YouTube Solicits User Submissions for ‘Life in a Day’

LOS ANGELES:Life in a Day, which is slated to debut next January at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I’ll be honest, the idea scared us at first,” said John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival. Noting who was at the helm, he put his qualms aside and booked the showing. Still, he concedes, “I have no idea what to expect.”
YouTube’s latest social networking experiment calls for crafting a feature film from thousands of user submissions. Filmmakers Ridley Scott (executive producer) and Kevin MacDonald (director) are piloting the project, which involved soliciting video clips of lives lived on July 24 and culling a documentary from them called
Joe Walker: “How We’re Editing and Creating Life in a Day”

Dermott Boden, chief marketing officer at LG Electronics, which is co-sponsoring the project, sees the film as a way to connect his brand with “people all over the world,” even though no LG Electronics equipment was used in making it.

The two entities have shared the world stage since at least January 2009, when LGE unveiled HDTV sets that link to YouTube. This July, LG announced that its new LED HDTVs, equipped with a 3D-capable network and a Blu-ray player, would also offer connectivity to YouTube content.

Ridley Scott: “Shooting for Life in a Day”

Although guidelines stated that any footage--including mobile phone video--was acceptable, higher resolution and higher quality sound were encouraged. Submitters were urged to retain the original, highest resolution footage just in case their material was selected (upload compression lessens quality). Videographers were urged to be imaginative, personal and visual. All entries had to be uploaded between July 24 and July 31.

“There is no excuse--you have a digital camera, go out and shoot your film,” Scott said in a mid-July video clip for the Web site. “Nothing should put you off and nothing should put you down. Just do it.”

Matthew Herbert: “How You Can Build the Soundtrack to Life in a Day”

As for audio, sound designer Matthew Herbert suggested recording the following for the soundtrack he’ll be working on: a single hand clap, a single note sung for as long as possible, one breath in and out, and a favorite sound. Herbert introduced himself to participants by noting, “The main thing I do is make music out of sounds.” He demonstrated this by playing the first track from his album Plat du Jour: it’s a compendium of ambient feedback from 40,000 chickens.

With Scott and MacDonald at the helm, “they didn’t have a problem activating the YouTube audience,” says Rick Smolan, founder of Against All Odds Productions, which specializes in the design and execution of large-scale global media projects. “But they realized that if the whole film was simply people on YouTube talking to each other, it would represent a really small fraction of the human race.”“Life in a Day Call for Entries”

His company was contracted for international outreach by Google, which had sponsored a number of its projects over the past seven years. In less than a month, AAOP’s network of contacts distributed 650 Fujifilm FinePix AV100 cameras to remote areas in about 40 countries, explains Smolan. The 12-megapixel cameras can capture 720p HD video, enable panoramic shots and are SD/SDHC memory card compatible.

“We wanted cameras that could run on AA batteries,” says Smolan. “We realized that in some places there might not be electricity.”

His on-site contacts translated the video instructions and sent representatives into the field to deliver the cameras, train the videographers and handle the paperwork. Google prepaid for DHL shipment of the cameras’ memory cards to Ridley Scott’s Scott Free production company in London, bypassing the YouTube upload process. The videographers got to keep the cameras.

"By July 30, the project had already collected “30,000-40,000 entries,” according to director Kevin MacDonald.

YouTube has publicized the endeavor as its latest “promise to bring the collaboration and democratization of YouTube to another level.” It follows on the heels of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra and YouTube Play.

In December 2008, YouTube launched the first online collaborative orchestra, calling for open entries through January 2009. Finalists were voted on by the YouTube community in February and the winners performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in April under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

In June, YouTube Play, co-sponsored with HP, was introduced to showcase up to 20 videos at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Oct. 21, 2010. Simultaneous presentations are slated for Guggenheim museums in Berlin, Bilbao and Venice and will be available to a worldwide audience on the YouTube Play channel. – by Robin Berger for Videography