Where has August gone?

In early August, I took on a project with no idea what it was I’d be shooting. I ended up with more work than I’d expected – producing, directing, shooting, editing… Even though I can see that this video can be greatly improved, I had to cut myself from working on it any longer. Is it still summer outside? Can I go swimming soon?

[Big thanks to Rowin Bernardo, Kelvin Tu, the rest of Paradox Dance Crew, and Keo Necra for their contributions – choreography, music, acting, and general goodwill.]

Other than Wedding Dress, I’ve been working on videos for UN1TE Dance Company, including this short one. New PO-MO Project demo on its way, also.

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Demo Reelin’

Finally, after a couple months of gathering footage from a variety of events, I present to you the 2010 demo reel of PO-MO Incorporated (formerly known as “PO-MO Project”).

The handheld isn’t super steady (I’m working on that), and the quality isn’t equal across the board (the Wonderland footage, which was captured through iMovie, looks rather grainy), but the heart is there. Meghan and the rest of the PO-MO crew impress me constantly with their ingenuity and openness, and I consider myself blessed to have been given the opportunity to document their travels in this critical phase of operation.

One of the biggest challenges with shooting this kind of footage is managing the focus and exposure. PO-MO’s works look coolest in the dark. Often, the screen would go blurry for no reason and the push auto focus button became useless. Then, I’d either fumble with the awkward focus dial or simply zoom in then out again (which prompts infinity focus). I’m not complaining, though – I was lucky enough to stumble upon a camera that shoots great in low light and captures beautiful color, so all of the deep pinks and blues of the VJ shows turned out beautifully.

One final note. The music, by the Lytics, was used with the band’s gracious permission. All the problems I’ve been facing lately have been circumvented by the simple task of asking permission. I just may use this tack in the future.

Three Strikes, We’re Out

I’m annoyed.

On July 7th, UN1TE Dance Company‘s Youtube channel was suspended indefinitely (see my first post about it here). As one of the primary video content creators for the channel, I am sad to see the over 300 videos and 1000 subscribers go down the drain.

We received an email saying that one of our videos contains a portion of the song “Billionaire” by Bruno Mars. I can’t recall anyone ever using that song in a UN1TE video.

Youtube helpfully provided a link to the offending video, but when I clicked on the URL, I was redirected to a page that said the video had been removed. I have no other details of what video this might be, and I can no longer log in to figure it out. How am I supposed to file a counter-notification if I have no idea what video has been accused?

Youtube takedown notice
The message that haunts me...

TechDirt’s Michael Masnick blogged about UN1TE’s experiences with regards to Youtube’s new three-strike policy. In digging around online, I came across many others who are equally pissed off about their channels being removed under this new system. And rightfully so! Why, if only three of a user’s videos contain claimed content, are all the videos then removed?

There are many reasons to dislike this new policy.

  1. Videos are removed. Instead of disabling them, Youtube now removes videos completely and instantly, along with user comments, view counts, and carefully crafted video descriptions. My wasted work!
  2. Putting up a video involves a risk. In her TED Talk on Youtube and Copyright, Margaret Stewart speaks positively about how record labels like Sony and Warner are given the option to either approve or reject videos based on their content. One commenter then writes, “How can any single user be expected to know which content owners have allowed what content on YouTube until they get a warning and have their video taken down?” It seems like Youtube is punishing users who attempt to take advantage of those labels who accept user-created content containing their work.
  3. Use agreements for copyrighted works can change over time. What’s being taken down online now may be restored within a year – and vice versa. One of our warnings was filed over two years after the video had been uploaded. We thought we were in the clear for that song. If a user can no longer securely believe that even their past videos are safe from removal, then how can they trust the system?
  4. ANYONE can flag your video for copyright infringement. Our second warning was caused by a claim made by someone named Andrei Rosca for the song “So Magical” by Lil Wayne. In hindsight, I should have filed a counter-notice. I have no idea who Andrei Rosca is, but I doubt he has anything to do with Young Money or any of the labels that Lil Wayne has worked with.
  5. There is danger in filing counter-notices. Since anyone can file a DMCA claim, when you submit your personal information, you don’t know where it’s going. In a video about MyRealityBytes’ struggles with a wrongfully filed DMCA claim, TheMaskedAnalyst points out that this is unsafe and spoils the whatever privacy you may have left online. To regain UN1TE’s channel, I have to submit a scan of my signature. Doesn’t this enable identity theft?

I hope Youtube recognizes the detriment this causes to user experience and looks for a way to keep all parties happy. Because right now, I (along with the Winnipeg dance community at large) am not.

Now, back to filing the counter-notification. UN1TE may be out now, but who knows what the next inning will bring?

Contemplating Copyright

Dance is an odd artistic medium. While choreography is visual, it’s often so tied to its accompanying musical work that to separate the two is offensive to its creator. When dancers use popular music without licensing it for certain uses (broadcasting, live performances, etc), problems arise. Things become more complex when choreography is posted on the Internet, where the battle for free use of copyrighted works is being fought, where illegal mash-ups thrive and Flikr images can easily be Photoshopped.

Why do I feel compelled to discuss this now? Well, the other day, my dance team’s channel was suspended on Youtube for copyright infringement. Over 300 videos (most made by me!) unable to be accessed. The horror!

UN1TE Dance Company‘s choreographers feel free to use whatever music they like in their classes. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy when you put videos from those classes online.

Class with UN1TE
Joel Natoc teaches a class for UN1TE (photo by John Orcullo)

Youtube used to either cut the audio out (based on distribution agreements with various record labels) or remove the video altogether. Now, it seems, they’ve taken to suspending accounts if you are flagged one too many times for this offense.

Let’s be clear – all of the video content is mine, except in some cases where I gained permission to use the footage. And the choreography belongs to its respective creators. So, it seems unfair that the visual portion can’t be seen.

However, I do recognize the larger problems that this represents for the hip hop dance community and would like to address them properly. I’m considering organizing an event (with a panel of experts) for those interested in the smallest details of copyright law as it applies to the arts.

Those who’ve responded to my call for help on Twitter have given me links to CIPO, SOCAN, CMPA, and other various acronyms. I’m excited to read Michael Geist’s site on the topic, too.

I’ve created a temporary Youtube channel for UN1TE Dance Company for your viewing pleasure.

Please note that many of the videos posted here on my blog will not play. It is a sad, sad time for Shadling.

Post-ICONS

So, ICONS was a success, due to the amazing contributions of the performers and audience members. I am especially grateful to Melanie, Milcah, Tim, and Romeo for their support.

In the following video, local yoga guru Philly D explains what Free the Children is all about and inspires many to give a little extra to the cause.

I’ve learned from this experience that finding talented and wonderful people in Winnipeg is not difficult, as long as you communicate openly and honestly with everyone. When many diverse people come together, beautiful things happen.

The results from the show? We raised about $1400. Videos from the show are viewable at youtube.com/un1tedance (videography by Rowin Bernardo – I had my hands full with other things this time!).

Know your MEME: Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition

As if I wasn’t busy enough preparing for ICONS…

Today marked the kickoff of a new music festival in Winnipeg – MEME. It’s an exciting time for those involved in the new media community, and I intend to be there to witness (and film) as much of it as possible. I’m especially psyched to see my boyfriend‘s VJ shows tonight and Saturday and whatever PO-MO Project has cooked up for the exhibition.

Here’s to an eventful weekend!

Event production

For the first time, I’m trying my hand at event production for UN1TE Dance Company. It’s been a stressful journey so far, but a very enriching one nonetheless. The event is called ICONS, and it’s an effort to raise money for Free the Children, a wonderful Canadian organization that enables us to assist in the building of a school in a third world country.

Of course, I had to make a promotional video for the event. Instead of just use flashy footage, I tried to really create a discussion about the meaning of the event. Check out what I (and some awesome UN1TE Juniors) created: