O Music Awards Flashback: Check Out Linkin Park’s Awesome Interactive Video

Posted June 10

Welcome to our Daily O Music Awards Flashback! So here’s the deal, throughout the year, we keep our proverbial finger on the pulse of the music/tech scene, reporting on what we think are the coolest bands/apps/WTF wonders on the Web. And those things that we report on — well, they are often nominated for O Music Awards! Over the next few weeks — leading up to the main event on June 19 — we’ll be revisiting stories that feature O Music Awards nominees. Today, we’re taking a look back at when Linkin Park released their Best Interactive Video-nominated vid for “Lost In The Echo.” Check out our interview with the band’s Mike Shinoda below.

Itching for a good shot of catharsis? Well, you could, 1). Go on Facebook and cry whilst gazing at snaps of your ex, 2). Listen to some Linkin Park, or 3). Go on Facebook, look at pictures, cry, and listen to Linkin Park — all via their new interactive video for “Lost In The Echo.”

“Lost In The Echo” — the second single off of their Linkin Park’s Living Things — is about letting go, and the accompanying video is meant to mirror that sentiment. In its linear format (embedded above), the video features a bunch of people standing in a church across from loved ones, looking at pictures of those loved ones, and, in the end, crumbling to dust.

The interactive, Flash-based version, however, brings the viewer into the story and hypothetically allows him/her to experience a release as well by connecting to Facebook and pulling in snapshots. Those images appear in the photos the characters in the video mourn over. (Note: The snaps that the video pulls in are really random. In my tests, it pulled in pictures that my friends posted that didn’t even include me. I would have preferred a little more precision in that respect — IE, perhaps only images that I was tagged in or that I posted to Facebook myself).

Intrigued by the concept and execution of the video, we contacted lead singer Mike Shinoda to find out more about the video and the technology behind it. Read on for the full Q&A:

So how did you decide to go the interactive music video route?

I feel like now is the time to try some new things with video. I just feel like in the past few years I’ve been seeing a lot of the same thing getting made over and over again, and there’s only so many times I can see our own songs paired with a live performance or a story video. I personally just wanted to see something different. With the song and the whole album being more personal — there’s a lot of ‘you’ and ‘me’ in the lyrics — when this treatment came up from Jason Nickel and Jason Zada, I gravitated toward it immediately.

Can you tell me a little bit about the story that’s going on in the video?

The idea of the song and the video at its core, really, has to do with finding the issues or the baggage that is weighing you down and letting go of it. So in the context of just that storyline — even if it wasn’t an interactive video — that would be really what it’s all about. The addition of the Facebook Connect part of it — I thought that really took things to another level. It really becomes personalized in that respect — when somebody connects their images and their own personal stories into the story of the song or the video.

So is there some kind of tech at work that helps pull in pictures that people would specifically want to let go of — I noticed it takes relationship status into account — or is it random?

Well, clearly most people don’t post pictures tagged with the phrase ‘this is something I want to let go of.’ [laughs] The best we could do was work with algorithms that [found what] Jason Nickel identified as ideal types of pictures to put in the story. Meaning, if certain pictures were tagged with your name on it as the user or family members etc, those might have priority over other photos. It’s a complicated thing getting in there, apparently. I have to kind of defer to those guys when it comes to the technical aspects.

Tell me a little bit about your team.

Jason Nickel is a genius when it comes to this kind of stuff. To tell you a little bit of the back story on him, before the story treatment for the video even came up, the idea of trying something that was more than a static video was something that I was personally really excited about, because I had seen his [interactive horror short] ‘Take This Lollipop’ project. That one was a kind of a horror theme around Halloween and it would pull stuff from your timeline and whatnot.

He’s really good at essentially hacking into people’s stuff [laughs]. The good news for the user is that Jason clearly respects the privacy of the user and really wouldn’t want to hurt anybody, so we took this opportunity to try to make something that, at the end of the day, might really move somebody — might make somebody actually feel like they could have some kind of emotional release if they were in the context of the story in the video.

When I tried it out, the video pulled up some weird Photoshopped band image that my friend made.

It’s just as interesting to us when the video pulls up images that are funny. We have a sense of humor. When I hear stories of people watching ‘Lost In The Echo’ and it pulls up pictures of their lunch or their dog by accident, I think the idea of all these people having an emotional breakdown over a sandwich is hilarious. I don’t think people usually think of Linkin Park as a band with a sense of humor because our music doesn’t tend to ever be very light or cheeky, but when it comes to us as people, we definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously.

So did you choose Facebook for any particular reason? Was it just because people put so much information on there?

Facebook was a clear fit for us because Linkin Park is the biggest band on Facebook. Our audience there is really robust. Numbers aside, Facebook has always, in recent years, been a place that fits our communication style. We tend to like to post a lot of videos and links and pictures and everything and use a lot of different apps and a lot of different sites, and since we can connect all that stuff with Facebook, it’s always been a place where we put a lot of energy. For all the people that aren’t connected to Facebook or don’t have access to the video via their mobile device — because ‘Lost In The Echo’ is Flash-based — a static version will be coming out that you’ll be able to find on YouTube.

What do you think of Facebook — in general? How people keep their whole lives on there? The fact that your video is pulling from Facebook to find pictures that will help viewers ‘let go’ (of whatever) is pretty interesting by itself.

I think whenever people decide to build up a community online, I think in essence they’re looking for some kind of connection. They’re looking for, in a lot of cases, people who are like themselves or a way to connect with people that they know or things that they love. When it comes to our community on Facebook, I think that that’s what we try to give them.

I know you mentioned the “Lollipop” video before, but I was wondering if you were inspired by any other interactive music videos in particular?

I think the first thing that comes to mind is the one that Arcade Fire did ["The Wilderness Downtown"] and some of the interactive stuff that Yeasayer and Beastie Boys have done. I just think that there’s a lot of potential out there online. And I don’t think that this Facebook-connected ‘Lost In The Echo’ piece is the end-all and be-all.

My problems with it are that people who don’t have Flash can’t see it and people without Facebook can’t see it. Once we get passed this, I want to look for the next thing and find a way that we can reach all our fans in a way that is consistent with what our band is about and consistent with the themes of the song. I think that there’s a lot of room to play around, and really ‘Lost In The Echo’ is just an experiment along the way.