Another not exciting week has almost passed me by.
I have spent most of my out-of-work time this week downloading video clips from popular site YouTube, using the methods described in this article. Although the videos on YT are streamed and thus theoretically undownloadable, there are ways of getting around this. I use the Firefox browser at work, and once I had downloaded the VideoDownloader plug-in mentioned in the article, it was a breeze to get the videos onto my hard disk. I then used a program to convert the resulting .flv files (which can only be watched with an flv viewer) into avi files, and thence onto cd.
Technology aside, what of the videos? Most of the material which I downloaded are clips from the 'Beat Club' tv programme shown in Germany from the mid 60s until mid 70s; the videos uploaded to YouTube are clips which were shown on tv, possibly taped to video, and then digitalised. As a result of this analog/digital/analog/digital/conversion process, the final quality is not wonderful. Most of the videos came out looking ok, but some suffer from excessive pixelisation, especially the older BC videos which were shot in black and white.
A great number of videos show acts miming to their songs, and as their songs are available at higher quality elsewhere, the enjoyment lies in watching the musicians and identifying the instruments. Much of the tv direction is bizarre, focusing on meaningless visual elements (like the stage lighting) or on instruments which aren't the major contributors (eg The Kinks' "Lola", which has more shots of the pianist's hands than of Ray Davies singing). There are some excellent clips, such as Rod Stewart miming "Maggie May" whilst playing football and accompanied by the late John Peel 'playing' the mandolin. There are also some rare clips, such as King Crimson playing "Lark's tongue in aspic, part 1" (beware: there are two clips of this available, one just over seven minutes and one just under six minutes. Choose the shorter one: the longer one gets stuck at around the 2:30 mark). And there are some extremely weird clips, such as a Japanese trio who play a note-for-note rendition of Crimson's "Lark's tongue in aspic, part 2". I downloaded it without watching, so I was really surprised when I saw the result.
There is also a clip of Jimi Hendrix playing "All along the watchtower" as a RIGHT handed guitarist; if one watches closely, it becomes obvious that someone reversed the original film, as there are signs like "STAGE" which have been reversed as to be unreadable. I don't know what the novelty value of this is, but it's definitely worth finding the live clip of "Hey Joe", which has him playing normally (which means with his teeth as well as picking with his left hand).
Other live perfomances include Van der Graaf Generator playing "Whatever would Robert have said?", Roxy Music with "Virginia Plain", and concert footage of a supergroup comprising of (amongst others) Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman playing an excellent version of "Layla".