Online remix contests are all the rage these days. User-generated content is becoming this decade’s latest annoying buzzword. But visualist engineer Marco Hinic took a different approach. He didn’t create one video remix. He created an app that can create endless video remixes. Nine Inch Nails Ghosts, meet random visual mash-ups from Creative Commons-licensed online videos. Marco describes the effort:

A few days ago I released the web site; it’s my entry to the NIN Ghosts Film Festival.

It’s an online video remixing application. It builds playlists describing a mix of videos with effects and renders them as an .flv Flash Video file. All the content is on the web site — around 1 gig of video loops and a few mp3’s from NIN music.

In accordance to NIN music, all Videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.

The web site is a mix of c++, php and javascript for the client side. Basically the client builds a playlist with video references and effects, the playlist is translated into an xml request that is sent to the web site. The video mixer on the web site render the request into an flv or mp4 file that is then played to the client.

Yep, you read that right: it’s a website coded in C++.

Where would an engineer appear with the technical chops to do such a thing? Well, as you might think, only a select few do. As it happens, Marco is behind one of the most influential desktop VJ apps available today.

I am the founder of ArKaos so I do play with pixels since so many years, I started working on video mixing software around 1992.

This is a new technology I am currently working on at ArKaos.

I think that we are close to the point were the web will be more than just used to share video and this is an example.

I could even allow people to upload some clips or customize some texts but because I have a lot of work at ArKaos so I did limit the human interaction to tweaking the settings.

Marco is actually CEO of ArKaos, as well as the engineer of its engine. Regular readers are of course very familiar with ArKaos, but I hope we attract the occasional reader to whom this is new; if that’s the case, go check out the software we’re talking about. (ArKaos are also working on a new generation of their software entitled GrandVJ.)

This brings up an interesting point, though. People are fond of hyping the blurring divide between Web and desktop apps. But they are too often focused only on the Web side, and only on ways in which Web apps are superficially becoming more like offline or “desktop” apps. The “rich” in “rich client,” by contrast, may involve elements just like the hard-core video processing seen in this app. Too often, those involved only in Web development obsess over tiny details of text rendering and UI and miss out on the media processing power modern computers have. It’ll be interesting to see that start to shift; I think the addition of more rich capabilities is inevitable.

Marco probably has a deeper perspective on this than I do, though, so Marco, we’ll have to talk about that at some point!

In the meantime, go play with remixing Millions of Ghosts of user-uploaded video. The results have an eerily ghostly quality about them, I have to admit. (And, of course, our goal as VJs and visualists is to try not to look like we’re a random algorithm arbitrarily mixing video content!)