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

From: Brook Hinton (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Dec 04 2010 - 21:41:37 PST


Please. God. No. Not Blu-Ray.

Optical media is a horrible choice for exhibition. BD-R compatibility issues
and disk glitchiness are even worse than DVD. Yes, commercially authored
Blu-Ray disks can look superb, but that's not available to independent
makers on low to no budgets. And it is not superior to the best
quicktime-compatible codecs. Not even close.

I say that as someone who loves Blu-ray quality for home viewing. But it is
not a DIY filmmaker friendly distribution format. IT may become one, but
we're not there yet. and the licensing restrictions on the technology make
it unlikely to happen.

Files are the future. For now, h.264 when compatibility is paramount and
frame-to-frame differences are reasonable enough that the codec doesn't
destroy the image, ProRes - which really is becoming a standard - for those
situations where it's possible and where the work demands it and where
compatibility issues don't stand in the way.

For better or worse, files are the future. I think it's better. I look
forward to a world of two options: film with sprockets, and digital files
that share space on hard drives and/or move through the net instead of
residing on environmentally toxic and unreliable optical disks or magnetic
tapes.

Brook Hinton

On Sat, Dec 4, 2010 at 4:51 PM, Bart Weiss <email suppressed> wrote:

> great discussion.
> we like the files based system,for many reasons including we don't have to
> worry if something is hd cam or xd cam, there was a time when we needed so
> many expensive decks.
> I don't really trust optical media. My experience with dvds are so
> unreliable. I don't wont to be back in the world where I have to worry if
> the media will get stuck.
> using the h264 files have worked really well in screening quality, and it
> makes bot getting the media and archiving much better.
> There are some makers who don't know enough about compression and don't
> want to.
> I think for them a service like what David is proposing would work fine.
> Most makers can figure it out.
> As long as you have a good enough mac and a good projector, it should rock.
> I am happy to talk to any festivals and exhibitors for help.
> We have now done 3 video fests and 3 24 hour video races and have run my
> students festivals this way for 3 years.
> I do think we are in some in-between land and 3 -5 years from now there
> will be a more elegant solution.
> with itunes you can set each clip with separate picture and sound levels if
> necessary.
> Generally the only problems we have had is when somebody sent us something
> too late and did not follow the instructions.
> This is where I do think David could be of some help.
> It is just how much will he charge and will people want to pay.
> Also one other thing to mention here.
> As makers we have to trust the festivals we are sending the work to.
> while I certainly could have taken a tape and capture it, when you have a
> digital file anything can happen to it.
> I would be concerned sending it to a people I did not know.
>
> and as an aside the digital file/itunes method works really well with
> shorts.
> I can;t tell you how many times I have been to a fest , even a big one, and
> the aspect ratios of the shorts program is all over the place.
> with this method, they all look like they are supposed to.
> my 2 cents
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Dec 4, 2010, at 4:38 PM, Beebe,Roger W wrote:
>
> > Aren't there some obvious arguments against Blu-Ray? Like discs are
> horribly easy to scratch & Macs don't come with Blu-Ray burners at present
> (so makers would have to learn a whole new set of tricks & add another
> external gadget) & that like DVDs a Blu-Ray disc can also have mysterious
> glitches that make it impossible to play on specific decks (as recently
> happened to us at FLEX--although we were able to find another deck to
> replace the one that wouldn't work)?
> >
> > Not sure why a file-based system seems less elegant than that.
> >
> > Two cents,
> > RB
> > G'ville, FL
> >
> > On Dec 4, 2010, at 2:56 PM, Aaron F. Ross 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
> >>> http://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks
> >>
> >> -------------------------------------------
> >>
> >> Aaron F. Ross
> >> Digital Arts Guild
> >>
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-- 
____________________________
Brook Hinton
Moving Image and Sound Maker
www.brookhinton.com
Associate Professor / Assistant Chair
Film Program at CCA
California College of the Arts
www.cca.edu/film

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