Crowdsourced Project Relies On Fans For Rotoscoping A Johnny Cash Video

from the I-redraw-the-line dept

Digital artist Aaron Koblin has a fantastic knack for creating innovative, beautiful, fascinating works that merge the worlds of data and technology with art. Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk, he created The Sheep Market by commissioning 10,000 online workers each to draw a left-facing sheep. Ten Thousand Cents created a representation of a $100 bill, also drawn by 10,000 turkers. Now, he's back with a video project, and is creating a crowdsourced music video for Johnny Cash's song, "Ain't No Grave."

The Johnny Cash Project, as it's named, seeks to have every single frame of the music video redrawn by hand. Contributors can take advantage of the tools on the site, which greatly simplify the process of drawing a frame, though it's a little daunting for those with short-attention spans or limited graphical abilities. The drawn frames are then compiled into a constantly evolving version of the music video.

For true fans of Johnny Cash, it's a great opportunity for them to connect further with the late artist. And Koblin has put a lot of thought into making watching the video much more compelling and engaging than typical YouTube fare -- viewers can direct the video to use different frames based on a number of dimensions: rating, number of brush strokes, or a number of artistic styles like "realistic" or "dotted." It makes for a very rich experience; I've already watched the video a number of times. As we've said many times before, there are many opportunities for artists of all types to connect with their fans in new and interesting ways. In this case, Koblin's creativity has helped him to tap the imagination of and connect more deeply with his own fans, while also offering something compelling to fans of Johnny Cash's music, potentially expanding the fan base of both artists.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Steve, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 1:17am

    So you all get to do the tedious grunt work and I'll take all the credit. Awesome.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Chargone (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:52am


    why not? it's worked for most officers and managers in (nearly) every single corporation and army in the history of ever, after all...

    and the end result is something you wouldn't get otherwise, combined with the ability to go 'yeah, i helped make that!'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 4:57am


    Sour grapes

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    DevConcepts (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 5:11am


    Maybe take a look at the video/site before giving an opinion. Every frame has the creator info if they want to submit it.

    Not a big Cash fan but I think the idea is just outstanding!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Liz, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 5:17am

    If he did that all himself, people would say he had too much time on his hands and needed to get laid.

    Damned if you do...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 8:25am


    Tedious grunt work!!?? Oooh he's such an evil task master forcing those poor artists to work for days on end in the dark, without heating, or food and water, for no pay!

    And such a tyrant to rob those incredible artists of their global celebrity by stealing their fame! He makes Hitler look like Mother Theresa!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    mike, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    I imagine developing the idea and the website was a lot more work than any of the individual users are putting into their frames -- you know.. the frames they are getting credit for drawing.

    Y'all needs to calm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:16am

    A great participatory art project

    The Cash video is a very cool concept.

    I think it is an example of where a lot of art is headed.

    I don't think of it so much as CwF example because I don't know that I would label the artists "fans." They are "creators." I think they view themselves as part of the project rather than passive fans.

    Here's a bit more about that idea.

    The People Formerly Known as Fans

    I didn't see any attempt to monetize this, which I think is in keeping in the spirit of this. Everyone is contributing rather than having anyone paying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 10:59am


    Awesome video.

    Now where are all the douchebags who come here with each story like this to tell us that "this isn't art, it's just copying, and copying is never original."

    At what point to the finally understand "transformational".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    John, Apr 17th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    It's funny how just one comment at the beginning of this thread completely dictated the further commentary. I guess that's how the interweb works.

    The video is looking pretty amazing, great that people are spending time to make quality contributions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    lrobbo (profile), Jun 12th, 2012 @ 11:02am

    First impressions i suppose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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