Animation contest highlights handheld video challenges

Tech Culture

The Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, Calif., is winding down this weekend, but its independent filmmakers are starting to think smaller than the big screen.

A panel discussion Friday centered on ways that filmmakers can create content for handheld devices, namely smart phones. Temah Nelson's animated short "Friends on Crack" (they live on a rock wall, not in a crack den), which won the festival's Animation Discovery contest, was developed for the Internet. But because she created simple characters and kept the story short, her film is an excellent example of the type of videos that will also appeal to handheld users, according to representatives from Palm, SanDisk and Kinoma, a mobile video player developer.

It's hard to imagine watching a feature film on a 2-inch screen. But short "video snacks" that can be downloaded while standing in line for coffee could help independent short filmmakers find an audience without going through traditional distribution channels, panelists said.

Looking to get your movie on smart phones like Palm's Treo? Keep it simple, tightly frame your shots, and keep in mind that carriers are very willing to work with small filmmakers, Nelson said. Some of her films will be distrbuted through Sprint's services, and although pricing has yet to be determined, she'll get to keep half of the proceeds, she said.

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