SXSWORLD February 2013


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across disciplines, but the concepts behind Makerbot, 3D Robotics and Humphrey's work with GPS are the same ones propelling innovation in filmmaking and music. "This is a laptop, this is Garage Band, this is SoundCloud" has replaced the old "This is a chord, this is another, this is a third" punk mantra, but the idea remains the same. Regardless of skill set or resources, anyone with the initiative can start a band, a magazine, a venue or a label. In the '80s, DIY became closely Lan Bui tied to an anti-commercial point of view, as U.S. bands like the Minutemen and Fugazi took pride in avoiding what they saw as wasteful business practices that were exploitative of musicians and fans and detrimental to the quality of their music. Today there are still scenes that proudly identify as DIY in both the physical and virtual sense. Venues like Brooklyn's Shea Stadium embody the idea. Vancouver acts White Lung and Nu Sensae (both expected to perform at SXSW 2013) use the term to describe their hometown scene as well as their recording and business practices. While the digitization of music has certainly devalued recorded music, it has also made it easier than ever for DIYers to make and distribute their product, if not profit from it. The Hood Internet, an electronic music duo that began by making mashups, exemplifies the kind of artists who can operate independently in large part due to the technology they have access to. "We started operating with no record label behind us, and hadn't done any touring yet. Our only distribution was the Internet itself, via a webThe Hood Internet site that we created ourselves. EBRU YILDIZ Nu Sensae People discovered us via posts from other music blogs," said one part of the duo, Steve Sleeve. "Had it been 20 years ago, I suppose the equivalent could be that we might have been trying to peddle our mixes through reviews in local/national zines." It's not just distribution that's easier, though, it's the entire process of production, he says. "And we probably would have been assembling our mixes using record players and a four-track cassette recorder, rather than with the ease and immediacy afforded via home computers and editing software." Filmmaking has also been transformed by the availability of digital production and distribution, both of which make it possible for DIYers to work much more rapidly and inexpensively than before. It is possible to shoot and edit a music video in an afternoon, as was done last year during a SXSW Film workshop led by photography/filmmaking duo The Bui Brothers. This year, the brothers will be giving a tutorial on DSLR photography—the technology that enables them to work at a rapid pace. "Shooting digital means a lot of things. One is that your valuable assets revolve more around time than expendables," said Vu Bui. "And with digital you take away a lot of the unknown. You know if you got the shot. This also means that people with different assets can shoot who maybe otherwise couldn't." What the advances in equipment mean for do-it-yourselfers in film, Bui went on to say, is that novice filmmakers with a surplus of time but Vu Bui little experience can still produce a polished product by correcting as they shoot, thanks to digital photography's immediate feedback. Overall, this means that there's a greater chance for more people to create a quality shoot, even if they're starting from different places: "The final product might look very similar, but they used different assets to get there, and that is a freeing thing," he said. Low barriers to entry, thanks to affordable equipment and plentiful information on how to use it, may be freeing, but they are also disruptive of traditional business models. And just like songs or films, plans for building 3D printers are shared online. Maker culture prizes open source hardware as well as software, but Pettis wrote in a MakerBot blog entry from last fall that there are limits to what he can open source while still running a profitable company: "We are experimenting so that we can be as open as possible and still have a business at the end of the day. Will we be successful? I hope so, but even if we are not, everyone will find out that either being as open as possible is a good thing for business or that nobody should do it, or something in between." Individual businesses and industries will continue to change as technology improves and allows for easier entry into all markets, be they for creative output, information or consumer goods. They might continue to become fragmented and specialized or made obsolete. But the core idea of DIY means that someone will always find a way. ■ SXSWORLD / FEBRUARY 2013 19

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