Cinemasports – High pressure filmmaking

Looks like another interesting attempt to break out of the traditional idea of a film festival.

Cinemasports is the Iron Chef of Filmmaking. Teams have hours to complete a movie with a list of ingredients. Finished movies screen that very night. Concurrent global events often exchange movies in time for the evening screening.

Filmmakers and audience participate in a unique cinematic experience. An electrified screening that is both world premiere and wrap-up party. Art exploded from a creative pressure cooker. Global exchange and local community building.

Thousands of filmmakers worldwide have embraced Cinemasports – from guerrilla filmmakers in Eastern Europe to 3-Time Academy Award Winner Walter Murch.

Murch says about Cinemasports, “Something emerges that’s not contained in any of the films…”

Generally, these guys seem to have a prety good grip on the social and collaborative aspects of internet technology, and even produce a “video podcast”.

Read more at: Cinemasports :: Welcome

Play WMV videos in Quicktime on your Mac – for free

This made me smile a wry smile.

For what seems like ages, there has been a rumbling argument among web videomakers about which format(s) to make and distribute video in. People who work on Windows tend to find it easier to make and distribute WMV. People who work on Macs tend to find it easier to make and distribute Quicktime movies.

However, the real deciding factor ought to be how easy it is for visitors to your site (and subscribers to your feed) to play (and otherwise re-use) the video.

Most people agree, if grudgingly, that more people can use Flash video than anything else. But Flash video can be clumsy to edit and produce. Next in market share is probably Windows Media, due largely to the sheer number of Windows PCs which came with Windows Media Player pre-installed. Trailing in third is Quicktime. Available by default on Macs, and available as a (possible but irritating) free download from Apple for Windows machines.

But raw current market share is not everything. If your video is good enough, it might tempt people to install the required player even if they didn’t have it before. Or, at least, so goes the argument often advaned by Mac users to justify only distributing Quicktime movies.

The argument goes along the lines that since Quicktime can be installed on all systems, then quicktime can have as large a userbase as Flash.

And so on to what made me smile. Microsoft is now offering a Quicktime plug-in for Mac users to allow them to play Windows media files right in their familiar Quicktime player. So now relatively convenient players for all three major formats are available as free downloads. The playing field is level once again, and we are back to installed user base: Flash, then Windows Media, Then Quicktime.

Will we see all these Mac evangelists who have been urging every Windows user to install Quicktime rushing to install the WMV plug-in?

Read more at: play Windows Media files (.wma and .wmv) directly in QuickTime Player

Disappointed with StockStock

A few months ago I entered the StockStock film festival. It sounds a good idea – they choose a bunch of video from the Internet Archive and anyone who stumps up $20 gets a copy of their chosen material on tape. The entrant then gets a few weeks to edit it in to something interesting before posting back a completed entry.

So why am I disappointed? Because it seems that despite their novel use of archive footage they seem locked in a weird time warp when it comes to communication and sharing.

  • They provide email addresses, yet have never once replied to any of my emailed questions.
  • They don’t even acknowledge receipt of submissions, let alone provide feedback to entrants.
  • They listed the names of the entrants whose work was selected for screening, but nothing at all about the videos.
  • They have not provided any way of contacting other entrants.
  • They have not even mentioned how many entrants they had.
  • Worst of all, they have not provided any way for interested viewers to see or discuss the entries other than attending a one-off screening in Seattle last September.

This is crazy. I understand that my entry was probably not good enough to make the screening, but how can I get any better with neither feedback nor the ability to see the work of other entrants?

By diligent web searching, I have managed to find a very small number of other entrants who have made their entries from this year’s competition available on-line:

While searching, I also found a few entries from last year, too, but still no official page, or links.

A few others have mentioned their entries, but not (yet) made them available:

If any readers know of any others, please let me know and I’ll add to this list.

And to the stockstock folks, if you read this:

You have a fantastic opportunity to connect a thriving community of movie editors, please don’t waste it by being a black hole and thinking that one screening (to what, a few hundred people?) is the end of the road. Share the love.

37th Opere Nuove and 2nd No Words Short Film Festival

Can’t write dialogue? Want to make short movies that get shown anyway?

Try the 2nd No Words Short Film Festival

From their rules

deadline: 1st August 2005


  • Films/videos produced 2003, 2004 and 2005 that have not participated in previous Editions of this Festival can be submitted. The work’s subject is free. The running time of the films/videos cannot be longer than 30 minutes, titles inclusive.
  • The application to this festival is free of charge.
  • FICTION, DOCUMENTARY, ANIMATION and EXPERIMENTAL works are accepted, as long as they do not have dialogues or subtitles. In this competition, the film/video must be understood thanks only to the strength of the images. Music, sounds, environment background noises, etc. are accepted.
  • For the selection, works must be sent in VHS, Mini DV tapes or DVD in PAL. This material will be not returned.
  • Films must be sent together with the filled out application form that can be downloaded and printed from the festival website (download: The deadline for entries is 1st August 2005. Entries must be sent to:
    The festival management is unable to accept packages which do not have the full postage paid.
  • All entries will go through the selection commission of the festival that will decide which films to screen and to present to the Jury.
  • The festival management will publish the selected works on the official website of the festival.
  • A screening copy in Betacam SP PAL format is required from works that have passed the selection. The deadline for submission of the screening copy is 1st October 2005. If the screening copy arrives later the film will be excluded from competition and from screening. Betacam Sp tapes of the selected films will be returned.
  • The festival management is not responsible for the loss or damage of the films and attached material during the shipping and during the festival.

How to watch Beyond TV recordings on a Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)

In my continued quest to seek out new formats and new codecs, I thought I’d have a go at making some mp4 files. I still can’t seem to produce sensible small Quicktime movies (although I think I’m getting closer). However, MP4 is supposed to be the new “standard” – the video lingua franca and equivalent of MP3 in the audio world. Most importantly it’s the format of choice for the new PlayStation Portable (PSP).

Luckily I found a neat piece of free software called PSP Video 9 which has a good stab at taking any old video file and encoding it into a PSP-compatible MP4.

My first try with the software ws reminiscent of my QT efforts – a file that was over three times bigger than the equivalent WMV. After a bit of tinkering with frame sizes and rates, and limiting the bit rate, I got an MP4 that’s only a shade bigger than the WMV, and roughly similar quality.

Now I just need to work out how to:

  • script the software as part of my videoblog “workflow”
  • get two RSS feeds on my site with the same posts but different enclosures

Read more at SnapStream Blog » Blog Archive » How to watch Beyond TV recordings on a Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)

unmediated: Why Aren’t Portable Media Players More Popular?

It’s a conundrum isn’t it? Portable media player products have never been smaller, more capable, or more affordable, yet they are still an underdeveloped market. I put up a survey on the videoblogging yahoo group asking how people watch videoblogs, and the great majority of respondents seem to watch on a computer rather than a portable device. I suspect the reverse is true for audio-only “podcasts”, though.

I’ve been thinking about this, and I have a few ideas:

  • There is no cultural history of carrying video around to watch. before MP3 players there was a whole generation who got used to “walkman”-style personal cassette and CD players. Listening to music has become a personal thing rather than a shared group activity. Video is still something you “go to” rather than something you “take with”
  • Unlike listening to music or speech, video demands much more of your attention. It’s hard (or at least dangerous) to watch video while doing other things. There are many more gaps in a typical day that might benefit from being filled with portable audio, than are free for video but don’t already have a TV or computer.
  • As the article linked below points out, there is still a shortage of content. Video copyright owners are typically wary of offering video for download, and the “buy a single track” approach that has paid so well for iTunes seems hard to fit to video.
  • Video formats are a complete mess. There are many incompatible standards for file formats, video codecs, audio codecs, compression settings and metadata. Unlike MP3 audio there is no single obvious format for sharing video. Until this is solved, distribution of video will remain a cryptic, geeky pursuit.

There are changes happening, though. probably the most popular portable video platform at the moment is the mobile phone. The communication capability provides a socially acceptable reason to carry the device, and typical phone videos are short enough to fit in gaps between activities. Muscling in to the same space are other multi-function devices such as the Play Station Portable which offers video as a respite from gaming.

My guess, though, is that the breakthough device will offer all of the above – communications, games and video, but (crucially) it will also record, functioning as a reasonable digital camera and TV-resolution camcorder..

The sword to break the gordian knot of incompatible standards will very likely be the explosive popularity of a portable recording device and whatever format it favours. Unfortunately the current Play Station Portable does not include a camera, so it is doomed to remain a “destination” format rather than a force for change. If a new crop of phones include good quality video and easy transfer/sharing of it, or a new portable games machine includes a camera and some basic editing software, then issues of content availability and formats may well become irrelevant.

Read more at: unmediated: Why Aren’t Portable Media Players More Popular?