April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Lignes De Temps : Involving Cinema Exhibition Visitors In Mobile And On-Line Film Annotation

Vincent Puig, Centre Pompidou, and Xavier Sirven, Institute for Research and Innovation, France


From September 19, 2007 to January 21, 2008, Centre Pompidou is presenting the exhibition called ‘Erice – Kiarostami: correspondences’ suggesting travels through the two directors’ films, exploring relations between films, photos and paintings and presenting ‘video correspondence’ exchanged by the two directors. Although the exhibition has been presented previously in Barcelona and Madrid, the Paris edition features a radically new experimentation performed by the newly founded Centre Pompidou Research and Innovation Institute. The experimental set-up is built around new film annotation software called Lignes de temps (Timelines) bringing a graphical representation which immediately reveals the inner ‘rhythm’ of the movies, be it based on technical features (shot, sequence, camera moves, audio elements …) or on narrative features (characters, landscapes, flash-backs …). Also, Lignes de Temps may be superimposed to reveal co-occurrences, repetitions or mirror effects in one film or across several. For the exhibition, visitors are fitted with PDA and encouraged to write and record notes during their visit. By the end of the exhibition, a dedicated place called ‘Espace critique’ (a place to criticize) offers 8 computers where the comments recorded on PDA may be reworked, synchronized with the films and shared with other visitors.

Keywords: cinema exhibition, film annotation, mobile annotation, collaborative Web site, personalization, rich media.

1. Exhibition

While several exhibitions are presented for confronting the work of one or two artists, the Exhibition Erice – Kiarostami: correspondences illustrates a double evolution of contemporary art, oriented by the increasing influence of cinema and the hybridization of artistic practices. Victor Erice and Abbas Kiarostami were both born in June, 1940, one in the context of Franco’s Spain and the other in the Iran of the old regime. They both made the radical choice of not submitting to the laws of industry and marketing, bearing witnessing to liberty and morality without compromise regarding creation. Both are convinced that their cinema is directly linked to the position of a child, as a starting point and as a topic. They share a common sense of “slowness”. They both work at the borders of cinema, getting into video installations, photography and painting. This exhibition suggests visual experience across all Kiarostami’s photos and installations and across Erice’s rushes, linked with and confronted by Antonio Garcia Lopez paintings. These symmetrical pathways merge at the heart of the exhibition with miniDV videos exchanged by the directors, an ongoing work performed together.

New technologies are proposed for criticizing the presented art pieces through mobile devices to use during the visit, recording vocal comments, texts and photos. By the entrance, presented in a Web site, an “espace critique” (a virtual place for criticizing) offers new software called « Lignes de temps » (Timelines) for producing and sharing comments in the form of annotations synchronized with films and exhibition objects. If not at the physical exhibition, visitors at home may upload their film enrichment items to the exhibition Web site in order to perfect them and share them with others. Our belief is that, unlike existing blogs or wikis, shared “instruments for criticism” should support the advent of art practitioners (and not users) and new communities of “amateurs” (in the noble sense it had, for instance, at the French royal academy in the 18th century).

2. Video Annotation Software: Lignes De Temps

Fig 1: Lignes de Temps

Fig 1: Lignes de Temps

Lignes de temps is a video annotation tool for film analysis. It makes use of the full potential of the digital media context. Inspired by timelines traditionally used in digital video editing software, Lignes de temps features a graphical representation of the film, revealing immediately its entire segmentation. Lignes de temps brings an alternative view of the film by rendering a graphical score or spatial cartography instead of the traditional temporal stream familiar to all cinema viewers. Therefore, by selecting a segment in Lignes de temps, the user gets direct access to the corresponding film sequence, which can then be described and analyzed with textual, vocal and video comments or documented with images of Web links.

To this first stage of analysis (allowing the user to browse into the film shot by shot) may be added other parameters, allowing other « Lignes de temps » parallel to the film itself to be superimposed in order to explore other dimensions related to shot scales, camera motions, incoming or outgoing events and any other objective features. This allows users to visualize, compare and combine description criteria, meaningful indexes, recurrences or symmetries.

Amateurs - Practices

Already several historians, critics, theorists, students from art and cinema schools have agreed to experiment with the software in order to verify hypothesis, to explore new analysis strategies, bringing expertise, enrichment or unsuspected usage of the tool. Benefiting from this first expert audience, new communities of “amateurs” have already developed new practices of Lignes de temps. This is particularly the case of teachers in high schools studying cinema and more broadly of “cinephiles” (cinema amateurs) who wish to express their feelings about a film - their memories, impressions, reflections - on adapted digital media.

Objective Analysis, Subjective Analysis, Sharing

To the objective criteria mentioned before, practitioners of the tool may add purely subjective criteria based or not based on the given objective features. Subjective annotation goes beyond the visible dimension; it may focus on the technical, narrative or emotional construction. For this purpose the tool proposes to insert markers or to define segments along the « lignes de temps », and then to attach free annotations, keywords managed in a shared database or, in the future, taxonomies (controlled vocabulary) or thematic hierarchies. Annotations may also take the form of vocal comments recorded via the software, or of documents synchronized with the film (audio files, texts, photos, videos, URLs).

A third challenge of this tool is related to its sharing capabilities, allowing one user to share its “Lignes de temps” with identified partners or in a public and open context. In this case a “Lignes de temps” is an organized instrument for dialogue in synchronization with the film. “Lignes de temps” of different contributors may exchanged, superimposed, or modified by one another independently from the developed Web site described further.

Signed Views

A concept derived from the Signed listenings (Donin) developed at IRCAM under the leadership of Bernard Stiegler, Signed views transcribes the points of view of amateurs, whether film critics, film makers, teachers or students. While the comments are all produced and modifiable in Lignes de temps, they may be published in different rendering formats. Among these rendering formats, « Lignes de temps » allows the visualization of a non destructive edition of sequences, the simultaneous display of two films, and a text layout with hyperlinks driving video sequences, with or without vocal comments.

Among the Signed views, famous film critics such as Youssef Ishaghpour, Jean Louis Comolli, Alain Bergala and Sylvie Lindeperg have provided analysis on the narration, on topics crossing several films, on relationships between cinema and paintings, on the way a film has been constructed in time, or on the way it has been reused in different historical, political or cultural contexts.

“Lignes de temps” are not limited to cinema, but are already tested in dance by the William Forsythe company and its dancers. Fixed images and texts will also be the topic of future adaptations of these annotation tools.

3. A Collaborative Web Site

Fig 2

Fig 2: Erice et Kiorestami Web Portal

Open in March 2007, this collaborative Web site is intended for preparing users for the exhibition visit. It is a preview of a periodical called l’Amateur, intended to bring new theoretical reflection on Art and cultural practices to the public.

This Web site offers access to the “Signed views” created during the exhibition, together with an analytical tool shared by all. The visitor is also able to access on this Web site: :

4. Espace Critique And Annotation On Mobiles

The espace critique of the Erice - Kiarostami exhibition is made up of eight computers located at the entrance to the gallery. It is open to visitors willing to use the PDAs offered in order to record their vocal, textual and photo comments while visiting the exhibition. This visit with a PDA is preferably performed after a first visit without a mobile device. When the PDAs are returned after the visit, comments on them will be uploaded on the server. The users will then recover their comments on the computers of the espace critique and may start, if they wish, to synchronize them with the timecode of the films, modify them, or enrich them. They are also able to access the comments of other visitors. This working space dedicated to new practices of amateurs is also open to spectators of the film retrospective programmed in Centre Pompidou cinemas, after they viewed the films.

To sum up, the espace critique brings together:

5. Cine Lab

Cine Lab is a new research project (2007-2008), supported by the French Ministries of Research and Culture. It aims to push further our collaborative framework in the education domain, specifically for large film archives and in conjunction with DVD and VoD distribution, since annotations produced and shared by amateurs (including on mobiles) remain independent of the films themselves. Partners working with Centre Pompidou are Forum des Images (Paris Film Library), LIRIS (CNRS-Lyon I) and Antenna Audio (Discovery group). Its goal is to design and experiment with a system for film annotation and the production of film metadata and editorial materials (using innovative tools for audio comments, recordings, photo, video catch-up and typed texts) from various media, including mobile devices. Annotations remain independent of the subject film in order to be freely shared over networks, so that any user can get them and synchronize them with the film in its integrity on any format (DVD, video file, streamed video). Annotations are produced following independent ontologies and description schemes and will be shared using latest XML Web 2.0 recommendations.

Project objectives targets:

Project impact is expected on four applications:


Bernard Stiegler, director of Centre Pompidou Cultural Dpt., Thibaut Cavalié, developer of Lignes de temps, Baptiste Bouillot, developer of the collaborative Web site.

Cite as:

Puig, V. and X. Sirven, Lignes de temps: Involving cinema exhibition visitors if mobile and on-line film annotation , in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2007: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 1, 2007 Consulted

Editorial Note