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First printing September, More information. They spoke dialects colored by race and region and class or even languages like Cajun French. Audiences might lack the background to understand the social worlds that the films showed. The documentaries to which public-television programmers instead gravitated typically had national historical subjects presented through scripted narration woven with archival photographs, newsreel footage, and talking heads of scholars.
If independent filmmakers could not work through existing media institutions, they also found that they had no good way to advertise and sell to the general public. They targeted libraries and schools, but had no effective way to acquaint them with their films or to make a living by selling them at prices that would promote purchases.
Unable to make a living solely from his documentaries, Tom Davenport developed From the Brothers Grimm , a successful series of dramatized adaptations of fairy tales translated into American settings. This led him and his wife and partner Mimi Davenport in to construct a website for their feature-length film, Willa: An American Snow White. They quickly saw that the Internet had the potential also to connect documentary filmmakers with niche audiences. A website streaming major films on American vernacular culture could introduce audiences worldwide to important works they might otherwise never see.
Enhancing the public's awareness of hard-to-find films could benefit viewers and stimulate video and stock footage sales for the filmmakers and their distributors. The films themselves, and the prospect of a viable career might also encourage a new generation of filmmakers to take up documentary work. Tom Davenport also saw that the website could also include contextual information along with the films. Documentary filmmakers have often been or collaborated with musicians, folklorists, anthropologists, Americanists, or other scholars in choosing subjects and approaches and in filming and editing.
They have learned that the information supplied in a classroom often made their films better understood and appreciated. So filmmakers began to collaborate with researchers to create materials to accompany their films. Their similar, page booklet for Being a Joines , gained strength from the collaboration of Joyce Joines Newman, a daughter of the central figures in the film, who participated in the production of both the film and the study materials. She combined an insider's understanding with the perspective of a professional folklorist.
The interlinking of documentary films with print scholarship has come to be extensive.
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A dozen of the films currently streaming on, or soon to be added to, the Folkstreams website have parallels in books written by persons who collaborated in the making of the films. The idea of creating Folkstreams. Heretofore, much good independent film work was like the tree falling in the wilderness with no one to hear. With the Internet and video streaming, we will be able to make a 'national park' from this wilderness where everyone can come and freely hear and see what we, and others, have labored on for so long and with such enjoyment.
The idea of a 'cultural preserve' as a kind of national park of intellectual property is an important one for our times. The technical objectives of the Folkstreams project are 1 to provide broad access to a unique selection of folklore documentary films through digitization and online access, and 2 to ensure long-term preservation of archival-quality copies of the films.
Working with folklorist Daniel Patterson and other scholars, filmmakers, archivists, and computer specialists whom he recruited for a Folkstreams advisory committee, Tom Davenport created a proposal which has been the basis of successful grant applications to both of the National Endowments, and to the Institute for Museum and Library Services as well as state Arts and Humanities organizations. This initial effort resulted in a database and prototype of the Folkstreams website; the project officially began streaming films on the Internet in The project completed its work on the first 35 films in November The grant also supported creation of a special series of short films, entitled Video Aids to Film Preservation VAFP , that demonstrate the craft of film restoration and preservation.
The films acquired by the project are first digitized and then streamed via a website, www. The website features contextual information about each film such as transcriptions, study and teaching guides, suggested readings, and links to related websites. In addition to grants for developing the website, the project has garnered support from many documentary filmmakers. They have supplied copies of their prints and valuable contextual information for the films. Folkstreams relies on a selection committee, made up of folklore scholars and other experts, to review and recommend films for the project.
Committee members have substantial experience in identifying preservation-worthy documentary films. Daniel Patterson, a renowned folklore scholar, serves as a primary advisor to the project. Daniel Patterson and Beverly Patterson, who also serves on the Folkstreams Committee, were for some years co-editors of the film review section of the Journal of American Folklore. In addition, the committee finds new films by soliciting recommendations from viewers and other filmmakers.
Project director Tom Davenport notes two major criteria for selecting a film: 1 the film is generally regarded as a high-quality film, and 2 the committee's folklore scholars consider them to be valuable or significant films in the folklore genre. The existence of contextual materials enhances a film's value to the project; filmmakers' willingness to participate in the project is another important factor.
The following are comments by Dr. Dan Patterson on how the project defines and selects folklore films:. What we look for in choosing films for the Folkstreams site are the films that usually focus on oral traditions, especially those with historical depth, and also the subcultures that generate and sustain and find value in these traditions. We especially like the films that give strong performances of these traditions whether music, narrative, craft, ceremony, work, worship, etc.
We like ones in which outstanding and knowledgeable community performers and leaders "community scholars," some call them demonstrate and explain the traditions. As in most fields in the humanities, definitions in folklore never win a unanimous vote. This is in part because the fields of study continuously evolve and drag along all their older history, interests, and disputes behind them.
This was one of the first characteristics of folklore that people became aware of. This orientation led them to focus on the aesthetic forms, performance styles, origins, and history of change of songs, instrumental music, tales, rituals, arts, handicrafts, games, beliefs, and customs. Other people stress, in their definition of folklore, the kind of cultures in which oral transmission normally plays a big role. In ancient times this included everyone except priests and scribes, who could read and write.
With the spread of literacy it was narrowed to pre-literate tribes, or illiterates within a mainly literate society, or people who lived their lives without much reliance on writing - that is, cultural enclaves like the rural village, the rural peasant or urban working class, and the regional, ethnic, religious, occupational, gender, or age-group subcultures in a larger society.
Increasingly, folklorists have come to realize that these are interrelated and complex issues. Even in a highly literate society, everyone is a member of groups in which oral communication flourishes - gossiping fellow workers and neighbors, for example - and many of us in daily life move frequently from roles that demand highly technical literacy or are a part of a very rapidly evolving pop culture spread across the entire country to other roles that are more oral, more local, more slow to change, perhaps even hostile to the influence of the dominant society around them, which they may see as an exploiter.
Some of the oral culture is rather trivial, such as jokes told around the office coffee pot; some is absolutely essential for physical or psychic survival like the wood-chopping songs of men in the Texas prison or importantly symbolic of one's identity and relationships like music within some small protestant church congregations or a saint's-day ceremony in an Italian American community. I like to think about all of these ways of looking at folklore as involving many variables, each variable actually encompassing many degrees from "little" to "much.
To what degree in each of the ways? In that you'll find a list of variables one can use to distinguish the mainly oral tradition in early Shaker songs from the mainly literate tradition in Shaker music after Folkstreams does not currently maintain a formal, documented methodology for adding to its catalog. An important element of building digital libraries is developing a formal collection policy. The National Information Standards Organization NISO argues in its Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections that a "good digital collection is created according to an explicit collection development policy that has been agreed upon and documented before digitization begins.
Since its inception, Folkstreams has added almost one hundred films to its digital collection. Its founders initially encountered some challenges in engaging filmmakers; some feared losing potential revenue from sales of their films, or were wary about providing web access to their works. Many, recognizing the value of exposing their films to new audiences, were eager to participate. As the project has grown, lending their films to Folkstreams has provided several benefits to filmmakers. Some filmmakers have experienced increased sales of films, or more intangible benefits to their careers, primarily an increased audience for their films and a boost to their reputations in the field.
Most important, these films can be seen. As Tom Davenport notes, the sum is greater than the parts; as it develops a critical presence, the Folkstreams site adds value to its catalog of films. Acquiring films involves both planning and serendipity. In some cases, it has taken the project several months to procure a film, even after establishing an agreement with the filmmaker. It may be difficult for the filmmaker to locate the film components, or, for unknown reasons, the process of getting the physical copies is delayed.
Shawn Nicholls, who has worked for the Folkstreams project in both researching and acquiring the films, notes that locating films for Folkstreams is similar to doing detective work:. Several qualities are required to obtain films: persistence, ability to establish rapport, and knowing something about the film we are soliciting. There have been instances in which a filmmaker was reluctant to send his or her film to Colorlab for fear that it would get lost. I think that is an example of why it is important to develop the relationship, establish a level of trust, and show that we are willing to work out a solution.
Initially, we try to learn a bit about the film, projects that the filmmaker has worked on or is working on, and his or her production company. In some cases we've gone after films and it's been really hard to get any information on the filmmaker. In a couple of instances, I wasn't able to find any information at all, so that can make it difficult.
I'll take a title, for example, and search on the Internet; nine times out of ten, I can find the filmmaker or the production company. It's almost like being a detective, in a sense. In some cases, I can work a couple of days just trying to get information about one filmmaker, but I've got one or two films I'm thinking of right now about which I just can't find any information. I've got the title and the name of the filmmaker, but finding more information presents a challenge.
It is important to keep working at it, and not to give up. Filmmakers who provide copies of their films to the Folkstreams project retain full copyright to their works. A standard contract is used to formalize agreements between the filmmaker and the project; the contract can be modified based on the specifics of the agreement.
Click here to view the standard Folkstreams agreement in PDF form. Collection managers should maintain a consistent record of rightsholders and permissions granted for all applicable materials. Gail Hodge, in Best Practices for Digital Archiving , also notes, "One of the most difficult access issues for digital archiving involves rights management. What rights does the archive have?
What rights do various user groups have? What rights have the owners retained? How will the access mechanism interact with the archive's metadata to ensure that these rights are managed properly? In addition to the formal contract outlining the details of the arrangement between the filmmaker and the project, Folkstreams maintains a database record of each film's copyright holder, and the website contains a clear statement of copyrights on its "rights" page:.
With the exception of the downloadable short clip, all films or long excerpts from films are for streaming only. No copying permitted without permission. Copying permitted ONLY for the short downloadable clip. This is to facilitate sharing the clip via e-mail to bring attention to the film. These short clips are licensed under the Creative Commons www. You can apply to the filmmaker for exceptions to these rules.
The project has had minimal difficulties retaining content once it has been acquired, despite hesitation by a few filmmakers to allow complete versions of their films to be placed online. The success of this aspect of the project would seem to support the open, transparent arrangements in which it engages with the filmmakers.
Sales of films are generally handled by distribution companies or by the filmmaker; links to the distributor of each film, if available, are included in the film's website on folkstreams. Filmmakers are viewed as equal participants in the project. Folkstreams emphasizes continued, full participation by the filmmakers once their films are added to the site. A filmmaker may update biographical and contextual information as he or she wishes; the website provides tools for filmmakers to control various aspects of their film's presence via the "MyFolkstreams" administration tool.
The Folkstreams website features background information about each film, such as a narrative summary, film facts, and distribution information. These contextual resources help build interest around the films and provide important background about characters, scenes, or topics that may not be easily accessible or understandable by those not familiar with the communities featured in the films.
For example, the page for the film Born For Hard Luck is accompanied by the following contextual information:. A portrait of Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson --black harmonica player, singer, and comedian who made his living "busking" on the street and performing in patent-medicine shows touring southern towns. Footage includes excerpts from one of his last medicine shows, videotaped at a county fair in , and material filmed near his home in South Carolina in The performance includes harmonica solos, songs, a parody of a chanted sermon, folktales and reminiscences, and three buck dances.
If you are interested in other films about medicine shows, we recommend Free Show Tonight , by academy award winner Paul Wagner. If you liked Born for Hard Luck you may also like:. In addition to film facts, for selected films viewers can browse links in categories such as Background , Making the Film , Using the Film , and Order the Film. Background contains a bibliography and additional topics related to the film. Making the Film addresses the process of creating the work. Users can click on On video or stock footage to find information about obtaining a copy of the film. Tom Davenport notes that the pop-up transcripts provided with the films are much like director's commentaries provided on a typical DVD.
Description and metadata such as transcripts, film information, and links to other resources all help to provide appropriate context for Folkstreams films so that they may be effectively used and understood. Folkstreams treats contextual information-gathering as an ongoing, "organic" process that is intended to engage all stakeholders, including viewers, the communities from which the films arise, filmmakers, and project staff.
Dan Patterson comments on the process of building contextual information for the Folkstreams films:. We try to foresee what in the important content of the film will be unfamiliar or puzzling to the average person or even unnoticed by the outsider. And we try to get several short but informative essays written about these by someone who is from the culture and can interpret it to outsiders or who has studied the culture and its lore or has at least studied folklore and is interested in exploring the traditions in the film.
In some cases we are fortunate in that the writer has actually participated in the making of the film, as a folklorist working as a consultant to the filmmaker. I worked, for example, with Tom Davenport on a number of his films and with other participants helped prepare background materials for them.
It was Tom's film project, in fact, that stimulated me to write this book. Folklorist Bruce Jackson worked with the Seegers on Afro-American Worksongs in a Texas Prison and was writing a book on the same prison songs, later published under the title Wake Up Dead Man ; he wrote the background materials for this film on Folkstreams.
And so on. A sizable number of films on the website are paralleled by books and articles written by folklorists involved in the films, and these materials are routinely drawn upon for the background materials. Probably the most delicate problem posed by the writing of the background materials is that the perspective of the writer may differ from that of the community shown in the film. The writer needs to find a way to write respectfully and tactfully about the material and at the same time honestly.
The background materials offer not just praise but also analysis and insight.
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The diversity of the films is so great that there is no set list of things to include in the packet of background materials. We do, however, try to have as many as possible of the following:. One or more essays on traditions presented in the film and the culture with which the film deals.
An account of the making of the film-usually written by or in collaboration with the filmmaker. A biographical note on the filmmaker, linked where available to the filmmaker's Internet homepage. Notes on persons appearing in the films as major performers or consultants, including biographical facts, information about books and articles written about them, other films about them, recordings they have made, honors received.
Suggested readings and links. These include books, articles, and websites bearing on the film and the traditions in it. See for example Almeda Riddle: Now Let's Talk about Singing , where we link to a site in Arkansas where a library streams the John Quincy Wolfe Collection of field recording and the viewer can listen to many performances by Almeda Riddle and other Ozark ballad singers, recorded fifty years ago. Another such link is set into Final Marks: The Art of the Stone Cutter , where the user can click and go to an archival site that streams a huge collection of photographs of 18th-century New England gravestones, including markers by the stone carving family whose shop in Providence, R.
A study guide for middle- and high-school teachers; this needs to be prepared by someone who has had teaching experience at these levels. A transcript of the sound track: in some cases, this will be crucial for the future use of the film; some dialects now comprehensible will grow very hard for people to understand as years pass and the current speakers die. The transcriptions also make the content of the films accessible to the hearing impaired. Best practices in film digitization are still emerging, and will most likely continue to evolve as technologies change and hard disk storage becomes more affordable.
Creating digital objects from analog originals is a complex undertaking, the success of which depends upon many factors, including but not limited to the fragility of originals, availability of playback equipment, and intended purpose or audience for the digitized versions. Some of the difficulties inherent in working with the resultant digital materials include the availability of multiple often proprietary file formats and the uncertainties inherent in rapidly changing technology.
Though a complex and potentially costly process, digitization of analog materials, particularly of moving images, provides many benefits. According to the University of Maryland's best practice guidelines for digitization projects, these benefits can contribute to both preservation and access of the films [ 5 ]:. Enormous file sizes, time and labor intensive processes, and the instability of the original object all contribute to the difficulties inherent in digital reformatting of audio and moving images.
There are, however, marked advantages to the digital reformatting of audio and moving image material that can compensate for the complexity of the process. These include fragile analog originals receiving less wear and tear due to repeated use, increased remote access to the content, improved intellectual access through appropriate metadata creation and increased flexibility for future use. The Folkstreams collection consists of films in analog formats, primarily 16mm film, though some were transferred to video; contemporary films in the collection were shot on digital video.
Significant expenses can be incurred when digitizing a film from analog original components. It is generally easier and cheaper to transfer from a video release print. If an existing release print of a film selected for acquisition is available, Colorlab, the company engaged by Folkstreams to process the films, uses it to create a Digibeta copy.
Much of the literature on digitization of cultural heritage materials emphasizes digitization for both preservation and access. In other words, the online versions MPEG-4 and Real files of the films are created in order to be shared. The creation of compressed digital files from the film components is not intended to provide long-term, preservation-quality digital objects.
It is generally assumed that, in the digitization process, there is a trade-off between compression and video quality. File sizes can be kept to a manageable level with higher compression; however, quality tends to degrade exponentially at higher levels of compression. For online video streaming purposes, the quality of transfer from video is acceptable. Projects such as the Digital Video Preservation Reformatting Project, the objective of which was to find an optimal preservation format for thousands of Dance Heritage Coalition tapes mostly VHS , have recommended that film and video be digitized at the highest possible quality.
The original film components, as well as the Digibeta tapes, serve as the preservation masters for this project. Digibeta, a Sony proprietary format, is a generally accepted preservation-quality storage format, although it is a tape-based format and thus may be subject to some of the long-term preservation concerns inherent in tape-based media.
A fuller discussion of the limitations of this format may be found in the Preservation section of this document. The following is an overview of the process used by Folkstreams to convert original film materials to archival and digital copies. First, Folkstreams consults with the filmmaker to determine how the film was made on 16mm film or video tape what elements both 16mm film elements and video tape transfers are available.
Depending on these elements and their condition, the work flows varies. For 16mm films that already have professional video transfers, project staff prefer to make our Digibeta copy from the existing transfer to tape. However, with some films, the video transfers are old and defective. In these cases, staff use either a good positive release print with optical sound, or an intermediate single strand 16mm film element, like an interpositive or internegative, to make a new "best light" transfer to video.
In the case of an interpositive or internegative transfer, technicians use the 16mm magnetic mix for the sound track. Transfers from these low contrast elements like the interpositive IP or Internegative IN and magnetic track produce the highest quality transfers.
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Steps 1 and 2 below are for transfers from 16mm film. Step 1: If a new transfer of a 16mm film is required, the the acquired film is checked for damage and cleaned. As stated above, if the filmmaker already has a good transfer of the film or if the filmmaker made the film on video, staff use that video tape to make the Digibeta. If the Digibeta transfer was made from a 16mm print, Colorlab puts it on a core, into an archival box, and ships it to SFC with the Digibeta tape.
Step 5: Metadata are entered into the Folkstreams database, and are mapped to the Dublin Core standard. Step 6: The 16mm is placed in the SFC archives. Folkstreams uses that tape master to make the Digibeta copy of Folkstreams as indicated in step 2. Staff return the old video master to the filmmaker because unlike a 16mm film print which has a long life these masters are usually too old to retain for the archive. Colorlab notes what element was used to make the transfer either 16mm film or the format of the master videotape on both the Digibeta tape sent to SFC and on the mini-DV copy sent to Folkstreams.
These notes are used to create an archive record on the Folkstreams administration database, that includes the date of transfer, the master used for the transfer and any other notes about the condition of the master. The Folkstreams project initially chose to create both MPEG and Real streaming files in order to provide optimum accessibility to a wide range of users. Real Media format was especially useful for computers with slower Internet connections, such as a Consequently in Folkstreams began to convert all the films to Flash.
The standard specifications developed for Folkstreams use are:. The Kbps rate was chosen in deference to lower bandwidth users Kbps offered better quality but some users at Kbps reported streaming issues.
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If more than one film is ready, conversion is done as a batch process, otherwise each film is processed individually. A watermark is placed on the video, "Folkstreams Streaming use only. Before presenting the video on the site, the flash movie is evaluated visually for completeness, to be sure the video does not stall, and for any other defects. The flash video file is then uploaded by FTP to the folkstreams server.
Video is organized into a single folder with a sub-folder for each film based on its title. Before the film is made available to the public, screen grabs are taken from the film based on artistic considerations and to best represent the film. A free image processing application, Irfanview is used to convert them to a size and format suitable for our website JPEG approximately x A link to the streaming version of a film was provided on the film's detail page.
Folkstreams began as a project that aimed to increase access to films. Archival issues such as storage and hard drive space, record keeping, and file formats became increasingly important as the site developed. In addition to serving dynamic content and search capabilities, Folkstreams. An RSS feed has been added to the main page, and visitors can visit the folkstreams blog or "digg" the site submit it to digg.
Use of Youtube. This use of Youtube. As of July , the channel had approximately subscribers and over , film views.
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Folkstreams is a multifaceted project: it functions as a catalog or collection of films, a digital library and archives, and a distribution platform. Each film in the collection has multiple realizations: the original film components, digital preservation masters Digibeta , and digital access files. In order to ensure universal access to the films on Folkstreams. Unlike many popular video distribution and sharing websites that serve Flash video, a somewhat more "universal" format for viewing online video, Folkstreams. Flash does have the advantage that it can play without trouble in the most popular browsers.
Initially, however, the developers of the Folkstreams project hoped to avoid being locked into a single video streaming format. Proprietary video or video streaming formats were avoided as much as possible. As an alternative, short clips were offered for some films in QuickTime format. Viewing films successfully is dependent on the user's having the correct media player properly configured. It argues that "the digital community as a whole recognise that any digital solution should be based in open standards and automated system because all digital solutions must address the issue of technical change.
Section 9. It should be emphasized that the database was developed for the Folkstreams project as a unique project with distinctive requirements; other film digitization projects may benefit from closer integration with recognized metadata standards. Recent work on the Folkstreams site has focused on rationalizing the code, structure and organization of the site. In addition, the project would like to expand Folkstreams.
Metadata, descriptive information about a given resource, serves the project purpose of increasing the accessibility and visibility of online resources. Popular video sharing sites do not generally have as their primary objective the long-term preservation of their videos. Only minimal metadata, such as description, creator, and running time, are typically associated with the videos.
Folkstreams, however, maintains metadata for its films at the collection and item levels in an organic database not based specifically on any one metadata schema. Film archives often hold several distinct realizations of a film work. Metadata are generated for each of the physical forms of a film.
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