Video is a Killer Queen

Remember that song - "Video killed the radio star(video) by the British New Wave group - "The Buggles"? By the way, it 'inspired' Bappi Da to create "Koi yahan naache naache(video). Both of them happened to be smash hits but the original one did point out a trend - video has 
and will continue to change our life drastically. I'd prefer to say - "she's a killer". Killed the silent stars, radio stars, private lives, sense of surprise...

"She's a Killer Queen 
Gunpowder, Gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime" ...
(video)



(the lyrics just fit, nothing to do with what Queen meant). Slowly but steadily, video has entered our  - minds, hands, pockets, bags, classrooms, offices, trains, buses, living rooms,   bedrooms and even bathrooms (definitely for me). 

Consider some of its forms: Video calling (Skype, Google... via At&T...), Online video (YouTube, Facebook, Dailymotion...), Live video/deferred-live video/recorded video, Home-video/Professional-video, digital-video/analog-video, Online-movies/offline-movies /movies-in-theaters, DVDs/CDs/blue-rays, TV/internet-TV, video-on-computer/video-on-tablet/video-on-phone...  I am out of breath. Let's see what brought us here:

It's Shocking Good!
For centuries our eyes were used to looking at moving objects in real time, right in front of us. Theater had had been in existence for centuries but that too was in real time. That changed at the turn of 18th century when film first came into play. Culturally, it was no less than a stunner. Most of us wouldn't be able to relate to the horror of the famous unmasking scene (video) of the 1925 silent movie "The Phantom of the Opera". People screamed and fainted in the movie halls. Their worst nightmares were coming true in reel (almost real) life. That was the beginning of how our surprise started going down in real life. Reality just wasn't entertaining enough. 

Light (no sound) Action!
Before Vladimir K. Zworykin came up with something called the "Iconoscope" in the 1920s (closest to our first primitive idiot box), and before we figured out economically viable methods to synchronize sound and moving images, it was the "Silent Era". The First World War gave America a starting advantage over Europe in producing commercial movies, starting with silent cinema. That's where the first investor money has gone in, ever since.

Some more junk about the "soundless video era":

- If you watch the early silent movies you can't miss the overly melodramatic body language. It was a natural transition that the actors took from live theater experience. But, images projected on the 'video screen' were larger than life and it didn't work. The actors had to alter their styles drastically to more subtle mannerisms. 

- Very few stars made it to the "talking" era. Their voice didn't live up to the expectations. I guess, they couldn't talk the walk :-)

- Silent films were not exactly silent. They were accompanied with recorded musical scores or pianists or organists or a full orchestra or even live actors/narrators. I have had the good fortune of watching a cult classic with an organist and acoustic sound system at Loew's. It was pretty cool.

There is so much more..but lets move on to other interesting things...

The Talkies 
I know a few people who still refer to movie theaters as "Talkies". In 1927 people payed 25 cents to watch the $422,000 Broadway crossover - The Jazz Singer. This movie changed everything. It was the first feature-film and the first "talkie" (and perhaps the first musical with synchronized sound) which marked the beginning of the end of the silent era. With $3.5mn that the movie brought in, Warner Bros ended up becoming a powerful Hollywood studio. In today's value that's more than $43mn. Not a bad pay-off for a risky experiment! The First Academy Awards did not consider it for the best picture category since it was not 'fair' to compare silent and sound films :) The honorary Oscar however, went to Warner Bros for producing it. 

As you see its getting out of hand. This will have to be a series. Catch you in the next article to continue the story. 

In the past few months I have been researching on a variety of topics. "Video" being one of them, I asked people - "How important is YouTube to you? Check it out. 

No comments:

Post a Comment