Let the Web turn you into the next Spielberg.

The guys who first thought up the phrase "moving picture" would never have imagined the lengths that the genre has progressed to.

Today, movies are no longer the domain of large Hollywood studios with huge effects budgets and high-end equipment. Anyone with a fair-to-middling PC, lots of patience, and a good imagination can make a movie in the Information Age...and it won't even cost him all that much.

Since the idea of starring in a movie has always appealed to us (the fans! the awards! the money!), we're going to take a bus ride around some of the better digital movie sites online. Check 'em out!

http://www.filmunderground.com/

Before you start off making the next "E.T.", you need to know what to do, right? This site is a good one to start off with.

Film Underground is a general but comprehensive site for pre- and post-production, and covers digital movie making as one aspect of cinema. It also includes 16mm and 35mm movie-making techniques. The site has stayed away from the animation clips that are a normal feature of most of these sites; thus, the home page looks clean, uncluttered and provides easy navigation and information in language that's easy to understand.

For MP3 lovers, this site offers good news - it speaks about new MPEG-4 technology that will reduce the size of MP3 files to 1/12th their original size. And for those looking for resources involved in film-making, the site also provides an industry guide that caters to all such needs.

Overall, this is a good site to surf for any enthusiastic filmmaker.

http://www.dv.com

After that one, we suggest a hard-core site on digital video making. And that's where this site comes in.

DV.com is a very no-nonsense kind of place - and really appealing too! It has the most comprehensive news section of all the sites featured here, with news from the industry, from the digital audio sphere, from video companies, and from the 3D film companies. There's also a "How To" section, which helps you work on all the finer aspects of film-making.

After this, it's a good idea to read over the case studies and the reviews of videos made by professionals and amateurs. These should give you a good idea of what to do and what not to do when making your own film. Besides this, there is an online store and even a community segment.

Our vote for the best site in this collection, DV.com is comprehensive, simple and really cool.

http://www.nonlinear4.com/index.htm

If you're looking to switch over from regular film-making techniques to the new digital medium, or simply polish your skills, this site is a must.

This site calls itself the "Web site of digital video and film editing"...and rightly so. This is one of the most technically comprehensive sites on the Web for digital film-making. It covers the thinking aspect of digital film-making, and provides information on aesthetics, book lists and even theme conceptualization.

The "Info" section on the site provides comprehensive lists on everything to do with non-linear editing techniques - software and hardware available, training centres for digital film production, dealers and rentals for non-linear editing techniques.

http://www.moviehead.com/main.html

Do you want to know how many genres of movies actually exist as far as digital media goes? Click through moviehead.com and you will be amazed.

The site deals with everything - animation, erotica, documentaries, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, westerns, short films, experimental movies and what-have-you. The site regularly provides and updates Top Ten listings for short movies, erotica and webisodes. Its services include email, games, books, electronics, player downloads and media resources.

Speaking of webisodes, you can watch those animated features of Xena, Popeye, Kiss, Ace Ventura Pet Detective and Superman here. Want to know what Xena does when enemies attack Gabrielle? Go to this treasure house of movies on the Web.

http://www.digidanceonline.com/

And if you thought that making digital movies was all work and no play...think again! Here's a site dedicated to an online digital cinema festival that gives you news about the movies, schedules and activities that are likely to happen during the course of this festival. It also provides a fair amount of technical information on film-making.

A delightful feature of this site - besides the information it provides - is that it lets amateur digital film-makers explore movie-making. In fact, its Web site proudly declares: "bring a camera and we’ll do the rest". The site invites amateur film-makers to shoot footage at the festival’s Park City venue and then utilize the company’s digital equipment to edit it.

The site is a good effort, but, above everything else, it's a site that assures us of the future of cinema festivals in the years to come!

http://www.cinemanow.com

This is one site that does not bother with loads of technical gibberish, but still packs a hell of a punch.

As its name suggests, CinemaNow is set up to let you watch movies online. All you need is Windows Media Player installed on your computer, and you can sit back and enjoy all the movies you would see at your neighbourhood multiplex - on the Web! If you don't want to pay for a ticker, no problem - there are some films that you can watch for free as well.

The site provides user ratings, reviews, trailers and a facility to shop for movies on the Web. It also has a section for budding moviemakers, which provides news and information on the technology required.

This site may not be extremely elaborate, but is easy on the eye...and if you want to watch movies hassle-free, this may just be your digital Mecca!

http://www.atomfilms.com/

Atomfilms.com is another storehouse for digital movies on the Web.

The cinema section explores a whole range of films, including gay and lesbian cinema. Look out for the "Spotlight" channel - it has films clubbed under funny groups like "Bikini Bandits" and "Go Sick". A word of warning, though - there is some material here that is explicitly for adults!

Information-wise, Atomfilms.com is pretty comprehensive with its news and tips for film-makers and film-making techniques. Like other sites, it provides for movie purchases online, and encourages viewer reviews and downloads. Don't miss the animation section, with its sleek production and funny titles.

And that's about it for this week. Till next time...stay healthy!

This article was first published on 16 Jan 2001.