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The History of Music Video - a Timeline

The creation and development of the music video from 1920 to the present day. Part of my research into what makes a music video and how to create my own.
by

Hepzibah Saoirse-Villazon

on 23 February 2013

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Transcript of The History of Music Video - a Timeline

MUSIC VIDEO HISTORY 1902-1917:
The phonoscène era The forerunner of sound film. A chronophone sound recording combined with a chronograph film shot, actors lip-syncing to the sound recording. The separate sound and film were synchronized by a mechanism patented by Léon Gaumont in 1902.

Chronophonography - “a set of photographs of a moving object, taken for the purpose of recording and exhibiting successive phases of motion.”
19026-1959:
Talkies, soundies, and shorts In 1926, with the arrival of "talkies" many musical short films were produced. Vitaphone shorts (Warner Bros.) featured many bands, vocalists and dancers. Shorts were usually six minutes long and featured 'Art Deco-style' animations and backgrounds along with the film of the band/artist performing. The Vitaphone Vitaphone was a sound/film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 shorts. Vitaphone was the last major 'sound-on-disc' system and the only one which was widely used and commercially successful. The soundtrack, rather than printed on the film itself, was recorded separately on phonograph records. Many early talkies, such as The Jazz Singer (1927), used the Vitaphone system. The "Vitaphone" trademark was later associated with cartoons and other shorts that had optical soundtracks (such as the 'Movietone' sound system) and did not use discs. Early 1930s cartoons featured popular musicians performing their hit songs in live-action segments during the cartoons. The early animated Walt Disney films (like the Silly Symphonies shorts and particularly Fantasia) were built around music, featuring several interpretations of classical pieces of music. Warner Brothers produced a cartoon called Three Pigs in a Polka, set to 'Hungarian Dances' by Johannes Brahms. It featured the classic story of 'The Three Little Pigs' as well as being almost an animated dance to the beat of the music.
Another early form of music video were one-song films called "promotional clips" made in the 1940s for the Panoram visual jukebox. These were short films featuring usually just a band on a movie-set/stage known as 'soundies'. Thousands of soundies were made, they mostly featured jazz musicians, but other performers (like comedians and dancers) were known to appear in them. Soundies covered all genres of music, from classical to big-band swing, and from hillbilly novelties to patriotic songs. Although dramatic movies often featured a musical interval, it was the soundie put the music in the forefront; basically all known jazz performers
from that era appeared in soundie shorts. The Panoram (featured in the photo to the right) was a visual jukebox that played music with a synced film to accompany it. They were popular in the U.S. during the 1940s but the craze faded during World War II. A Panoram was the size of a refrigerator and used mirrors to reflect the image onto an etched-glass screen from a projector in an enclosed cabinet.

The Scopitone was first made in France, based on earlier soundie technology developed during WWII. Several well-known musical stars appeared in Scopitone films. One featured Nancy Sinatra dancing with a group of go-go girls to These Boots Are Made For Walking. Another had Julie London singing "Daddy" against a backdrop of strippers.By the end of the 1960s, however, the popularity had faded for the Scopitone too. The Visual Jukebox 1960–1973:
Promotional clips
grow in importance 1974–1980: Beginnings of music television 1981–1991:
Music videos go mainstream 1992–2004:
Rise of the directors Music Video History 2005–present:
The Internet becomes video-friendly In 1964, The Beatles starred in A Hard Day's Night directed by Richard Lester. It was presented as a mockumentary and it had a mixture of comedy/dialogue scenes and musical ones. This film was the basis for many subsequent music videos. The US TV series The Monkees (1966-68) modelled itself directly on The Beatles' film, this similarly featured film segments used to accompany various Monkees songs. Help! was The Beatles' second film which was this time in colour and filmed both in London and at international locations. The title sequence has been described as 'one of the prime archetypes of the modern performance-style music video' because of the experimental camera use and editing techniques. The group released their third film at the end of 1967, Magical Mystery Tour. It was and hour long, made for television, and written and directed by the group themselves. It was poorly received at the time for a lack of structural narrative but it proved the band to be accomplished music video makers in their own right. Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan had a promotional clip filmed by D. A. Pennebaker. It has no performance or narrative featured in the video, simply just the artist silently shuffling through large cue cards with key words from the lyrics on them. Many promotional clips, known as "filmed inserts" were created by UK artists to replace in-person appearances, making international distribution cheaper and simpler. Pink Floyd made several of these promotional films including Scarecrow and Interstellar Overdrive, the second being directed by Peter Whitehead who also created several pieces for The Rolling Stones. David Bowie had a series of promotional clips in 1972-73 directed by Mick Rock. There were four clips to promote each of Bowie's singles released during this time; John, I'm Only Dancing, The Jean Genie, Space Oddity, and Life On Mars. The video for John, I'm Only Dancing had a budget of only $200 and was filmed at a rehearsal for one of David Bowie's concert. It features Bowie and his band lip syncing to the song intercut with Bowie's dancers 'The Astronettes'. Similarly, the Jean Jenie clip was filmed in a day and edited in two, with a budget of $350. It has a mixture of footage of Bowie and band in concert, in a studio, and Bowie with Cyndria Foxe. It follows many aspects of Andrew Goodwin's music video theory including thought beats and visuals representing the lyrics. The TV show Top of the Pops started showing music videos in the late 70s. The BBC placed strict limits on the number of videos that could be used which had a big influence on sales because the consumer demand for seeing particular videos was so strong. This increased the pressure on having a good promo clip and it is what got Bowie his first number one hit in almost a decade because of the Ashes to Ashes video, directed by David Mallet. In 1975 Bruce Gowers made a promo video for Queen's new single Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen ordered it to be made so it would be shown on Top of the Pops. This video is notable for being completely shot and edited on videotape. MTV launched in 1981, this was the start of 24/7 music on television. The likes of Duran Duran, Adam and the Ants, and Madonna gained a large amount of their success from the 'skilful construction and seductive appeal' of their videos, all broadcasted on shows like MTV.

Things that influenced the development of the modern music video were the relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use video recording and editing equipment. The wave of high-quality colour videotape recorders and portable cameras fitted nicely with the New Wave era DIY philosophy which allowed many bands and artists to create quick, cheap videos in comparison with using film which was much more expensive. Referred to as one of the most successful, influential, and iconic music video of all time, Michael Jackson's Thriller video was released in 1983. It was almost 14 minutes long and it cost $500,000, this set new standards for music video production. Directors and acts in this period also explored and expanded the genre of the music video, applying more 'sophisticated' effects, mixing film and video, adding narrative. Occasionally 'non-representational' videos were made, in these the artist was not shown. These were fairly rare due to the main purpose of music videos being to promote the artist. Three early 80s examples are Bruce Springsteen's Atlantic City (directed by Arnold Levine), David Bowie and Queen's Under Pressure (David Mallet), and Duran Duran's The Chaffeur (Ian Emes). In 1992, it was demonstrated how much music videos had become an auteur's medium when MTV began listing directors along with the credits. Directors such as Chris Cunningham, Michael Gondry, Spike Jonze, Stephane Sednaoui, Mark Romanek, and Hype Williams started around this time, all bringing vision and creativity of a unique style to their direction. Some (including Gondry and Jonze) proceeded to direct feature films. Romanek directed, in 1995, what was noted as two of the three most expensive music videos of all time; Madonna's Bedtime Story - $5 million, and Michael and Janet Jackson's Scream - $7 million. YouTube was launched in 2005 which created faster and easier viewing, there were many other video sites such as Yahoo! Video but Youtube is by far the biggest, most influential video-streaming site. YouTube celebrities became the new aim for many artists such as OK Go who achieved online fame through the videos for two of their songs A Million Ways (2005) and Here It Goes Again (2006).
Weezer's video for Pork and Beans (2008) caught the same trend and became the most successful single of Weezer's career. The video for Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars received over one hundred million views when it was uploaded to YouTube in 2009 as well as over forty million plays on MySpace. It was one of the most downloaded videos ever to be featured on iTunes and after receiving four nominations at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, 30 Seconds to Mars was the most nominated rock artist in VMA history for a single year. In the late 90s a series of video-related websites were launched. In 1997 there was iFilm which simply hosted short videos, including music videos. Between 1999 and 2001, a file-sharing service called Napster was ran which allowed users to share videos. MTV and many of its sister channels mainly abandoned music videos to make room for reality TV by the mid-2000s. These were more popular with audiences because the Internet had taken away the novelty of music videos. The music video website VEVO was launched by major publishers in 2009. The videos on VEVO are syndicated to YouTube and are where all major official music videos are featured, including most of the videos on this Prezi.
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