This won't be news to anyone: digital technology has fundamentally changed the way we do so many things. What I'm particularly looking at right now are the results of a contest by the Seattle Times, called the Three-Minute Masterpiece Contest:
This year's contest, in which we asked our readers to make three-minute digital movies, was our most popular yet. We got more than 200 entries. Many of our entries were in the under-18 category, and in some cases entire classes sent in films.
I've looked at a few of them so far (and I really like "Go Fish"), and will get to the others as I have time. What's striking about these, apart from the artistry of the filmmakers, is the ease with which one can film, edit, and distribute things like this these days.
See, back in 1970 there was a song by Steppenwolf, called "Monster", which chronicled the history of America, talked about some of the not-so-great things that we've done through that history, and culminated in an anti-war message — Vietnam, at the time, but it's interesting how timely the song still seems now. I had the idea of doing a project for social studies class, where I'd make a short film cutting from one to another still photo, timed to the music, with each photo depicting what the song was talking about at that moment. During the instrumental sections and the more general lyrics, the choruses, the photos would cut to the drumbeats and guitar licks. I had a great plan, and it would have been a really cool project.
The only trouble was that it was essentially impossible for a high school kid to do such a thing then. I'd have had to do it as a home movie with super-8mm film. Cutting that would be done with physical film splices. I'd have needed equipment that could record the audio track afterward, and I couldn't hope to get the cuts properly synchronized with the song. And the cost would have been outrageous. After discussing it with some friends, I abandoned the idea, but have obviously never forgotten it.
Now, though, while it would still be challenging to get a suitable collection of photos and to plan all the cuts from one to the next, and would take some care to get it right, it would be very practical. Once one had the photos, a $50 piece of software and an evening spent dragging, dropping, clicking, and tweaking would get the desired result. What's more, once it was made it wouldn't just be shown to one's high-school class — it could be posted on the Internet for immediate viewing by millions of people. Get noticed by the right blog or two, and the online world would soon be flooding your ISP with hits.
Ah, I wish I'd had this stuff 35 years ago, when I wanted it. Or the inclination to do it now.......
Update: I added the lyrics to "Monster" in the comments section, for those who're interested.