Sunday, November 26, 2006

Open-Source Film Making Contest, Screening, More Productions

Cinema Minima has another interesting open-source film making story: Open Source movie making contest offers London screening and festival exposure — and new roles for editors as storytellers:

This one is about Stray Cinema "an open source film. Here you are able to download and re-edit the raw footage from a film we have shot in London. (...) the first of many open source films to be provided by Stray Cinema."

It basically places the editor in the centre of the production process. This of course makes a lot of sense if you want to produce something that resembles a traditional movie: the open-source film editor would be what the open-source programmer is for open-source software.

Unfortunately it looks like they plan to provide the source footage in a low-resolution (only a selected few will be able to finish their work with the high quality source footage). This seems a bit unattractive to me if you are serious about editing/film making.

And it raises another question:

At what resolution do you have to provide your source footage for a movie to be open-source?

Open Source Shorts is "a screening of short films released under Creative Commons licences." (Disclosure: one of my own works will be shown according to the press release.)

Open Source Cinema: "...with the goal of creating a remix film community for the collaborative production of a feature documentary currently in development with The Documentary Channel and The National Film Board of Canada."

And the following is an example for a production where I am not sure if it should be called open-source at all. The project wants people to participate but gives very detailed instructions on what is missing/should be done: I Am "may turn out to be the first major "open source film" project in history. (...) Community members who would like to work with the assets of the film to make their own contributions can obtain all of the original media in high resolution and fidelity by purchasing a copy of the DVD."

Yes, you may buy the DVD and then work (for free...?). Is this open-source...?

Interesting in this context: "The purpose of the I AM Movement is, saying it bluntly, to help save the world, by catalyzing the awakening of millions of people to recognize the literal truth of their oneness with each other, with the natural Earth and the Cosmos."

For me open-source film making is not a religion, it is about sharing resources (and know-how) and empowering people. But film making is also always a business of some kind and conflicts between the creative departments and the production department are quite common, often actually also fruitful. With "open-source" there now seems to be a third force involved in the film making process that could be helpful for everyone - but we have to understand what it can do and what it can not do (and maybe should not be used for).

Here again Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series about making money with online video, open-source storytelling/film making.

(This entry was also posted to the P2P Foundation blog.)

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Blogger Stray Cinema (Michelle) said...

Hello, I am Michelle Hughes, co-founder of First and foremost, an interesting read you have here Valentin!

(Sorry to state the obvious) of course ‘open source’ derives from the term used to describe free software, and any project, similar to ours, is simply drawing on the ideas surrounding this movement, because we believe in these same ideals. I think it would be fair to say that most of the projects mentioned here, in some way, do not abide by all of the rules and regulations set out by the Open Source Initiative. I believe this is because we are dealing with the open source ethos, and applying it to a different form.

I think an important aspect of the open source movement, and one which we have embraced in our own project Stray Cinema, is easy access to malleable data and information for the wider community online. We want to provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to obtain our footage and have a say over what story is told with it, using the all powerful medium of film. Because we provide over an hours worth of raw footage for people to remix, it is for practical reasons that we have decided to make it available for download at low resolution. Many people do not have access to high speed broadband (ha, for example it is especially difficult for me living in NZ with our current broadband situation, to download large quantities of data). For this reason it is vital we make the footage available as small files (total 130MBs).

Another important component to the Stray Cinema project is that asides from being an open source film, it is also a competition, with the top five films (voted by our online community) shown at a London screening. We have made it a competition, to provide an incentive for our users to bring back the films they have made with our footage, by uploading their version back onto our website. To make it fair for all participants in the Stray Cinema competition, all film submissions should be the same quality in resolution.

However in saying all that, I take onboard your comments “At what resolution do you have to provide your source footage for a movie to be open-source?”. There is also the issue on whether or not our footage should be used after distribution for commercial purposes.
I think these are interesting points, and perhaps ones we may re-consider for Stray Cinema 2008. We are certainly happy for people to use our footage for purposes outside of our competition, under the creative comments licence we have used (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0).
Thinking out loud now, perhaps it would be worth making the footage available at high resolution for anyone who wishes to use it, but then have the low resolution footage available for participants in our competition…hmmm certainly food for thought.

I would like to think that Stray Cinema takes an open approach to the growth and future vision of the project, and we are always keen for feedback and ideas. So for that thank-you and I also welcome any other feedback from our community on these subjects.

See ya.

12:27 PM  
Blogger vsworks said...

Thanks for reading and taking your time to comment! This was really meant as a starting point for a general discussions about open-source film making since there seem to be a lot of initiatives, at the same time some of these projects might not even know about the others (and everyone reinvents the wheel on their own, makes the same mistakes etc.).

The more I think about what an open-source film might be the more questions I have about how-to best define it. There are many similarities with open-source software, but there are also quite a few differences. One is of course that the “source” for a movie is much larger in terms of MBs (or rather GBs). In that context I can see why Stray Cinema at the moment only offers a lower resolution version in the first part of the competition.

Your concept of having the editor/editing in the centre of the open-source film making process seems like a very good idea to me. It will be interesting to see how the job of the 21st century film editor will change once “remixing” becomes more mainstream… Having seen all these fake/recut trailers I think that those trailers really were trailers for movies/a new genre to come: the remix feature film - and here open-source film making makes a lot of sense…

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