Bob Dylan doesn’t do videos, at least not gimmicky MTV-type videos with dancers and little dramatic playlets. The closest Dylan has come in the past to music videos is footage from his concerts.
So it took a little effort to sell him on the idea of a music video for his classic “Like a Rolling Stone” — but even though the video produced by Israeli video tech company Interlude is as gimmicky as they come, “the Dylan team was extremely excited about the final video,” said Yoni Bloch, CEO of Interlude.fm, which created the video. In fact, Bloch added, they’re even more excited “as the video has gone viral.”
And other artists who have seen the unique video want some of the Interlude magic for themselves. Inspired by the tech in the Dylan video, “we are getting a lot requests from well-known TV talent who want to create a channel too,” Bloch told The Times of Israel in an email interview.
It took 48 years for an official video to be released for “Like a Rolling Stone,” the classic 1965 Dylan song about life on the streets for a runaway, so it could be assumed that any video associated with it would have to be something special. And by the response of Internet surfers, the video is indeed something special; it’s hosted on Dylan’s official site, where traffic has jumped tenfold since the video was released last week.
The video was conceived as a take-off on cable TV, with sixteen different channels “playing” the song as part of their broadcast. Thus there is a business news channel reporter lip-syncing the lyrics as part of his broadcast; ditto a cartoon character, a cook on a cooking show, characters in a supposed movie, comedian Drew Carey and the audience on The Price is Right, the fellows from the Las Vegas pawn shop made famous by the show Pawn Stars, and, of course, Dylan himself in a version of the song (on VH-1 Classics, of course).
Viewers can switch between the channels using a mouse or, on a handheld device, by pressing a button on the screen, and get a continuous flow of the song being lip-synced by the characters on the different channels.
Interlude has been doing this for years, said Bloch. “The Interlude interactive video platform combines multiple video streams into a seamless non-linear video experience. The platform allows real time switching between videos while always staying completely in sync with the audio.”
In the case of the Dylan video, Interlude synced the song to 16 different channels, loading a channel with the appropriate video and audio segment, and pre-loading the next upper or lower “channel choice,” which was ready to deploy immediately in order to ensure continuity of the experience. So, instead of streaming 16 channels, only three were available at a time, switching off depending on which channel was being viewed.
By streaming only three channels at a time, Interlude was able to ensure that the video could load and stream and not be overwhelmed by data in a manner that would have prevented anything from loading in a timely manner. Needless to say, “creating sixteen channels was an amazing challenge,” said Bloch.
Just as challenging was getting the content providers to contribute to the video, which was directed by Vania Heymann, known for producing cleverly-done Israeli TV commercials and online videos. Heymann was largely responsible for roping in the talent that appears in the video. Besides Drew Carey’s, the celebrity cameos in the video include hip hop artist Danny Brown, Israel Channel 2 anchorman Danny Kushmaro, an American comedian Marc Maron.
“Everyone we approached to participate in the video was either extremely excited about it or thought we were joking,” said Bloch. “All of the people we worked with were fully on board. We actually had a lot of fun creating some of the original productions that simulate existing TV formats.”
Interlude doesn’t keep its magic to itself only; anybody can create a “choice mechanism” video, where users get to pick the direction of the video — choosing a male or female protagonist, whether or not they will take a taxi or a bus, or any other choice appropriate to a particular video. Via Interlude’s Treehouse authoring suite, users can insert different choices in a “tree” structure at points in the video – with alternative versions of the video loading, based on the choices users make.
Interlude was established in 2010, and has been in the forefront of creative video technology, creating dozens of videos for clients. Until Dylan, the company’s biggest “hit” was a video by rock group We Three Kings of the song “Say You Like Me,” where viewers scored points for saving a girl in danger on several levels of play. “’Say You Like Me,’ which is one of our favorite videos, was a large step forward for our platform, allowed integration of mini-games as the choice mechanism. With the Dylan project, our main challenge was to push the limits of our pre-loading algorithms to optimize the large amount of parallel videos,” Bloch said.
“The Interlude technology is constantly evolving,” said Bloch. “Our tech and creative development teams strive to push the envelope on what can be done with our platform, in order to enable any type of non-linear video creation.”