BIAFF 2018

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by tom hardwick » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:07 pm

Good points, good people.
Here's a thought, how about we level the financial playing field? If the IAC isn't going to repay everything, how about the judges all get reimbursed for their travel expenses, but all pay for their (judging) hotel accommodation. It has now cost everyone the same.

I joke; I suspect that we'd lose judges this way. But the serious side is that new, possibly younger and enthusiastic judges need to be encouraged and valued, not effectively left out of pocket. Filmmakers at our local club who I believe would make excellent BIAFF judges, blanch at the the travel costs.

I've helped judge a few online competitions and as I told David Newman, I'd volunteer like a shot if BIAFF went this way. I can afford the £200+ train fare (booked in advance, 2nd class) for us two judges, but the money (although a lot) is less bothersome than the effective two days lost to travel. The two days judging are fine, as are the very many more days involved in the writeup appraisals. But days are precious, I (we) only have a finite number left.

John says, 'On a 55" TV with a 'not particularly big' 4 foot wide picture, 576 x 720 looks truly shocking...'

Just to satisfy myself that I'm still in control, I've just run the same film into my 55'' Samsung, first the DVD version, then the Blu-ray. 'Truly shocking' is certainly not a description I'd give the DVD; in fact I'd go so far as to say I'm pretty impressed with this 20 year old technology.

The BD is indeed better, and I can sit much closer to the screen before picture compromises intrude. But I notice that the film, and it's ability to move me, are completely independent of the carrier medium.

So DVD wins, and why? Because of its ubiquity. BD is fine, but it's like speaking Welsh or Swedish; not many people can decipher you.

John Roberts
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by John Roberts » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:52 pm

The whole idea of BIAFF judging is to watch all the films (potentially 200+) with rotating groups of judges, discuss the merits of them and arrive at at least a majority if not a unanimous decision as to the awards given, on 'identical' (though less than ideal) equipment under 'controlled' (though less than ideal) situations. How would online BIAFF judging work? Who would be selected to judge my films? Someone with the latest TV, Blu-Ray capabilities and a pro sound system? Or a judge who doesn't own a Blu-Ray player, has no external sound system and watches on a 10-year-old Matsui TV? How would they converse with the 2 or 3 other judges who are also watching the same films (on potentially wildly different domestic systems giving potentially wildly different viewpoints and opinions) in order to arrive at a decision? Online judging is great and works well for a lower number of entries than BIAFF currently receives; the current BIAFF system appears to work well but might benefit from upgraded equipment.

Technically, there is no way that a Standard Definition DVD can look as stunning as a High Definition BD, not least that the picture resolution is four times less and the bitrate is far inferior. Upscaling standard definition does not put the information back that was lost when creating the DVD, the upscaling merely smooths out the jagged edges. Of course, we should be comparing our own HD or 4K sourced BD disc renders against an identical DVD burn, and not commercially available feature films which can sometimes show little improvement over the DVD quality if the source material used to create the BD is poor to start with, as is often the case.

I also have to question why on earth mention:
tom hardwick wrote:I equate the experience of viewing competitor's films on iffy bedroom TVs to choosing the best photographs in a photo competition by viewing the Windows thumbnails... Competitors deserve their work to be seen and heard on high quality equipment...
And then follow it up with:
tom hardwick wrote:But I notice that the film, and it's ability to move me, are completely independent of the carrier medium.
It's either one or the other :wink:

tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by tom hardwick » Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:23 pm

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. I was pointing out that the film's message (and its ability to stir my emotions) can be delivered just as effectively to my TV on DVD or BD. If the film's any good the fact that the BD has a higher bit rate and 4x the resolution matters only to pixel-peepers.
Mind you, I'd not want to watch VHS on a 55'' screen for long.

ned c
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by ned c » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:14 pm

I have just re-read this thread and I think that it gets to the core of the future of the IAC. The IAC offers three major benefits to the world of amateur film making; the magazine; the music licence and BIAFF. Of these the most important is BIAFF; yes any organization needs a method of communication and the magazine fulfills this but in the age of the Internet and rising print and distribution costs an on-line version makes it possible to redistribute the income into more productive avenues. We will still need an editor and written contributions but the cost saving would surely be substantial, I hear the cries of those not on-line or like to read a print magazine in the bath but these days they must be a very small minority.

Judging; remote judging is the future. Selection of the judges may be a challenge but this is where the IAC regions can help by providing a list of interested members of clubs with details of their viewing set-up with a minimum standard required. This works well for DOCUTAH which has the advantage of a single geographic location and a university department to help but this surely is where the IAC can play a part. Judging guidelines can be set and a BD disc created with examples of films from each category as a guide and how to write up the reviews. This still needs a central management but does help reduce the load.

The Festival; the multi day festival as we know it is fine but expensive for the participants and well outside the resources of young film makers so in addition a travelling one-day version to be organized by the regions with promotional help from the IAC and perhaps the opportunity for local community entries. I am a passionate believer in the inclusion of a student section in BIAFF judged by academics with a valuable award. Remember when the Ten Best used to get entries from major film schools? Amazing. Finally; hotel rooms for showing films are not good; a raked seating with a decent viewing and sound system is essential. OK; not easy to find but perhaps a university outside term time?

There is an underlying challenge that the IAC has to face - just what are the benefits of membership in the Internet age of YouTube and Vimeo?

ned c

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by TimStannard » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:05 pm

tom hardwick wrote:Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. I was pointing out that the film's message (and its ability to stir my emotions) can be delivered just as effectively to my TV on DVD or BD.
I agree, however
tom hardwick wrote: If the film's any good the fact that the BD has a higher bit rate and 4x the resolution matters only to pixel-peepers.
whilst this may be the case (and I suspect John would disagree that it is) if someone makes a film to be shown a certain resolution/bitrate it is reasonable for them to expect it to be judged by people watching at that resolution/bitrate and (here's the crunch) those judges who are, in your words, pixel peepers, would see that higher resolution/bitrate as an advantage over another film of lower spec.

It all rather depends how you weight the different aspects of what makes a "good" film.

Unless competition organisers specify a resolution/bitrate (which they cannot do as this would be seen as detrimental progress) this is always going to be a problem unless they ensure all judges are able to watch on the highest spec available (equally impossible).

With regard to judging at home, whilst my TV does not have external audio (my wife will not allow speakers in the living room) and I might not be able therefore to experience the full 5.1 surround or earth shattering sub audible rumbles that some film makers have carefully crafted, I would at least be in a position to compare that audio with everything else I watch on my TV from professional BDs to YouTube phone vids and I would have a better idea about how the sound stacks up against those than I would on an unfamiliar hotel TV or indeed on my friends high-end audio equipment.
Tim
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tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by tom hardwick » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:06 am

A good and measured response from you Tim. You could of course listen to your TV through good headphones. It would still be 'only' stereo of course, but your TV audio is only that anyway, and you'd then get to hear what the competition entrant had worked so hard to produce.

As filmmakers we all recognise the huge importance of the sound track, so in some ways hearing the audio through a decent system trounces the difference between SD and HD. The screen resolution issue is totally dependent on viewing distance and screen size, (the angle subtended at the eye) such that showing us material in the hotel bedroom in HD goes practically unnoticed and unrecognised.

I think I should add to, and revise, my simplistic pixel-peeping comment while I'm here. If I have the option to watch a broadcast channel in SD or HD I pick the latter without fail. Yet I have very many films in my collection that I happily watch on DVD simply because the story is so powerful.

There again, there are films that I would almost (but not quite) avoid if I couldn't see them in HD. Anything with David Attenborough's voice on the soundtrack comes into this category, because wondrous technical and artistic photography is the mainstay of such productions.

Of course this mantra applies to amateur films of the same genre; where the pictures speak louder than the words they really do deserve the best we can give.

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by TimStannard » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:15 pm

tom hardwick wrote:A good and measured response from you Tim. You could of course listen to your TV through good headphones. It would still be 'only' stereo of course, but your TV audio is only that anyway, and you'd then get to hear what the competition entrant had worked so hard to produce.
Which, in fact, precisely what I do :D
Although it's generally on my second or third viewing which by then is on my (24" Calibrated) Computer screen.
So, more accurately, it is imprecisely what I do!
Tim
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tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by tom hardwick » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:22 am

And do you remember (you probably don't, you youngster you) that back in the 70s when they were trying to get quadraphonic vinyl discs off the ground, (they never did) there were quite a few 'quadraphonic' headphones for sale.

I could never get my head around (pun) the idea that left and right headphone speaker enclosures had 'front and rear' drivers within each housing, and the advertising mumbo-jumbo would have us believe that while wearing these headphones we could hear the rear channel info coming from the rear.

So stick with your stereo headphones .. unless you've got four ears of course.

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by TimStannard » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:25 pm

tom hardwick wrote:And do you remember (you probably don't, you youngster you) that back in the 70s when they were trying to get quadraphonic vinyl discs off the ground, (they never did)
I do remember them, and I guess it was probably early 70s because I'd have been 14 by '75 and into "gear" by which time it had pretty much died a death. I did assume at the time that the Who's "Quadrophenia" was so entitled because it was released as a quadrophonic record in much the same way that Fender named the Telecaster and Stratocaster to tie in with TV and the space race.
tom hardwick wrote: So stick with your stereo headphones .. unless you've got four ears of course.
Not sure whether it was on a recent TV documentary or on an audio podcast (Naked Scientists from Cambridge) but fairly recently - certainly within the last six month I recall a legitimate discussion about how the seemingly strange shape of the earlobe allows us to discern the position of sound forwards and backwards, up and down in addition to the left/right that the stereoscopic placement gives us (they demonstrated this with blind tests). I can't for the life of me remember whether it was possible to recreate this 3D positioning with headphones, be they normal or specially developed ones.

I have little doubt John Roberts who knows all things aural has come across this and can give us more information. Although we've gone a little OT by now.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it

Michael Slowe
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by Michael Slowe » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:59 pm

We're really just gossiping amongst ourselves while waiting for this year's judges to make up their minds!
Can I address both John and Ned please? John, properly prepared DVD's aren't necessarily all that inferior to BD's in my experience. I always make both kinds of discs of a finished film and I'm often surprised at the near parity in quality when shown on decent kit. It's true that they were shot in HD and I use an excellent downscaler for the DVD (BitVice, now discontinued I learn), but I'm surprised how well the DVD compares with the BD.

Ned,why urge a separate category for students? We need them in the full competition, they will most likely be up with or better than the general standard. You mention the Ten Best and the student entrants. They were brilliant, mostly from Southern California, and won many top awards. I still recall 'Cotton Eyed Joe', almost shot for shot. I'm puzzled why we don't get film school students entering into BIAFF, can't we lobby these establishments?

Finally, presentation of entries to judges. I'm now convinced that it would be a pretty level playing field if we used either Withoutabox or Filmfreeway for submission viewing. Access would be confined to judges, computer screens are now consistently good, and all the problems referred to throughout this thread would disappear. The one problem might be the strength of a judges wi fi connection. Here in North London I have BT Infinity with fibre optic line from the exchange to at least the streets nearby and films come over very well. Things are I believe improving throughout the country generally.

Tom, such a shame you not going to Harrogate. I know it's a long way but surely worth it. You are a stalwart of non commercial film making and so many people would like to see you there.

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Dave Watterson
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by Dave Watterson » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:33 pm

Who is going to Harrogate for the BIAFF screenings?

Jan and I have booked. I expect that as usual we will rarely be in the same cinema as one another on Saturday ... we can compare notes at mealtimes. I know she also want to get some interviews with film makers for the IAC Website.

Michael Slowe
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by Michael Slowe » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:46 pm

Dave, I booked for BIAFF at the first opportunity because in past years I've had trouble getting a 'single' room, my wife won't attend these events! Looking forward to seeing you and Jan although you are always so busy 'hosting' foreign visitors. I fancy you may be a bit more accessible following Scotland's rugby victory!

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TimStannard
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by TimStannard » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:32 pm

I shall hopefully be there for one or both screening days (Harrogate is a bit of a hike form me for one day). Whether Mrs S attends probably depends on if/when our entry is being screened and whether we can dump our usual leading lady on someone for the weekend.
Tim
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Howard-Smith
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by Howard-Smith » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:35 am

I’ll be there as ever. I haven’t missed a BIAFF since 2008. With five entries in this year I’m hoping that at least one or two will be shown!
Howard

tom hardwick
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Re: BIAFF 2018

Post by tom hardwick » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:49 am

FIVE films entered. Surely this deserves a Guinness Book of Records entry?

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