There’s no denying YooStar has a good idea: Insert yourself into scenes of your favorite films by using a pretty decent version of the kind of tools filmmakers use. But buyers looking to truly blend into a film will quickly learn why d.p.’s earn the big bucks, while wannabe filmakers will learn a thing or two.
YooStar aims to be the “Guitar Hero” of the film world. The product (creators bristle at it being called a game) uses a greenscreen, high-resolution webcam and proprietary software to let fans act “alongside” stars in specific scenes. Once they’re happy with the shot, they can upload their clip to a YouTube-like site hosted by YooStar, where anyone can view it.
It is, admittedly, a really fun way to get into the movies. But it also shows how little things can make a big difference when it comes to filmmaking. Lighting, acoustics and positioning aren’t very important when you’re on a webcam or shooting your child’s first steps. But they become critical components when you’re trying to blend into a big-budget picture.
For instance, shooting in a well-lit room when inserting yourself into the “It’s 106 miles to Chicago… ” scene from “The Blues Brothers” puts you in stark contrast to the shadowed Belushi or Aykroyd of the original and undercuts the fantasy of being a part of the film. Filming your part in a room with hardwood floors? The sound quality will be markedly different as well.
YooStar comes with 12 film and television clips included in the box (the company website promises 14 clips, and a YooStar rep said the other two come via free download). It’s a mix of classic older fare (such as “Some Like It Hot”) to more modern fare (like “The Godfather,” “Animal House” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”). Most will appeal to the consumer who buys YooStar with parties in mind.
The webcam and greenscreen are both fairly high quality, but it would have been nice to have a deeper assortment of scenes out of the box. With the package’s steep retail price, the limited number seems skimpy. (Additional clips can be purchased online for prices ranging from 99¢ to $3.99.)
Moreover, the software is a resource hog, demanding a whopping 10GB of free space on your hard drive (40GB is recommended). And since users of the version reviewed weren’t given a chance to decide where to install the program, those who have partitioned their drives could be out of luck.
Still, it’s a notable first effort by YooStar — and there’s little doubt its hosted website will soon be cluttered by those trying to make a scene.