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0xdb Movie Database Goes Live

Friends from Pirate Cinema Berlin went live with their software/database magnum opus yesterday evening. In order to access the full functionality of the site, you will need to register as a user and be in possession of a registration code, which you can acquire by writing a friendly mail to the administrators, whom you can contact here.

The 0xdb collects information from numerous sources including allmovies, wikipedia and the internet movie database, amongst others, and offers users the chance to search and organise it in interesting ways. Where geographical data as to shot locations is available, for example, this can be plotted on google maps.


(Location information for ‘Goodbye Lenin’)

Entries in the database are acquired through the constant monitoring of bit torrent traffic taking place on trackers around the net, and this foundation in real data objects allows queries of a type unavailable elsewhere. Apart from nifty coding, the functionality of the database relies on a key element contributed by p2p users: subtitles. Subtitle files contain time code information that enables users to search for textual references and match them with frame/sequence locations. A search for ‘Berlin‘ or “you don’t love me any more” in the 0xdb will thus return all references to these phrases within an individual film, a set of films selected by the user, or the entire database. The result can then be previewed in flash as two second quotations.

(‘You don’t love me any more’ in Kusturica’s ‘When Father Was Away on Business’, Hamer’s ‘Factotum’, and Godard’s ‘Le Mepris’)

Alternatively one can look at the film broken down into scenes; the image is taken from the first frame in each minute and the sequence is five seconds in total:

(Scenes from ‘Grands Soirs, Petits Matins’ by William Klein)

Another innovative feature allows users to preview the entire film on a visual time-line. The 24 or 29 frames in each second are averaged out and generate a composite image one pixel wide and sixteen pixels long. Effectively this creates a visual summary of the movie similar to a film print. By clicking within the time-line brings up a miniature flash movie in a window to the left, and users can navigate through the film using the arrow keys:

(Time-line for Francesco Rosi’s ‘Mani Sulla Citta’, the frame to the left of the time-line corresponds to where I clicked on the time-line, indicated by the red bar in the top left corner)

Apart from providing useful charts for browsing the film’s script and content, this form of representation can also reveal a lot regarding visual style, as is demonstrated by the example below. Benning’s Ten Skies is exactly what it sounds like: a film split into ten long sequences focused on the sky:

(Structural movies like James Benning’s ‘Ten Skies’, as never seen before).

There has even been a film especially made to play with the form of composite image creation used to create the time line, something like a form of reverse steganography.

(‘Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap’ by Robert Luxemburg)

Around 2,500 films are currently present in the database, with relatively few mainstream films and a preponderance of arthouse, documentary, experimental and classic works. In addition to its ludic virtue and usefulness for research, the 0xdb raises a lot of interesting copyright questions. This aspect, as well as what it will mean for film-making will be dealt with in a later post.

August 13, 2007 Posted by | berlin, cinema, copyright, p2p, social cooperation | 8 Comments

   

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