Jim Hillibish: Yoostar puts you in the movies, but the results are painful

Jim Hillibish

Yoohoo, you, too, can be Leonard Zelig in time for Christmas. There are millions of Zeligs out there, waiting like sleeping locusts for the movie cue to appear. The cue is upon us.

Just when we thought karaoke was dying (our prayers are answered), Yoostar and Green Screen Zipper arrive. Video karaoke. We’ve seen everything. Go back to bed and pull the covers over your head. Or, worse, maybe you’ll make a movie clip starring yourself.

Zelig, you might recall, is a 1983 Woody Allen character. The flick was Leonard popping up in famous film clips, starting with Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. We fell out of our seats. We’d never seen anything like it.

This chroma key soon consumed Hollywood. It’s in nearly every film. Shoot the star in front of a green or blue screen. Then use a computer to morph him into a scene.

It’s truly suspended truth. It’s why you cannot believe anything in movies. Chroma is the great enabler of movie mayhem.

You need a Hollywood budget to do it —  digital studio, big-iron computer, expensive camera gear. Well, not so fast.

The computer age, bless it, has morphed all that into a small box costing $160. Inside is the Yoostar video camera, the crucial software and the ubiquitous green background screen. Oh, yes, and scores of movie clips allowing you to insert yourself into the action. Try “Forrest Gump,” “Blues Brothers,” “Frankenstein” and NBA games.

It’s more than weird. Here is a medium whose broadcast method predated it. That’s YouTube and zillions of other vid Web sites. Already, 115,000 pretenders have posted their Yoo clips. You e-mail them and upload them to your Facebook page, or amaze your friends on a video player. And you wait for Hollywood discovery, and wait.

Yoostar is the YooToo of YouTube. You can do the same with the new Green Screen Zipper for $79.99 with your own Web cam. Similar effects may be available with your home movie editor.

The results so far are painful. You quickly identify with the oddball screen intruder, but the emotion is embarrassment. These clips are funny because, like karaoke, they are beyond bad. Still, the technical wizardry can be excellent, truly gee whiz.

As with “Zelig,” the first few scenes are the best. This gets old, quickly. After about the fourth clip, I’m ready to bail, and I’m easily entertained.

Canton Repository

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