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Did All That Really Happen in 2010?

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That’s what my friend said when she saw my draft of 2010: A Search Odyssey.

The initial idea: Take the top Google Search trends from each month of 2010 and make a video mash-up of the corresponding news stories, with “Sprach Zarathustra”, the legendary intro music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the soundtrack. Have the videos flying out of moving walls of images from each event (using the CoolIris Firefox plugin), and create an immersive audiovisual experience that would sum up 2010 in 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Check out the video below, and then read on if you’re interested in the origins of the idea and the various tools used in the production process.

The Result: “2010: A Search Odyssey”

Put on your headphones and relive 2010 in 2:11.

The Making of…

Like most ideas we endeavor to bring to life, things changed a bit on the way:

  • When I heard Kanye West’s “Lost in the World” track the other I day I just knew it had to be the theme song for 2010. As luck would have it, it was a perfect counterpoint to Sprach Zarathustra, thus was born the remix soundtrack you hear in the video below.
  • Some of the top breakout search trends of 2010, like “Groupon” or “US Open”, didn’t make very interesting stories, so I fudged it a little bit – adding the Old Spice Guy, for example.
  • The Cooliris browser couldn’t quite create the effect I was looking for, coupled with a too-low frame rate with my screen capture program, so I just mirrored one fly-through of Google Images results for “2010” and kind of faded it into the background, bringing more attention to the actual videos of the events.
  • Since I put the finishing touches on this the morning of 1/1/11, I thought it would be appropriate to mash in some video from the Times Square ball drop. I think it worked out pretty well.
  • When I exported the video it was 2:11 long. Still appropriate, maybe even more appropriate, I changed the hook to 2:11 instead of 2:10.

The production process was an exciting and complex challenge. I’ll try to lay it out here in a way that’s easy to follow:

1. I found the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey with the full version of “Spach Zarathustra” on Youtube and used the Firefox plugin Download Helper to download the video to my computer (a Macbook).

2. I downloaded Kanye West’s “Lost in the World” on iTunes, and since you can’t import copyright protected music into Garageband, I screencaptured with Camtasia while the song was playing, to create a blank video with the audio track.

3. I imported both videos (I had to use Handbrake to convert the downloaded video from .flv to .mp4) into Garageband, removed the video tracks, and mashed-up the two songs into a remix. I chopped up “Sprach Zarathustra” to match the timing of my “Lost in the World” remix and miraculously, perhaps somewhat presciently, it worked out to just about 2:10.

4. I imported the final remix into Camtasia, to use as a master guide for my in-head storyboard.

5. Using Google Insights for Search in the Chrome browser (for some reason it doesn’t work right for me in Firefox), I looked up the top searches in each month of 2010 and came up with a list of 24 big events (as ranked by breakout search trends). I curated the list by what I remembered to be big conversation pieces, and added a couple of my own.

6. Using Download Helper again, I downloaded corresponding videos for every story from Youtube and used Handbrake again to convert them all to .mp4 (from .flv). So that I wouldn’t have to import and edit every video in Camtasia, I used Quicktime to trim each video to a much more manageable 10-15 second clip with a good soundbite.

7. In Camtasia, I imported all the videos, including the intro to 2001: A Space Odyssey. I then screen captured: A. the intro of me typing the title in Google Search, and B. the scrolling background image of Cooliris navigating through 30 pages of Google Image results from the search “2010”.

8. After lining up the intro sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Google Search screencapture, and the outro image of the 2001 sunrise, I created hashtags of the search terms, using Camtasia’s Text Editor, and Zoom-In and Fade-Out transition features to produce the flying animation you see with all the search trends. I ordered these to define when each video would come in to view, and provide some additional visual cues for the viewer.

9. I put the Cooliris screen capture in place under the hashtags and faded it out to about 20% transparency.

10. I placed every 2010 event video in time with the corresponding hashtags, and using the same Zoom-In transition, created the flying and disappearing event.

11. Saving a separate Camtasia project, I deleted everything other than the 2010 event video sequence, exported it, and brought it into Garageband to add some EQ and delay to make it stand out just a bit from the Kanye remix. Then I lined that up with the original remix track, re-exported it and imported it again into Camtasia.

12. Needing some filler to add emphasis to the first audio break and more climax to the ending, I found video of the 2011 ball drop in Times Square, downloaded it from Youtube using Download Helper, converted it using Handbrake, trimmed it using Quicktime, imported it into Camtasia, and lined it up to fit the track so the countdown would hit with the final orchestral swell at the end.

13. Exported it, uploaded it to Facebook and Youtube, then through TubeMogul to a couple other video sharing sites, and bam.

2010 in 2:11.

If you made it this far, live in the Triangle area, and are interested in how you can come up with video ideas and distribute video online for your business or passion, you may want to come to the next Going Viral: Making and Distributing Online Video. Thanks for reading!

This is a guest post by Arik Abel. Arik is a content strategist and multimedia producer based in Raleigh, NC. He advises brands and entrepreneurs on creative marketing strategy and execution. View the original blog post here

Meme E

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