Obsolescence – Part 2: The renaissance of obsolete media

In the first part of the theme article on obsolescence, we examined strategies for preserving works stored on obsolete media. A device or product is obsolete when it is so old that it no longer meets the new demands of its environment and therefore becomes superfluous.
This second part of the article will look at counter-movements that deliberately resuscitate obsolete techniques. This backlash is supported by groups and institutions, but also by individual activists and artists, some of whom are presented here. more

In the cinema

Impatiently we hop from channel to channel when the programmes on TV do not spark our immediate interest. We have long become zappers and surfers with attention spans so short that we increasingly content ourselves with browsing summaries and consulting Wikipedia on the internet, or we just jump indiscriminately from link to link. We behave like post-industrial monkeys swinging in digital trees. In the cinema, however, it is the projectionist who holds the reins. No remote control, no mouse click, no touch screen gives us our habitual power over the images we view. We sit in the dark.  more

A review of award-winning short films in 2013 – a brief appraisal

As in the past, we would like to start off the new year with an appraisal of the award-winning short films of the previous year. We are pleased to note that in 2013 the number of countries producing short films garnering worldwide acclaim saw a significant jump. Less encouraging is the fact that we are once again looking at a winner’s pyramid, with only a few titles scooping up the lion’s share of the prizes. more

Crowdsourcing and participatory art – Gillian Wearing invites submissions for film project

Hundreds of appeals have gone out in the past to participate in collective film projects, but this one is different. Or maybe not? The project is called “Your Views” and the basic idea is simple: people all over the world are asked to submit clips showing the view from their windows at home. The special twist here is that the photographs will be collected for use in an art project that will later be displayed in art museums and galleries and on television. Author and initiator of the project is the renowned British artist and filmmaker Gillian Wearing, in collaboration with her gallery, Maureen Paley.  more

Obsolescence – Part 1: The preservation and restoration of electronic media

New digital media are rendering their old analogue counterparts obsolete. Innovations have of course always resulted in the replacement of old technologies. But the current changeover from old to new is especially far-reaching, because the acceleration of product life cycles is virtually an essential feature of digital media. The technical term used to describe an outdated product being pulled out of circulation is obsolescence. In film and media production, both software and hardware are affected by accelerated obsolescence. more

The filmless film festival

Ten years ago it was still unthinkable that a film festival could be held without analogue films. Today, the ratio of digital projections at feature film festivals is already between 60 to 80% of the programme – and growing! The switchover has happened even faster at short film festivals. Hardly any 35mm celluloid prints can be found in competitions these days, and what was once the classic carrier for independently produced short films, the 16mm film, has completely disappeared from the scene. more

Review of award-winning short films in 2012 – a brief appraisal

After getting the impression that just a handful of short films scoop up the lion’s share of awards and honours each year all over the world, we now publish an annual review of the past year’s award-winners in our online magazine. By analysing the prize-winners listed over the year in our “Awards” section, we are able to quantify this subjective impression using objective figures. Now it’s time to take a look back at the year 2012. more

Things change: Animated film archives in the digital age

Film archives traditionally consist of stacked film reels in cold storage. But the holdings of archives for animated film also include production materials such as props, dolls, sets, screenplays, storyboards and other written and visual documents, as well as the estates of studios and filmmakers. Archives have long been (wrongly) viewed by the general public as a dusty, stodgy affair – they aren’t considered particularly sexy. With digitization, however, and above all with the omnipresence and universal availability of the internet and Web 2.0, archives’ working methods (including new tools, etc.) and the public perception of them are changing, with no end in sight. more

Streaming video – The reformatting of film and video art on the Internet

Streaming video technologies are becoming increasingly important, not to mention useful, for filmmakers and video artists. Technical improvements and advances such as cloud computing, larger data storage capacities and better codecs for high-resolution playback extend the possibilities for distributing moving images. At the same time, they also change the economic conditions under which films can be exhibited and marketed. more

Review of award-winning short films in 2011 – a brief appraisal

After getting the impression that just a handful of short films scoop up the lion’s share of awards and honours each year all over the world, we now publish an annual review of the past year’s award-winners in our online magazine. By analysing the prize-winners listed over the year in our “Awards” section, we are able to quantify this subjective impression using objective figures. Now it’s time to take a look back at the year 2011. more

The year of the curators – A reader’s digest of a mega-trend

According to trend scouts on the Internet and in the features pages, 2011 was the year of the curators. Not the real-life curators, who have already had their year, but the Web curators.

What exactly is a Web curator? Well, nowadays everything is curated – from parties to home furnishings. So why not the Internet? There, curating is about filtering and recommending Web content from the social networks. The mass production of information and content is beginning to overwhelm today’s users. That’s why trustworthy curators are now needed to help reliably separate the wheat from the chaff. more

Digital short films – from production to cinema

The digitization of cinema opens up completely new possibilities for putting films on the screen – options once attainable only at a high price and with a great deal of effort. While the costs of digitization are largely borne by the cinemas, the related cost savings are accruing mainly to the benefit of programme suppliers. Apart from the major film industry companies and their distributors, these suppliers also include independent filmmakers, who can now make and distribute prints of their work much more easily than in the old celluloid days.  more

Eyewitness films on Internet platforms – An introduction and four examples of media convergence

Internet platforms have been springing up of late that feature documentation and recordings of current events as seen through the eyes of contemporary witnesses. Most of these are editorially supervised theme-oriented websites, but there are also some videosharing platforms among them. At the same time, as the media of Internet, film and television converge, professionally produced documentary film projects are increasingly being undertaken that combine several different documentary and media formats. We would like to present a few examples here. more

From book trailer to Vook – A new short film niche

A new niche has now joined the ranks of the many already filled by short film: the so-called “book trailer”. Book trailers are used to market books online. The idea is to convey an impression of the book’s content and overall mood, a kind of visual blurb and book cover in one. The best of them also happen to be good short films. more

International Short Film Festival Oberhausen launches Oberhausen Films Online

March 2011 saw the debut of “Oberhausen Films Online”, a new video-on-demand platform that functions as the virtual video library of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. On offer are films that were shown at the Oberhausen festival. Moreover, the site also functions as sales platform for the authors and producers of those films. more

Review of award-winning short films in 2010 – a brief appraisal

Based on the impression that just a handful of short films scoop up the lion’s share of awards and honours each year all over the world, we now publish an annual review of the past year’s award-winners in our online magazine. By analysing the prizewinners listed over the year in our “Awards” section, we are able to quantify this subjective impression using objective figures. Now it’s time to take a look back at the year 2010. more

Digital options for self-distribution of short films – an overview

Today, marketing and selling digital or digitised films online no longer poses any major technical problems, as filmmakers can draw on their experience with video and submission platforms. Tools for offering films via Internet protocol are widely available.

In the meantime, there are also companies that specialize in this field, and platforms that offer the various services required, while pursuing a range of different concepts. From do-it-yourself to full service, a variety of options now present themselves for self-distribution of short films on the Internet. more

25 years of Metrópolis

In our fast-paced times, it’s an unusual occurrence when a television show is able to celebrate its 25th anniversary. And when it’s a cultural programme – as in the case of Metrópolis – the possible candidates across Europe can probably be counted on one hand.

TVE, the Spanish public television station, can boast just such an anniversary: on 21 April, Metrópolis celebrated its 25th year on the air, a weekly programme on current trends in art and culture with a focus on audiovisual works such as video art; experimental, animated and short film; music videos and innovative commercials. more

Future Shorts – the international spread of an event model as franchise brand

This spring, a counter-statement posted on the German website of Future Shorts took public a conflict on the German short-film scene revolving around the practices of the Future Shorts initiative. Setting off the controversy was a programme of short films offered by Future Shorts Germany in that country’s cinemas and other venues. The programme included winners of the esteemed German Short Film Award, to which German film distributors and agencies such as the KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg and interfilm Berlin hold in some cases exclusive, and in others non-exclusive, rights to theatrical release. more

Review of award-winning short films in 2009 – a brief appraisal

Prompted by the impression that just a handful of short films scoop up the lion’s share of awards and honours each year all over the world, we published here two years ago a review of the previous year’s award-winners. By analysing the prizewinners listed over the year in our “Awards” section, we were able to quantify this subjective impression using objective figures. We will now attempt to repeat the same procedure in a review of short film awards in 2009. more

Best practice benchmarks for film festivals

Not all too long ago, short film festivals were few and far between. Their organizational form and mode of operation was pretty much the same all over the world. Festivals with international competitions followed similar, if not identical, sets of rules and conventions. Today, however, there are thousands of events and occasions that describe themselves as festivals. Most do not deserve this appellation, many work with obscure regulations, and some even make do without any rules or terms & conditions at all. more…

The MEDIA-programme for Video on Demand projects

The European Union has been granting funding for the digital distribution of audiovisual media since 2007 as part of its MEDIA Programme for the support of film and media. Projects eligible for grants are divided into the categories Digital Cinema Distribution and Video on Demand (VoD).

Eight million euros, two million more than the year before, have been set aside for the current funding round, which bears the Eurocratic name “Call for Proposals EACEA 02-2009″. These funds will be made available to the chosen applicants in the form of co-financing of projects by independent production and distribution companies.

The Video on Demand area in particular includes projects that indirectly touch on the short-film sector, or which offer a platform for the short form. Now, in the programme’s third year, it’s worth taking a look back at what has been achieved thus far and reflecting on what the future might hold. more

Video Paintings – Ambient television, from video art to screensaver

Brian Eno founded the “Ambient” label in the 1970s, coining the term “˜ambient music’ to denote electronically generated, unobtrusive background sound for private or public spaces. To complement this sound, Eno also produced video works that translate the musical concept onto the visual plane. In analogy to “˜ambient music’, “˜ambient art’ evolved, and finally “˜ambient television’ and “˜ambient video art’.

With today’s omnipresent private and public display screens, and increasingly broad bandwidths for the transmission of image data, this development has now taken on a new dynamic. Large-format flat screens in particular, which can be hung like picture frames on the wall, open up a whole new set of possibilities for the reception of imagery and, in connection with high-definition technology, for image production as well. “˜Video paintings’ produced especially for flat screens might even be considered a whole new genre. more

Review of award-winning short films in 2008 – a brief appraisal

Prompted by the impression that just a handful of short films scoop up the lion’s share of awards and honours all over the world each year, we published here at about the same time last year a look back at 2007’s award-winners. By analysing the winning films listed in our “Awards” section, we were then able to quantify this subjective impression using objective figures.

It seemed like a good idea to repeat this undertaking in early 2009 and put together a review of the past year.

Analysing the winners inevitably results in a kind of Short Film Hit Parade. This ranking can of course not be used to evaluate the artistic quality of films, but only to measure their popularity based on the votes of expert juries and viewing audiences.

Indirectly, we can also discern from such an overview how and where a film’s festival career gets off the ground. Trends in preferences for certain film genres or themes become evident. Furthermore, the ranking provides insights into the distribution of prizes between the various countries where the films are produced. more

Machinima: The Reappropriation of Computer Games for Filmmaking

by Karin Wehn

“Carnage Software”

Ego-shooters are digital, 3-D worlds full of terrorists and monsters in which the player only survives by killing as many opponents as possible. Depending on the default settings of the game and the player’s keyboard input and/or mouse control, the conditions of the virtual world are continually recomputed and changed in real-time and without pause. “Shoot’em-up” games like these still have a bad reputation amongst the general public and, on occasion, serve as the scapegoat for the players’ apparently increasing readiness to use violence. “Carnage Software”-this is how the ego-shooter Counter-Strike was grimly referred to by scholars, teachers and journalists following the killing spree of Robert Steinhäuser in Erfurt in 2002.

But the genre is also being put to the test for very creative goals as well: a lively cross-continental subculture is producing 3-D animation films with the help of computer games. The community describes its creations as “machinima”, a portmanteau word that plays upon the convergence of the words “machine”, “cinema” und “animation”. more

Content quality in Web 2.0 – Advertising industry asks video hosters difficult questions

It’s almost touching to see how the up-and-coming Web 2.0 generation has recently been forced against its will to come to terms in its own naí¯ve way with the theme of content quality. Against its will, because the discussion is being foisted on Web 2.0 operators by the advertising industry. They are now hoping to obtain some good advice by inviting prominent experts from the traditional (off-line) film culture to sound off on the subject. At the recent Mobile World Congress 2008, for example, Robert Redford of the Sundance Institute was asked to provide his input on a short-film initiative launched by the GSM mobile phone association. Redford did not appear particularly impressed by the option of watching short films on the innovative 2.4-inch phone display, but he did emphasize the importance of quality content: “I’m on the side of content because technology needs it – the big thing that comes up that will separate the wheat from the chaff will be quality. YouTube and outfits like that are demonstrating film in wonderful ways but also you have the quality issue. If you want to be known for quality then you want to maintain that because that will be your imprimatur in the future.” more

A look back at all 2007 short film award-winners – and a brief appraisal

Anyone who follows the film festival scene and notes the juries’ decisions has certainly observed something peculiar by now: the same films seem to win everywhere and much too often!

Is this really so? Based on an evaluation of the prize-winners listed in our “˜Awards’ section during this past calendar year, we have attempted to find an answer to this question.

Our analysis naturally also showed which films won the most prizes. But this is not meant to be a hit parade, since productions from 2005 that won awards in 2006 also figure in this timeframe, while new films have in the meantime been released that only started making the festival circuit in 2008.

Also of interest here is to see how the awards are distributed amongst the various production countries.

In the end, the obvious question one has to ask is: How does this kind of accumulation of awards come about? more

Film festivals, cinemas and the crisis

The upswing in short film production continues unbroken worldwide. Festivals such as the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen are already taking measures to stem the onslaught of submissions, having long since reached the limits of their capacity for previewing and selection. For the same reason, some feature-film festivals are taking short film off the programme or are forced to supplement their staffs. This demonstrates that the growing rate of short film production cannot be attributed only to rising demand and the distribution possibilities offered by the Internet. After all, the onrush is aiming for the big screen. more

Short film online – The Golden Age of the Shorts? Part 2

New trend amongst advertising-financed video hosters: Quality trumps quantity

It hasn’t even been three years since the most prominent video-hosting platform for short film, YouTube, was founded. During that time, many imitators have surfaced. And even if they are not all in the black yet, they can still be considered as having established themselves, at least in terms of broad acceptance. Because millions of short videos have been uploaded in the past few years and viewed billions of times. more

Dicht/Vorm: animation meets poetry

The following article introduces a very interesting project originally developed in the Netherlands and subsequently adapted in Belgium. “˜Dicht/Vorm’ is a crossover between poetry and animated film in which filmmakers were invited to create a filmed version of the poem of their choice.

This article was first published in Flemish on our Belgian partner platform In her review, Ils Huygens, editor of, introduces the project and its background. She looks in particular at issues and aspects arising from the confrontation between filmmakers and poets that were explored in a panel discussion at the Animafestival in Brussels. more

A short history of the diffusion of video art in Spain

In Spain, work in video has had a long and hard road to travel since the late 1960s before managing to visibly establish itself as an artistic form. Its historical development has unfolded against the background of the political and economic conditions of the Franco era as well as the interplay between various institutions, such as museums, cultural centres, art fairs, galleries, festivals and television programmes. In recent years, artistic work in video has experienced a resurgence in step with advances in information technology, but there is still no stable economic and organizational structure for video in which the market would be prepared to invest. more

Light Cone – 25 years of devotion to experimental film

One of the major homes of experimental film in Europe, Light Cone film distribution, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. For the past quarter-century, Light Cone has been a key partner in the presentation of experimental film for curators, festivals and filmmakers. Light Cone’s archive contains today more than 3,000 experimental films in all formats. The cineaste can find everything here from up-to-the-minute video works to installations to avant-garde classics. With its regular screenings, Light Cone in addition plays an important role in bringing international experimental film to the attention of the public. more

SHORT FILM REMIXING ON THE INTERNET, Part 2 – Collaborative Remixability

The era of the classic found-footage film has come to an end. What was once an important, albeit marginal, but in any case very special filmmaking practice, has today, in the age of global mass production and digital audio and video availability, become a matter of course. Successors to the found-footage film circulate through the Internet as film remixes and video mashups in a push-and-pull between popular banality, commercialization and high artistic aspirations. more

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