Film and Editing

Why don’t I just sign up for YouTube Premium?

Time to get your tubes tied.

As is common knowledge at this point, YouTube has decided to crack down on the practice of using ad blocking on the site.

I was able to get most of this garbage to go away sufficiently enough with some CSS-fu (and there’s more drastic measures you can take). It’s made the site a bit clunkier to use (I can’t scroll down to the comments, for instance, but that’s often a blessing). But for the most part, life goes on. (And FreeTube has been pretty great, for what it’s worth.)

Over on Hacker News, whenever this topic comes up, there’s always one asshole who asks “why don’t you just pay for Premium”.

I instantly scoffed, but it I was willing to consider just why this wasn’t an option, in my mind. And here’s what I came up with:

  • I don’t have ethical issues against pirating. I do, however, go out of my way to buy physical media of the shows and music I love. I can afford to do so, and I want to support and encourage the artists I love.
    • Naturally, corpo trash loves money and they’ve realized they’re in a position where they can get rid of physical media entirely and just temporarily license you a stream of bytes. Which is an odd choice considering the whole streaming model is struggling now.
    • I suppose I’m partially at fault for helping user in this whole digital-only world, given how successful it’s been in the video game world with Steam, and now home consoles ditching physical discs. I love Steam. It’s surprising it’s taken so long for it’s curse to catch up with us.
  • I don’t trust Google anymore. Well, I never fully did. But the veil has been slipping lately. It’s a company circling the drain, raiding the cushions for money (see also: this whole adblock thing).
  • YouTube has been free for nearly 20 years. The site opened in 2005. They built their entire empire on the backs of people uploading their content for them to sell ads on. I’m not saying a content distribution system of its scale isn’t nothing, but good luck holding out your hat for alms at this point. It’s a bit late in the game.
    • Interesting to see so many of the surviving “Old Internet” sites from the 2000s collapsing now, for various reasons: Reddit, Twitter… strangely, Facebook is just kind of idle at the moment. I can’t imagine that will last.
  • YouTube’s shitty automated policies have been constant thorn in the side of creators. The victims of it have few options for recourse. Well, that’s true at least if you aren’t one of their more profitable accounts. Or maybe you get lucky and catch a sympathetic Googler’s eye on HN.
  • Their corporate-friendly “copyright strike” bullshit has made documenting and educating people about retro content (music, movies, etc) a real minefield to the point where creators fear even playing a snippet from something without risking retribution. “Fair use” essentially becoming a game Russian Roulette.
  • You can’t even swear in a video without risking demonetization now? Fuck off. Kowtowing to advertisers just like the old media.
  • The Algorithm(tm) watching every little mouse twitch to shovel new content in your direction — not YT specific, but, personally, I’m done with that Orwellian shit.
  • Professional video creators are basically being held hostage: they can’t even seek greener pastures because this is _where the audience_ is. And YouTube knows it.

So yeah, Google doesn’t get any of my fucking money. I don’t give cash to those who’s policies I disagree with.

I’ll support creators directly where I can, give to, and promote decentralized ways of hosting content.

Editing an ‘Imagine Dragons’ Music Video


Along with other elements of filmmaking, I’ve been putting a lot of focus into video editing lately.

You don’t get experience from just reading, of course — though, Blink of an Eye was a surprisingly good read.

So I’ve been enjoying not just the Slack Injection TV stuff (though that’s more of a chaos-collage kind of thing), but also seeking out projects like what this Adobe article offers.

It’s a collaboration between Adobe and the band Imagine Dragons where the band provides a master audio track and a whole bunch of their video footage from the music video for Believer. It was clearly intended to promote sales of Adobe Premiere Pro, but I’m using Kdenlive for all of this. Oops. 😉

Kdenlive is a very capable, cross-platform non-linear video editor. Some of the Premiere Pro features covered in the article, however, aren’t yet available in Kdenlive, but lacking those features just means having to be that much more creative with how you approach things, so I was not daunted.

After going through all the footage, there was clearly a boxing thing going on (with Dolph Lundgren!), and a guy sitting in a chair who apparently also boxes against Dolph. There were other bits, like of the band playing, and some ambient background stuff.

I made sure I didn’t look at the official, completed video to keep myself free of influence. While going through the clips I was struck by the lengthy clip of Dan Reynolds sitting in his little egg chair, just staring at the camera.

Being a perpetual jokester, I felt the urge to grab the wheel and drive the car off the road — instead of making a music video, I’ll come up with a skit about how guys in the booth are waiting on him to start the video. They chatter to themselves, confused about why he’s just sitting there doing nothing.

As I was assembling that joke (which involved very precise trimming and cross-fading of the clip — it worked well, surprisingly), I started to kind of feel like it could be ‘something more’.

Instead of 3 minutes of just uncomfortable staring, I played a bit with cuts over to an equally uncomfortable close up on certain parts of the song, until finally, as the music hits it’s final climax, he transforms into a child (a separate series of footage swapping Dave out for a “mini-Dan”) who is seemingly ready to judge you, and begins quickly scribbling something on his notepad: “BELIEVER”.

What does it mean? No fucking idea. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a music video, after all, so it doesn’t have to! 😀 But it’s a VERY different take from the official version, thankfully.

But this was so cool! It’s the soul of what’s attracting me to film editing in general. It’s like being given a bag of LEGOs for a Star Wars vehicle and creating something else entirely from it. It’s like what I imagine forming shapes out of clay is like. Creativity just emerges from the process as you knead the cuts.

I learned very quickly that, in reality, no matter how pleased I am with this cut, it would never ever work in the real world — nobody would have the patience to sit through 3 minutes of that pseudo-artistic nonsense to get to the heart of it at the end, so I cut it down to about a minute. 😉

And here it is: