Yawn, despite being a teeny weeny bit partied out from the Cheezburger party the previous night, we still managed to get ourselves out of our beds for a panel on Supercuts on day 2 of ROFLcon.
For those of you who do not know, 'Supercuts' is a phrase coined by panel mod Waxy's Andy Baio after he started making a list of mash-ups exploring film and TV tropes.
The list started with 'What', 'Kramer's Entrance' and 'Excuse Me Princess'. As he explored around the dark edges of YouTube, he soon realised there were at least 50 videos in this genre, so he decided to start a list. Gradually, as this list got bigger and bigger, thanks largely to user-submitted links, he soon realised this was enough of a phenomenon to branch out on its own, so he decided to create Supercut.org.
So what qualities do you need to make a good Supercut? Rich Juzwiak, creator of 'not in Kansas anymore', says you need to at least appear comprehensive in your inclusion of as many examples of the trope as possible. If you're making the video for the hardcore fans, comprehensive coverage is important, but as long as you include more examples than anyone of normal fandom would be able to name then you don't need to be exhaustive.
Juzwiack was inspired by a mash-up of every time Julie Chen of Big Brother says 'but first'.
He was working at VH1, editing reality TV shows, when he noticed how many times people say 'I'm not here to make friends' and decided it was a good enough trend to make into a Supercut. It wasn't totally comprehensive, but included so many that it had the allusion of comprehension. He then went on to create more reality TV Supercuts, including Paris Hilton in 'my new British best friend’ saying everything she loves.
Juzwiak classifies Supercuts as more than just mash-ups; they say something about genre conventions. In this sense, they can't be just a catchprase that is used in everyday life but have to be medium specific. His example is the tropes in horror movies of 'no signal' and 'bathroom mirror'. Interestingly, he argues that much of meme culture is ephemeral, apart from things that continue to be relevant.
Supercuts remain relevant as long as the genre persists, and this is why his videos have much more longevity than normal viral videos.
Duncan Robson, creator of 'enhance', argues Supercuts don't have to just be from movies or TV. 'Go Right' is a video game Supercut which Robson argues has managed to solve the issue of how to make an artful Supercut with gaming visuals. He says you need to have a good aesthetic editing quality to make a Supercut, it's not just splicing footage together haphazardly.
Robson started out posting 'shopped images to b3ta while working in visual effect for films. His first Supercut was of the Royal Family ‘my arse’. He made 'enhance' after seeing a CSI clip and laughing with a friend about this genre trope. Following 'enhance' he was approached to make a Supercut, 'Tumbleweeds', for an art exhibition.
But is Supercuts an art form? Aaron Valdez started making Supercuts long before YouTube by cutting up trashed film reels from cinemas. He says that Supercuts are mostly fan videos, with artistic intent not often being the goal.
Some Supercuts do push the boundaries, for example, Christian Marclay's 'The Clock' is the ultimate artful Supercut. However, art doesn’t like to be humorous, so it is often more appropriate for the memetic, internet audience than the gallery crowd.
Supercuts border on art as they require a certain aesthetic editing quality and are a visual commentary on their own medium so are much more than just splice and dice. They need to be comprehensive (or very nearly) of the trope they are communicating so therefore require a large amount of research. Both of these Supercuts's stylistic qualities mean they take longer to make than the usual YouTube mash-up... a lot longer.
'No signal' took 5 months to create. The shortest? 'Bruce Willis', as these have an easy reference library (everything with Bruce Willis in), so only took 6 weeks.
In summary, I would say the Supercuts' core quality is time: they take much longer to create than any other mash-up viral, plus they continue to be relevant so have view count longevity.
The panel concluded by premiering this amazing new Supercut from Duncan Robson:
If we were to make a Supercut of everything we heard at ROFlcon it would probably be of people saying lol, l33t, n00b, squee, GTFO and IRL... IRL. LOL!