Friday, June 26, 2009

The Technology of Michael Jackson

No matter what you call him - "The King of Pop", "Wacko Jacko", or even "MJ", Michael Jackson transcended music of his day. He was groundbreaking, always pushing the boundaries of both music and music videos. While this may be a little off-topic, I felt the need to highlight some of the ways that Michael Jackson utilized technology in ways that made him iconic.
  • The first and most obvious thing that comes to mind is "Black and White" with its impressive never done before video morphing technology. It was so ahead of its time that many music video networks cut off the last four controversial minutes of the video. Not to mention the theme that typifies all that Michael Jackson represented.
  • Billie Jean and Moonwalking. While not technical in the traditional sense, the moon walking first revealed to the world in Billie Jean made seemingly walking forward while actually walking background a natural occurrence. It was also the first video by a black artist to appear on MTV shattering racial divides that existed at the time.
  • You can't talk about Michael Jackson and Technology and not talk about Thriller. The first music video that was more like a featurette, his choreography, costumes, music and the transformation of himself into a werewolf and a zombie was trendsetting.
  • In Beat It, Michael Jackson used real gang members (80 in fact!), not actors, to portray the story.
  • Scream was his attempt to speak out against the media backlash and criticism Michael had been receiving. It was not only the first video response, but a classic example of digital citizenship at work.
  • Another music video featurette, Remember the Time set in ancient Egypt, was recognized for groundbreaking visual effects and appearances.
  • Even Rock with You, an early video, used visual effects in ways that hadn't been done before.
  • The stunning images in Heal the World and We Are the World, inspired and produced by Michael Jackson, reveal his passion for tackling big challenges and helping others. He was perhaps the first to realize the power of music and video for sending a message to the world.
These are just a few examples from the huge legacy that is Michael Jackson. Today, with Web 2.0 technologies, students can create amazing audiovisual effects and send powerful messages through multimedia. Michael Jackson was one of the first to do it - with less flexible tools (and obviously more money) - and we will always remember him as a legend of music and storytelling. Michael, you will be missed.

Thanks to the Examiner for some of the facts in this post.

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

I loved your catalogue of all of Michael Jackson's innovative contributions to modern music video. He was a brilliant and talented musician but what you emphasize is the contributions to the way one of a kind performances reached so many people. Thanks. MBGay