maddog's Brazilian Multimedia Challenge - and a YouTube Video


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Feb 06, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

The "maddog Multimedia Brazilian Challenge" is over, and we had three winners.

Unfortunately we also only had three entries, so the judging was not overly taxing.

I learned quite a bit from this first "Multimedia Challenge". While I had listed the rules and a list of various pieces of multimedia software ahead of time, we did not announce the prizes until quite late. Therefore we only had 16 people sign up ahead of time.

I did hear from some of the registered people who did not submit their entries

  • the time was too short
  • the event was too noisy and they did not have any quiet place to shoot the video
  • they did not know how to install and use the free software tools
  • they would have had to work almost 48 of those hours to get "something good" into the contest

And in one way I am sympathetic to some of these issues, in other ways I am not.

First, one goal of this contest was to introduce them to the free software tools that are available for multimedia. I had created a list of many of these tools, including whole distributions that had these toolks integrated and ran off of a live CD and out of memory, not touching their hard disk. Many of these tools also worked on Windows or MAC OS. The contestants had several weeks to start to learn these tools. They came to Campus Party knowing what the tools were (or they could use tools of their own choosing as long as the tools were "Software Livre!").

Secondly, another goal of this contest was to have the entrants work under pressure to get a job done. Define the storyline, capture the raw input, edit the raw input and produce the "final copy". Put in 24 hours over a 48 hour period? Yes. That is what I had to do in the "real world" more than I care to remember. And the prizes were worth it. One was worth about a half-month's Brazilian wages. Work for 24 hours to get a half-month's "wage"? Too noisy inside of Campus Party? No rule said you had to do the work there. Do not have equipment good enough for it? Borrow some equipment. Or, as the winners did, use stop-action methods.

At the judging session I showed a video I was working on.. It had taken me a hour to capture the raw video and another hour to do the editing. At that point I still had to create the credits slide and the opening slide, but those were not needed to win the contest. Now it is true that I had thought about the storyboard of the video ahead of time, and that would have to be included in the "48 hours" of the Campus Party event, but the winners did not seem to have the "storyboard" as a problem. Their "storyboards" were good. They needed a little more time in post-production.

I think the reason that the winners were able to turn in entries was because they just went ahead and "did it". They did not waste their time worrying about why they might not win.

And that "I am going to do it" made all the difference. It is what makes Free Software people start, and finish a project.

Eventually I finished my video, by adding a title slide and a couple of Credits slides at the end. I used only Kino and Inkscape, both Free Software Tools to make this video, which is now up on YouTube.

As I get more experience with the tools, the video production will get better.

I am planning on having another "maddog's Multimedia Challenge" at Columbia's Campus Party, July 2-9 of 2009. Assuming I can get a sponsor for the prizes lined up in February, this means that there will be four months to advertise it and get ready for the event. Hopefully we can give the contestants at least 96 hours to do their entries, and more will participate in the challenge to win.


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