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TikiKiti Awards: April

Here we go, a fresh batch of UMV’s piping hot, straight from the oven.

We’re not April Fooling you, we’re still a little behind the times. These five videos came up tops for the month of April.

To briefly recap, five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may select a unique trophy or gift card as a testament to their skill and creativity. More about the awards.

And to our quintet of April video artists, well done!

1. Producer: Andrey Gorlachev
Artist: Emika
Song: “Sleep With My Enemies”
Category: Narrative

Wow! This cyber-surveillance creeper from Andrey Gorlachev eerily captures the times we live in, as mounting paranoia and a lack of privacy inspire outbreaks of desperate dance. Rich in detail and masterfully presented.

2. Producer: Jonathan Brent
Artist: Jai Paul
Song: “BTSTU”
Category: Abstract

A near sensory overload as modern man, depicted here as a featureless mannequin, attempts to reboot the system. Moments of clarity are rudely jarred away.

3. Producer: Paula Averkamp
Artist: Patrick Watson
Song: “Lighthouse”
Category: Narrative

Memories or just a Virginia Woolf dream? Paula Averkamp’s cinematic Day at the Beach reverie is radiant and ravishing, with a bittersweet undercurrent of innocence lost.

4. Producer: Leon Falon
Artist: Aphex Twin
Song: “We Have Arrived”
Category: Abstract

Call it a barrage collage. A short circus, maybe. Anyone suffering from Seizure Disorder should look the other way.

5. Producer: Ginie’O
Artist: Switchfoot
Song: “Skin and Bones”
Category: Véreté

A beautiful cache of Paris travelogue footage in the hands of Ginie’O tells a thousand stories at a thousand different tempos.

Thanks again on behalf of TikiKiti for the amazing gallimaufry of musical shorts. It is the wind beneath our wings.

Keep the videos flying!

TiKiKiti Awards: III

Once more into the fray…

Time marches on, which brings us to the month of March, and a whole new assemblage of Unofficial Music Videos for consideration.

In case you’re just joining us, five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may select a superb trophy or gift card as a testament to their skill and creativity. More about the awards.

Now, on with the show! Meet our Minds of March!

1. Producer: Joseph Hyrkas
Artist: Odesza
Song: “Falls”
Category: Narrative

Deceptively simple and deeply sincere, producer Joseph Hyrkas relies on soulful lingering shots of a beautiful woman to tell this tale of heartache.

2. Producer: Aaron Vizcarra
Artist: 2PAC & LA
Song: “Vicca Street”
Category: Abstract

The wonders never cease in a kaleidoscopic slice of cyber surrealism from producer Aaron Vizacarra and director Stephen Gillis.

3. Producer: kayanoel
Artist: Julie Aznar
Song: “In the Middle of the Night”
Category: Performance

Commitment, clever choreography, and breathtaking location photography are on display in kayanoel’s moody performance piece.

4. Producer: Naomi Kirk-Muir
Artist: Mother Mother
Song: “Happy”
Category: Narrative

Heck, it’s hard (probably impossible) to be endlessly happy. Naomi Kirk-Muir cuts to the heart behind the masks we have to wear in this somber collage.

5. Producer: Obiet Mantovani
Artist: The Chainsmokers
Song: “All We Know”
Category: Narrative

Again, simplicity and lack of pretense carries the day in a stirring story of rocky romance.

Slowly but surely we are creating a structure and process for emerging video artists to exhibit their work. We’re pleased to see so many fresh and fantastic approaches to the form, as it gives us plenty to talk about.

Till next time! Keep those videos coming!

The TikiKiti Awards: February

And the hits keep coming.

In a valiant attempt to sort through a massive stack of entries in record time, we’re now ready to recognize the Top 5 Videos from February of this year.

Perhaps at some point in this timeline, we’ll be all caught-up, but sadly we have not yet been replaced self-charging, super-intelligent robots. It’s in next year’s budget, and we remain confident that human error will soon be a thing of the past.

As always, five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may choose an enviable trophy or gift card as signifiers of their superior work.  More about the awards. 

Cue the fanfare, here are the Top 5 Videos of the month (February), in order from first to fifth.

1. Producer: amzproductions2010
Artist: X
Song: The Have Nots
Category: Narrative

A deft and multilayered approach to the narrative genre, the team at amzproductions2010 delivers a stylishly fascinating depiction of a compartmentalized human psyche. Bonus points for good taste in classic L.A. punk.

2. Producer: Erin McAuley and Charlie Jennings
Artist: Dua Lipa
Song: New Rules
Category: Performance

Producers McAuley and Jennings maintain visual symmetry with a brisk editing pace and an impressive array of carefully crafted images.

3. Producer: TinyComet Films
Artist: Alan Walker
Song: The Spectre
Category: Performance

It’s a terrific dance performance, but the folks at TinyComet Films effortlessly fashion a cinematically rich post-apocalyptic canvas for the choreography.

4. Producer: Finlay McDonald
Artist: Mura Masa
Song: Love$ick
Category: Narrative

Risking possible damnation by inspiring teenage actors to drink “booze” and monkey around in church, Finlay McDonald is clearly a fearless filmmaker.

5. Producer: ChewValley Media
Artist: Lorde
Song: Team
Category: Narrative

Cops and robbers, chase scene, and a “crime doesn’t pay” finale. The ChewValley Media crew displays ample camera chops and editing precision in this dancing delinquent drama.

The TikiKiti Awards: Round 1

It’s awards season at TikiKiti and we spent our spring break wading through thousands of indie music videos that found their way to us (a combination of whizzy algorithms and occasional dedication). The goal here is to recognize and encourage video artists and establish a site where new works can be displayed and discussed.

Our panel of judges has deliberated heatedly and at length over creativity, editing, and overall production quality, and reached their decision.

Five (six) artists will be honored, and these high scorers will receive an enviable trophy or gift card as tokens of our esteem and appreciation.  More about the awards. 

Without further ado, here are the Top Five videos (six actually; there was a three-way tie for fourth place) for January 2018. We’re a few months behind, but we’re aiming to get up to date in a quick-bunny hurry.

Superb work, people! Take a bow and a victory lap.

1. Producer: Ch4rlie97
Artist: Caravan Palance
Song: Lone Digger
Category: Narrative

A strong narrative concept, supple camera, and unexpected editing choices made the exhilarating “Lone Digger” the top vote-getter this month. Kudos Ch4rlie97.

2. Producer: MangoWatch
Artist: Michael Jackson
Song: Blood on the Dance Floor
Category: Performance

The commitment and choreography are first-rate. The attention to detail, the costumes, and performance really bowled us over. Paging Doctor MangoWatch!

3. Producer: Utkarsh Chaturvedi
Artist: Massive Attack
Song: Teardrop
Category: Abstract

Visually arresting from open to close. The pace and variety of imagery is spellbinding. Well done, Mr. Chaturvedi et. al.

4. Producer: VelvetAnt Films
Artist: Dezlooca
Song: Cannibal Lectures
Category: Mashup

Video artist Chad Shepp continues to astound us with his arsenal of found footage and editing finesse.

4. Producer: Alfredo Fortunato Films
Artist: Demi Lovato
Song: Sorry Not Sorry
Category: Performance

Spirit, swagger, and genuine joy are abundant in this high-energy entry from Alfredo Fortunato Films.

4. Producer: Sebastian Linares
Artist: Bruno Mars + Cardi B
Song: Finesse
Category: Performance

These guys are having fun but their dedication to the choreography and the project itself is 100 percent. We salute you, Sebastian!



The TikiKiti Awards for excellence in indie music videos

TikiKiti will be honoring one video as the best video for January, 2018, and four (five) runners up.

The Barclay Award will go to the top rated video in one of five categories: narrative, abstract, performance, véreté, or mash-up (found video).

The award statue is 16-inches tall (40 cm), weighs 6 pounds (2.8 kg), and is solid bronze with a green patina on a solid ebony base. It will also feature a plaque with the winner’s name, video category and date of the award.

Gift cards ($50 Starbucks cards this month) will be presented the four (five this month) runners up.

Recipients will be notified in the comments section of the chosen video with a post from TikiKiti. The winner will need to notify us ( if they are interested in receiving the award. We’ll need an email address and a shipping address.

We’ve reviewed so many great videos in January that it was difficult to pick just one. February is looking to be equally challenging. Thanks for all the great music videos!

Winter Winner’s Circle

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Once again the crew of The Calypso is taking a deep dive into the trenches of our last three Barclay Award winners to sift out the pirate treasure and illuminate unseen creative caverns. Check your air!

1. Producer: Kornelia Malczewska
Artist: DJ Snake + AlunaGeorge
Song: “You Know You Like It”
Category: Performance

It’s the little things that bring out the best scores. The art direction and costumes in Kornelia Malczewska’s production are spot-on. The near-lurid neon scenes represent the dancer’s inner world, where she dresses and moves like a superhero, contrasted with the mundane reality of daily harassment by idiot boys.

Note to producers: For a performance video it’s imperative to find a choreographer/performer with substance as well as style. Ecaterina Cirlan is the dancer’s name here and her focus is downright fierce, reminiscent of Madonna in her MTV prime. Cirlan is the revving engine, while Malczewska plots the course—a first-rate collaboration.

1. Producer: Unlocked Films
Artist: April March
Song: “Chick Habit”
Category: Narrative

We’ve seen videos by Northwest filmmaker Jesse Locke before, and for good reason. He brings a strong storytelling sensibility to his work, informing each frame with tension and mood. As in the case of Locke’s previous winning video, he operates in the low-budget punk-thriller genre, once again with fearless female protagonists taking action when the going gets tough.

As for the notion that witches are back in a big way, Locke nails the zeitgeist perfectly, even as Netflix gains spell points with its Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot. Now is not the time for passive heroes.

1. Producer: Hadi BA
Artist: Zhu
Song: “Good Life”
Category: Vérité

The way things come in and out of focus in Hadi BA’s travel montage mirrors the disorienting intoxication of travel, suggesting that it is indeed a tiring ordeal, but that we are better because of it. The omniscient narrator gently reminds us to get over ourselves and to look at different people in faraway lands to experience spiritual growth.

The use of black-and-white photography here is exquisite, blurring the line between arrival and departure through transitional landscapes (shuttles, airplanes, airports) that require their own navigation. The monotones both fade and command attention, but we’re usually moving too fast for serious contemplation.

Artist Profile: Joseph Hyrkas

As the quantity and complexity of Unofficial Music Videos continue to evolve right before our blinking eyes, the cats at TikiKiti want to ensure that proper attention is paid to the burgeoning ranks of creative artists that manage to blow us away on a daily basis.

Joseph Hyrkas directed the most recent video to take home the coveted TikiKiti Award for Excellence. Set to the song “Falls” by Odesza, Hyrkas has conjured an absorbing black-and-white reverie about love and loss.

The winning filmmaker was kind enough to answer a barrage of questions about his production, process, and past.

Can you tell us about your film and production background? Are you a pro, student, hobbyist?

Definitely not a hobbyist, not quite a pro, but certainly always a student.

I’m 30 years old and currently operate an independent videography/post production business out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Most of my work affords me the opportunity to travel making music videos, promotionals, and commercials.

Describe your conceptual process in regards to the Odesza “Falls” video.

I start by creating a rule set with limitations, which I then cling to like a religious fanatic! The goal was to keep it simple, intimate, sincere, and emotional. In every single case I start with asking how and why.

How do I visually represent a character’s emotional state of mind that is cyclical, divisive, and potentially self-destructive? How do I interpret that through framing, movement, perspective, and editing patterns? What is dictating that cut?

If we do cut, whose perspective is it? The character’s or the viewer’s? When is it objective? When is it subjective and why? If any creative decision that follows can’t answer or support these questions, then it’s not worth pursuing.

Doing something “cool” for the sake of it often leads to dead ends. In my experience, having that crucial foundation in place helps free up an actor and helps them cross a chasm of confidence to lay their soul on display for all to view. At the end of the day, the question really should be, “did you feel anything watching it?”

I love the stark tones you get in the video. What inspired you to shoot in black and white?

I could say, “Well, color is emotion. Anyone that far down the emotional rabbit hole clearly wouldn’t see the world in color!” But in all honesty, the tight shooting schedule didn’t afford us the luxury of proper lighting and production uniformity.

These constraints backed us into B&W photography for simplicity’s sake. Deciding on that tranquil hue of B&W early in the process eliminated a whole slew of problems from the production.

What was your gear setup?

Another self-imposed limitation was to use very little gear for this project. No dolly, drones, toys or gadgets. Just a single BMC (rarely two for safety). Breaking out the occasional ND, LOW CON filter, tripod and available light. If we couldn’t make this work emotionally with one camera than we weren’t doing the job correctly.

I love the discipline of committing to a particular frame size and focal length. For post-production we used the always reliably buggy, but equally efficient ADOBE PREMIERE. The goal in post? Manipulate time, action and emotion like a rubber band. Compress when it’s convenient and contract when it’s necessary.

Who are some artists (any discipline) you admire or are inspired by and why?

I’m sure recently obsessing over [French-Canadian filmmaker] Denis Villeneuve [Sicario, Blade Runner 2049], and his devastating masterpiece Incendies (2011) didn’t dissuade me at all. If you haven’t seen it I insist you drop everything and watch it now.

In this case, I was certainly taking my marching orders from storytellers who are not afraid to squeeze mileage out of seemingly mundane situations. Reynolds Woodcock ordering that absurd breakfast in Phantom Thread, anyone?

Do you have any sage advice for the young and hopeful?

I can only preach what has worked for me. All I can say is maintain vigilance, persistence, and patience, followed by more patience. Make every single mistake you can imagine, you’ll still be alive at the end of the day. Tell a story only you can tell. And while you’re at it stick to your intuition.

If you find yourself having conversations about what other people may think, just know deep down that it if means something emotionally to you it will mean something for others. Creative Darwinism will win out. Chic and fashionable will not. Never ever chase trends because something is in vogue. It’s not about world domination, start by making people “feel” first.


How we curate videos

The Beginnings

TikiKiti started out with just a couple of friends talking their passion: music videos. We all have lots of experience in film — we’ve been making films and teaching filmmaking for years. 

We discovered that some, if not most, of the best video on YouTube were done by independent producers making fan-made videos (this is our primary focus and tend to stay away from the professional production and the official videos). As we shared more videos we found others who enjoyed these videos as much as we did. The next thing we knew, we had started a YouTube channel to showcase these videos.

As TikiKiti grew it became clear we needed some criteria for the ratings we were giving. This was how we developed the different categories and the ratings scale that we use today.

The Categories

When a video is put into the judging queue we break them down into categories and genres. This allows us to rate them easily. We review approximately 250 videos a day. So breaking them into categories helps the process go more quickly. 

Of the 250 videos we see every day, 20 to 30 are queued up for the judges to watch and analyze. If you’re wondering, we usually have around 4 — these are musicians, film makers, media journalists, and combinations thereof. 


The video categories

Narrative: The Narrative is the basic story-telling type of video. Although many producers tell a story with their videos, it is the style we use to categorize them.  Performance, abstract and vérité videos can also have elements of a narrative. What separates them is that the story predominates.

Abstract: This is very much what the title suggests; a series of visuals put together in an abstract way to illustrate the music. The abstract video can also have elements of a narrative or a performance video. Again, it is the predominate motif that defines the video.

Performance: The Performance video is a dance video, or a band playing, or someone lip-syncing. Mostly, it is the performance that defines the videos style. What separates a performance from a dance-cover is the production quality and editing. 

Dance Covers: This is pretty much what it says. Unlike a Performance video a dance cover is usually an individual or troop performing, minimal production and editing. We do not rate the production quality and editing of dance covers.

Mashups: The mashup is a video set to music and made up of clips from a variety of existing videos — often referred to as found-video. Some mashups includes hundreds of edits. The better ones can be very complex. A narrative can be created in a mashup with the right source material and editing. We usually do not rate these for production quality because the visuals are not original.

Vérité: The vérité video is often called a “day-in-the-life” video. This includes videos from someone’s vacation or just videotaping the day and putting it to music. Still, the better vérité videos include elements of a narrative, and rely much on quality editing techniques.

We also include Animé (AMV) and Machinima in our video queue but we neither rate them nor comment on them. We just like following them because we like them and enjoy how the technology that makes them as improved.  We plan to rate these in the future.


The Rating Scale

Ratings are continually evolving. Currently we rate each video on three criteria: Production, Creativity & Performance, and Editing. Additionally, we break down each category in a series of attributes. These attributes are what we look for when we watch and rate a video. We give each video a score based on the quality of each of these attributes. The following are the attributes we use.

1) Production:

  • camera moves
  • cinematography
  • lighting
  • production design
  • special photographic effects
  • use of locations
  • use of sets

2) Creativity & Performance:

  • acting
  • costumes & backup
  • creative dance moves
  • dancing
  • lip sync
  • lyrical interpretation
  • music interpretation
  • overall creativity
  • use of abstract imagery

3)  Editing:

  • color time/editing
  • creative editing
  • cutting to beat & motion
  • fast-paced cutting
  • image-replacement editing
  • post-production effects

We enjoy sharing our results with the producers of the videos we rate. We comment on those videos and include the attributes you see above. We have developed a complex system that allows us to manage all of the videos we see, rate, and comment on. Time permitting, we make more original and personal comments. 

We also have what is called the “Editor’s Choice.” This selects the best videos we see every month and groups them for an additional revue at the end of each month. From these we select the top five videos for recognition. The best video from each month will be awarded a Barclay. You can view award candidates here:

As always, we welcome feedback. Evolving our rating system is helped by your feedback.

TIkiKiti & the independent music video producer


TikiKiti likes music videos — a lot. We also think that the independent producer that make fan videos for their favorite songs are under-recognized and under-appreciated. Recognizing the wealth of music videos on YouTube from these indie producers helps us to realize our idea of curating these videos.

TikiKiti was started by people who have long been involved in film production. We started looking at videos and realized — as so many do — that we were rating them. So we fine-tuned our rating system (see blog post from August 13 to see more about the rating system) and dived in.

We are now ready to start picking the best videos and offering an award. See the the photo above of the McClellan Barclay originally from the 1920s that is now our award. This is a cast bronze statuette and the winner will get one that is gold plated.


Who Is TikiKIti? How we curate music videos

The Founders
TikiKiti started out with just a couple of friends talking their passion — music videos. We all have lots of experience in film (read: we’re old). We have been making films and teaching filmmaking for years. We discovered years ago, that some, if not most, of the best video on YouTube were done by independent producers making fan-made videos. As we shared more videos we found others who enjoyed these videos as much as we did. The next we know we started a YouTube channel to start showing these videos.

As TikiKiti grew it became clear we needed some criteria for the ratings we were giving. This was how we developed the different categories and the ratings scale we use today.

The Categories
We have broken down the videos into categories. This allows us to rate them more easily. These categories are:

  • Narrative
  • Performance
  • Vérité
  • Abstract
  • Animation/AMV
  • Machinima/MMD/GMV
  • Mashup

We like to think these categories are obviously defined. However, we discovered that is not always the case.

  1. The Narrative is the basic story-telling type of video. Although many producers tell a story with their videos, it is the style we use to categorize them. A Vérité or Abstract video can also tell a story, but it is the style that separates them from the basic narrative.
  2. The Performance is a dance video, or a band playing, or someone lip-syncing. Mostly, it is the performance that defines the videos style.
  3. The Vérité video is what we call the day-in-the-life video. This includes videos from someone’s vacation or just videotaping the day and putting it to music. And, is very close to the:
  4. Abstract video. This is very much what the title suggests; a series of visuals put together in an abstract way to illustrate the music. The Abstract video can also be a Narrative, or even a Performance video. However, it is the style that defines this type of video.
  5. Animation/AMVand Machinima/MMD/GMV are similar in that they take existing images from Anime films and well as video games to create a narrative. This includes 3D imaging. We are seeing much more of these MMD videos. All of these videos are very similar to:
  6. The Mashup video. The Mashup is a video set to music that is made up of clips from a variety of existing videos on YouTube. Some Mashup videos includes hundreds of edits. The better ones can be very complex.

The Rating Scale
We rate each video on three criteria: Production; Performance or Creativity and Editing. Each criteria has a maximum of 10 points. The maximum any video can score then would be 30 points. Although we have seen some videos get close, a perfect score has not happened yet.

Product Values
We rate each of the criteria in both independent production criteria and professional criteria. However, so many of the independently produced videos have a professional quality. This is reflected in our ratings. We do this because we have seen some awful professionally produced videos. We find the independent producers are more motivated to be creative and original.

The ratings start at 1-Awful (Indie quality) to 5-Excellent (Indie quality), to 10-One of the Best (Professional quality)

Here we take into account the originality of an idea and concept and how that idea was performed. The rating start at 1-Total derivative — that is, we seen it all before a million time. A 5-Some original elements — an interesting idea or two. Most videos fall into this area. That said, we do see many more videos with a 7 (Pretty original), 8 (Very original), or 9 (Innovative). We have never seen anything that deserves a 10 — a Revolutionary video showing ideas and a style never before seen. A video rated 10 in this area would change the music video forever.

Editing is all that is done during post-production inside the software program. Sometime we see producers using too many different type of editing techniques. This is common when someone really lacks a cohesive idea and instead, wants to impress with all the different features built into the editing program. This is obvious and we tire of these videos quickly (1-Awful). We do see many videos with superb editing techniques. Many indie producers have achieved professional quality editing techniques (7-Good, 8-Excellent, 9-Outstanding, and 10-Some of the best editing we’ve seen). To get these higher ratings we are looking for more than just editing on the beat. (You’d be surprised how often this one simple editing technique escapes many producers.)

So here you have it in a nutshell: How TikiKiti got started and how we curate the videos we watch. As of this writing we have viewed and rated over 8,500 videos. Because we really enjoy what we do we will continue to watch and rate.

Coming soon! We are planning on giving our awards to the videos we rate the best for a month or the year. Look for more information on the award soon.