Re: [Frameworks] The Digital Video Exhibition Problem: And An Offer To Address It

From: mallary abel (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Dec 04 2010 - 13:47:18 PST

I come from sort of a fresh perspective of cinema. My experience here
might not be as plentiful as some of these fine frameworkers here, but
I see myself right in the middle of this "medium-clashing" that has
overtaken this entire art form, especially in it's exhibition. I am
still learning this entire history, and technical demands (and
options), but from what I've gathered we've got a few different
tangents of David's argument worth mentioning. He focuses mainly on
digital, but I want to highlight both.
I want to mention these...

We've got Film purists, then Video-makers that somehow seems to divide
cinema.... (which is basically a war) But we put them in a group
together, and we grant each visual-artist their own power to create
something with the means they have, for to exhibit. All artists are
armed with different tools. These means are completely subjective, and
by means, I'm talking about production. How many human beings are
artists? Probably slightly > or < half or of everyone in society? When
thinking about numbers like these, I feel that there will never be one
standard, especially in an art society where everyone is indifferent.
This is why "attempts to resolve these technical issues on a
case-by-case basis" are exactly that, a "[waste] of time and mental
energy." I believe movements can happen, definitely, but this is
different. This is more than just behavior or politics, it's also a
matter of ethics and economy.

We have to take an objective approach. This doesn't mean there is no
hope for some kind of consensus, or cooperation amongst visual-artists
and exhibitors to make things easier. Sure, we need cooperation. But
don't we already acknowledge that this issue is here? I mean, isn't
the awareness of the problem inevitably powerful in itself to create a
resolution? Am I too optimistic here? People on their own should want
to work harder to make these improvements. I hope.
If we were to bring in some kind of "consultant," as David says, that
would be a whole other "cluster#$%*" itself. Especially for the
consultant. If one hub were to be the middle man for a ton of people,
how would the flow not get slowed down? Artists should go directly to
the exhibitors and vice versa. We need to keep things direct. We have
to expect and anticipate the differences and changes the future will
throw at us with type of impressionable medium. Cinema is all about
movement..... isn't it?

And we will maintain our ideas of quality, and cheap work. It's
obvious what is quality and what isn't - they're self evident. If
people want to create and exhibit quality work, they must learn how
to. David is right, some "makers donít know to avoid the many
sub-standard blank discs on the market, or donít know how to use their
compression, authoring and burning software without running into the
little hidden traps," plus tons of other problems, but they're still
making their art. Quality or not. When artists have challenges, which
they will, they must overcome them somehow. They can do trial and
error. And they have outlets (like frameworks, or classes, etc) to
inquire about how to fix things on a personal basis.

This is definitely a frustrating situation, though. I've seen my fair
share of problematic and interrupted exhibitions. I've seen the
artists and exhibitors saddened or humiliated by this. But it's one of
those things where I think planning and proper run-throughs/tech
checks, organization and concentration are extremely vital. With focus
and care, things can run smooth. Exhibitionism is a prideful thing,
people need to take pride in that. If that means slow down and be
careful, which I think it does, then maybe that could be one solution.


On Sat, Dec 4, 2010 at 11:56 AM, Aaron F. Ross
<email suppressed> wrote:
> Blu-ray is the obvious choice for festivals and
> distribution. It's a solid format that poses no
> significant technical hurdles beyond those of
> standard DVD authoring. So I don't know what the
> fuss is about, or why it's being adopted so
> slowly. I've been waiting for this since the
> 80's, now it's here, and people aren't using it. What up with that?
> This business of using Quicktime or iTunes for
> exhibition is really not a good idea. I
> understand it's cheap and convenient, but
> festivals and museums should have higher
> standards than that. There are about a billion
> variables when playing multimedia files on a
> computer, I won't bore anyone with all of them,
> but suffice to say it's a minefield of problems for everyone.
> If we want our work to look good, we should be
> using Blu-ray. End of story. But in my recent
> volley of submissions to festivals, the only ones
> I saw that accepted Blu-ray were 1) HDFEST, and 2) Cannes Independent.
> Aaron
> At 12/4/2010, you wrote:
>>Based on a number of conversations on and off
>>list, Iíve come to the conclusion that our
>>community is facing a systemic problem in
>>distributing and screening work (whatever its
>>origination) in the new digital forms. I also
>>think I happen to have the ability to offer a solution.
>>The Good News:
>>Digital video technology now offers the
>>possibility of creating very high quality copies
>>of moving image work at low cost, and the
>>ability to play these copies on low cost hardware.
>>The Bad News:
>>This is creating what the kids would call a
>>Ďcluster#$%*í. There are no widely accepted
>>standards, too many options. Too few makers, and
>>staff at festivals, schools, galleries etc.
>>really understand how the new technologies work.
>>So they fumble with the tools and make needless
>>mistakes. The parties wind up making
>>unreasonable demands of one another: e.g. the
>>exhibitor expects the maker to submit work in
>>format X (say HDCAM), which will cost the maker
>>an unreasonable amount for a dub, OR the maker
>>expects an exhibitor to be able to screen the
>>work in format X (maybe the HDCAM she was forced
>>to make by the last exhibitor), which the
>>exhibitor doesnít have and would cost thousands
>>to acquire. Almost everybody (except for Bart
>>Weiss) is way behind the technology curve,
>>dealing in specs that are not only costly, but
>>all-but-obsolete (HDCAM, Digibeta). Attempts to
>>resolve these technical issues on a case-by-case
>>basis produce massive wastes of time and mental energy.
>>So what happens is that: A) too often showings
>>default to the lowest common denominator, the
>>plain old SD-DVD. The result being playback in a
>>mediocre quality that is still subject to
>>problems if the makers donít know to avoid the
>>many sub-standard blank discs on the market, or
>>donít know how to use their compression,
>>authoring and burning software without running
>>into the little hidden traps. Or B) stuff simply doesn't get shown at all.
>>How to Fix It:
>>It has to start with the exhibitors. They can do
>>this individually, but it would be better if as
>>many as possible banded together for the sake of
>>efficiency and standard setting. They would
>>obtain the services of a savvy consultant, who
>>would A) help them set up their playback
>>facilities to accompany a reasonable range of
>>cost effective, high quality digital formats, B)
>>help them create clear and precise guidelines
>>for makers on what formats are acceptable, what
>>specs need to be met etc., C) create clear
>>tutorials for makers on how to produce copies of
>>their work in the appropriate forms, using
>>common tools (like Final Cut Studio) and/or
>>tools that are free or very cheap (MPEG Streamclip, Quicktime ProÖ)
>>Who Could Set This Up:
>>Well, me, for one. For a teacher/maker/scholar I
>>have a lot of geeky tech knowledge, and Iíve
>>dealt with all these issues successfully in
>>terms of running screenings at my old school,
>>and sending out HD shorts to various festivals
>>that have been in various states of confusion
>>about this (again props to Bart for having the
>>Dallas Videofest on the tipÖ). That is, I've
>>actually done the stuff I'd be proposing, so I
>>know it works. I also happen got be in a
>>position where I can take the time to do this,
>>since Iím out of teaching due to health problems
>>that prevent me from keeping up with the regular
>>grind, but wouldnít preclude working on something like this.
>>What Would It Cost:
>>Alas, Iím not in a position to do this pro bono,
>>but I wouldnít be looking to make big bucks,
>>just get my expenses covered basically. What
>>that would amount to would depend on how much
>>someone would want me to do, and would be
>>cheaper if indeed several exhibitors pooled
>>their efforts, since a certain amount of the
>>work (creating tutorials; putting info on the
>>web) would be redundant. You would need a small
>>budget for some new equipment, probably just a
>>few hundred dollars (the whole point being good
>>results can now be ached on the cheap if you
>>know how). An exhibitor might want to upgrade
>>their video projector or sound system, which
>>would not be cheap, but would be optional. I
>>would, of course, stand behind anything I would
>>do, and provide follow-up to address any kinks that might arise.
>>How Long Would The Solution Survive Before It Becomes Obsolete:
>>Well, I donít have a crystal ball, but I figure
>>the basic HDTV spec is good for at least 10
>>years, and once effective and inexpensive means
>>are established for working with those
>>parameters, the arrival of some new gadget wonít
>>upset the fundamental apple-cart. The most
>>important thing, IMHO, is to end the chaos NOW,
>>but I do think an effective system will not only
>>do that, but stay functional for quite awhile.
>>Why Am I Putting Myself Forward:
>>Basically, I find the situation frustrating and
>>annoying even from a distance; I am confident I
>>have the ability to make things better; it would
>>give me personal satisfaction to solve problems
>>for a community I care about; it would give me
>>something to do and get me out of the house; Iím
>>in a position to do this for less than any sort
>>of ĎAV professionalí would charge (and Iíd do a
>>much better job); I not aware of anyone else
>>making any effort to address the issueÖ These
>>factors would make up for the fact that the work
>>involved isnít necessarily fun, and can be quite
>>frustrating. Which is why Iím not willing to do
>>it absolutely for free. But my intent here is anything but mercenaryÖ
>>In Conclusion:
>>Please pass this msg. along to anyone you think
>>might be interested. Anyone with an interest, or
>>with questions, please contact me off-list at (address suppressed)
>>FrameWorks mailing list
>>email suppressed
> -------------------------------------------
> Aaron F. Ross
> Digital Arts Guild
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