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Quality of Withoutabox "online screeners"

I'd love to save a ton of money and not to have to send out DVDs to every festival I enter. But, I found with both my previous short and the now the current one, that even if I meticulously follow the instructions given on the IMDB upload page (i.e.. the portal for WAB) and compress accordingly from FCP7 - that the quality, once it's been through whatever process they put it through, is appalling.

The video is poor (considering the high resolution of the original), however I can just about live with it. But the sound is atrocious. Polluted with other noise. Not good enough.

I worry that people who watch submissions would think the sound had just been poorly done and bin the submission.

Has anyone else found this? If so, did you find a way to compress for a better quality after upload?

Thanks

  • Hi Ewan,

    I completely agree. The best format that I found was uploading in MPEG, rather than mov.; but even then it isn't nearly as good as the original.
    It's even worse with features. Our entry to Venice looked like an expressionistic painting by the time they had done 'processing' it.
    I think it's something Withoutabox could do with addressing. I mean, YouTube does it better.

    Ben

    Watch our film Aquarius' Mule @kickstarter & then donate £10 to see HereWithMe before anyone else t.co/xMl1IUC8Fg

    4 years ago
  • Same problem. I hope all the festivals know this common problem of withoutabox and don´t mind the quality. You can write a note for the festival, when submitting via box, that "ask for dvd copy if preferred" or "let me know an address to send a DVD copy... cause this technical downside of addressed? I´m afraid that even festivals have made agreements to use box, cause it´s not working that well, will they even watch through these submissions?

    4 years ago
  • I too was appalled at the state of my first short when it was uploaded to WAB. So much so that I put a disclaimer in the Electronic Press Kit that comes with it saying that if a better quality one was required to email me and I will send them a password protected Vimeo link.

    We put hours upon hours of work and a lot of money into presenting these films in the best possible way and this is how festival judges get a first impression?

    In this day and age it really is something that IMDb/WAB/Amazon need to address. But I hear they are really bad at updating the site?

    4 years ago
  • Yes agreed its shit. The sound especially.
    And most of the festivals on WAB are so expensive to enter that you may as well have paid for postage.
    Look at a platform like www.reelport.com and see the difference in quality.
    Festivals & filmmakers should boycott WAB unless they upgrade their tech which seems to be stuck in the 1990's

    4 years ago
    • It's called a viewing copy. It should be low quality. The festival judges can decide from that if they want a better version to
      display in their festival If WaD upload a gleaming super HD version, like vimeo, it could get pirated. Plus it's expensive for storage on their servers As long as all films are degraded this way, and it seems they are. Then that's good.

      I send out DVD's with a watermark or a spoiler bug to discourage unapproved viewing.

      4 years ago
  • Something to consider... The creator of the Los Angeles Film Festival shared this with me: "Festival Programmers HATE Without a Box. Don't use it."

    4 years ago
  • Not sure if it's been mentioned but Stephen Follows wrote a very interesting blog post about Withoutabox. A little competition in this market would be a welcome thing - but it turns out there's a patent preventing it! Read more at stephenfollows.com/withoutaboxs-dirty-se...

    4 years ago
  • When we were setting up Cardiff Independent Film Festival (now open for Earlybird submissions!), one of the first decisions we took was NOT to use WAB. It would have been a £900 outlay just to get in the game, and quite honestly when I've submitted films through there as a filmmaker, I've never been wholly satisfied that they do all they can to prevent dodgy festivals taking advantage.

    We just take private Vimeo screeeners, but we're also on a couple of Spanish sites called Festhome and Clickforfestivals, whose screeners seem to be of reasonably high quality. We wouldn't reject a film based on the screener being lo-res, but would prefer the higher quality as it's just a truer representation. Watermarks are probably a good idea. www.cardifffilmfest.org.uk

    4 years ago
  • I think Short Film Depot is a fantastic site and should be encouraged as a platform by Festival Promoters.

    4 years ago
    • Agreed! It's waaaaay better. Reelport is good too, if I remember correctly.

      WAB seems like the result of a challenge to produce the most off-putting film submission system possible. The audio-visual quality of the transcoding isn't even the worst thing about the site, which says something...

      4 years ago
  • I would not worry re: quality of the screener on WAB, especially if it affects all films uploaded. My last short was in 150 fests, the current one in 30 since June, and the majority of this current run was submitted mostly without DVDs. I've been on both sides of the judging as well, and it's rare enough to just watch a good film.

    I would recommend having a Vimeo account so that you can also point any fest towards your film online. More and more, many independent fests are avoiding accepting DVD's and asking for links, so you wouldn't want to only have your WAB/Amazon link as your only digital version. One can more easily upload a copy to Vimeo as well, and you can always include the link in your WAB Cover Letter. You can also use YouTube if you have an account there.

    Best of luck.

    4 years ago
  • WAB is awful and should be boycotted for many reasons. There are now several other great sites to submit with as mentioned in above comments. I was also told by a festival programmer that he'd noticed his programming team favouring non-WAB online entries, as quite simply even with good online access, they often stutter on playback.

    4 years ago
  • Good posts & useful to hear how widespread is disappointment with WaB - a fine idea in abstract, but actual performance shows it's not fit for purpose. I take on board the anxiety about protecting artistic/production rights, but I'm not convinced that that's the bona fide explanation for atrocious streaming quality. I last tried to use it eighteen months back for a fifteen-minute drama - took nineteen hours to upload, and the aural artefacts attaching throughout were truly bizarre, not to mention the visual degradation: it sounded like a flock of hamsters were being tortured just off-camera - hilarious impact on the assiduously-soundtracked affective denouement that any sentient festival judge would have had trouble filtering out.

    The Stephen Follows article could explain a lot as to why nothing has improved ... but surely WaB is an application rather than an invention ? If there are any intellectual prop lawyers reading, what could be patentable about collecting information on a database ?

    4 years ago