On Saturday 24th of October 2009 the Far North Living Lab performed yet another experiment involving BitTorrent and the big screen. From the Aurora Cinema in Tromsø, a concert was streamed live using the BitTorrent live extensions from the P2P-Next project.
The concert was held in cooperation with the Insomnia festival in Tromsø, and featured the 1926 film "Mother" by Vsevolod Pudovkin. The film was performed with a re-composed soundtrack by Per Martinsen, Aggie Peterson and Sergey Suokas, commissioned by the Tromsø International Film Festival. "The idea was first to stream the concert live to the Notch fetstival in Beijing, then we added a small place called Skjervøy and the rest of the world to boot" says Njål Borch, senior researcher at the Northern Research Institute (Norut). Due to issues traversing the Chinese firewall, only the audio feed was sent live to the Notch festival, while the video track was transferred up front. "We just didn't get the sustained speed necessary to provide the content in high enough resolution to the festival in Beijing. A couple of Chinese people did connect to the concert, but we are not yet certain that it worked for them." Several thousand people from 81 countries visited during the concert and the days after, spanning the globe. "We have some very nice feedback from New Zealand, and have plenty of exotic places represented" Borch continues.
Using P2P technology to distribute the concert allowed using a much higher quality than is normally possible for such events. The film track was sent in full PAL resolution (720x576 pixels) and the audio track was sent as a 160kbit/s stereo track. "As artists we want as many as possible to experience our work, and at this quality we feel people can enjoy it properly" says Per Martinsen. "The performance includes quite a bit of improvisation, and this particular performance was a very good one" says Aggie Peterson.
The Insomnia festival has a focus on electronic arts, and spans a large variety of genres and expressions. It is also a very international festival, with contacts far and wide. "We have had this urge to connect to places far away" says Gaute Barlindhaug from the Insomnia festival, "Tromsø is a great place, but it is not really close to much. Using the Internet and this new technology, we are able to export these magnificent experiences to a much larger audience. For next year, we will pursue this further - it will be very exiting!".
For those who want to see how this went, a 5 minute clip from the concert is still running at the Far North Living Lab, and a DVD is coming on sale, allbeit from another performance. A clip is also available from Vimeo on this page, as is a couple of screenshots from the event.