Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Download the World's Longest Documentary

How would you like to see what is probably the world's longest documentary ... for free!

Conventional wisdom dictates that most viewers' attention spans are about ten minutes, tops. What if we told you that more than a million people tuned in to see this film, which clocks in at 7 1/2 hours, giving new meaning to the phrase "feature length"? True, the viewers are all from Norway, where we can't vouch for sufficient alternate distractions. But consider the subject of the documentary: a train ride.

That's right. Last month, 1.2 million Norwegians watched at least parts of "Bergensbanen" (Bergen Railway) on the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK: Norsk rikskringkasting). There's not much of a plot, or even characters. It's a continuous recording of every second aboard the passenger train (from the conductor's vantage point) from Bergen on the Norwegian west coast, crossing the scenic mountains to the capital of Oslo (about 300 miles).

The film became all the rage in Norway, lighting up Twitter with #bergensbanen tweets.

And now, with some caveats and regulations, NRK is making the whole thing available as a free download. If you've got the hard-drive space to accomodate 22 gigs.

The documentary had picture-in-picture clips with videos about Bergensbanen, a reporter interviewing people on the train, music and two cameras pointing to the sides of the train. Because of rights, we had to remove the music and many videoclips, so we decided to make a clean frontcamera version for this download. It’s recorded on a Sony 700 camera in XDCAM HD 1080 50i. The camera has a 30 seconds buffer, making it possible to switch disks when needed. So we have a continuous recording of 7 hours.

The original file was 165 GB, too much for most people to download. We coded a 720 50P, 1280×720 version, resulting in a 22 GB file.
Here’s a 10-minute excerpt. Look familiar? It's Finse, where the (shorter) scenes from Hoth in 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' were filmed. Bon voyage et bonne vue!

To download the entire 7-plus hours, read the rules and instructions here.


Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

Just to be clear - the worlds longest documentary film is 24 1/2 hours long and called "Grandmother Martha" (Guinness World of Records)
It follows the daily life of Dutch ex-actress,singer and entertainer Martha Stelloo. She is quite a personality who never stopped giving comments about life, people and bad TV. Grandmother Martha is not only the longest film documentary showing how a person can change over the years but also how one's opinion can change about life. Its a very amusing and funny documentary, especially for those familiar with the Dutch language.