Retarded Policeman “Creative Feud” Kills Show

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In a creative & financial dispute that began early this year, the people behind YouTube’s popular The Retarded Policeman series recently brought their feud to “court of public opinion.” Mediocrefilm‘s Greg Benson created the show with his wife Kim Evey (who produces The Guild, staring Felicia Day), and hired “Ponce” Perry, who stars as the, well, retarded policeman. Benson also hired Ponce’s brother Scott, who appeared in the first episode, and helped write and direct a few episodes, including the one in which I appeared (so it’s been removed).

Here’s the blow-by-blow:

  • The first episode appeared in September 2007. The most-recent posted video, posted last November (2008), was “Lt. Ballsack” and ironically stars Benson getting pulled over by Ponce.
  • In April, the Perry brothers created the Ponceman account.
  • Five of the episodes have been removed (including the one in which I appeared) because Scott participated in the writing or directing. The rest of the episodes, according to Benson, are his.
  • The DVD is still for sale. Get ’em while they last, folks.
  • The Perry brothers first created a video about the feud, and posted details on their blog. They claim there was an agreement between them and Benson: “We had an agreement with mediocrefilms that has not been honored.  Since the beginning of this year we have tried to work things out but, regrettably, we have reached an impasse. We cannot allow our work on the series to be exploited any longer without our original agreement being honored and all of our attempts to “work something out” with mediocrefilms have been fruitless.”
  • Greg Benson responded to the Perry Brother’s claims in this video, and on his blog. Benson said they had no agreement, and that he paid the brothers thousands of dollars.  He said he offered them various compromises, but was ignored when he requested the Perry brothers to propose terms that would satisfy them.
  • Neither is providing specifics of the terms, and whether the Perry brothers had a “work for hire” or revenue-sharing arrangement.

This debate, only recently brought public, was part of the reason I suggested TheStation (The Station is Doomed) will run into a similar snag. Parenthetically, check out thehill88 and brookers, who provided some informally entertaining responses to that video on their superlazerz channel).

Alas, it’s extremely difficult to collaborate on a channel and share YouTube proceeds, because it’s nearly impossible to determine who contributed to a channel’s success… was it the promotion, producing, writing, acting, directing, editing?

This is the first significant and public feud over ownership rights of a web-video show, and that’s maybe the most surprising piece of news.

So how can you reduce the chances you’ll find yourself in a sad, creative/financial snag like these guys? Get something in writing… the more money a channel earns, the more people will feel cheated unless terms are explicit. Is it 50/50 or are the actors simply paid a flat fee and/or some small percentage of revenue?

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of these guys, and I’m saddened to see them disputing, especially in public. Benson’s Mediocrefilms channel, one of the most-subscribed, continues to monetize the bulk of the episodes. Ponceman‘s channel has a fraction of the following with about 28,700 subscribers.

If there was (as the Perry brothers claim) an agreement that wasn’t honored, would they have a recourse in YouTube? Or does the video-sharing site have no responsibility here?

Perhaps a YouTube community member will volunteer their services to arbitrate. The show was brilliantly conceived and executed, and we can only hope it will return in some form. We can dream the impossible dream, right?

Where Are the YouTube Ads? (Insert Cricket Sound)

The biggest mystery of YouTube partners (those who share in advertising revenue generated by their videos) is yet unsolved. My post about Sxephil’s reaction generated a lot of discussion, but there’s still a big unanswered question….

Are the YouTube ads missing because advertisers aren’t buying? Or is there a technical glitch prohibiting them?

BrokeEither option is sad news. If YouTube can let its only revenue-producing functionality die, then that doesn’t speak well for the company’s priorities. If advertising inventory is low on the world’s biggest online-video site, that’s a sad statement about the economy or marketer’s recognition of online video.

No e-mails from YouTube. Nothing on the blog. Lots of YouTube partners seeing no Invideo ads, and wondering if they should hold their videos until something improves.

Often our burning questions about a YouTube matters go unanswered because the answer would perhaps create greater scrutiny to the question. However I like the proactive and transparent approach… “Hey guys, we have a problem, and here’s what we’re doing to solve it and prevent it in the future.”

In the meantime you viewers can enjoy your videos without interruption and know that we creators will start holding onto our day jobs a big tighter.

And I’m totally bumming because I finally got Spencer (the Farting in Public kid) back in action yesterday night with “Will You Be My Prom Date?” and it’s currently the #4 highest-rated video of the day. And the recent “Cool Fish!” was seen more than 30,000 times in the past couple days but doesn’t appear to be making money for me or YouTube.

And now I just found out that my stupid “How to Make a Viral Video While Driving” is on the homepage of YouTube. Unmonetized. 🙁

Importing PC .mov Video Files Into Mac iMovie (without audio and video missing)

It’s the age old problem. You import an MPEG, Quicktime (.mov) or AVI into iMovie, and get a video with no audio. Or the dreaded white screen with working audio. That, of course, plunges you into countless hours of Google searches, flings you into the black hole of forum & help sites, and ultimately convinces you to buy several $20 downloads that don’t work. Then you finally figure it out, but the next time you forget what you did.

Today, after spending $100 on Flip4Mac’s WMV and upgrading to Quicktime Pro, I found the solution in free software from Squared 5. It’s called the MPEG Streamclip. It also allows you to rip videos from YouTube and other video sites (see picture), and save them in a variety of ways.

When I do collaboration videos, I’m often sending large files (using free Pando software or YouSendIt), and the video files usually work fine.

streamclip to convert video files between mac and PCBut sometimes video files present problems because they are muxed (the audio and video are mixed). The odd part is that the clips sometimes play fine on Quicktime but won’t import into iMovie. That’s because iMovie doesn’t support muxed files. So you need to demux the puppies.

First, download and launch MPEG Streamclip, and then open your problem video file. Next, select “File>Demux>Demux to M2V and AIFF.” This may give you a strange video file that still won’t open in Quicktime or iMovie. But at least you can import the audio portion, since AIFF exports separately, and imports as audio to iMovie without problems. To patch up this “Grant Giggles” video built from ancient .mov files, I had to import the videos as Quicktime .mov files, then import the audio separately as AIFFs (which I created in Streamclip). I next locked the audio and video using Apple-L (a nice trick Charles Trippy taught me).

This may not solve all problems because the file extensions “.mov and .mpeg” can be deceiving. There are lots of different CODECs (ways to code them), and some versions are Mac friendly and others aren’t.

Still, Streamclip is free (thanks, guys) and has a lot of different import and export/convert options that I would have thought would come with Quicktime Professional or Flip4Mac’s WMV professional studio (and I have no idea what I just payed $100 for, since WMV can’t solve this, and I’m not quite sure what it does otherwise).

Here’s another site with a buttload of information about file conversions.

Got any better tips for solving PC/Mac or Mac/PC conversion problems? Please comment below!

Addition December 19: Thanks ChristopherMast for pointing out iSquint. If you’re on Mac and want an easy way to rip videos from the web, try Tasty Apps.  Marquis- this is for demuxing your own clips if they’re old (like these, which I captured via MPEG on my digital camera). Also- sometimes you lose a video and have to go rescue it from Revver or something. And finally, when I make videos and want to show a highlight of someone else (usually ask permission if I’m not sure they’ll say yes).