You ever have an idea that you can’t get out of your head, so you have to do it? Happens to me all the time.
So I recut the new Dune trailer with a new soundtrack. Apologies to everyone involved.
Last month, we reached a big milestone for Skittish, the playful virtual space for online events I’ve been working on over the last few months: we hosted our first big public events, including the delightful !!Con, New Relic’s FutureStack conference, the Flatpack Festival, and Future of the Browser, among others.
This was a bit of a marathon, allowing us to see how Skittish worked in the real world in a variety of different events, from film screenings and unconferences to livestreamed talks and dance parties. Throughout it all, we continually tweaked and tuned it every day, making changes and fixing issues as they came up.
The result was a huge wave of new features and development in May, which I wrote about over at the Skittish blog, along with a new feature article from TechCrunch and my FutureStack talk about it all. Go check it out!
This is likely the last big update before we start sending out invites to the announcement list and opening the doors to the public. If you’re interested, you can sign up at Skittish.com, subscribe to the news blog, or follow @SkittishHQ on Twitter and Instagram to follow along.
13 years ago, I wrote about a 16-second video I instantly fell in love with and interviewed its creator. (It still holds up.)
This week, I saw a meme pop up on TikTok where literally tens of thousands of people re-enacted the Colin’s Bear Animation dance — but with no reference to the original and entirely different audio.
Instead of Mother 3’s “Funky Monkey Dance,” the soundtrack is a deep-fried muddy version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” which seems like it was first uploaded to TikTok by @zunknownhamster, kicking off the meme with this video viewed 1.5 million times.
Stripped of its original “college animation class” context, the new meme format cracks a joke about the name of some movie, show, game, or other media property, followed by “idk i never watched it” or some variation.
There are over 22,000 of these:
stranger things fans when things get stranger
death note fans when the death is noted
jojos bizarre adventure fans when jojos adventure is bizarre
when you stay at your friend Freddys house for about a week
when people build forts in the night
skyblock players when there’s a block in the sky
You get the idea.
But how did it end up on TikTok? I messaged @zunknownhamster to see where they first found it, but it’s clearly sourced from Kemdizzzle’s Garfield Dancing to Happy, uploaded to YouTube in June 2019.
That video replaced the audio from this February 2017 episode of Fatal Farm’s Lasagna Cat, a surreal webseries that ran from 2008 to 2017, and featured this pitch-perfect tribute to Colin’s Bear Animation.
Arriving 13 years after the original meme, it wouldn’t surprise me if most of the people doing the Colin’s Bear Animation dance on TikTok had never seen it before. Around 25% of TikTok’s user base wasn’t active online, or even alive, in 2008.
By definition, memes mutate and find new life and meaning over time. I’m just happy to see it keep evolving.
After announcing Skittish last month, we’ve cranked ahead on development, adding a bunch of new stuff in the last month. I wanted to show all of it off, but social media felt too limiting, so I did what I do best: started a blog.
I also recorded a little video tour showing off some of the new features, which demonstrates how much it’s changed just in the last few weeks.
For nearly two decades, I’ve tracked the illicit distribution of Oscar-nominated films online to learn how the film industry’s new and innovative ways of thwarting pirates inevitably fail.
The end result is this spreadsheet, now documenting 611 Oscar nominees from the last 19 years, with metadata for every aspect of their online journey from handheld camcorder recordings in the theater to 4K Blu-Ray rips, and everything in between.
I used to do analysis every year, but after a five-year break, I thought it was worth coming back to revisit this incredibly strange year.
The pandemic touched every aspect of our lives and the film industry was no exception. As theaters closed nationwide, theatrical releases were delayed, forcing some studios to release their films as rentals, while others partnered with streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix for exclusive streaming rights.
With theaters closed, a common source of low-quality camcorder leaks dried up, and the floodgates opened to a new one: theatrical releases in our homes on release day.
This year, the pandemic spawned two trends that shattered all records since I started tracking this data in 2003, seemingly in conflict with one another:
At first glance, it seems like the MPAA finally beat the pirates at the screener game. The blue line in the chart below shows that a record low of 9% of this year’s nominees had Oscar screeners leaked online, continuing a downward trend.
But the red line tells a different story: that fully 97% of nominees, all but one film, have already leaked online in a high-quality format.
So what’s going on here? Let’s take a look at the data to understand the unique impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on how movies were released and leaked online.
When I first started tracking this data, DVD screeners were highly desirable because they were an opportunity to leak a high-quality version of the film months before its home video release, often while it was still in theaters.
Five years ago, I wrote about how screener desirability was changing as pirates were increasingly getting access to higher-quality 720p/1080p versions of films than Academy voters, who were stuck with 480p DVDs. In 2015, I wrote that “a staggering 44% of this year’s crop of nominees leaked as a high-quality rip from some source outside of traditional screeners or retail releases — the highest percentage since I started tracking films in 2003.”
For the second year in a row, most screeners were available digitally. Instead of just Best Picture nominees this year, virtually every nominated film was available for streaming by Oscar voters this year. But as far as I can tell, only three of those easier-to-access digital screeners leaked online. Why?
This year, the vanishing window between theatrical and streaming release dates made screeners completely meaningless. Why would anyone risk waiting to pirate an Academy screener when they could get the exact same quality sooner from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or a streaming rental service?
The key chart is below, showing how the median number of days between the U.S. theatrical release date to its first high-quality rip, typically from a streaming site, cratered in 2020.
The theatrical window stayed remarkably consistent for the last five years at around 75 days. In 2020, it was seven days — a mere week from theatrical release to an HD stream rip, simply because virtually every movie was released online.
So, that’s basically it. With every theater closed, most movies first released online and on streaming services, making them instantly available to pirates before screeners were even distributed to voters, making screeners moot.
The big question: what will happen when the pandemic recedes and theaters reopen? Will studios push for once again staggering release dates between theatrical and streaming debuts? Is the 90-day window gone for good? Will the leaked screener make a comeback?
Let’s find out together in 2022. Stay tuned! 🏴☠️