Cemeti’s main mission is to document art practice in Indonesia but they also frequently put on a range of workshops and discussions. Cemiti has nice space with a library, meeting rooms, video editing studio, kitchen and more.
The workshop was held at a net cafe called “The Gate”. At about 1.50 (10
minutes before start time) a massive downpour began and lasted about 45
minutes meaning half the attendees were stranded in the rain and unable
to make it. We waited about 45 minutes and by that stage most people had turned up, if a little wet. There was a
good pool of about 10 people in the end, the maximum really to make
this workshop effective given it’s practical nature. All attendees were already making video, none
had put any of it on the web, some had done some encoding before, most
were students and either from a artistic or activist background.
Two big problems very quickly encountered were English and net
connection. Pitra from Cemeti offered to do translation but people were
a little too hesitant in saying they needed it. I think we managed to
get through ok though and when people really did have blank looks on
their faces Pitra translated just to be sure.
An even bigger problem was bandwidth. Even at a fairly upscale net cafe the connection was very slow. I can’t imagine broadband gets up above
128kbps in most places, downloads happened at about
5-8kbps, far slower than dial up. The EngageMedia site loaded
particularly slowly – I’m guessing this is a problem with Plone as it’s
a common criticism of the platform.
At the beginning of the workshop and throughout I emphasised very
heavily that you shouldn’t think of online video just as watching a
streamed clip in the browser a la YouTube. The fact that you cannot
download clips from YouTube and must download them again if you start a
new session on your computer, just adds to all the other problematic
elements of that site.
Instead I tried to emphasise three other strategies to employ online video distribution in low-bandwidth situations
short preview clips – putting a low resolution 30 second to 2
minute clip online can be a great way to ‘advertise’ your film – if
someone is interested they can contact you for a higher resolution
version that you can send in the post.
screening resolution version – think of your video as a means
of getting your work from A-B at minimal cost. An organisation
(university, art centre, net cafe) with good bandwidth will be able to
download it. They can then redistribute the video at screenings, on CD
or via flash drives. Having a downloaded version means it can be shared
by multiple other means.
think of a wider, global audience – distribution inside your
country might make more sense on dvd/vcd etc. but online you can reach a
global audience – festivals can access it as can activist groups
who might use the film in solidarity or benefit screenings.
All this points to the need to have multiple resolution videos for
all of the above scenarios but also to more greatly emphasise that
online video is not a panacea for every distribution need – just one
tool in the toolbox.
Rather than imparting the nitty gritty of encodingI
talked about more about basic principals – most importantly who is your audience and what do you imagine they will do with your video? I think
a couple of hours of people actually encoding their films is
really required for them to go on with the knowledge. 10 participants
to 1 facilitator is really too many for this, I’d say 1 to 3-4 is ideal.
If I’ve done my job right we’ll be seeing more Indonesian content up on the site – the proof is in the pudding.