It’s a busy time for video at the moment: Facebook introducing video profile pictures, Vine launching the ability to edit to music, Instagram becoming a more flexible platform. One of the video apps tipped for big things is Luup, an app with the potential to change the way people film and watch movies, while democratising the creation of music videos.
Breaking some golden rules of video making, this Finnish startup’s app lets you choose your music first, choose a filter and then shoot just four shots to your soundtrack. This means people can shoot, review and share their own personal music video in a matter of seconds.
However, Luup’s new innovation is just the latest in a long line of ingenious ideas, which popularised the idea of music and video working in perfect harmony. Perhaps surprisingly, music videos didn’t start with The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, nor did they start with MTV, VH1 or YouTube. In fact, believe it or not, the story of the music video began well over a century ago.
A marriage of music and movement
George Thomas, an American electrician-slash-photographer, was the first person to marry images with music. His “illustrated song” was a series of still images printed onto glass slides. These were coloured by hand and projected onto a screen alongside a live musical performance. This ingenious idea made songbook publisher Edward B. Marks and Joe Stern’s number, The Little Lost Child, a massive hit back in the music halls of 1894.
The making of melody magic
Fast forward three decades and we come to the era of talkies, and musical films. Insanely popular, the Spooney Melodies was a series of five musical shorts produced by Warner Brothers between 1930 and 1931. The films were the first to mix art-deco animation and live-action footage to popular tunes of the day. Considerably longer than modern music videos, often clocking in at six minutes, only one of them, Crying For The Carolines, is known to have survived.
That battle of the boxes
In the late 1950s, a French company called Cameca came up with the Scopitone. This marvelous machine incorporated a 16mm film component into a jukebox. Soon the Italians were following suit with the Cinebox. By the 1960s both these variations had arrived in the USA, where the Cinebox became the Cinejukebox and Francis Ford Coppola invested in the Scopitone. Sadly, the craze for video jukeboxes fizzled out by 1967, but by then the enthusiasm for music videos was unstoppable.
Video kills the radio star
It was television, of course, that truly launched the music video. In the mid-1970s, alongside the UK’s famous Top of the Pops (which had quite restrictive rules on how many non-live ‘outsourced clips’ they could use in the programme), Australian TV shows Countdown and Sounds were busy popularising the genre. Sounds presenter and DJ Graham Webb hired new director Russell Mulchay to shoot videos for songs that he wanted to feature on his show but that didn’t already have their own promo clips. Mulchay went on create the video for The Buggle’s Video Killed The Radio Star – which became, in 1981, the first music video ever to be played on MTV.
Music TV thrills
Since the 1980s, round-the-clock music video channels have become the norm – starting with MTV, VH1 and Canada’s MuchMusic – and in 1984, MTV launched their Music Awards (latterly the VMAs). Directors grew ambitious – John Landis’s video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller cost a staggering half a million dollars to make and opened the way for African-American artists in the music video scene.
Videos go viral
Although MTV is now more focused on reality shows than music, the internet has picked up where TV has waned, and, since 2005, YouTube is the first port of call for anybody searching for their favourite artist’s latest video. In fact, the top ten YouTube videos of all time are music videos, with Psy’s “Gangnam style” reaching an incredible 2.5 billion views since it was released in 2012. And today, thanks to smartphones, more people than ever check out videos anywhere, anytime.
Of course, it’s the same smartphones combined with apps such as Luup that might well launch the next mini revolution in music video making. Just imagine the possibility of a thousand different people making a thousand different videos to the same tune. Is music video making now an art form for the people? To see for yourself, why not download Luup and let us know what you think @HYBEMEDIA.