Influence of Music Videos
MTV was launched in 1981 as a medium for record companies and recording artists to sell music, clothes, movies and more. Today MTV (owned by Viacom) earns over a billion dollars a year in profits. The business of MTV is all about learning what kids want and delivering it to them. MTV is devoted to market research and spending time with their audience to listen and learn. They listen for one reason – so they can figure what to sell to kids.
|The Art of Film & Video Editing|
Some, but not many, music videos are made more for artistic reasons than business reasons. The first music videos were largely clips of bands or performers in concert. As video producers realized the potential, the videos became more elaborate, jumping from performing clips to filming in offstage settings, elaborate costume changes, and special effects.
Music videos have little or no discernible plot. Some music videos interpret the lyrics of the song, but many are quite abstract and mix filmmaking techniques like animation, live action and documentary. While so-called “MTV style” editing is really not new, it certainly continues the alternative or experimental style of editing which broke from the “classical Hollywood” or Continuity style of editing. This school of video editing is disjointed, discontinuous, non-linear narrative. It uses fast cutting and it breaks the continuity rules such as the 180 degree rule, shot-reverse-shot, match action, and eyeline matching. MTV style editing favors place, mood and feeling over character and plot development.
The music and lyrics take the place of narrative. The visual effects are there only to support the music. Music videos can be more like video art which doesn’t have to tell a story. See Video Art ”“ An Introduction.
Many directors cut their teeth creating music videos. All directors change their style depending on the project. So it’s impossible to correlate a director’s style from a music video to his or her work on a feature film. Here are a few examples of directors who got their start by directing music videos:
Spike Jonze directed “Being John Malkovich” (1999) “Adaptation,” (2002) and “Where the Wild Things Are.” (2009). He was also a co-creator and executive producer of MTV’s “Jackass.”
Michel Gondry directed “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) “The Science of Sleep” (2006), “Be Kind Rewind” (2008), and “The Green Hornet.” (2011)
David Fincher directed “The Game” (1997), “Fight Club” (1999), and “Panic Room” (2002).
Other MTV directors include Samuel Bayer, Matt Mahurin, Mark Romanek, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Anton Corbijn, Mark Pellington, Tarsem, Hype Williams, Jake Scott, Jonathan Glazer, Marcus Nispel, F. Gary Gray, Jim Yukich, Russell Mulcahy, Steve Barron and Marty Callner, among others.
The techniques used in MTV sometimes called “MTV Editing Style” have been around for a long time. They were pioneered by many people such as Luis BuÃ±uel, director of the 1929 “Un Chien Andalou,” and RenÃ© Clair, director of “Entr’acte” (1924) which starred famous Dada artists Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. For more about Luis BuÃ±uel, see Part 6 “Emerging Alternatives to Continuity Editing: The Director Becomes Editor.”
Non-traditional Editing Comes to Television and the Internet
Originally, television followed continuity rules, and was even more rigid than movies, because of the strict half hour format. Today, more and more TV shows are veering into MTV territory, using a quicker pace, time compression and other techniques to compensate for the shorter attention span of the modern audience. “Friday Night Lights” is an example of a newer TV show that uses Non-traditional Editing techniques.
Consider the editing style of Internet content. The Internet is a huge database of video content, with millions of clips. Editing for, and from the Internet is generally done in MTV style. Low quality, amateur videos often found on the Internet add to the MTV look and feel. A lot of video editing for the Internet is just re-purposing existing video for use on the Internet.
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Just because it seems that editing is becoming all non-traditional with so many movies using flash frame edits and television and Internet videos looking more like MTV, continuity editing is still the dominant editing style. Most of the Academy Awards for Best Picture were won by films edited in modern continuity style by brilliant editors.