Discussion document for January 2013 workshop

Cinemapping Bidding Workshop, 25 Jan 2013


Structure of the Day



9.00am Tea & Coffee



9.30 Introduction: 4 Key Themes

  • New Cinema History contexts
  • GIS Data – database interoperability, caching data from the cloud, metatagging
  • User-contributions – crowd sourcing, social media, sharing, participatory, local/global, hard/soft interaction
  • Location-based engagement – mobile technologies, social/local/mobile – SoLoMo


10.00 Video Call Australia – Kate Bowles & Deb Verhoeven


10.45 Tea & Coffee


11.00 Workshopping Case for Support: Research Questions or Problems


11.45 Feedback Discussion



12.30 Lunch



1.15 Workshopping: Methods


2.00 Workshopping: Dissemination: Outputs & Impact


2.45 Feedback Discussion



3.30 Tea & Coffee & Cake



4pm Video Call USA / Canada: Ross Melnick and Sébastien



4.45pm Round-up & forward planning


5.30pm End – drinks in the bar, depending on transport

Cinemapping Bidding Workshop, 25 January 2013


Discussion Document


Project Title: Cine(m)apping: making ‘New Cinema History’ research accessible through social, location-based, mobile technologies.


About this project

Drawing on Charlotte Crofts’ work with location-based cinema heritage apps and the participants’ pioneering work in the field of ‘New Cinema History’, the proposed research will explore how mobile technologies can enable existing historical GIS data on cinemas to be accessed and augmented in the field, celebrating cinema heritage precisely at the moment in which digital conversion and the proliferation of screens is impacting on the cinema-going experience.


This bid is about developing and extending the Cinemapping prototype (Crofts 2012) to other (GIS) databases in other locations, exploring the following areas:


  1. Mobility: taking existing web-based GIS interactive (cinema mapping) data into the mobile arena
  2. Scalability: caching data from the cloud
  3. Sustainability: crowdsourcing global cinema sites
  4. Usability: creating a compelling interface


The key aim of the project is to take existing web-based GIS interactive cinema mapping research into the mobile arena – transporting digital humanities research from the desk-top into the contemporary connected, mobile, geo-temporal media environment – not about doing new cinemapping research per se, but to draw on existing research and databases into historic cinemas, their programming and their audiences.


Mapping cinema buildings is not just a heritage project, it is also a celebration of contemporary cinema-going.  For independent cinema to have a future it needs to engage with an audience interested in the cinema-going experience as much as film – this relates to the “Digital Shortfall” identified by Screen Digest, which I write about in my article ‘Cinema Distribution in the Age of Digital Projection’ (http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/15687/8/PostScript_Corrected%20proofs.pdf) – whereby on the one hand independent cinemas are in danger of closure due to the cost of conversion to digital projection – whilst on the other hand some bijoux and art house cinemas (e.g. Curzon, Electric in B’Ham, Europa Cinemas) seem to be flourishing precisely because they cater for that “Ur”-cinema experience which is being eroded by (the multiplex and) digital projection (e.g. independent Picturehouse chain in the UK being taken over by Cineworld, attracted by the “high value, older demographic, individual/arthouse cinema market”, Guardian, 6 Dec 2012).


Cinema-goers exhibit a deep level of engagement / form relationships with specific cinemas (in many of the oral histories I’ve gathered people remember the cinema or the viewing context as much, if not more than the film, c.f. Kuhn, An Everyday Magic): can mobile apps and social media help to form these relationships?


  1. Research questions or problems 


  1. What is the “added value” when you make GIS maps and their information portals accessible “in the field” on a mobile device?


  1. How can cinema data achieve a balance between nostalgia and celebration of cinemas and cinema-going past and present?


  1. What kinds of categories, tags and metadata are optimal in designing databases for mobile caching?


  1. What are the technical challenges of caching data from the cloud


  1. What are the challenges of participatory GIS and volunteer contributed data?



  1. Research context 


Primary research fields:


  • New cinema history, as illustrated by the activities of the HOMER Group
  • Spatial history more generally, GIS, geodatabases, humanities mapping (e.g. Hypercities.com)
  • Crowd sourcing, participatory, social media, user-generated content, communities of interest (e.g. AHRC workshop humanitiescrowds.org )
  • Convergence of social, local and mobile or SoLoMo (in marketing speak) and the importance of Location-Based Engagement (LBE).


  1. Research methods 


The research questions will be explored via select case studies which could include perhaps 4 of the following (balance of urban and rural?)


  • Cinemapping (Charlotte Crofts, Bristol City Council)
  • Liverpool City in Film (Julia Hallam, Merseyside)
  • Cinema Treasures website (Ross Melnick, UofC Santa Barbara)
  • Enlightened City project (Philippe Meers, Antwerp)
  • Gent Kinemastad (Daniel Biltereyst, Ghent)
  • Cinema Context website (Karel Dibbets, Amsterdam)
  • Atlas du Cinema Canadien (Sebastien Caquard, Concordia, CA)
  • Cinema Audiences in Australia Project database (Deb Verhoeven, Australia)
  • Cinema Theatres Association (UK)


What are the primary research methods?


What theoretical frameworks and action research tactics might we utilise?



  1. Technical Summary 


What are the technical challenges and their resource implications?


  1. Project management 


What shape might the project take?


My preferred management structure would be this:


  • Charlotte Crofts (UWE) – Principle Investigator
  • Co-Investigator(s) – UK and/or International
  • Consultants – UK or International
  • Advisory board
  • Industry partner (giving in kind support – e.g. access to database / content)
  • RAs scoping the field (possibly only for the first year??)
  • PhDs – 3-year bursaries, UK registered PhD – ideally a mix of cinema history and mobile/app development people
  • Administrative support – Nick Triggs (UWE).


Participants’ involvement with the bidding workshop is not a commitment to be involved in the project, but more an opportunity to figure out what your involvement might be, what the intellectual research questions and technological challenges of the project might be, how/whether your research would be a good case study, whether your academic interests / expertise would be a good fit.  What might your involvement be?


PhDs and/or RAs could be both from a film history background and from a tech background, looking at interaction / interface design and social media.


  1. Dissemination 


What do we envisage the key outputs would be?



  • Practice output – prototype app / platform?
  • Technical report?
  • Conferences papers? What conferences?
  • Journal articles? What key journals? Cinema / HCI?
  • Blog(s)?
  • Edited collection?

Appendix A: Information about workshop participants:


Daniel Biltereyst (Ghent University, Belgium)


Daniel is Professor of Film and Media Studies and Director of the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies at Ghent University, Belgium. His multimethodological research project, ‘Gent Kinemastad’, on the history of film exhibition, programming and cinemagoing in Ghent and its suburbs (1896-2010) was undertaken from a New Cinema History perspective.


Daniel also worked with Philippe Meers of the University of Antwerp on The Enlightened City, a large-scale oral history project on cinema-going in Flanders http://www.ua.ac.be/main.aspx?c=*CWONZ&n=39392&ct=40094&e=90562


Kate Bowles (University of Wollongo, New South Wales, Sydney)


Kate has undertaken research on the connections between emerging social media cultures and earlier social histories of media practice, the use of cultural mapping tools to help analyse consistencies in media experiences at specific locations over time.

With regard to the Cinemapping project, Kate is interested in participatory GIS, how augmented reality might become an outcome for derelict or repurposed former cinemas, and in working out how to create “delicate GIS” that handles memory well.



Sébastien Caquard (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada), Cineatlas http://gpe.concordia.ca/faculty-and-staff/scaquard/

Sébastien’s current research project “explores the relationships between places and fictions, through the development of new ways of categorizing, visualising and analyzing cinematographic territories.”

Sébastien is chair of the Commission on “Art and Cartography” of the International Cartographic Association (ICA)  (http://artcarto.wordpress.com/)

There is also a link here (http://www.atlascine.org) to Sébastien’s research project which “aims to investigate the different territories of Canadian Cinema including the territories of film production (e.g. post-production), film distribution (e.g. theater locations), and film action. Through an analysis of the interrelationships between these territories in contemporary Canadian film, this research seeks to sketch the contours of an emerging postnational geography of Canada.”

He has an article on Mapping Narrative Cartography here http://phg.sagepub.com/content/37/1/135.full.pdf+html



Ian Christie (Birkbeck College, University of London), Europa Cinemas


Ian Christie is President of Europa Cinemas and Professor of Film and

Media History at Birkbeck College, University of London. For more about his research interests see here: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/art-history/our-staff/teaching-staff/christie/current-research-interests



Charlotte Crofts (UWE, Bristol)

Charlotte’s research explores the use of locative media as lens through which to examine cinema history in the specific locations where it happened in two recent apps, The Curzon Memories App and the Lost Cinemas of Castle Park.  She was the recipient of an AHRC REACT ‘Heritage’ Sandbox grant in which she collaborated with Calvium and Bristol City Council to develop the City Strata platform, which was prototyped via the Cinemapping pilot drawing on the historic cinemas layer in Know Your Place.  She has also published on the demise of the 35mm film print, digital projection and impact of digital technologies on cinema exhibition, distribution and preservation (‘Digital Decay’ (2008), Moving Image, ‘Cinema Distribution in the Age of Digital Projection’ (2011), Postscript).

Lost Cinemas of Castle Park App: http://www.cinemapping.co.uk;

Curzon Memories App Website: http://www.eyefullproductions.co.uk/curzon/index.html; Curzon Memories App Research blog: http://curzonproject.wordpress.com; City Strata Research blog: http://www.watershed.co.uk/ished/heritagesandbox/projects/2012/city-strata/

Karel Dibbets (Amsterdam)

http://kd.home.xs4all.nl/  http://www.cinemacontext.nl/

From 1983-2011 Karel Dibbets was Assistant Professor in media history at the University of Amsterdam. He is a cinema historian and current editor of Cinema Context an online encyclopedia of film culture in the Netherlands from 1896 to the present. Cinema Context documents film distribution and exhibition, with four data collections; films, cinemas, people and companies.

Karel also has experience of the challenges involved in collaborative projects involving copyright issues, data exchange, data mapping etc


Jon Dovey (UWE, Bristol, UK)

Jon Dovey is the Director of the AHRC-funded Research & Enterprise in Arts & Creative Technologies (REACT) Knowledge Exchange hub and Professor of Screen Media. Since 2008 Jon has worked with the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol and founded the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE in 2009 with colleagues in the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education.



Constance Fleuriot (Research Assistant)

A long time ago, back in the early days of handheld devices and clunky GPS units, before wireless networks were everywhere in Bristol, Constance was a Research Associate at Bristol University and a principal investigator on the Mobile Bristol Project <http://www.dshed.net/sites/digest/04/content/week4/mobile_bristol.html>  investigating the social impact of emerging pervasive and mobile technologies. Constance was a founding member of the Pervasive Media Studio and then worked with Professor Jon Dovey at the UWE Digital Cultures Research Centre on an AHRC funded Knowledge Transfer Fellowship investigating the language, aesthetics and value of pervasive media. Their project aimed to capture the emerging practices of the collaborators in the Pervasive Media Studio network and culminated in spring 2012 with the Pervasive Media Cookbook, (pervasivemediacookbook.com) an online resource to help people get started with their ideas. She is currently freelance and working as a research assistant on the Cinemapping bid.


Julia Hallam (University of Liverpool)


Julia runs the Mapping the City in Film project http://www.liv.ac.uk/lsa/cityinfilm/index.html exploring the relationship between film, memory and the urban landscape. The project draws on the City in Film database and looks at the theoretical and practical importance of mapping in moving image practices. It aims to engage with both academic and public audiences. A collection of essays, Locating the Moving Image: New approaches to Film and Space edited by Julia Hallam and Les Roberts, will be published in the autumn by Indiana University Press.


Richard Hull (Calvium)

Richard is a founder and Managing Director of Calvium, a start-up based in Bristol, UK which created AppFurnace – a suite of online tools and services that enable designers, web developers and other creatives to make mobile apps. He was part of the collaborative team for City Strata (http://www.cinemapping.co.uk) and wrote a white paper on the challenges presented by such projects  (see Making Scalable Location-Aware Mobile Apps http://www.calvium.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Scalable_location_aware_apps_white_paper_Calvium.pdf )

Richard was formerly a senior researcher at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories where he undertook and led research in a wide range of technologies. Most recently, Richard was the technical lead and architect for the mscape platform and the Mobile Bristol collaborative project.


Ross Melnick  (Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara)


Ross specializes in film exhibition, media industry history and analysis, film, radio, and television history, moving image archival theory and practice, silent cinema, and early media convergence. His most recent book is American Showman: Samuel ‘Roxy’ Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry (Columbia University Press, 2012).

Before earning his Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA, Ross worked as Curator of the Collection at the Museum of the Moving Image, as Historian/Archivist for Loews Cineplex Entertainment, in film distribution for Sony Pictures Releasing, in marketing for DreamWorks, MGM, and Miramax, and for two digital media startups as Director of Business Development and Marketing Manager. He is the co-founder of Cinema Treasures (http://cinematreasures.org), which, since 2000, has built one of the world’s most comprehensive guides to contemporary and historical cinemas through both crowd-sourcing and the editorial contributions and direction from editor Ken Roe.


Maria Velez-Serna (University of Glasgow)


Maria is currently RA on the Early Cinema in Scotland project http://earlycinema.gla.ac.uk/category/gis/  http://earlycinema.gla.ac.uk/blog/

She has an interest in open data and digital tools for scholarship and public engagement. Maria’s paper introducing issues around using geo-databases in new cinema history research is available here: http://www.academia.edu/1694019/Strategic_locations_Using_geo-databases_for_cinema_history


Deb Verhoeven  (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/scca/staff-directory2.php?username=dverh, @bestqcrab

Deb Verhoeven is Professor and Chair of Media and Communication at Deakin University.

Deb’s research explores the intersection between cinema studies and other disciplines such as history, information management, geo-spatial science, statistics, urban studies and economics. She is currently working on a three-year Australian Research Council funded project: The Kinomatics Project, with Colin Arrowsmith (geographer), Bronwyn Coate (economist) and Alwyn Davidson (geographer) together producing, interrogating and visualising a global film distribution and showtime mapping dataset.

She is the architect and managing editor of the Cinema and Audiences Research Project (CAARP) database which aims to promote research and deeper understanding of film exhibition and cinema-going in Australia: caarp.flinders.edu.au

Deb also has experience of creating opportunities to interoperate existing datasets  as Project Director of the nationally funded infrastructure project HuNI (Humanities Networked Infrastructure): huni.net.au


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