FAQ

Basic Questions

  1. What is a K-Film?
  2. What is Korsakow? [shorter version]
  3. What is a SNU?
  4. What is a POC?
  5. What’s so special about Korsakow V5?
  6. How do I post my Korsakow Film online?
  7. Is Korsakow free to use?
  8. Is Korsakow Open Source?
  9. Can I edit video in Korsakow?
  10. Where does the name come from?
  11. Who invented Korsakow?
  12. Where can I get Korsakow?
  13. What is Korsakow? [longer version]
  14. Why did it take so long to create Version 5?
  15. What happened to Version 4?

Using Korsakow

  1. How do I add content to Korsakow?
  2. What is a good compression setting for online video?
  3. What is SNUifying?
  4. What governs the play order in a K-film?
  5. What file formats should I use?
  6. How do I change the background colour?

Basic Questions

What is a K-Film?
A K-Film is a database film produced using the Korsakow System. K-Films cover all genres, including fictional narrative, documentary, and experimental. They have also been used in/as/for installations, performances, traditional postproduction, online portfolios, etc.

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What is Korsakow? [shorter version]
The Korsakow System is a software application originally created in 2000. Korsakow allows users without programming expertise to create nonlinear, database-driven narratives. Version 5, released in July 2009, is free and Open Source, and is available for PCs and Macs.

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What is a SNU?
A SNU is a ‘Smallest Narrative Unit’. Around here we pronounce it ‘snoo’. It is the fundamental building block of a Korsakow Film. With Korsakow, you’re essentially taking your media assets (typically, pieces of edited video with durations of 20 secs to 2 minutes) and SNU-ifying them. That is, applying keywords and other rules to each piece of media that will appear in your K-Film. See the video Tutorials (especially ‘This is a SNU’) for more information. The term was invented by Heinz Emigholz.

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What is a POC?
Like ‘SNU’, the term POC (for ‘Point of Contact’) was invented by Heinz Emigholz. A POC is not merely a link. It is the possibility of a link. In other words, a link is the obvious manifestation of a POC. But: there can be a POC without a link. For example, if there are Out-keywords that don’t find a SNU with a matching In-keyword. In this case there is no link, but there is still a POC. In a way, POCs are like docking points: They simply wait for the right SNU to come up.

See the video Tutorials (especially ‘This is a SNU’) for more information.

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What’s so special about Korsakow V5?
Version 5 of the Korsakow System marks the most important update in the program’s short history. Our first goal was to address a lot of the problems that version 3 had. For example, K-Films produced with versions 1-3 required Shockwave Player to be installed in the viewer’s web browser. And, certain features didn’t work online: background-sound, preview-movies, the new interface tool. Version 5 addresses all these problems and lots of new features are being added all the time. For example, V5 exports .swf files, meaning that viewers now require Flash Player, not Shockwave. (Flash Player is reportedly on over 85% of web browsers worldwide.)

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How do I post my Korsakow Film online?
You need access to some serverspace and the ability to FTP the exported files into that space, so that the index.html file is accessible with a web browser. Note that Korsakow Films can be quite large. Florian’s K-Film ‘7sons’, for example, takes up 300 MB. Prices for webspace vary very much. Have a good look. Florian writes: “I pay around 10 US$/month for 500GB, the service I am using is here in Berlin. Maybe there are better deals around. Let me know if you know a good service.” Matt uses Bluehost, and is very happy with their service. The best advice we can give is to shop around!

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Is Korsakow free to use?
Korsakow has always been free for educational purposes (teaching; computer labs; school assignments) or small projects, ie with productions budgets of less than €2,000, or $2,800. If this doesn’t describe you, please email us before using this software. If you qualify for free use and find the software useful, please consider a donation to the project so we can keep it up to date.

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Is Korsakow Open Source?
Version 3 was not open source, because Florian built it in Macromedia (now Adobe) Director. The new version (v5), released in July 2009, is built in Java and is free and Open Source.

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Can I edit video in Korsakow?
No. This was never the intention. Users must first prepare their media files using other software applications, and then import the media into Korsakow. There are many video editing applications available out there, from professional software such as Final Cut Pro (Apple) and Adobe Premiere, to free apps such as iMovie (Apple) and Microsoft Movie Maker, and Open Source alternatives (external link).

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Where does the name come from?
In the late 1990s Florian Thalhofer wrote a special piece of software so he could produce a database documentary about alcohol consumption for his Masters thesis. During his research, he learned that advanced alcoholism often leads to short-term memory loss and a related compulsion to tell stories. In English, this is called Korsakoff’s Syndrome. He decided this would be a good name for his thesis project, and for his new software application – which he then released for free on the Web.

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Who invented Korsakow?
The Korsakow System was created in 2000 by Florian Thalhofer, a Berlin-based media artist and all-around nice guy.

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Where can I get Korsakow?
You can download Korsakow right here on this site. It’s available for PC and Mac (Intel).

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What is Korsakow? [longer version]
Korsakow Films are films with a twist. They can be interactive, meaning the viewer influences the K-Film. They are rule-based: the author decides on the rules by which the SNUs relate to each other, but s/he does not create fixed paths. They are generative: the order of the SNUs is figured out while the viewer looks at the Korsakow Film. Korsakow Films can only be viewed on a computer, locally or via the Web. They play through most web browsers.

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Why did it take so long to create Version 5?
Good question! Work on redesigning and completely reprogramming Korsakow began in October 2008. With the benefit of a small grant from the Québec Government, we assembled a very small team: Florian as creative lead and all around Korsakow guru; Matt as project director; Stuart as technical director, and Dave as lead programmer (well, actually, the only programmer, apart from some solid support from Stuart and some contributions from Gabriel late in the game). Development was slow, but steady, all of it planned, tracked and ticketed using an open source project management application called Trac. That said, since it’s such a novel application (we believe there’s nothing else quite like it anywhere in the world) a lot of time was spent learning about what the application should allow users to do, based on Florian’s vision. Anyone who’s done software development will also tell you there’s a lot that can go wrong. Fortunately, our mishaps were few, and we’re all still talking to each other. While Version 5 is better than Version 3 in most respects, there are still lots and lots (and lots) of features we want to add as time and budgets allow. Our principal achievement is the switch to Open Source, which means we now have a very dependable, expandable platform on which to work openly and collaboratively – something that just wasn’t there in Version 3. This in itself was a huge undertaking since it involved more or less starting from scratch. It takes nine months to make a human baby, so perhaps it’s not such a long time after all, and (we hope) certainly worth the wait.

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What happened to Version 4?
There is no Korsakow 4. We felt Version 5 would be such a giant leap forward that we skipped Version 4 altogether. Haha.

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Using Korsakow

How do I add content to Korsakow?
The easiest way to add content is to drag your media assets (videos, images, sound files) onto the visual interface.

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What is a good compression setting for online video?
Florian: “This very much depends on the connection of your viewer. In short, if they have very slow internet they are out. I use H.264 compression and I am quite happy with it: Compression: Codec: H.264 width: 360 | height: 202 | 25fps | streaming on | audio: AAC, mono, 24,000 kHz. Please play around with these settings. Let me know when you find good settings for Korsakow!” See Tips & Tricks for more details.

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What is SNUifying?
SNUifying (from SNU = Smallest Narrative Unit) is the most important process in Korsakow. To SNUify is to convert media assets into SNUs by keywording them, as well as deciding, for example: how many times the SNU plays; whether it’s the first or last SNU; which Preview file is associated with the SNU; Preview text; added text, etc. For a practical demonstration see the Tutorials video ‘How to SNUify in Korsakow 5′.

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What governs the play order in a K-film?
By keywording each SNU, you’re effectively writing rules for how your K-film should behave. Assuming the SNU Rating is the same for all SNUs, every SNU with the same number of matching keywords has an equal chance of being selected as a Preview. (Those with more matching keywords are ranked higher.) Assuming there’s more than one Preview available, the viewer then makes her selection, which also affects the subsequent outcomes. In effect, if there are more than three matching SNUs, and you’re using an interface with just three Previews, there will be some randomness in terms of what gets selected next. You can also affect the outcomes by changing the rating of a SNU and/or changing its number of lives (ie the number of times it will potentially show up as a Preview in any given viewing). Finally, if you designate one (or more) SNUs to be the end-SNU, and assuming it has sufficient keywords in common with the previous ones, then you will have a predictable final outcome.

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What file formats should I use?
Video files: .mov (codec: H.264)

Previews: .jpg, .gif, .png, .mov (H.264)

Startscreen: .jpg, .png, .gif

Audio files: .wav, .mp3

Subtitles: .srt

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How do I change the background colour?
To change the background colour of a k-film from the default (black), you must edit the colour in the Interface Editor, under the Settings tab.

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