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halo movies

Of Movies, and Hosting
The Official HBO Movie Posting Policy

I wish this note didn't need to be written. I wish we had infinite bandwidth, and infinite man-hours to devote to getting people's projects out to the world.

But we don't.

Up until now, we've accepted nearly every single movie submission that's been sent to us; we've found bandwidth donators willing to host the films, in whatever format they've come in, and we've done our best to help submitters release films with the best compromise between quality and size as we could manage. In several cases, that meant multiple hours of work, recompressing films and then tweaking the results until the author was happy with the final product.

We can't do this any more.

Time is a limited quantity, and we need to re-allocate it a bit.

What does this mean to you? Pretty simple. From here on in, we're going to require that movies meet some minimum standards in order to qualify for our help - and that help includes things from re-encoding the films to finding hosts for them. Does this mean that if you don't meet our standards, you can't make a movie? No, of course not. (What sort of power do you think we have, anyway?) What it means, though, is that you'll need to find your own bandwidth for the file... and use your own tools (or enlist the help of a kind forum denizen) to maximize the quality/compression ratio.

So what are these new standards? Well, that's pretty simple, too. We're looking for originality. If it's been done before, chances are we aren't going to want to see it again. Did you make a movie in which you took snippets from existing films, set them to some popular (or maybe even not so popular) tune, and call it a music video? Thanks... but we've seen dozens of these, and they don't excite us any more. Is your movie a bunch of clips of gameplay, strung together with a music soundtrack, or maybe just a voice-over, explaining the pieces? We're sure it was a blast to make, and we're POSITIVE that there are people on the net that would love to watch it... but you're going to have to find them yourself. We just don't have the resources for this sort of thing.

By way of explanation - we actually don't have enough bandwidth of our own to post movies. Therefore, we rely on the generosity of some very kind net folk, who graciously make space for us on their servers. Realize that a 15 MB movie, downloaded 5000 times (not an inordinate amount by any stretch), requires 75 GB of bandwidth - which SOMEONE has to pay for. Brian Towne, our biggest bandwidth provider, serves over 500 GB of movies every month - more than the entire pipe of a T1... and it doesn't cost you, the downloader, a penny. More bandwidth is provided by Subnova.com, by psyjnir.com, by Thatweasel.tv, and many other sites... and we have an obligation to these donors not to abuse their kindness by asking them to serve repetitive material. However - we have no problem at all announcing your movie, if you find other hosting for it - we're happy to let our visitors know of it.

Hmm, you say... that tells me what not to submit... but doesn't say much about what will get accepted. Good point. Not too long ago, I wrote up a forum post which suggested some guidelines for Halo moviemaking... let's say that if you read these, and take them to heart, the likelihood of your submitting a movie that we decline to host will drop dramatically.

Some movies that get the HBO MasterFlick™ Seal of Approval, and a short description of why:
  • BungieLOVE, by Aaron Suhr - this was the first really well-done Halo video, with a focus. Aaron took a specific subject (killing friendlies), set it to appropriately ironic music ('The People That You Love'), and filmed content to fit the music carefully. (Action and scene changes occur in time with the music, and particular lines of the song are illustrated nicely by the action occuring at the moment.)
  • Warthog Jump (and Warthog Jump Revisited), by Randall Glass - These movies hardly need an explanation for their inclusion on this list... they set a new standard for entertaining Halo videography. Again - there's a focus. There's serious originality (Warthog Jump was the first of its kind, and Warthog Jump Revisited took the subject to a new level). There's humor, and extreme care in flimmaking. (We're not asking everyone to meet the standard of filmmaking set by these films... that would require software that isn't available to everyone. However, watch these films for tips on timing, and video/audio integration.)
  • Rocket Dance, by Ian Haddock - Gameplay footage at its best. It's funny, it's high-quality footage, it's not repetitive. (It could have been, had it been longer... but it's not. Learn from that.) Hilarious musical choice... but re-using it loses some of it punch. (Too many movies reuse music choices from other vids - with hundreds of thousands of songs available out there, I can't understand why 'Hero' has been used so often...)
  • Anything by Blackstar Productions - Brian Josselyn has an eye for dramatic footage, a fantastic sense of timing, and the patience to put together truly impressive works. Watch 'em, learn from 'em. Don't use their music if you decide to make your own.
  • Built Ford Tough, by Renegade Theatre - short, sweet, focused. Skavenger had a concept; use the Warthog and some great sound effects to make a funny clip. Drag this one out, it gets tedious... but keep it short and sweet, and it's a beautiful download. Perfect balance here.
  • Halo Hurricane, by Renegade Theatre - If you're going to create a montage... make it interesting. Put in footage never seen before... complicated tricks... bizarre glitches. Make sure the soundtrack meshes well. This movie doesn't do anything 'best'... but it does many, many things very well.
  • Asshole, by Hickadam - quite possibly the funniest Halo movie made to date. An amazing example of finding the right clip for the line... to repeat this feat, you need to 1) pick a good song, 2) spend a LOT of time finding visual clips (or creating them) to fit the song, and 3) spend a lot MORE time compositing it all together. It's been tried since (Halo ST3K, Scottish Hunter), and while those were both successful, neither of them reached the comic level of the first one.

There are plenty of other successful Halo films (Breaking the Rules, Fragfest Unleashed, the just-released H3, and many others) - we're not saying the list above is the be-all and end-all of Halo films, it's simply a representative sample of the 'best of breed'... most movie styles are represented here, and all of the named films are worth watching.

We don't want to rain on your parade. We aren't looking to tell you your first movie (or your second, or whatever number this is) sucks, and you should go back to your day job. What we're saying is that our resources are limited, and we've decided to concentrate them in areas where the potential benefit for the Halo community as a whole is greatest. And yes, that might mean that we tell you we can't help you find bandwidth for your movie, or that we can't help you manipulate your video footage into something manageable. You are welcome to use our forum to find folks who are willing to help you - and there are plenty, if you ask nicely.

Lastly: the decision of the HBO team is final on this matter - if we tell you we can't do it, we can't do it. Please don't bombard us with email telling us how your movie is actually great, and we just underappreciated it... we'll watch it, we'll judge it, and if we think it doesn't add something new and original to our collection, we'll respectfully decline it... but we won't be browbeaten into hosting it. Thanks!