Cinemapping the globe

As the REACT 'Heritage Sandbox' rapid prototyping period draws to a close, thoughts turn to world domination...

As we reach the end of the REACT 'Heritage Sandbox' rapid prototyping period, my thoughts are inevitably turning to how to take the research forward and, of course, world domination.

A couple of avenues which might be worth pursuing:

1. Exploring the scalability of the City Strata Platform, developing other Bristol historic-cultural layers (e.g. Bristol Live Independent Music Archive, a literary trail, etc.) with colleagues at UWE and/or drawing on other city (council's) GIS database maps.


2. Taking the cinemapping app global.  This is the one I want to blog about now in a bit more detail.

In the course of the three-month Sandbox scheme, our heritage partner Pete Insole from Bristol City Council's Historic Environment Record has extracted the cinemas into a separate cinema layer and we've tested the ability to draw data from the Know Your Place GIS map into the app.  We've evaluated two pilots, one exploring a single site of interest at Whiteladies Picture House and the other experimenting with multiple cinema sites in the Lost Cinemas of Castle Park experience - see Kieron's blog on the evolution of the interface and user-testing of the soundscape in Castle Park.  Calvium have also been blogging about various proof of concept tests about caching nearby hotspots and background location tracking. So, we've achieved what we said we'd do on the packet, but the challenge is now to build on the momentum of the REACT funding to take the project to the next stage.

In the short term, the aim is to disaggregate the Castle Park experience from the main Cinemapping app and develop it further with a view to publishing it as a separate experience in September to tie in to Encounters Film Festival 18-23 Sept, possibly with the Lost Picture Show - depending on Creative England funding, and of course the REACT Showcase on 28th. To this end Kieron and I are furiously scripting and testing and rewriting before I go off for some well-deserved annual leave, with a view to recording and mixing the audio and publishing the app in late August.

The next phase of research would be to seek further funding to continue to work with Pete on populating the Historic Cinemas layer of Know Your Place with compelling content, gathering memories and developing the Bristol version of the Cinemapping app as a whole. 

But my ultimate goal is to explore whether it would be possible to roll out the cinemapping concept across other territories, as well as to think about sustainability, scalability and commercial exploitation.  One route is to get further academic funding to take the cinemapping concept to other cities with cinema-related GIS databases.  To this end, I'm in discussion with Julia Hallam at University of Liverpool, about taking her Mapping the City in Film project mobile.  They've mapped not only an ArcGIS map of Liverpool's cinema locations (see below) but also a searchable GIS database of film locations in the city, which resulted in an interactive map which was displayed at the Museum of Liverpool.

arcGIS Map of Liverpool's cinemas


My interest has primarily been in mapping cinemas, but given that there is a growing trend for set-jetting, visiting and also rephotographing film locations (see Reel Streets website), this is an aspect that I'd be keen to develop. We plan to collaborate on a major research bid, potentially also involving the North West Film Archive. 

I'm also in dialogue with Glasgow University who are using GIS in a AHRC funded project on Early Scottish Cinema (1896-1927) and the Scottish Cinemas and Theaters Project about taking their interactive map of Glasgow cinemas mobile:


Interactive map of Glasgow Cinemas and Theatres

In addition, I'm hoping to meet with Cinema Treasures, the world's largest guide to movie theaters, based in Los Angeles, to discuss synergies between the cinemapping app and their web-based mapping project of world heritage cinema sites.

Kickstarter, here we come?! ...Joking aside here are a couple of interesting cinema-related projects that got / are seeking funding, Out of Print a documentary about 35mm film and the New Beverly Theatre, LA ($81K) and the Patio Theater's conversion to digital projection (aiming for $50K): 

Anyway, wish me luck!