The Videographers Guide To Not falling On Your New Media Face – Chapter 9 “New Media Cliches”

Regardless of your medium of expression, or level of expertise we have all done them, cliche shots.  In film some of these include; The man running through a flock of pigeons, Shots of subways, taxi’s.  Steam rising from the streets of New York, anything utilizing time-lapse and so on. These are just a few of the cliches that we have seen in old media.  Today there are a whole new list of cliches that have or are quickly becoming a part of the New Media vocabulary.  What are these New Cliches? Here is my top 10 list of cliches that have developed in recent years.  I will leave it up to you to decide which one of these cliches you want to add to your repertoire.

10. Craft – This one really got started by the site one of the first sites to incorporate the element of video-blogging. They excelled in documenting the obsessive craftsman or artist toiling away perfecting their creations.  It is the perfect genre for online media as it is a genre that still goes widely under-represented in old media.

9. The Lens-flare Hipster Girl combo – Nothing beats a low angle shot of a beautiful girl as the sun flares directly into the lens of the camera.  This was and still is one of my favorite cliche shots. This technique seemed to peak right around the whole MGMT, Animal Collective outdoorsy hipster years of 2007 – 2008.  A more recent example can be found on a video shot by Merlin Bronques of Lastnightsparty fame for Kanon Organic Vodka.

8. Americana – As of late there has been a huge influx of videos dealing with Americana. Putting a contemporary lens on artifacts, related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the United States.  Hypebeast has been one of the key curators of this genre.  One recent post titled The Axe begged the question has this genre finally “jumped the shark”.  The comments on this page are among the funniest I have read.

7. Tilt Shift – This technique was great when you actually had to get a tilt shift lens to pull it off.  Now that editing software is used to achieve the same effect it is quickly becoming watered down and cliche.  The filmmaker best known for this genre Sam O’Hare does it better than anyone as this video titled Coachelletta demonstrates.

6. The Exposure Dissolve – This one sort of falls into the Vintage category, it’s the over-exposed dissolve. It looks cool, and it still works as you can see in this video titled Influencers.

5. The Act of God –  It seems like anytime there is an act of God be it a Snowstorm, a Lunar Eclipse, or a Tornado there is someone ready to exploit it for the video views only.  Maybe if they placed “God” in the directors credit I wouldn’t have such a problem with it.  A few filmmakers have managed to express these events in their own unique way as in this video from The Mutiny Company titled Idiot With A Tripod.

4. The Video Booth – This is another one of my favorites that I still utilize today.  Most recently albeit very briefly on the Artists Wanted video in which Chloe Sevigny decided to grace us with her presence. The website ShadowScene is also pretty well known for this cliche.

3.  The Middle Finger/The Peace Sign/The Point – Somehow I managed to include all three of these in the opening sequence of this party video I shot and edited for a short lived party series called Acrylic.

2. The Vintage Look – Thanks to Magic Bullet Looks, and iPhone photo aps like Camera Bag and Hipstamatic the vintage look has over-saturated us with it’s under-saturated color treatment and vignetted frames.  This video from the kinda annoying Toro Y Moi is a recent example of this.

1. The Low Concept On The Street Music Video – There was a time when producing even the most “basic” music video required enormous resources, months of planning and tens of thousands of dollars in investments. Despite the “basic” nature of these videos they still held up on some artistic level if only for the difficulty it took to produce them. With today’s technology any one can replicate or even surpass the level of production of earlier days with nothing more than a DSLR camera and a willing participant. This video titled “Address” featuring two pretty well known artist (Stalley & Curren$y) is a good example of what can be achieved for little or no money.


The 80′s VHS look – This one is still relatively new but it’s already getting the Social Media overkill with videos like  Century Girl from former New Pop Host Theophilus London, or Onra’s Sitting Back.

Sex Sells – The time honored method of using sex to sell is so cliche that it has ceased being cliche only to be cliche again, where it will remain cliche until it stops being cliche.  You get the point.  Take your pick of sites that exploit sex to get viewers.   I personally try to stay away from it.  It’s just too easy.

Next Friday: Interview Tips.

Trevor “Trevz” Bayack is a Brooklyn-born filmmaker who approaches his web pieces as mini documentaries. Recognized as a member of the 2008 URB magazine Next 100 for pioneering the “video blog” Trevz continually makes his pieces shorter, sharper and ever more shareable” Follow our twitter feed for more.

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