Online Video…What is that?
Nothing by LJ Frezza
Making use of the video essay form
This video is part of the video essay sub-category, super cut/compilation. This means it is made up of a large amount of clips cut together to make one video. This differs the more conventional types of video essays, in that there is no original material through narration or text involved in the piece. It is very much a non-academic video essay, and is much more experimental.
Having no original material in the video means that the creator has to ultimately communicate their message entirely through the use of editing. I feel that it is this component that is most important to Frezza’s Nothing. With this video, it is clear that Frezza has extremely carefully cut the significant amount of footage into a cohesive order that results in emotions and meaning being conveyed that would not have existed in another order. The editing of the video is also what gives it its narrative.
As previously mentioned, the editing of the video gives the piece its narrative, as there was no original material used. Beginning with three minutes of quickly cut exterior establishing shots of New York City buildings with accompanying bass lines, popping noises and laughter, the video is initially humorous in an almost absurd manner, as we are simply watching buildings with jarringly cut sound bytes. These jarring cuts can also lead to feelings of annoyance as the loudness is a struggle to tolerate. It is at the three minute mark that the importance of Frezza’s editing becomes clear, as the footage of nothing now shifts, including more interior shots, where the music no longer plays. What was previously an unbearable loudness, now turns into an unbearable silence. The humour and annoyance of the first half shifts towards feelings of eeriness, isolation and maybe still some humour.
The video is six minutes long. This length works well to find a middle ground in achieving two things. The first is having a short enough length that the video can be easily consumed in one sitting without any real need for planning, making people more willing to watch it. This length also avoids sacrificing the other goal, which involves the video’s narrative or meaning. As Frezza is trying to convey feelings of humour leading into isolation, the six minute length remains long enough to build these emotions slowly preventing it from feeling forced.
Sound is vital in this video, as contrast of the popping bass lines of the first half with the near total silence of the second is really one of the main aspects of sending the message across, as what was previously an unbearable loudness, now turns into an unbearable silence.
Suitability to internet
These type of compliation videos are essentially exclusive to an online format. Its unconventional and even experimental nature makes it unfit for a more traditional platform. Part of this unconventional nature is the video’s lack of an obvious purpose or target audience, which makes it perfect for a platform that is open to everyone, without taking up a timeslot at a TV network.
Ultimately, what Frezza is attempting to convey is the idea of a New York City without all the people, as a response to those who say that they dislike the business and congestion of the city. In the video’s description, Frezza describes it as ‘Every shot from “Seinfeld” (1989-1998) where nothing happens. A video about walls and a response to everyone I met in New York who said they’d love the city if only there weren’t so many people in it.’
This video has many viral qualities. These include its reasonably short duration of six minutes, making it a small commitment to view. There is also the absence of narration or text, meaning there is no obvious need for audiences to devote complete attention. And perhaps more than anything, the video being directly based on Seinfeld. Not only is this a hugely popular show, it has also not been on air for over ten years, leaving fans wanting more, even if it’s just a compilation of all the shots involving no people.
This video can be found on both Vimeo and Youtube, which are obviously free services, and was also massively shared by different entertainment sites leading it to be prominent on social media.
For most online video, a strong fanbase is essential to a piece’s success. However, this video was able to go viral without such a fanbase. Frezza, being a Vimeo user, is immediately reaching a smaller audience on a site where subscribers or followers do not play such a prominent role. Also, Frezza had only posted 5 videos prior to Nothing. The fact that the video was still able to gain such popularity in the world of online video can only be a testament to the piece’s quality.