Movie Download Service For Independent World Cinema: Jaman
There is now a movie download service devoted to showcasing the very best in independent world cinema, allowing you to rent, purchase and discuss cinema from around the globe with your online contacts.
Using the latest peer-to-peer technologies to effortlessly distribute fantastic looking, high-definition video across the web Jaman offers a significant increase in video quality, and choice of content, over anything I have seen to date.
As Hollywood persists in rolling out ever more generic, uninspired movies there is a growing audience for independent films that have something to say. The problem is that in our multiplex cinema culture there are very limited avenues for distribution and exhibition when it comes to films that veer from the special effects and superstars model. As the Internet evolves into a video-based medium, however, there are now rich opportunities for independent film-makers to both distribute their work, and gain all important exposure through social media marketing.
Jaman takes a stab at offering both, featuring as it does an affordable movie retail outlet for independent films worldwide, and also an active social network. Here film-makers and world cinema enthusiasts rub shoulders, discuss their favorite genres and subjects, and even have the opportunity to upload and share their own shoestring productions.
Jaman - Overview
Jaman is a niche-targeted retail and community service covering the world of independent world cinema. If you want to easily browse online streaming previews of indie films from around the world, and download them to your computer as rentals or purchases, this may well be a destination worth checking out.
Even if you hold back on any instant purchases - and you are given three free rentals to get your feet wet - the other aspect of the service is its social networking dimension. Here you can chat to like-minded enthusiasts or fellow film-makers via direct internal mail or on public message boards, gaining great insights and recommendations along the way.
So whether you are into Bollywood musicals or European documentaries, American independent feature films or shoestring budget shorts, there is plenty to see and discuss in the thriving community Jaman has already managed to build for itself.
Independent World Cinema To Go
The Jaman website is nicely organized in the style of a channel guide, making it easy for you to get stuck in finding the kind of content that interests you. This means that you can search content by where it was created in the world, from Asia to Latin America or by category, such as documentary, comedy and short films.
Further to these regular retail classifications you can also make use of the strong community of enthusiastic movie-lovers to help you find films that you might like to see. Community features aside, which I look at in more detail below, you can browse movies by various categories such as:
- Most downloaded
- Top rated
- Most discussed
And several others. Furthermore, the Jaman editors hand-pick movies to feature on the website, so there is no shortage of ways to find something worth watching. Add to this user-generated reviews, star ratings and group discussions and you have a host of alternative ways to really sniff out those future classics.
Price-wise a lot of the movies I personally looked at were very reasonable, at around $4.99 to purchase and quite a bit less (right down to being free) for a seven day rental. This is very refreshing when compared to other similar services and the hiked-up prices of world and independent films on DVD.
The one problem I encountered, being in Europe, is that a great many of the films I was interested in gave me the following frustrating message in place of a price:
Unfortunately, due to international licensing issues, a good many of the films are only available for US viewers to purchase. This obviously isn't the fault of Jaman, who have to play by the rules that the production companies set, but it would be nice to have the option to 'turn off' films that I can't purchase or hire rather than clicking through each time to find myself disappointed. Even if it were possible to search by 'films available in your region' or some other basic localization, this would be very welcome.
While it's possible to watch movie trailers, short films and user-uploads from the Flash streaming players featured on the Jaman website, sooner or later you are going to want to download the Jaman player to your desktop.
This allows you to add your own films, for full-screen playback or uploading to Jaman, in addition to managing the content you choose to download for rental or purchase. The player contains a simple browser for navigating the Jaman website without having to open it in a different window, along with your library of videos, download status and amazing looking high-definition playback of your purchases.
The difference in quality between these downloads and the streaming content you will find on Joost or Babelgum is instantly evident. Which makes it doubly frustrating that if I want to watch this great quality video on my TV I will need to hook up my computer to it, or else go out and buy an Apple TV device to stream the content.
This is thanks to DRM, the only major complaint I have against an otherwise great service. To protect the intellectual property of film-makers, Jaman uses a proprietary brand of DRM to protect all of its movies. This makes it possible to 'rent' a movie and have it auto-destruct after seven days, and keeps users from copying and distributing the video over peer-to-peer networks.
Unfortunately it also makes it impossible to watch the movie on anything other than the Jaman player. Want to make a DVD? Tough luck. Want to watch the video on your iPod? Not today. This is a shame, especially bearing in mind that there are alternatives now in place for the protection of content, such as digital watermarking, that are less restrictive of end-user freedoms.
Gripes aside, downloads run at a pretty reasonable speed - obviously depending on your bandwidth - thanks to the use of peer-to-peer technologies that mean that users simultaneously upload and download video, in addition to the work done by the Jaman servers. This is an increasingly popular distribution method that puts every node in a network to use, and can be seen as far and wide as Skype, Bit Torrent and Joost.
System Requirements - Mac
- 1.8 GHz PowerMac G5
- 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo
- 256MB of RAM
- 64MB of Video Card RAM
- QuickTime 7
- 1.8 GHz PowerMac G5 or faster Mac computer
- 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo or faster
- 512MB of RAM or greater
- 64MB of Video Card RAM or greater
- QuickTime 7
System Requirements - Windows
- 2.2 GHz Pentium 4
- 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo or equivalent
- 512MB of RAM
- 64MB of Video Card RAM
- QuickTime 7
- 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 or faster processor
- 1024MB of RAM or greater
- 64MB of Video Card RAM or greater
- QuickTime 7.1 or higher
- Windows Media Player 9
- DirectX 9.0c
Web 2.0 - Social Networking
Jaman is more than just a movie download service, though, and one of its key features is the strong social networking functionality built into the website.
Upon joining the service, you can create a profile for yourself, either as an enthusiast or film-maker, and list your favorite genres, films, film-makers, actors and actresses and so on, as well as providing contact details or a link to your website or blog. From here you can privately message other users, create reviews, make lists, add movies to your favorites and add contacts to your buddy list, just as with any standard SNS.
Where the action really goes on in Jaman though is the groups:
Groups, of which there are a good many, are a great way of uploading videos and discussing them with other users. With a combination of streaming flash video and simple discussion threads keyed-in on a particular niche interest or genre, it is easy to find at least one group likely to be of interest.
This is a great way of finding new content and forging connections with like-minded people while you're about it, and lifts Jaman up from being a retail destination to being a genuinely engaging community. iTunes has a lot to learn from Jaman in this respect.
To encourage you to bring your own contacts on-board, Jaman offers you two free one-week movie rentals for every friend you sign up. In addition to the three free rentals you receive upon signing up, this is a good incentive to get users to commit to giving Jaman a try, and possibly spreading the word, creating viral traffic for the service.
Jaman For Indie Film-Makers
Jaman isn't a user-generated content destination in the same style as YouTube, but it does offer the opportunity for aspiring or established independent film-makers to give exposure to their work, and even make money from the download system.
From what I could establish Jaman has two avenues for film-makers to use. On the one hand professional film companies can submit their details using an online form. On the other, users can upload their own productions to the service using the Jaman player, which allows you to import your own videos. They then have a choice between distributing their film for free, using on-site Flash video streaming, or offering it for sale or rental in high definition format.
The key distinction between the two, as it seems to me, is that the first form is for feature-length movies, while the Jaman-player upload option is for productions of an hour or less. I was unable to track down how much of a cut Jaman takes from the sale and rental price of any videos sold.
Furthermore, to increase that all important exposure for film-makers, it is possible to sign up for a film-maker profile when you join the service, listing your role, awards, representation and experience for all to see. In this respect, the social networking aspect of Jaman could prove useful as both an exercise in exposure, but also in networking with other independent film-makers from around the world. Co-productions could feasibly start this way, which would make for some interesting globally-teamed movies.
Jaman is a cost-effective way to rent or purchase the kind of independent world cinema that you won't be seeing on iTunes any time soon. By providing high definition quality video and making use of peer-to-peer file distribution technology it is possible to watch your movie downloads in full screen, and the quality of these videos is the most impressive I have seen to date.
If you find yourself tired of Spiderman sequels and endless additions to the Die Hard franchise, Jaman has a great choice of independent films that span the globe and offer something a little different from the norm. Given that world cinema DVDs are invariably hugely overpriced, the cheap purchase and rental prices from Jaman will come as a relief to both consumers and independent producers looking for a distribution channel that works for them.
Personally I could have done without the proprietary DRM used on the video downloads, which effectively means that I am locked into using the Jaman player. Our GNU / Linux friends are going to find themselves out of luck if they want to make use of the service, and even Windows and Mac owners are going to have to hook up their notebook to the TV or buy themselves an Apple TV if they want to watch their movie purchases on something other than a monitor. This is a shame, really, as there are a growing number of alternatives to DRM available and this approach is the biggest deviation in the Jaman set up from its pretensions towards a Web 2.0 status.
DRM aside, however, Jaman does take advantage of another Web 2.0 paradigm - the wisdom of crowds. With a social network at its core, a solid reviews system like that of Amazon.com, and the opportunity for film-makers and movie-lovers to interact, Jaman taps into the opinions and knowledge of its users. This makes separating the hidden gems from the the less impressive fare much easier, while providing a great platform for world cinema fans to interact around their favorite subject.
In short Jaman is a much needed niche-destination for those that wish to explore the other side of movies and escape the Hollywood mainstream. It is also yet one more golden opportunity for professional independent film-makers to distribute their work using the latest peer-to-peer technologies.
If you would like to learn more about Jaman, you might want to check out the following links:
- The Jaman website
- How Jaman Works
- Intro for film-makers looking to use Jaman for distribution
- Extensive Jaman FAQ
- Jaman News, including previous coverage
[ Read more ]
Originally written by Michael Pick for MasterNewMedia and titled: "Movie Download Service For Independent World Cinema: Jaman"
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