Watch Sundance And Stay Warm

Some 50 short films are available for viewing on the festival's upgraded Web site
The Sundance Film Festival has long played host to cinematic innovators and their imaginative productions. Now the film festival is tapping into technology innovation to showcase video blogging, podcasts, and short films on the Internet.

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For the first time, more than half --50 of 73--of the festival's short films are available online. It's rare for filmmakers to let the public view their original content on the Web. This change reflects a shift in how filmmakers view the Internet. In the past, many were nudged into having their work streamed on the Web. Today, few need persuasion. "Hollywood is changing, the Internet is becoming the great conduit, and it no longer takes a theatrical release to promote your movies," says Christopher Coppola, president at Ears XXI, an independent movie studio in Hollywood. Coppola has tapped the Internet for more than four years to screen and promote his mo-vies, and he now streams live video and creates content for blogs and podcasts.

This year, Sundance Online hopes the additional online content will serve as a virtual extension of the festival. "We're trying to reach an international audience," says Joseph Beyer, associate programmer, Sundance Film Festival producer, Sundance Institute Online. "Last year we had people from all over the world on our site."

The 2006 Sundance Web site underwent an overhaul to make navigation easier and to bring the film festival online. Improvements include faster downloads, sharper graphics, an expanded help section, and weather and news updates on the home page. "We're superexcited to be using Flash 8 codec this year," Beyer says. "We think it's an amazing upgrade to Flash video, and we're extremely pleased with the results." The films are being offered at 700 Kbps for high-bandwidth users. It gives them a much larger video window in which to enjoy the shorts.

The film festival is put on by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of artists. It's held each January in Park City, Utah.

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