rhizome templates

Shadows and Trains

This uses the same footage from the recent Trains and Shadows vog just reversed. This template provides a controller for

Return of the Rhizome

A few years ago I made some rhizome templates. I’ve now written an academic essay (coming out in a journal soon) about t

Rhizome Rears Again

Cheryl E. Ball has used one of the rhizome templates, works a treat. I’m intending to reauthor all of the templates since there are some errors in the later ones, and I also intend to add a help screen explaining how to play each one.

Rhizome Six

Well, if you click the poster movie below you’ll pretty quickly see that this is demo mode only. This rhizome movie play

Rhizome Movies 1 to 5

Well, after making five rhizome movie templates I thought it would be useful to just write a blog post that collates them into the one location. This is it.

For each template there is a readme.txt file, which is a set of simple instructions. You need to edit the xml file so they point to your content, then upload the xml and the rhizome movie to your site (where your content should already be). You publish the rhizome movie in exactly the same way as any other video.

You can rename the movie but you cannot rename the xml.

They are ‘rhizome movies’ because of their method of distribution and construction. They are templates for possible movies, distributed under a Creative Commons licence to let others produce work that is, in a minor stuttering way, networked multilinear video. Though YMMV.

rhizome one
This is the first one. It loads two separate videos alongside each other, each loops continuously.

rhizome two
This one adds a controller (pause, play etc) for each of the two video windows inside the movie.

rhizome three
From memory this one retains the video controllers but now adds a third track into the rhizome movie. This third track is for a sound track (it will not be visible in the movie) and this sound track will play continuously regardless of what is going on with the video.

rhizome four
This has two videos and one sound track, like three. But now when you mouse into the video the other video pane speeds up. It also mutes the current video pane and turns volume on for the one that gets faster.

rhizome five
The last one to date. This is the reverse of four. Instead of speeding up videos it now slows the video. Like four (and three) there is a soundtrack that will play on at normal speed regardless of everything else.

The files:

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Rhizome 5

Rhizome 5 is a template for a lightweight interactive movie. As with all the other rhizome movies, you can download it and use it to display your own content. This one is a minor variation on rhizome 4, so that instead of slowing down the video as you mouse into it, it speeds it up. The speed is a simple calculation of current frame rate x .1.5 and so on. I haven’t bothered to test how fast it can go. Clicking the video restores it to normal speed.

Note, in the above it is the video pane next to the one you mouse into that actually changes speed.

You can rename rhizome5.mov to whatever, but rhizome5.xml can’t be renamed.

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Rhizome 4.0

Well, continuing the recent flurry of rhizome movie templates here’s number 4. This one:

  • has three child tracks, made up of two video and one sound track
  • mousing into either video mutes the other video, so if you want all to have sound, go for it (but you can’t mute the independent soundtrack)
  • mousing into a video pane slows the other video, this is exponential – the speed of the other video is 1/number of mouse entries
  • if you video has sound, that will be slowed as well
  • clicking the video window restores the other video window to normal speed

As with the other works which video and sound is loaded into this movie is controlled by its associated xml file (in this case rhizome4.xml).

In case you’re only just finding these for the first time. These QuickTime clips use QuickTime’s child movie feature. The rhizome movie file (rhizome4.mov) is more like a movie browser. When viewed it reads rhizome4.xml and loads the content indicated there. The rhizome movie then plays this content within the parent container. In this example it plays two different video files along side each other. They are completely independent of each other, so can have different durations, soundtracks, etc. In addition there is a soundtrack that is loaded as well.

These tracks can be any sort that QuickTime can view, and they can be located at any viable URL.

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Rhizome Movie 3.0

This rhizome movie repeats the same one that Andreas recently made. The only reason I have done one as well is to keep the series going for my own sake – when it comes to making scripted content I think I am dully literal and it is a very iterative design-come-writing practice. I build one, then make minor modifications to get to two, and so on. So I’m quite scared about missing one step.

Andreas’ version also uses his QTXML generator. This is a web page that generates custom XML files to be read by the rhizome movie. Once I take the next step in this work (a minor step) so that I can pull out a range of variables via XML, I can think about using the generator.

So, rhizome movie 3.0. It loads two video movies and plays them simultaneously, looping continuously, there are controllers visible for each, so they can be stopped, started, and so on independently. There is now an additional child movie, which is a sound track. This soundtrack is not controllable by users, it just plays, and loops. So…

There are several ways of using it. I have retained the same sound behaviour in rhizome 3 as in rhizomes 1 and 2 – mouse into a video pane enables that sound and mutes the other. In rhizome 3 it will mute the other video track but not the child sound track. This means you could have two silent video tracks and just rely on the soundtrack, or you could have sound in your video tracks and the loaded sound track plays off this in some way (much like Philip has achieved with his ninja movie).

As with the other movies this reads the urls of the child movies from an external xml file (rhizome3.xml). This file must be located in the same directory as rhizome3.mov, and cannot be renamed. You can rename rhizome3.mov to whatever you like, and the content you load can be from any valid url.

As with the other works, if you use it, please email me with a url so I can check it out, and write about it.

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Rhizome 2.0

Just as with the earlier rhizome movie, this rhizome movie is something you can install and use yourself. It is more domesticated (tamer?) than rhizome 1, as here two controllers are provided (nothing fancy, just used the automatic ones that LiveStage Pro autobuilds for you) that lets the user control each of the child movies.

The behaviour where you moused into the video and the volume on the other is muted is removed, since now you can play and pause each video independently of the other. Each loops, but with a bit more control over what happens I imagine some might find this simpler to understand.

So, why is this rhizome 2, rather than rhizome 1? I mean why did I make this one after the first one? Because even though there are now explicit controllers so how you play it becomes easier to understand, the implications of what happens when you do this are more complex. You now have a movie with two independent tracks. One can play, even be stopped, independently of the other. Each time someone stops one of these movies, or even stops both, and then starts another, think about what is happening. What is the duration of the movie, given that the work consists of two that are independent and can be stopped at any time by any user? If montage is the serial ordering of images (this then that), what happens when we have two sequences playing alongside each other (Manovich’s spatial montage) but now we also let the user have some control over which stops, which plays, and when? So that’s spatial montage plus some sort of temporal montage that is always variable as it is subject to the user.

Now I know that some don’t think ‘interactive’ media is interactive because it is scripted. So, for example, in this movie all you can do is loop two different bits of video (from anywhere on the internet though, so they might not be yours), but the user controls how they play back, and in effect what combinations between the video panes occur. Is that ‘interactive’? Don’t know. But if I go to a casino and roll the dice in a game, there are only 6 possible outcomes, but these outcomes are genuinely random and open. If you said to me that is not ‘chance’ because there are only 6 possibilities, I’d think you were missing a few sheep from the top paddock.

Rhizome 2.0 is a simple template that lets you (the author) load two videos that will play and loop continuously. Your viewers (aka users) can stop, play, and basically jump to beginning or end of each of the videos. How to use it? Imagine putting someone else’s video into one pane, and then your video responds in some manner to that. Perhaps you lift a news feed from CNN or the BBC, or just another videoblogger’s contribution from elswhere. Stick it in one of the videopanes, and riff against it in yours. Or try something else. Please let me know if you use it, I’m interested in seeing what others do with these!


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Rhizome 1.2

I’ve spruced up the first rhizome movie template so that now it reads its associated XML file. It operates in exactly the same way as the earlier rhizome movie, the difference is that by entering the appropriate pathway into the associated XML file you can load a movie into each child track of any name. The child movies can reside anywhere, just make sure you enter a valid url.


What is it?
rhizome.mov is a little movie that lets you load two other videos into it. Each of these plays, and loops continuously. They are independent of each other so you can load films of different duration into each of the video windows. Mousing into each video enables the volume for that video and mutes the other.

Where does the XML file have to be?
The rhizome.mov file has a script inside of it that looks for a file called rhizome.xml, and loads this file. rhizome.xml must reside in the same directory as rhizome.mov

Can I rename rhizome.mov?
Yes, you can call it what you like, but make sure it still ends in .mov. The only thing you cannot rename is rhizome.xml.

Where do I put the two movies that are going to be loaded into rhizome.mov?
Well, where you like really. Just make sure that you point to them properly within rhizome.xml.

Do the URLs I put in rhizome.xml have to be full URLs?
No, they can be relative paths, and they should be relative to the location of rhizome.mov. In other words if you placed your two child movies in the same directory as rhizome.mov you could just write their file names within rhizome.xml

What file formats do my child movies need to be in?
Any format that QuickTime can view. At the moment that is .mov, .mp4, and some varieties of .avi, as well as various other formats.

What size should my video be?
Each of the video panes is 160 x 120 pixels. You can compress your video to be larger but it is only going to be visible at 160 x 120 pixels.

How compressed does it need to be?
Up to you, but remember you are playing 2 videos from 2 sources at the same time inside of another movie. So the lower the bit rate and frame rate, the better things will be. If you try and load 2 20 meg videos into this, then outside of big broadband on a dual processor G5, not a lot will actually work for anyone. (Remember, this is networked video, the network is narrow, and small.)

Um, what’s a child movie?
rhizome.mov is a container movie that loads two other videos and then plays them. These two other movies are child movies. They exist independently (and play independently) of the container (parent) movie.

And I would do this because?
That’s for you to answer. In this rhizome movie you get two independent movies that play independently of each other, and which loop. Fixed, linear timelines are irrelevant when you publish video on a computer. This is a simple machine to help get your head into that time.


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