The Live Video Revolution

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It’s out. Not a video release, but the new one-take film Victoria directed by Sebastian Schipper.

And according the Guardian’s film critic Jonathan Romney, “more than a technical prodigy, Victoria is an authentic piece of cinematic magic.”

All of which got me thinking about the single-take video and live streaming.

Digital technology has a big part to play in the making of a film like Victoria – smaller lighter cameras, longer battery life, more toys and kit to support the camera operation, online distribution for those who can’t make the cinema.

And live streaming is here and present. Facebook Live and Twitter are hard at it, with Periscope announcing in March that it had more than 200 million broadcasts and Google rumoured to be creating a live streaming app called YouTube Connect.

But is this drive to be seen ‘doing stuff’ in one take, whether heavily directed or just random slices of life, a result of technology or does it point to something deeper about the video experience?

Victoria is literally a one camera shot that follows a scripted drama as it unfolds. Given that it is an absorbing watch in which you totally forget there’s no editing, it seems to belie the incredible choreography and sleight of hand that has gone into producing such a long (140 minutes) take.

Today’s uninterrupted Periscope experience is reminiscent of the documentary technique that revolutionised the format in the 80s. Roger Graef’s ground breaking work ‘A Complaint of Rape’, which had only 4 edits in 45 minutes of screened footage was a momentous breakthrough, because it created the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ forerunner of live streaming.

And this is perhaps the key to understanding the developing interest in the ‘slice-of-life’ format.

Whether heavily choreographed to seem real or a camera on an event that is real, the viewer thinks or kids themselves into thinking they’re witnessing events uninterrupted by any third party mediation.

Although this couldn’t be further from the truth, it’s a another move towards the democratisation of mass video production.