Terrance Heath

My Best from JumpCut

Filed By Terrance Heath | May 12, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: JumpCut, LGBT videos, progressive videos

There’s a trend I’ve noticed in the past year or so, which is related to one I wrote about almost two years ago, when bloggers asked both parties to make presidential debate video available on the web.

Well, I don’t’ know if it can make you a “star.” But it’s getting easier, and a lot more fun, to create, remix, and experiment with video online. And with a presidential election gearing up, bloggers are asking both parties to make debate video accessible and editable on the web. The “remix” potential here is, to put it mildly, huge.

I don’t have a lot experience with video, but in the past month I’ve used video on my blog a few times, in a few different ways, and saw a leap in my traffic when people discovered my videos and linked to them. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t know much about video, which means if I can do it anyone can. You just have to know what to use.

…I've only scratched the surface when it comes to online video. There are lots more sites and resources out there, like Yahoo Video, DropShots, Metacafe, Motionbox, Revver, Dailymotio, Grouper, blip.tv, iFilm, Photobucket (with a new remix feature) and Ourmedia, just to name a few. With all the video resources out there, the amount of video available on the web, and little creativity, The possibilities are almost endless.

Well, I did say “almost endless.” Good thing, too. Because, well, things changed.

Just a couple of years ago, there was a minor explosion of online video editing resources. Some let you import video from other sites, like YouTube or Metacafe, and other required you to upload the video you wanted to edit. But all of them offered a creative opportunity to mix or “remix” video, graphic and audio content to produce your own creation. In other words, even if you didn’t own a video camera and/or happen to be an amateur film director or documentarian, and didn’t have a entire production company behind you, you could make a statement with video.

I tried it, and found that — depending on how it’s used — “remixed” video could draw traffic to this blog. Because compelling content helps draw traffic, and compelling visual content can bring even more.

But in the past couple of years, those same video editing sites have been dropping like flies. The latest of them is JumpCut.

Jumpcut Users

After careful consideration, we will be officially closing the Jumpcut.com site on June 15, 2009. Therefore, we are no longer accepting new uploads. This was a difficult decision to make, but it’s part of the ongoing prioritization efforts at Yahoo!

We have released a software utility that allows you to download the movies you created on Jumpcut to your computer. As well, you can now download your original assets. See the download page to get started.

Once you download your movies, you may choose to upload them to another site such as Flickr, which now allows video uploads. You can find out more here: http://flickr.com/explore/video

Thanks for your understanding and thanks for being a part of Jumpcut.

The Jumpcut Team

That’s a shame. JumpCut was where I created several videos that were surprisingly popular, and drew more traffic here than I expected. Fortunately, I got the message in time enough to download my videos, so I don’t lose them. (Plus I downloaded the assets used to make them, so I can remake and improve them if I want, since the production value isn’t exactly professional quality.) I decided to post them here as a collection.

They’re listed here in order of the number of views received. “A Bashing in Jamaica” came of of a desire to make some kind of statement about a brutal gay-bashing in Jamaica, and received far more views and comments than I expected. I’d been reading At The Hand of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America and Without Sanction: Lynching Photography in America, and couldn’t help seeing parallels.

“No, We Didn’t” was an emotional response to the passage of Proposition 8, at the same time we made history by electing our first African-American president. Again, I couldn’t help but see the connections.

“Bush Remixed” was basically are response to conservative pundits actually asking “Do we need the president to be smart?” and some even making the case for a negative answer.

“Chocolate Jesus” was a response to the furor over an actual chocolate Jesus displayed at a gallery a couple of years ago, and an article about how Jesus (if he actually existed) would probably have looked.

“Cultures of Domination” was inspired by a stunning photo essay I came across online, which has far more images than I could include, but I tried to pick some of the most powerful.

“Ecco Homo” was inspired by, well, Ecco Homo

JumpCut isn’t the only video editing site to go the way of the dinosaur. EyeSpot met its demise some time ago. It was probably the only other video editing site I used as much as JumpCut.

Eyespot.com - Eyespot was an online editor that allowed video mashup creation. In March of this year they opened up their services to everyone, but on September 30th they sent out a Twitter message saying they had shut down. The domain currently shows their shut down message, complete with a crying version of their logo.

An attempt to visit EyeSpot.Com redirects you to PixelFish, which is more like a web video ad agency, it seems.

Flektor was a lot of fun, too, while it lasted.

Flektor was a web application that allowed users the ability to create and "mashup" their own content (photos, videos, music, etc.) and share it via email, on social networking websites MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, Digg, Ebay or on personal blogs. The company's website (Flektor.com) launched on April 2, 2007 and over 40,000 people began utilizing its features just one month later. Flektor closed down in January 2009.[1]

Flektor offered tools and widgets that included audio, video, photos, text, and approximately 100 effects, transitions and filters to be used with media. Users could create personalized slideshows, polls, postcards, and streaming video projects which the website calls “fleks.” Flektor also offered Chat (used as a MySpace addon) and Movie Editor, which provided the ability to edit content and assets together. Users of Flektor could import media from websites like Photobucket and Google’s YouTube, and then edit their content with the site’s editing tools.

It was also among the most versatile, since you could edit video and create slideshows. It was bought by Fox and absorbed into MySpace/Photobucket, where its slideshow function seems to have ended up, though in a less feature-rich form. (Slide, Imageloop, and RockYou offer much more in the way of slideshow features.)

Cuts was one that I barely got to try.

Cuts lets you pull in and cut apart videos from sites like YouTube and Myspace, with wider support upon launch. To edit a video, you just need the URL of your favorite video or click a bookmarklet to cut the video on your current page. Cuts imports the video and takes you to their editing suite. As of the private beta, Cuts will let you add captions, add a group of sound effects, loop sections of video, and trim out parts of the video. Each of these functions runs on a separate track you use to sync the effect to a time frame in the video.

Not only will you be able to cut up a video once, but each video made with Cuts will also be able to be cut up again, and again. It's sort of like the video version of music remixing sites JamGlue and SpliceMusic. Cuts will add a few more bells and whistles after their public launch. Check out some screen shots of the service below, or sign up for the beta on their site.

Alas, it was acquired by RiffTrax, and I haven’t tried to figure out what it lost in the process. (Usually, these kinds of acquisitions result in fewer options, and limited access in stead of more.)

There are others that I either haven’t tried or have limited experience with, like JayCut and OneTrueMedia.

Most recently, I’ve been using Kaltura, which is open-source, and has a Wordpress plugin. It also imports video, images, and audio from sources like YouTube, MySpace, Jamendo, Flickr, and Photobucket. I’ve used it to create several videos on this blog lately. And the plugin now includes a playlist feature.

But for “serious” video editing, I usually work offline, since few of these sites offer a download option, and (as you can see from all the above) they may close up shop and you may lose your content if you don’t get the news soon enough. For those cases, I use a combination of programs, like ffmpegx, MPEG Streamclip, and HyperEngine-AV.

I used that combination of tools to publish a series of video mashups called “Prosecute Them,” focused on torture, the Bush administration, and the “war on terror.” (Currently hosted on Kaltura.)

(I’ve been experimenting with video as another mode of expression, when the time I need in order to write is in low supply.)

I’m not sure why so many of these video editing and hosting sites (because they all offered hosting as well) have disappeared. In the case of JumpCut, it may be the economy. Yahoo recently laid off 5% of its global workforce, after laying off 1,500 in December. My guess is that it’s also cost related. Hosting tons of video has to be expensive. Not to mention the amount of bandwidth it probating takes to import and edit video online.

That, and legal issues probably make the business of online video editing very tricky. But I hope it’s doesn’t end up getting stifled completely. Because I fear the likely trend in online media will have the effect of decreasing the numbers of people who can create and participate online, and thus will narrow the range of ideas and discussion in a way that will look a lot like “the old days.”


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