Thursday, February 25, 2010

Video Mad Libs With the Right Software; New York Times, 2/25/10

Paul Boutin, New York Times; Video Mad Libs With the Right Software:

"It is April 1945. In his underground bunker, Hitler huddles over a map with his top generals. The room is insufferably tense. Members of the German high command, sweating in their uniforms, wonder who will dare to break the terrible news to Der F├╝hrer.

“The iPad won’t support multitasking,” one general confesses. Hitler erupts in impotent rage, “I wanted to watch videos of lolcats while laying on the couch. But no, they won’t even give it Flash support.”

This four-minute video, available on YouTube, is one of hundreds of goofy edits to the English subtitles of a powerful scene from a 2004 German-language movie titled “Downfall” in the United States. In various home-subtitled remakes over the last few years, Hitler explodes when told that the McMansion he was trying to flip is in foreclosure, that the band Oasis has split up, that the Colts lost the Super Bowl or that people keep making more “Downfall” parodies. When Hitler learns Sarah Palin has resigned as governor of Alaska, he pounds his chest. “Every time she winked,” he moans, “I thought it was just for me.”

Making your own Hitler video turns out to be refreshingly easy, which is why so many of them can be found on YouTube. All you need is a PC and Microsoft’s Movie Maker, a program included with both Windows XP and Vista. (If you run the new Windows 7, you will need to download the old Movie Maker 2.6, rather than the new but less powerful Windows Live Movie Maker. If you’re a Mac user, Apple’s built-in iMovie application will handle the job.)...

A brief word about “fair use.” When you are playing with copyrighted material, you have to be aware that all your hard work can be for naught. While you may be well within your rights to use a portion of copyrighted material in a parody — the law is murky on how much material and in what fashion constitutes fair use — your parody might get squashed. Downfall’s copyright holder, Constantin Film, had a dozen remixes removed from YouTube earlier this year. But the company seems to have since yielded to the phenomenon. And YouTube recently removed the clip that began the 2007 fad of rickrolling, long after the meme had worn itself out."

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