Minimum Festival Rules

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Dave Watterson
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Minimum Festival Rules

Post by Dave Watterson » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:19 pm

The more I check on film festivals which genuinely welcome entries from amateurs, the more I am struck by the sheer number of rules people feel it necessary to lay down.

I guess most of these arise from incidents which happened in earlier years.

What's worse is that each festival sets out its rules and entry forms differently which makes it a pain to enter ... and doubly so if the forms are in another language and you have to guess with the help of an online dictionary or translation service what each heading means.

If we were to try to formulate one common core group of rules, what would they be?

To kick off I suggest:

1. Who can enter (pro, amateur, student, age group, nationality etc.)
2. Maximum (and if necessary minimum) lengths of entries.
3. How many entries can one person/group make?
4. What topics are wanted / not wanted. (e.g. "only nature films" or "no animation".)
5. Which formats can be entered.
6. Deadline and fees.
7. Date of screenings (Not essential but most people want to know and it is suprising how often this is not announced.)

Any other essential rules? How about leader lengths? Style of container/wrapping?

Dave

ned c
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Post by ned c » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:07 pm

Define the language. This is essential as not all judges are multi-lingual.

Define that copyright clearance is the responsibility of the entrant. Here in the USA many entrants use the "fair use" rule in the US copyright laws which allows use of copyrighted material for educational purposes and as AMPS & AMMA include education in their mandate and Mark Levy, past president of AMMA is a patent/intellectual rights lawyer and assures we are OK.

Past entries cannot be resubmitted.

Must have been made within the past x? (three) years.

Limit on the amount of stock footage that can be used.

Finally and in passing. The AMPS Festival is open to all film makers world wide, details at www.ampsvideo.com and may I suggest that you consider joining AMPS? For GBP10 per annum you get six issues of the Newsletter and enjoy substantially reduced Festival entry fees and there are awards specifically for AMPS members. End of commercial!

Ned C

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:29 am

For those blessed with the task of putting the 'winners show' together, can I add to the 'format' part of the 'rules' that there must/should be a defined period of leader prior to the start of the film, with a countdown that stops (ie, just black screen) at a defined period (3 seconds?) before the movie start.

The biggest problem is DVDs ... some are auto start. Some require Play to be pressed. And for each of these types, some either have a 'lead in' period, and some go straight in, some have hideous (!!??) DVD player logos as part of the movie, some require choice from a menu (would you believe!!) ... they're a NIGHTMARE!

For the Kent Film Festival, I have attempted to solve this situation and make projection smoother and more comfortable for the audience and easier for the projectionist by copying (please don't groan!) all entries for projection in the correct sequence with a suitable 'spacer' between each, onto miniDV tapes, so the performance can be projected smoothly without any cueing hitches. Copying to miniDV shouldn't result in any performance loss, of course, but some media (notably DVDs) can be difficult to copy because of the points outlined above. Contestants are informed at the outset that winning entries shown will be copied to miniDV.

Obviously, miniDV is our preferred medium for entries!!

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Post by Brian Saberton » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:48 am

I've started to put an Academy countdown leader onto the front of my films to assist the projectionist in identifying where the film starts or to facilitate copying by festival officers. Unfortunately I have also seen countdown leader projected onto the screen in all its glory! (Not at IAC events I hasten to add)

I use Premiere Elements and am not familiar with other software applications but I would guess that most of them will have some kind of option for adding a countdown leader.

Personally I agree that we need a standard that all competitions (at international, national and club level) can apply (perhaps the IAC can take a lead on this issue) but we also need to make sure that all projectionists understand that you should never, ever, under any circumstances project the countdown leader to an audience.

I also agree about the problems with DVD's but this seems to be becoming the preferred medium for many people when sending entries to competitions, perhaps because it is cheap. I make a DVD copy for personal use but much prefer to send competition entries on mini DV.
Brian Saberton

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:26 pm

Oh - if only the IAC could lay down the 'rules' regarding leaders!! That definitely gets my vote!!

It is because of the difficulties in cueing up that I decided (with committee consent!) to assemble all movies onto miniDV tapes for projection - and so completely eliminating leader and cueing problems.

However, I re-iterate, DVDs are extremely difficult to handle sometimes (even when copying) - particularly when they play on insertion. I have developed a procedure for handling almost all variations of DVD - copying to an editor first and then selecting the true start point, and adding my own controllable leader for copying to miniDV purposes. However, perhaps an even more serious problem with DVDs is the vast variety of (cheap) blanks used, some of which do not play at all in some equipment. This means having several DVD players available for playback - fine when copying to one medium, not so fine when sitting in a projection room.

I definitely prefer entries that do not use DVDs!! (How popular do you think a ban on DVD entries would be? :roll: )

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Re: Minimum Festival Rules

Post by Willy » Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:20 pm

Dave Watterson wrote: If we were to try to formulate one common core group of rules, what would they be?

To kick off I suggest:

1. Who can enter (pro, amateur, student, age group, nationality etc.)
2. Maximum (and if necessary minimum) lengths of entries....

Any other essential rules? How about leader lengths? Style of container/wrapping?

Dave
Only new films ?
One of my friends wanted to enter an international festival with a film that had been made in 2002.According to the rules of that festival his film was too old. So, maybe also the year when the film was made should be asked. Though ... sometimes the organizers accept old films, but only if they have been changed in the mean time. Of course you can only change a few words in the subtitles and then the film might be acceptable. Hmmm.... that's tricky, isn't it ?

Race to international festivals
In my opinion the age of the film is not so important. Now I must hurry to enter as many festivals as possible with my recent films which is also very expensive. In a few years I won't be able to enter my recent films anymore. Ned doesn't have to be worried because I have already sent my recent film to him. Indeed, the American festival is cheap. As cheap as the dollar. Hopefully the pound sterling will devaluate very soon. Bad thought, isn't it ?
Willy Van der Linden

Michael Slowe
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Minimum Festival Rules

Post by Michael Slowe » Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:12 pm

Although properly encoded and burnt DVD's should never cause any playing problems (mine never do) I agree with those that prefer Mini DV tape if possible. The picture quality of tape is vastly superior to DVD at present. The convenience of DVD's comes into play when you are sending films to non film makers who would not be able to play Mini DV.

As festivals are run by film makers there is no problem with tape and I always send tapes unless specifically asked not to (AMPS I believe want only DVD's). The question of lead in should present no problems. It is easy enough to insert say 10 seconds of black in front of a programme on the editing timeline before mastering. No need for those wretched countdowns which always seem to end up on the screen. Why is the obvious so often overlooked by people who end up by complicating things?

ned c
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Post by ned c » Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:03 am

In the past AMPS has accepted PAL DVDs only. This year we accept miniDV tape, both PAL and NTSC and HDV(tape) in 1080 50i and 60i. We have a multi-standard/multi format tape deck and a HD TV monitor for this year's judging. We also accept DVDs in both SD standards; we are not ready for Blu-Ray or HD DVD yet.

It has been interesting in past years seeing that the "expertly" prepared DVDs play perfectly and there have been one or two duds suggesting cheap DVDs or poor program preparation. It would be interesting to know how people prepare their DVDs. I know that Michael has shared his experience with us, is any one else willing to detail how they prepare their DVDs for Festivals?

ned c

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Willy
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Post by Willy » Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:23 pm

ned c wrote: yet.

It would be interesting to know how people prepare their DVDs. I know that Michael has shared his experience with us, is any one else willing to detail how they prepare their DVDs for Festivals?

ned c
Arabesk
Up to now there have not been any problems with my DVD's at international festivals. I have always burnt my DVD'S in my casablanca (system arabesk), but some weeks ago it didn't work anymore. I was desperate. I bought a new hard disk and burner. It meant about 750 euros (about 500 pounds sterling). My films are still on my old hard disk and I can only make mini-DVD copies with it. The big problem with casablanca is that you can only use -R disks, not +R disks.

Now I've also bought an external BenQ-burner and I connected it with my computer. I can burn -R copies as well as +R with it. I didn't know the make BenQ.

DVD's better than mini-DV's for international festivals.Of course DVD's are much cheaper than mini-DV's. It is not necessary to send them back after the festival. Postage is more expensive than the disk itself.
Willy Van der Linden

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:34 pm

BENQ apparently stands for "Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to life." The name was adopted by the Taiwanese company who used to be known as Acer.

I am intrigued as to why you want to burn DVD+ discs, Willy. The advice we usually get is that DVD- ones are handled by more players than any other kind.

My grump is that all the DVD cutting systems that I know, want to insist that you add a menu. As Mike said menus are a nuisance in competition entries. For that purpose you want a disc that starts the movie as soon as you pop it in the player. Menus are fine for normal use - indeed most viewers expect them and like to take a moment to settle in their seat, sip their coffee and scratch their nose before clicking one of the menu's go buttons. But for comps - a fast start is desirable.

Dave

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:21 am

... and another problem .... most people don't read this (or any other) forum, and even worse, barely read the competition rules, so miss any 'instructions on how to prepare their material for viewingl' ... and consequently make DVDs the way they always make them. As Dave says, its fine for home viewing - possibly even for tolerant club viewing. But for competitions, particularly 'winner shows', it makes life extremely difficult for those having to project, and a bit tiresome for the audience (I suggest)..

There are many (valid) arguments against copying show winners to a master miniDV tape. I think I've heard them all. But on balance - as one who has projected at the Kent Film Festival (and will, no doubt, again!) - I think the audience gets the best ride when the movies are assembled - provided they are properly assembled of course : that, too, can present problems, but these can be overcome before the audience see the movies. It should for example enable sound levels which otherwise can vary considerably between (and within!) movies to be corrected - though I always hesitate to correct fluctuating sound levels within a movie: that should be down to the movie-maker (if really bad, I'd contact the maker and ask his permission first). As for the difference in overall sound level between different movies, it seems every piece of home equipment has its own idea of what 0db is...

For sure, assembling movies onto showreels makes for a far more relaxing day for the projectionist, as well as providing a smoother running show for the audience ... all the 'stress' of cueing up etc is done in a relaxed way days or weeks before the performance.

Having said all that ... first time I did the KFF, the projectors didn't work (Mr. Sod and his law, I think) ... and substitutes had to be found pdq ... in another theatre, at first ... imagine the added disasters if all the movies hadn't been assembled onto just a few easily transportable tapes ... I shudder to think ... !!

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Stephen
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Post by Stephen » Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:28 am

Hello peeps

please be gentle I'm still quite new around here !!!...
I found the rules on formats for the various competitions very confusing and it did stop me from entering initially...

I still find conflicts in what does make a 'proper' entry specifically with format and start up methods...

Beginners struggling to get their ideas onto film is bad enough, finding a barrage of don't do this , don't do that, and then reading (sometimes within the same thread) do do this, do do that.

Rules are not the problem.... setting the standard is...

My own opinion of entering any competition is that the competition organisers can do whatever it takes to make life easier for the projectionist, as long as it has not degraded the original work.

I look to the IAC to set standards to help my moving making ...
can we make a start here in which new peeps can get under way on the right foot???
Stephen

Film making is not a matter of Life and Death
It's much more important than that.

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Mike Shaw
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Post by Mike Shaw » Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:30 pm

Welcome Stephen! Sorry you find competition rules confusing - maybe those that write them should take note!!

Not degrading the original work is definitely and unquestionably a vital consideration - hence the use of miniDV (and DV AVI files ) which are effectively/virtually lossless, especially when copying from miniDV.

DVD discs, on the other hand, do introduce a reduction in quality - even when mastered from an original edit (which is why DVD is a 'convenience' medium rather than a 'mastering' medium - 'master' your movies to DVD and you'll never again regain the original quality from that DVD, should you wish to use it to edit further). Thus, copying from DVD to miniDV does produce a quality hit - but only compared with the original shoot material- not from the DVD quality: the quality hit from DVD to miniDV is virtually imperceptible.

The skill in copying to a showreel is to ensure that blemishes etc in the original movie are not corrected (unless the maker requests it!) - however tempting making such a correction may be!

Unfortunately, decent miniDV players are expensive, but in my view, well worth the money. This means that clubs wishing to show miniDV must either bite the bullet for a fairly expensive miniDV player, or use a camcorder (which is not what they were designed for!).

However clear and simplified the 'spec' for adding leaders to one's movies, and however universal the rules are, sadly, there will always be some who totally ignore them and produce movies with no leader ... the worst offenders being among those who make their movies to DVD (but that does NOT mean all DVD makers are culprits, nor that they always have a choice - standalone DVD player/recorders invariably have a menu whether you like it or not). DVDs are easier to post, and are inexpensive to buy (as blanks). But your masterpiece shows better on miniDV ... and for around £2.0 a tape, isn't it worth it to show your movies off at their best?

My 2 penn'oth!!

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:41 pm

I found the rules on formats for the various competitions very confusing and it did stop me from entering initially...

I still find conflicts in what does make a 'proper' entry specifically with format and start up methods...
It's true, Stephen, that some sets of rules sound like your old headmaster on a bad day ... DO NOT ... MUST NOT ... ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT ...

As this thread shows there are a number of things people like to have clear before entering a competition. It helps everyone if the rules are clear and simple.

As for what is a "proper" entry ... those competitions where the rules state "no pornography" are so tempting ...

Dave

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Post by stingman » Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:15 pm

Slightly going on a tangent (as I do!). You could (NOT that I would), include one frame now and again. No-one would see it. It would register as something in the brain, but you would not see it! If you were caught, then you could be blacklisted!

I did this with letters spelling out something during a 12 minute film for one of our club competitions. No-one noticed! I normally do things like this if i`m making a protest (in my clubs interest of course :wink: ). I won`t reveal what sentence I did but it wasn`t rude!

But doing things like this isn`t really acceptable. If you were advertising something then it is totally illegal!! It`s called Subblimable Advertising.

Ian Gardner
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