Remixing for Purpose and Progress

One of the fastest growing trends in video storytelling is video remixing. Video remixes involve cutting together existing video footage culled from various sources to tell a cohesive, cogent story. The technique is utilized extensively by NowThis, Mic, Vice, Refinery29 Vox and others others to create compelling and sharable content.

This example, created by Pop Culture Pirate, is a commentary on the pay gap between men and women footballers:


final cut from Pop Culture Pirate on Vimeo.

Because the cost is relatively low and video remixes can be assembled quickly, Fenton’s Senior Strategic Content Producer Kitty Overton sees them as exciting tools for social change, especially for organizations interested in engaging with their social networks more frequently or responding more rapidly to current events than creating original video content typically allows. “With the right editorial voice, a remix of existing video can be very persuasive. I think of the recent video by Sam Reichman for Slate.  Ms. Reichman found video of every time Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood was interrupted by members of Congress while giving testimony on the Hill and edited it back to back, making a powerful statement about what happened in that session.”

As you can see from the football example above, with video remixing, everything is fair game – tv shows, commercials, news reports, user generated content and even movies. But what about copyright laws, you may ask. As long as your video is used for is created as commentary, criticism or parody, the video content rights are covered under fair use.

Elisa Kreisinger, a well-known video remixer and executive producer at Refinery29, provided clarity on what can and cannot be used under fair use law in an interview with Brooklyn Magazine. She notes the growing blend between content consumption and content creation with the rise of the “active media makers and producers.” People are becoming more engaged, and social change organizations must take advantage of this shifting dynamic in order to help achieve their missions.

While there are no hard and fast rules on the length of each video segment that can be used, a good rule of thumb is to keep each excerpt to a few seconds. Be sure to consult the U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index for more information.

As part of the editorial nature of the remixed video, you cannot have a commercial call-to-action at the end of your video and your video cannot be used as a traditional ad. You can and should, however, place a call-to-action in your video description text. Your copy should match the tone of the video and provide additional commentary on your video. Make it as shareable as possible.

As you start to think about and plan your remixed video, make sure to include graphics throughout and your logo at the end. Having graphic elements throughout helps with the transitions and makes the cuts feel natural. Don’t make the viewer think he or she is watching a spliced video, rather make the viewer think that he or she is watching something completely cohesive.

Include enough subtitles and transitions so that the video’s message is clear, even without sound. Most videos on social media are viewed without sound, thus it’s vital to properly reach and engage with your audience.

Optimize your video for viewing on mobile devices. According to a study from Adobe, 58% of short-form video, which is video under 5 minutes, is viewed on a mobile device, while 36% of long-form content, which is anything over 5 minutes, is viewed on mobile. These numbers are expected to continually rise, thus it’s paramount that you plan for it now.

Finally, be sure to consider the player on which you are loading your video. Will it play automatically? Will it automatically mute the sound? Each portal has its own requirements, and it’s important to tailor the video to the portal utilized.