YouTube is everyone’s tube

Ever since the DVD format was introduced to the market, a popular pastime of filmmakers has been revisiting their old movies, adding scenes, recutting old footage, and remastering the original print. Or, in the case of Steven Spielberg, they edit out guns and replace them with walkie talkies. Since I’ve never created a movie, I’ve never had the opportunity to participate in a process like this. But with my friend’s unearthing of a high school creative writing project, and a little help from YouTube, we now have a four minute “special edition” of our own to share with the world.

Four years ago in Mrs. Brown’s creative writing class, my group was tasked with producing a commercial. It didn’t matter what the product was, but the video had to advertise something. My good friend Mike came up with the idea of The Replacement, which was a life-size figure that could take one’s place in socially painful situations like family reunions, babysitting kid sisters, and being arrested.

The actual Replacement turned out to be me wearing a bald mask and fake beard. For the female version, I had on a nice yellow sundress. The idea behind our product was that the customer could slip away and smoothly station the Replacement at whatever function they wished to escape from. Of course nobody could tell that the bald, bearded woman sitting across from them wasn’t the person they were originally talking to. This was Hollywood.

My group made the commercial, it turned out well, and we earned our A for the class. We were all very proud. Now, on the eve of my college graduation four years later, Mike happens to run into Mrs. Brown and asks if she still had the tape. It turns out she still shows it to her classes every year. Mike borrows it and makes a digital copy of The Replacement commercial for us to enjoy over and over again.

Not long after, Mike and I decide that our cleverness deserves to be shared with the entire world. So we take the digital copy and tweak the sound on his computer, taking down wind noise and bringing up some volume where needed. Lo and behold, we have The Replacement: Director’s Cut!

Several minutes later, the video is posted among thousands of others on YouTube, ready to be seen by the masses.

In less than the time it took me to get through college, internet video has turned from a novelty into an establishment. YouTube went from a website where one could watch a clip from a favorite childhood cartoon to a corporately-owned platform where professionals create their own content. People have gotten famous because of the site. Other sites around the internet use YouTube’s video technology to host their own content. It’s allowed anyone to become their own Scorsese and provided an audience of millions.

It’s really an interesting experience to have one’s video posted on the site. I’m used to simply tuning into other’s work. But to actually search for your own video and have it pop up on any computer around the world makes cyberspace seem not so vast after all. Being able to drudge up an old video and turn it into multimedia makes me wonder what else I can do.

I know, I’ll go tweak the Wikipedia article about myself.

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