Celluloid Remix – Lessons learned

In this document Annelies Termeer of EYE Film Institute Netherlands describes step by step the development and the approach of the online video remix competition Celluloid Remix, organized in 2009 by EYE (then Filmmuseum), Knowledgeland and Images for the Future. This document aims to inform archives or museums wishing to plan a similar project about the do’s and don’ts.

See also www.celluloidremix.nl and celluloidremix.blip.tv

Background Celluloid Remix

As part of the large-scale digitization project Images for the Future, the Filmmuseum restores and digitizes a large part of its film collection. An important – already digitized – subcollection of the Filmmuseum consists of Dutch Early Cinema.

Early cinema was to a certain extent a semi-finished product. The film was often accompanied by someone who provided explanation, and by a musician or a small orchestra playing background music. It also occurred that the one who held the show cut the film, and then created his/her own compilation with material from another source (sometimes his/her own footage). Here, an analogy is found between the practice of early film screening and the contemporary remix practice.

To experiment with the possibilities of digitized film material the Filmmuseum, in collaboration with Images for the Future and Knowledgeland, organized Celluloid Remix: an online remix contest using footage from the collection.

Starting points

  • Provide 21 (public domain) fragments from the Filmmuseum’s collection.
  • Theme: “Modern Times”.
  • Duration of the contest: 15 April until 1 September 2009.
  • Publication under Creative Commons license, with a choice between two licenses:
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license (CC-BY-NC-SA) and Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license
  • Every contestant uses his/her own remix software. We provided tips and suggestions for useful programmes.
  • Maximum length entries: five minutes.
  • Four prizes available:
  • First prize: a remix package of €1,000.- to spend as desired on hardware or software (for instance Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 or Final Cut Studio 2); Gouden Kalf ticket to the Dutch Film Festival; one year free admission to the Filmmuseum.
    Second prize: Flip MinoHD camera; Gouden Kalf ticket to the Dutch Film Festival; one year free admission to the Filmmuseum.
    Third and fourth prize: a Resolume Avenue 3 VJ software package.

Objectives

  • Establishing and increasing the name of the Images for the Future project among young people; demonstrating that an important part of our cultural heritage is being disclosed, which is relevant for the contemporary, personal experience of culture.
  • Inspiring other heritage institutions to disclose their collections on external platforms to a young and broad audience.
  • Introducing a new target group (young creatives) to the (collection of the) Filmmuseum.
  • Drawing attention to the Dutch Early Cinema collection.
  • Inspiring other heritage institutions to create an environment in which end users can reuse the heritage.
  • Exchanging knowledge regarding copyright issues and open content models for the heritage sector.
  • Showing higher education institutes in the field of film culture, film production and film art that the Images for the Future project saves and discloses an important part of our cultural heritage for use and reuse.

Project organization. Duration: December 2008 until September 2009

  1. From January onwards – choosing footage based on theme (Modern Times) and availability (footage without copyright; public domain).
  2. Selecting online access platform: blip.tv. On this platform, various video formats can be downloaded and uploaded. We provided Celluloid Remix footage in .mov as well as in .ogg format.
  3. Launching website celluloidremix.nl.
  4. 15 April 2009 – launch at BeamLab, in Pakhuis de Zwijger (Amsterdam).
  5. Generating publicity (press release, e-mail, Facebook, Hyves, Twitter).
  6. Approaching schools and academies for cooperation: participation in the contest and possible adaptation in course programme.
  7. June/July/August – organizing workshops at Willem de Kooning Academy / Crosslab, VJ Academy, Hogeschool Rotterdam (HRO) Crossmedia, BeamLab Summer School and the Netherlands Media Art Institute Summer School (NIMK). Under supervision of among others Eboman, Ruud Lanfermeijer and Jaromil those people interested could start working on the footage.
  8. 1 September – entry deadline.
  9. 8 September – jury deliberation and shortlist compilation.
  10. 25 September – final event during Dutch Film Festival. Shortlist entries are shown and prizes are awarded to four winners.

Ambassador and cooperative partners
In an early stage we requested the renowned Dutch sample artist Eboman to make the first remix of the available footage. At the same time, this remix was used as promotion film for the competition. In addition, we asked him to be the ambassador of Celluloid Remix. This improved the competition’s status and image.

By cooperating with various parties (BeamLab, VJ Academy, Netherlands Media Art Institute, Dutch Film Festival, Willem de Kooning Academy) we tried to reach interested groups and increase the support for the contest.

Results

  • Total entries: 54 (more than expected: we assumed 30-40 entries).
  • Source of entries: the contestants were mainly attracted online. 13 out of the 54 entries came from workshop participants, the rest came through online word of mouth. Social networks: 23 contestants were members of the Celluloid Remix Facebook and Hyves group. However, there was minimal online discussion or conversation between contestants.
  • Timing: most entries were submitted at the last moment. The total amount of entries halted at 14/15 for quite a while, the rest came in during the last two days.
  • Style: narrative/documentary character (29) featuring a personal quest, next came VJ (13), animation/art (8), humour (3), promotion/advertising (1).
  • Atmosphere/ contestants’ reactions:
    • Motivation to compete: fun to play with the old material. Profile: amateurs and semi-professionals, people following creative courses. Enthusiasm/dedication: Two contestants submitted three entries, one contestant submitted two. Several people participated in both workshops.
    • Appreciation of the Filmmuseum‘s new look and review of the events: Jata Haan (Movement): “Digitization projects like Images for the Future and websites supporting the Creative Commons license, like Flickr and The Freesound Project, have established a culture of reusable and more accessible digital media. In due time these cooperation projects should gain popularity, receiving the support they deserve.”
    • Enthusiasm/dedication: Two contestants submitted three entries, one contestant submitted two. Several people participated in both workshops. o    Appreciation of the Filmmuseum‘s new look and review of the events: Jata Haan (Movement): “Digitization projects like Images for the Future and websites supporting the Creative Commons license, like Flickr and The Freesound Project, have established a culture of reusable and more accessible digital media. In due time these cooperation projects should gain popularity, receiving the support they deserve.”

Evaluation
In general

  • Celluloid Remix had a positive effect on the image of the Filmmuseum.
  • Celluloid Remix created a name and goodwill among, and connection with a new, young target group.
  • Eboman’s role as ambassador was important.
  • Cooperation of various partners went well – positive effect on reach.
  • The workshops led by professionals were very much appreciated, and were also necessary; many users needed tips and support.
  • The competition was now held locally (in the Netherlands). Could next editions be held internationally?

Points of interest

  • Allot enough time to select footage and theme.
  • Create the right balance between informing and stimulating the audience.
  • In practice, Blip.tv was not the best solution to facilitate Celluloid Remix. For the next edition, we will search for other platforms.
  • A five-minute remix turned out to be too long: decrease the maximum duration of entries to four minutes.
  • Various contestants asked for higher resolution footage: next time it should be available. Now the maximum width was 480 pixels.
  • We could have made more of the partnership with Dutch Film Festival: more attention in, and more connection with the festival programme. A different screening platform could be more suitable.
  • Focus on one target group instead of several.
  • As for the cooperation with the academies, the timing of Celluloid Remix 2009 could have been better – they were very busy working on the final presentations and exams in May/June. Initiate cooperation with academies earlier.

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