Stab Magazine | Stab’s Guide To Web Clip Taxonomy
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Stab’s Guide To Web Clip Taxonomy

Words by Tom Ford We at Stab love the web clip, in all its many forms. Our site crawls with them like so many invisible bugs up the junkie’s forearm. For you. But we’ll be first to admit the clip today is in an odd, disrupted state. Order is absent, quality controls are flimsy, originality […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Words by Tom Ford

We at Stab love the web clip, in all its many forms. Our site crawls with them like so many invisible bugs up the junkie’s forearm. For you.

But we’ll be first to admit the clip today is in an odd, disrupted state. Order is absent, quality controls are flimsy, originality is hard to find. Free, instant distribution mixed with cheap 7Ds and edit software means today we surfers sip from a digital fire-hose. The sheer volume of video can quickly overwhelm.

As wholesalers of this fine commodity we seek to bring order to the chaos with this, Stab‘s Guide To Web Clip Taxonomy — a handbook for your daily habit. If you feel any species of clip has been under- or mis-represented — for God’s sake man, speak up.

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The Abstract Short

This is a popular mode with sophisticates on both sides of a lens, most of whom share a degree from the same correspondence school for aspiring auteurs — or so it’d seem. (The din in this surf world echo chamber is deafening but ain’t it so hip!) Pains are taken, through conceptual non-descriptive titles and edgy cutaways, to mask the fact that this is just a fucking surf video. Dude.

“Whoa, harsh, money!” you protest. But Stab just jostles ’cause we love. Go ahead, tiger, get artsy with your bad self.

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The Branded Series

You’ve bought this Pipe footage of your brand’s golden boy off some freelancer. You’ve paid a full-time filmer to follow said star all year. You did a team trip to Lakey’s for shots of the new boardshort. Now what to do with this nest egg of decent-but-soon-to-be-obsolete-like-probably-by-tomorrow clips you own? Oh, and remember: No one buys DVDs anymore.

We call this the Marketing Director’s Dilemma, and en masse the resounding solution has been: branded web series! Get a name, some art direction, make the logo bigger, and drop that clip like it’s hot, fully embeddable for a guaranteed v-v-v-viral wildfire across the web. In theory.

Now, to be fair, if one hits play on these advertorial bastard children expecting just an extended commercial, then they’ll often be surprisingly good. Shockingly good. Brilliant, in fact. Magnificent to the n-th degree! And if you’re sitting there thinking, “But Stab, you would say that, as those same brands fill your dog bowl each month with ad revenue,” then friend, you may just be a doctor.

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The Clip That’s Exactly What Its Name Implies

In the age of arty posturing all over surf media (see: The Abstract Short), it’s refreshing for a clip to say right upfront what you’re in for. “[Surfer] in [Place].” Pow, thanks, let’s not beat around the bush then.

If you’re the type who looks for “DTF” in Match.com profiles you’ll appreciate what we’re saying here: an ounce of blunt truth may not always be the most elegant method, but at least we’re not stuck wondering whether that eight-minute Subtle Dystopia (Deconstructed) will actually have any surfing in it.

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The Contest Wrap

As with surf sessions in general, a contest clip hinges on wave quality. If the waiting period was barren or the comp director gambled badly, the “highlights” may just soften your surf wood. “That got an 8.63?”

But if the waves were good, well, few things beat a comp edit. It’s at a top-tier surf break. It’s a full cast of actors, not just one fella. It’s all the promises of the Dream Tour delivered on and condensed into two or five minutes, right there at your desk on a tab behind email in case superiors happen by.

Stab’s only caution: Tap the mute button and spin your own soundtrack, as comp editors seem partial to that rude strain of alternative pop rock that bloomed around 2000. Quite literally: fuck that noise.

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The Pro Blog Clip

In pretty little 2013, video blog clauses are often written into a pro’s sponsorship contract. Most read something like, “Post clips fucker, yew.” This is why pro blogs exist — not because our nineteenth favourite surfer has a passion for padding the public domain. His finner get paid!

Sometimes the result is sublime (see Mr. Reynolds’s offering). Other times the result is still a near-daily stream of free edits from surfing’s one percent, which is also pretty sublime, least to Stab‘s mind — but what do we know?

Actually, we know this: the one discernible flaw in this model of pro surfer publishing is the legally retarded English-as-a-second-language student the surfers all use to name their personal websites. You know which ones we mean. Christ almighty.

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The Leftovers

Try this scenario: You’re watching the fabulous Dusty Payne stick a big air reverse shot from up the beach. You cheer! Then a second air rev, same angle. You’re politely amused. A third. A fourth. A fifth, all the same basic move. You’ve lost interest and are now Snapchatting NSFW photos to your friend who’s a schoolteacher. Surf video fail.

But this doesn’t often go down, because in a major brand or independent film project, editors take a knife to the raws and slice out redundancy before it goes to screen. They’re ruthless on that delete button.

This means airs two through five, plus hours more of shredding, are on tap for a sweet leftovers edit down the road. Call it what you want — bonus, extras, prequels, sequels, epilogue, duck butter — it’s just leftovers. And it’s usually not much worse than the main attraction.

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Marine Layer Productions 

One can only get Champagne from Champagne, herpes from New Jersey, and a real Dane Reynolds clip from Dane Reynolds himself. (More or less this is true.) The man has such a vise grip on the supply chain of his own media product that Stab likes to envision him in a lair somewhere, twirling his handlebar moustache like an old Gilded Age monopolist, bellowing laughter as the page-views pile up.

It goes without saying that Dane still sets the web clip standard, and when he drops an edit, everyone else briefly questions why they even bother (except, perhaps, John John.)

You want an example? This whole website. Or, the clip below, being the lone (but exquisite) morsel Dane has shared. Small victories, yes?

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