Music videos of late, it would seem, fall into the following categories; medium-budget greenscreen or cheap location-based promos interspersed with half-naked dancers, random collections of YouTube concert footage from a band’s live tour, inexpensive home-made efforts, and the dreaded lyric video. Oh and Gangnam Style.
Be it a lack of money for budgets, or the fact that MTV no longer fulfills the “music” portion of its name, it seems like the music video has officially lost its lustre. The production values and close relationship to the music of the best of these promos has gone missing, washed away by streaming services and downgraded by downloading. There’s little if any of the rampant creativity or bonkers conceptual nosense left of their 80s and 90s heyday; the industry was every bit as likely to bring you the video for November Rain as it was Come As You Are, but it had plenty of choice and difference on offer, and came with a certain amount of professionalism you just don’t get with a raft of women in bikins gyrating on a boat for no apparent reason.
This is where Rotor comes in.
The first app of its kind – created by an Irish-based development team – Rotor aims to allow users to produce proper, professional quality music videos from the comfort of their own home, studio, home-studio, net cafè or whereever, combining an easy-to-navigate set of controls and a big helping of customisation that allows artists to put visuals to their creations and make quick, easy and instantly share-ready promos for their music.
The biggest of the features the product is boasting about is that the entire thing is Cloud-based, which means no downloading of software or worrying whether or not your computer is going to split in half midway through editing a video. The process is all online, something that’ll please cash-strapped musicians and editors alike.
The app itself promises a number of options. There’s the simple setup for those who want quick results; just upload your track and any images or video you’ve captured, pick a video style from the menu and hit go, letting Rotor analyse the song, fill in the visual blanks, edits and effects, ultimately spitting out a finished product that can be downloaded and sent across the web in a matter of minutes – The video styles on offer have been put together by award-winning directors and video artists, too, in order to guarantee some good quality, interesting visuals.
Alternatively you’ll be able to create a custom video style, add your own content, including live footage, and either let Rotor sync everything up or use the editing tools on offer. This option comes with a neat tool called the “Rotor Assistant,” an app for mobile devices which will be packed with tips and tricks for shooting performance footage and recording content for the website’s “Patch Bay,” where creators can upload and control their content. This means that even virgin video authors should be able to record their pieces on their device, upload, sync it, Rotor-ise it and post it online within the day.
There’s also the possibility that the app can be used in a live setting, something likely to rope in the DJ set since it’s designed to produce different results every time, even for the same song, so background videos will always come up looking new and original for every gig.
On the face of it, it’s a genius idea; giving the music video industry a boost to catch up with the on-demand nature of music in the iTunes era, with little or no downside, though a lot will depend on the product’s execution and the reactions of musicians and labels both. It may cause some worry in terms of competition for the slew of directors whose bread and butter is making music videos, but the Patch Bay option means that anyone who wants to show off their visual nous or directing skills can upload content, and potentially find their work accompanying the sounds of famous, infamous and aspiring acts alike, something which could have positive ramifications for how directors get noticed.
Whatever effect it might have, there’s little doubt that the cost and convenience at the centre of Rotor’s concept is likely to be a big draw for users; being able to put a pro-quality promo together for a fraction of the price of shooting even the cheapest video, and taking minutes instead of days or weeks to do it, is an offer that most aspiring or struggling musos will be hard-pressed to refuse.
It remains to be seen just how well Rotor will deliver on the things it promises, and the acid test will come when working versions see release in the coming months. In the meantime more information can be found at www.rotor.ie, on Facebook.com/RotorVideos and on Twitter, @RotorVideos.