The Digital Tipping Point: an open source documentary

We met Christian Einfeldt during our visit in the Bay Area and asked him to describe his movie project, an open source documentary based on interviews with many digital and ‘free software’ pioneers.


I am producing a film called the Digital Tipping Point. The DTP is a film library project and a documentary film project that strives to do three things: 1) build a great collection of video about the new human renaissance that Free Open Source Software (FOSS) will bring to the world; 2) build a movie-in-a-box out of the 5 best hours of that footage; 3) create an entertaining, informative documentary out of that library. The film will show how Free Open Source Software is in the process of creating an explosion of creativity, literacy, and scientific advancement. The target audience is Windows users. We want to make the film sufficiently fun that even Windows users will be entertained.

We have filmed many dignitaries such as Christian Ude (the Mayor of Munich), Hermann-Josef Pelgrim (the Mayor of Schwaebisch Hall), Gilberto Gil (the Culture Minister of Brazil), and Luiz Millan Vazquez de Miguel, (the Extremaduran Minister of Science, Education), and Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. Our film is the first feature length documentary to be built on-line out of fully forkable footage released under a Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike license on the Internet Archive.

You can see our raw video here, where we currently have 59 hours of raw video. This video will need to be re-rendered for most applications other than casual watching, as it is our “source code”.

Our keyword search index page is the place to go to find specific persons or themes for our footage.

The interesting thing is that just today, a major studio announced that they are going to start giving away parts of their films for free, as teasers. But we are way ahead of them in that regard — we are not only giving our footage away, we are inviting peer 2 peer production of the film by our community. Doc Searls said in his Digital Tipping Point interview that open source is what happens when the demand side supplies itself, and that is what we are doing.

But this is our first film, and I am an attorney, not a filmmaker, and so I am sure we have made lots of mistakes. But the Digital Tipping Point is a digital tipping point — we hope to show that amateurs will be able to use peer 2 peer production methods to compete with major studies in certain market segments. We are seeing high segmentation of the market due to YouTube and the thousands of others online video sites. There will always be a demographic that insists on a big screen experience, but already we are seeing that the small screen has lots of appeal due to the high volume of highly differentiated and original videos showing up on the Internet.”

2 Comments The Digital Tipping Point: an open source documentary

  1. AvatarMike Bettancourt

    Make sure you Google “Jimmy Wales” on Google News and include the recent Wikipedia scandals (sex, edits-for-cash, embezzlement).

  2. AvatarFranz Nahrada

    I looked at the footage with the hope to find as many elements of a true open source movie aa poaaible. Although the approach is great I have some questions:

    – Is there any available footage besides the compressed clips? In a quality that really could be included in an alternate production? And how could this be financed?

    – How many people are allready involved in the transciptions? Why is the Wiki so heavily spammed?

    My general impression is that still problems of truly cooperative production are underestimated. This project is a fantastic opportunity to study the difficulties of expanding the free software paradigm to other domains of human creativity and production.

    My special approach to this is to emphasize on the necessity to standardize and agree on general procedures that make it easier for produsers to take part. I completely understand that this is still an enormous task, and that the glass is not empty any more , but it also is not full yet.

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