24 January 2012
Star Wars crowdsourced film reaches million YouTube views
A "directors cut" of a fan-made version of Star Wars has passed one million views on YouTube. The film, uploaded on 18 January, is made up of hundreds of 15second scenes created by internet users. The Star Wars Uncut project is widely regarded as an example of the power of crowdsourcing. Ramon Youseph, of the Crowdsourcing Gazette blog, told the BBC it showed "the power of the web to engage people in a global collaborative effort". The website starwarsuncut.com began asking for fan-made scenes in 2009. It went on to win an interactive media Emmy in 2010. Scenes submitted to Starwarsuncut.com were specially selected for this compilation. Although the clips had been available online previously, this is the first time they have been put together into a full-length film.
Writing online, the project's creator Casey Pugh said: "Finally, the crowdsourced project has been stitched together and put online for your streaming pleasure. "The director's cut is a feature-length film that contains hand-picked scenes from the entire starwarsuncut.com collection." The new version of the film quickly became a YouTube hit. "1M views in 72hrs! Thanks everyone for all the wonderful feedback," tweeted the @starwarsuncut account. The film is also available on Vimeo where it has been played nearly 300,000 times. Copyright Jeff Howe, author of the book Crowdsourcing, said the project's success shows the public can have a role in movie-making: "The trick, of course, is not simply to stitch together disparate footage from many minds (and cameras), but to make it entertaining, compelling, etc." He added that the project had "provided clear guidelines by cutting the original film into 15-second bits. What few people understand is that crowdsourcing is not some free-for-all. "The rules are actually more important than they might be in a more traditional methodology." The 400-plus scenes in the film, which were edited together by Aaron Valdez and Bryan Pugh, are an eclectic mix of live-action, animation and puppetry.
Actors of all ages, and in some cases species, appear in the scenes. Influences range from Yellow Submarine to Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal. A bewildering variety of household goods are enlisted as substitutes for the original film's ground-breaking special effects and props. In one scene a fly-swat has an unexpected cameo as Luke's lightsaber. Locations vary, with efforts to faithfully recreate the original sets sitting side-by-side with homes, suburban streets, bowling alleys and, in one case, a hot tub. According to reports, Lucasfilm has been supportive of the project. The release comes at a time of fierce debate about copyright law provoked by the US Stop Online Piracy Act, which some fear might stifle projects of this kind. The @starwarsuncut Twitter feed said of the release: "We have to admit it was a little anti-SOPA inspired." While Mr Youseph acknowledged the risk, he told the BBC that it was important for people embarking on these projects to "have the necessary permissions in place before undertaking a project". But he added: "Surprisingly many organisations and individuals have granted rights for their material to be used in this manner. "A good example is Joss Whedon and 20th Century Fox who allowed fans of the sci-fi show Firefly to crowdsource (and crowdfund) a fan film based on that show."
A "directors cut" of a fan-made version of Star Wars has passed one million views on YouTube. The film, uploaded on 18 January, is made up of hundreds of 15-second scenes created by internet users. The Star Wars Uncut project is widely regarded as an example of the power of crowdsourcing.