional skateboarding video. In addition, the coverage of the MOCA is shot using a documentary cinematography style, which positions the viewer from the point of view of an exhibitor at the museum and therefore appeals to people who seek art. In addition, short duration forms part of the video’s appeal due to the fast paced nature of browsing the internet.


  1. Quality

The quality of the video is an important factor when considering the success of online video. Given the enormous quantity of video across the World Wide Web, the quality becomes a determining factor to separate particular videos from others of its kind. ‘Art In The Streets’ is of high quality and resembles professional video production elements. The use of studio lighting, dolly tracks, high quality microphones and unique locations, all combine to create a high quality production. This emphasises the importance of the video and increases its potential appreciation online.


  1. Distribution and Accessibility

The video was created for presentation at the MOCA Art in the Streets exhibition. However the video was posted on Julian Melanson’s YouTube channel (DRNTube) and shared throughout a large variety of online websites and forums such as: Levi’s, Juxtapoz, Complex, PSFK, Oyster Mag, Obey Clothing and more. Clearly, the video has been distributed throughout online channels targeting the skate community, street art community and several DJ and dance music communities. This highlights the video’s connection with its target market and it’s ease of accessibility to people within the appropriate niche. However due to the narrow reach of the piece, limitations are placed on the video’s ability to become viral and more broadly accessible.


  1. Expandability

Given online video practices revolves around sharing and expanding upon the work of others, it can be beneficial for a work to encourage improvement and replication. This would further the reach of particular aspects of the work to larger audiences and potentially create trends among online video through influenced popularity. ‘Art In The Streets’, in essence presents an encouragement to formulate connections between hobbies, whilst creating a pathway to celebrate oppressed art forms. This concept and purpose can be transferred to other art forms or interests and means that engagement with the piece is not limited to purely viewing, but also encourages creativity to create duplications and expansions of the video or at least particular aspects of the video. Whilst it may not encourage direct response videos, the fact that it inspires new video creations forms part of it’s place in the online video world.


  1. Innovation

For a video to stand out on the Internet, it has to have innovative qualities. There is an extensive amount of videos online that present or promote skateboarding and those that document graffiti art. Also whilst there may be an online video culture that associate with both forms of street art, very few online video practices associate skateboarding with graffiti art from an artistic and educative point of view. That factor is what makes ‘Art In The Streets’ stand out as powerful and inspiring, contributing towards its online success.

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