Perhaps the best thing to come out of MTV’s prioritization of "reality" TV over music videos is that more artists have sought more creative means to tell their stories—including releasing interactive videos online that transcend the TV broadcast experience. The latest example comes from electro-leaning rap-rockers Linkin Park, and directors Jason Zada and Jason Nickel from production company Tool, the team that created last year’s award-winning interactive experience, Take This Lollipop.
"Linkin Park came to us with the idea of creating an interactive music video," says Zada. "Since [interactive director] Jason Nickel and I had recently done a Facebook Connect experience, we pitched the idea of doing a personalized music video. The band has almost 45 million Facebook fans, so doing something within that world seemed to make a lot of sense."
"Lost in the Echo" begins with a bleak landing page where origami-like debris floats through the air in a circular pattern. At the start of the video, a man in a hoodie walks through what appear to be post-apocalyptic streets with a suitcase in hand. Soon a crowd forms around this man and (Facebook connected) viewers sees what’s inside the suitcase: pictures of themselves.
"Since Linkin Park has appeared in nearly all of their videos, we wanted to give fans the chance of appearing in this video. It’s a video that is powered by their photos. The results, when the right photos are chosen, are really powerful," Zada says.
Once the people who are still left in the city get a look at these pictures, they start yelling at each other and crying, and it’s not at all obvious at first why. Eventually, however, their skin starts to crack and disintegrate, turning into dust. Then comes the big reveal at the end—putting the whole experience into perspective.
"After a few go-arounds with ideas with (band frontman) Mike Shinoda and Linkin Park, we settled on this idea about letting go of things from your past," Zada says. "Since the video also has a post-apocalyptic vibe, we made every location look overgrown, as if it’d been sitting, untouched for decades." He adds, "Jason Nickel and I worked with the team at Tool to design the experience around the music video. We wanted to make the photos that the characters were holding as seamless as they could be, so a lot of attention and focus was put on that."
Says Nickel, "Working with the Facebook API, we scraped users’ data to try to integrate the most appropriate content that fit with the story in the video. So depending on what Facebook users had listed, we display the photos that fit best with each scene to create an experience that makes the user feel like this video is about them. It’s an evolving art, and one that has incredible potential as it is still in the early stages of conceptualizing. It’s a very new technique to integrate users’ information so seamlessly in this medium and has only become possible recently because of technology and social media."