Low Res Digital Film Festival: Main Program

Posted by Rhizome | Sun Oct 20th 1996 1 a.m.

Has anyone seen the "Low Res Digital Film Festival"? The New York City
installment closed Saturday after four sell-out nights at the Kitchen.

The festival (http://www.lowres.com) claims to "focus on how computers
and other digital tools affect the way people make low budget films and
videos." It is sponsored by industry giants such as Apple, Wired
magazine, and Adobe, and will tour internationally.

At Friday night's "Main Program" of 22 short videos, the hip audience at
times laughed and clapped with glee, and at other times shouted "Get rid
of it!" and "That was pathetic and trite! Come on!"

There were several videos which seemed low budget and utilized digital
tools in innovative ways. Adam Gravois "Golden Shoes" is a beautifully
envisioned and executed 3D animation in the style of Jan Svankmayer's
stop-motion animations. Tomato, the renowned London-based design
collective, showed several videos which feature their trademark
Avant-Garde-cum-techno-pop aesthetic. "FFOG," by 52mm, proved that
Tomato isn't the only group who can produce visually stunning,
typography-heavy (and content-lite) digital video. "The Adventures of
Water Bong" and "Past Masters" demonstrated that digital ink and paint
animations can be created on desk-top computers. Emergency Broadcast
Network showed their classic video "Electronic Behavior Control System"
which puts words in celebrities' mouths and constructs new facial
expressions via frame-loops.

However, the majority of videos seemed completely at odds with the
festival's aims. The first three videos did not use digital tools in
significant ways (unless you consider a video camera or an Avid
significant); this trend predominated. Other "low budget" works had
Executive Producers, 2nd Creative Directors, and corporate sponsors.
Others were SIGGRAPH quality 3D animations generated on Silicon Graphics
workstations.

Before and after the show, Apple, Adobe and other companies gave
personal demonstrations of CPUs, video cards, and software. And
directly after the screening, the producers had the shameless gall to
force the audience to sit through an Apple propaganda session which
showed how Macs are used as tools for Hollywood films and Network
Television. "Drive it home!" "This took us literally five minutes!"
"This stuff is so easy it's ridiculous!"

An animator who sat next to me commented that the festival is selling
people a dream. This is exactly what is going on. The sell-out crowds
around the world suggest that the number of dreamers is very large, but
anyone who works in the field knows how deceptive and problematic this
dream really is. Digital video and computer animation tools are more
accessible than ever, but are far more expensive and time consuming than
Apple and others would like us to believe.

Perhaps there are other, more sincere festivals which explore the
exciting formal and aesthetic issues of guerrilla computer animation and
digital post-production. Has anyone found one yet?
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