Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Online Video: Getting Paid, Open-Source Storytelling (Part 1 of 2)

This blog entry turned out longer than I thought it would, so I'll post it in two parts:

Part 1 (posted today)

• A Good Mix?
• "Getting Paid" Overviews
• "Open-Source" Overview
• Hype Or Real?
• Is YouTube A Dynamic Interactive Movie?

Part 2 (to be posted tomorrow)

• Alternatives To "Getting Paid"
• Collaborative Media Works
• Does It Matter...?

A Good Mix?

Open-source film making and getting paid for online video seem to be two of the biggest trends in online video at this moment.

This raises a couple of questions:

Is getting paid for online video compatible with open-source film making?

Can you really make money with online video? And who pays for it?

How is open-source film making defined?

(How) can collaborative storytelling work?

"Getting Paid" Overviews

Here two blog entries that give an overview about where - and possibly - how-to make money with online video:

Getting Paid: Sites that Help Video Producers Make Money (

Scott Kirsner, editor of CinemaTech, writes: "This project is part of a just published e-book, The Future of Web Video: Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers. Both the e-book and this chart are based on more than 100 interviews with executives and media-makers I conducted in 2005 and 2006."

Internet Video - How To Monetize Your Independent Video Content (

Another question that needs to be asked in this context:

(How) will the online video landscape change if people produce videos because they want to get paid?

"Open-Source" Overview

Here what seem to be the some of the important open-source and/or collaborative film making projects that can be found online, but there seems to be no clear definition for "open-source movie":

Does it include the script, all the raw footage (video, images, sound and music) and the cut list (e.g. Final Cut Pro project file), all of which would have to be licensed under e.g. a Creative Commons license that would allow for commercial use? Or is allowing only non-commercial use still open-source? And do you really have to provide the cut list (and possibly the dubbing sheets)? Or does it already count as open-source if a finished movie (and no access to the raw footage) can freely be reused without any restrictions...? (The latter would mean that all old public domain movies are in fact open-source movies!)

(If you think your project should be mentioned here please feel free to comment, link and describe it.)

TheWeblogProject is "the first open-source movie documentary about blogs and bloggers".

The Echo Chamber Project is "an open source, investigative documentary about how the television news media became an uncritical echo chamber to the Executive Branch leading up to the war in Iraq".

Maybe even more interesting in the context of this blog entry: "By developing collaborative techniques for producing this film, then this project can potentially provide some solutions for incorporating a broader range of voices and perspectives into the mainstream media."

Collaborative Media with Drupal + Final Cut Pro XML explains the project's workflow.

Elephants Dream is "the world’s first open movie, made entirely with open source graphics software such as Blender, and with all production files freely available to use however you please, under a Creative Commons license".

Route 66, some say that this is the first open-source feature film.

Boy Who Never Slept is "one of the world’s first full-length open source movies".

Deptford.TV "is an audio-visual documentation of the regeneration process of the Deptford area".

Digital Tipping Point project claims to create "the world's first open source feature film-length documentary".

The DTPWiki explains the project's workflow.

The unedited footage can be downloaded via the The Digital Tipping Point page on the Internet Archive.

Can open source methodology make a movie? ( looks closer at this project and mentions that the original director has left the project.

A Swarm of Angels - Remixing Cinema "reinvents the Hollywood model of filmmaking to create cult cinema for the Internet era".

There is also an increasing number of (commercial) movies/shows that either can be re-edited/remixed (under different licenses) or where some or all the source footage can be downloaded, three examples:

BBS: The Documentary is "a mini-series of 8 episodes about the history of the BBS".

The unedited footage can be downloaded via the BBS Documentaries page on the Internet Archive.

OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism

Outfoxed: Interview Footage can be downloaded via the Internet Archive.

NerdTV is "a one-hour interview show with a single guest from the world of technology". (In this case the show is the raw footage...)

Worth mentioning seems also 'The War Tapes': Making movies the Web 2.0 way (

And also mentioned should be this new how-to Wiki project:

the Workbook Project (from the about page): "I’ve been working on a DIY book and I’ve decided to make it a free online resource. The concept is part of a “social opensource experiment” called the workbook project. It’s a simple concept, the workbook is meant to be spread and edited. Meaning that content creators can add their own info, war stories, advice etc. We’re hoping that the workbook can grow as a resource. We’re building it with an opensource “client side” wiki called tiddlywiki that can be saved to the desktop, edited and then uploaded again."

Hype Or Real?

Looking at some of the above examples it becomes clear that "open-source" is becoming a marketing strategy. On the one one hand this is good for open-source, on the other hand claims like being the first open-source movie to do a particular thing can sometimes sound a bit too self-conscious... Who can honestly say that he or she knows about every film project on earth? Maybe a couple of years ago there was a small open-source film made in some remote place long before the (mostly English speaking) blogosphere even started talking about open-source film making? Movies were made long before the web went mainstream, the first open-source movie project to do a particular thing maybe just did not have a blog and never got much publicity...?!

The human ego can be quite big, but open-source is a good way to help people overcome their ego. While a project should of course mention that it is one of the first of its kind, over-hyping a project with claims that are hard to verify does not really seem to be in the open-source spirit but rather a closed-source approach. ("I was here first, it's mine.")

Is YouTube A Dynamic Interactive Movie?

While YouTube (and almost every other online video sharing site) can be criticised for their Terms of Service Agreement, one could argue that the first and largest community made online movie "ever" is in fact YouTube itself! You can watch "a scene" (or sequence), find related "scenes" via tags (or "related"), upload your own "footage" and contribute to this dynamic, community made patchwork movie (fiction and documentary) that tells a multitude of stories about our world and its people!

Maybe we need to redefine what a movie is...?

Maybe the YouTube way of doing it is in fact the long promised interactive movie...?

Hopefully all the "true" open-source projects will also succeed (a lot of potential has the Democracy Player), but we need a reality check and make sure that open-source film making is not just another hype...

Part 2 of this blog entry will be posted tomorrow.

For an extensive overview about audio/video D.I.Y. web publishing/finding content have a look at the audiovisual section of the P2P Wiki.

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