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8. A brief history of the whole project
=======================================
 
So where did it all start? Well, it all began back in 1989 when someone
started a discussion in rec.arts.movies about who were the most attractive
looking actresses around. In response to this thread, a college student in the
US began to collect a list of all the actresses, along with the movies they
had appeared in. The list was pretty disorganised to say the least and the
original maintainer disappeared from the net after a few months. At this
point Andy Krieg picked up the list, sorted it properly and began to post it
monthly to rec.arts.movies under the title "THE LIST".
 
In May of 1989 Chuck Musciano started the Movie Ratings Report, an on-going
poll of movies posted weekly to the group. The two projects remained entirely
separate for a couple of years, but it is appropriate to mention the start
of the report here.
 
I approached Andy Krieg in July 1990 asking why he didn't do an actors list.
He said he was too busy but suggested I manage one. The actors list was
created early in August and grew very rapidly. It was limited to living
actors (like the actress list) to keep the size down. Being a fan of older
movies I was disappointed that I couldn't include some of my favourite actors
since they were dead. Later that month I asked for volunteers to run a dead
actors/actresses list and when nobody came forward I started the dead list.
 
At this point it's appropriate to mention the biggest contributor to the cast
lists, Kevin Arvin. Kevin had been collecting movie information on-line and
around this time he agreed to keep us supplied with data - something he's
continued to do every month for the last four years. I estimate that 100,000
entries in the database originate from Kevin and there's no doubt we owe an
awful lot of the success to him.
 
In September 1990 Dave Knight volunteered to manage a directors list to
complement the cast lists. Seeing all the lists in rec.arts.movies, Grant
Mason, a post-graduate student at Edinburgh, posted a request asking for some
software to search the lists as a whole. Since I already had some very
basic list processing shell scripts, I volunteered to publish them and the
movie database package was born.
 
Within a month, Jeff Sullivan volunteered to manage a writers list and by
the end of 1990 Michel Hafner was managing the composers and cinematographers
lists. Michel had some ideas on creating master reference lists of names and
titles to keep everything consistent across the lists. He also suggested a
list structure based on relations that was adopted.
 
Throughout '91 and '92 the lists and software grew rapidly. Support was added
for the movie ratings report and Michel's titles list which now meant you
could access ratings and the year-of-release information in the database.
Michel also launched a master reference list of alternative titles which
enabled lots of redundancy in the database to be eliminated. Some of the
original list managers had to give up their lists so things swapped around a
little during this time. We got access to an FTP site at the University of
Colorado which helped significantly since the data was then available all
the time.
 
Towards the end of '92 Steve Hammond volunteered to manage a character names
database and Murray Chapman started the trivia list, agreeing to make it
compatible with the software. Early in '93 Colin Tinto volunteered to start
a plot summaries list and February '93 saw the launch of the first version of
the software that was mostly in C. Jon Reeves also joined the team, taking
over the writers list from Andy who had been looking after it temporarily.
 
Around this time we discussed the idea of making the database available on an
e-mail server somewhere. Alan Jay volunteered to create and run it at the PC
users group in London. The movie mail-server went public in the summer of '93
and receives an average of 400 requests per day, although this rate is rising
continuously.
 
In August '93 the cast lists were reorganised slightly so that all the data
was available to the movie database package (up until then only entries for
people with a certain number of requests were available publicly).
 
In September '93 Mark Harding volunteered to manage a biographies list and
the crazy credits section which used to be part of the trivia list. Rob
Hartill set up a WWW interface to the database and the Cardiff movie server
was created. The WWW server receives tens of thousands of requests each
*day* and again this figure is rising. Also at this time, Andre Bernhardt
expressed an interest in porting the movie database software to the Amiga and
a release followed shortly afterwards.
 
At the end of '93 I took over the actresses list from Andy Krieg who at that
point was the longest serving list manager. The six cast lists were merged
to two, with the posted versions just being subsets of the full versions on
the anonymous FTP sites. New filmography lists for editors, production
designers and costume designers were also released. Henry Lebovic approached
us about an MS-DOS interface to the database that he had been working on.
 
In March '94 Andre volunteered to manage a producers filmography list, Lars
Joergen Aas a quotes list, Ron Higgins a soundtracks list and Mike Gaines
agreed to make the movie goofs list compatible with the database. Rob began
to look at setting up mirror sites for his heavily used WWW interface
database and there are now mirrors in Mississippi (run by Frank Peters),
Australia (run by Mike Lawley) and Iceland (run by Mark Townley). Also, Henry
released CineBASE, the MS-DOS interface to the database, making the whole
system accessible to even more people.
 
In May '94 the running times list was added to the database and the cast
lists were reorganised to include the character names, although the char name
information is still managed by Steve as a separate activity.
 
 
9. Key to the titles
====================
 
The titles in the database fall into one of five categories:
 
 (1) movies, unless otherwise indicated the title is a movie
 (2) made for TV movies, indicated by a (TV) tag
 (3) made for video movies, indicated by a (V) tag
 (4) TV-series, indicated by enclosing the title in "'s
 (5) mini-series, indicated by enclosing the title in "'s and a (mini) tag
 
 
10. Key to the symbols appearing in filmographies
=================================================
 
The filmography databases enable details of awards earned for or notes on a
particular performance/contribution to be recorded. Each database has a
different set of symbols, although some overlap where appropriate.
 
 
Universal Symbols
-----------------
(AA)          = Academy Award winner in relevant category
(AAN)         = Academy Award nomination in relevant category
(GG)          = Golden Globe winner in relevant category
(GGN)         = Golden Globe nomination winner in relevant category
(BFA)         = British Academy Award ( = British Film Award )
(Cesar)       = French Academy Award
(David)       = Italian Academy Award
(Felix)       = European Academy Award ( = European Film Award )
 
 
Title Key
---------
(D)           = Documentary
(A)           = Animated Film
(Se)          = Serial
(Sh)          = Short feature
 
 
Acting Key
----------
(S:AA)         = academy award winner (best supporting actor/actress)
(S:AAN)        = academy award nominee (best supporting actor/actress)
(C:GG)         = golden globe winner (best comedy/musical actor/actress)
(C:GGN)        = golden globe nominee (best comedy/musical actor/actress)
(S:GG)         = golden globe winner (best supporting actor/actress)
(S:GGN)        = golden globe nominee (best supporting actor/actress)
(N:GG)         = golden globe winner (best newcomer)
 
 
Writers Key
-----------
(song)        =  The writer is the author (composer?) of a song on
                 which the screenplay was based.
(story)       =  The writer contributed on the story for the
                 screenplay only or the writer is the author of a
                 story on which the movie was based.
(play)        =  The writer is the author of the play on which the
                 screenplay was based.
(novel)       =  The writer is the author of the novel on which the
                 screenplay was based.
(novel XXX)   =  The writer is the author of the novel on which the
                 screenplay was based, but the novel is not the same
                 title as the movie.
(book)        =  The writer is the author of the book on which the
                 screenplay was based.
(article)     =  The writer is the author of the article on which the
                 screenplay was based.
(operetta)    =  The writer is the author of the operetta on which the
                 screenplay was based.
(also XXX)    =  The writer was involved in some other aspect than just
                 writing the screenplay.  They may have authored the novel
                 the screenplay was based on, or developed the story, etc.
 
(A:AA)     = Academy Award for Best Adaptation
(A:AAN)    = Academy Award Nomination for Best Adaptation
(DS:AA)    = Academy Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
(DS:AAN)   = Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for
                the Screen
(MPS:AA)   = Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story
(MPS:AAN)  = Academy Award Nomination for Best Motion Picture Story
(S:AA)     = Academy Award for Best Screenplay
(S:AAN)    = Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay
(SA:AA)    = Academy Award for Best Screenplay - Adapted
(SA:AAN)   = Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay - Adapted
(SAM:AA)   = Academy Award for Best Screenplay - based on Another Medium
(SAM:AAN)  = Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay - based on Another
                 Medium
(SAO:AA)   = Academy Award for Best Screenplay Adapted from Other Material
(SAO:AAN)  = Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay Adapted from Other
                Material
(SO:AA)    = Academy Award for Best Screenplay - Original
(SO:AAN)   = Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay - Original
(SS:AA)    = Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay
(SS:AAN)   = Academy Award Nomination for Best Story and Screenplay
(SSF:AA)   = Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay - based on Factual
                material or material not previously published or produced
(SSF:AAN)  = Academy Award Nomination for Best Story and Screenplay - based on
                Factual material or material not prev. published or produced
(SSS:AA)   = Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay - written directly
                for the Screen
(SSS:AAN)  = Academy Award Nomination for Best Story and Screenplay - written
                directly for the Screen
(StO:AA)   = Academy Award for Best Story - Original
(StO:AAN)  = Academy Award Nomination for Best Story - Original
(T:AA)     = Academy Award for Title Writing
(T:AAN)    = Academy Award Nomination for Title Writing
(WA:AA)    = Academy Award for Writing Achievement
(WA:AAN)   = Academy Award Nomination for Writing Acheivement
(BA)       = British Academy of Film and Television Arts for Best Screenplay
(G)        = Genie for Best Screenplay
(GG)       = Golden Globe for Best Screenplay
 
 
Composers Key
-------------
(A:AA)        = Academy Award for best score adapted from another musical
                source
(A:AAN)       = Academy Award Nomination for best score adapted from another
                musical source
(AAA)         = Australian Academy Award
(D:AA)        = Academy Award for best score in a drama or a comedy
(D:AAN)       = Academy Award Nomination for best score in a drama or a comedy
(M:AA)        = Academy Award for best score in a musical
(M:AAN)       = Academy Award Nomination for best score in a musical
(O:AA)        = Academy Award for best original score
(O:AAN)       = Academy Award Nomination for best original score
(BS:AA)       = Academy Award for best song
(BS:AAN)      = Academy Award Nomination for best song
(songs)       = The composer composed songs for the movie
(also songs)  = The composer composed also songs for the movie
 
 
11. Appearances in TV-series before an actor was even born!
===========================================================
 
There are several TV-series which have been running for many years, for
example "As the World Turns" started in 1956 and "The Doctors" in 1963.
Several actors and actresses began their careers by appearing in series such
as these, for example, Meg Ryan played Betsy Montgomery in "As the World
Turns".
 
Queries to the database are usually sorted into chronological order, the year
used being the year that the movie was released, or in the case of long
running TV-series, the year it was first broadcast. This means that you can
sometimes get information indicating a particular performer appeared in a
TV-series before they were even born. In our example, Meg Ryan was born in
1961, but her filmography indicates she appeared in "As the World Turns" in
1956!
 
To overcome this limitation in the database we normally use the character name
to indicate the range of years the people appeared in the show. Let's imagine,
for example, Ryan's appearance was from 1981 to 1982 so her character name
would become "Betsy Montgomery (1981-1982)",
 
 
 
12. Who are the list managers and what do they look like?
=========================================================
 
The list managers are all volunteers with an interest in movies. The database
is provided free of charge as a service to the internet and nobody is paid
to manage this stuff. See section three for a list of who manages which bits
of the database. If you've ever wondered what we look like, check out
the rogues gallery on the Cardiff WWW interface to the database:
 
  http://www.cm.cf.ac.uk/Movies/rogues_gallery.html
 
which has pictures of several of the database managers.
 
 
13. Can I get hold of the source datafiles in plain ASCII?
==========================================================
 
If you're not on a Unix system and don't have access to the decompression
tools 'uncompress' or 'gunzip' then use anonymous FTP to the ftp.funet.fi
site (more details in question 3). This ftp server supports automatic
decompression of the files as they are transfered to you. All you have to do
is 'get' the files you are interested in as usual, but do *not* include the
final .gz extension in the filenames.
 
 
14. How frequently is the database updated?
===========================================
 
As outlined in question 3, the various list files in the database are managed
by several people across the internet. The time between updates for the
individual lists therefore varies according to the amount of free time
available to their respective managers. We try to update each list at least
once per month and post either the complete list or a sample subset to
rec.arts.movies. Several of the lists are updated more frequently than this,
but only on the FTP sites. You should check cathouse.org and ftp.funet.fi
for the very latest versions.
 
 
15. How long should I expect it to take for updates to be processed?
====================================================================
 
It all depends on the individual list manager and when in the update cycle
you sent the information. It can be anything from a few days to several
weeks. We are always working on ways to improve the time it takes additions
to be processed, but the volume is continually rising as the internet and the
database grows. If you have any suggestions to make submitting additions
easier, we are always happy to hear them.
 
I usually always process additions every other week, however, at the moment
I'm working on some new processing tools to help automate things a bit more.
I'm hoping to switch to weekly updates once the tools are finished, but in
the meantime, the next update will be delayed at the expense of the
programming. The other filmography lists tend to get updated at least once
per month depending on the managers workload - Michel frequently manages two
updates per month. Most of the other managers try to get an update out every
month, although work/study commitments sometimes delay them for longer. If
you just miss an update it's possible to wait several weeks before your
additions will be included.
 
Some lists require a lot of manual intervention and take longer to update,
for example, Colin Tinto has to spend a lot of time correcting spelling
and formating errors on the plot summaries list.
 
We are also working on a new submissions interface with a much more user
friendly format and tool support to reduce the time to process the additions
received by it.
 
To summarise then, "it depends" :-), but all data is processed eventually so
please don't be put off sending more additions in the meantime. The fastest
way to get your updates processed is to send them to the movie mail-server,
see question 5 for more details.
 
 
16. Easier Ways to Submit New Data
==================================
 
If you find the standard addition formats too complex there is now an
alternative easier way to submit additions on a title by title basis. There
are no special formats to learn, you just request a template for a movie, fill
in any missing data and send it back to the mail-server. For information on
this interface send a message with the subject:
 
  HELP UPDATE
 
to <[log in to unmask]>
 
 
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SECTION TWO
===========
 
This section describes how to formulate certain common requests to either
the movie mail-server or the Unix movie database package. It doesn't cover
the full range of queries available - only the more frequently used ones. I
haven't described how achieve the requests using the WWW or CineBASE
interfaces since they offer easy to use menu driven navigation methods. An
example is given in each case to illustrate the query.
 
 
17. How do I find all the information on a particular movie?
============================================================
 
Unix: title -t "<title>" -full
  eg: title -t "Vertigo" -full
 
Mail-Server: MOVIE <title>
         eg: MOVIE Vertigo
 
 
18. How do I find all the information on a particular person?
=============================================================
 
Unix: list -name "<name>" -full
  eg: list -name "Hitchcock, Alfred" -full
 
Mail-Server: PERSN <name>
         eg: PERSN Hitchcock, Alfred
 
 
19. How do I get filmographies for everyone associated with a movie?
====================================================================
 
Unix: listall -t "<title>" -full
  eg: listall -t "Notorious (1946)" -full
 
Mail-Server: TRACE MOVIE <title>
         eg: TRACE MOVIE Notorious (1946)
 
 
20. How do I get full details of all the movies associated a person?
====================================================================
 
For actors/actresses:
---------------------
Unix: ltrace -a "<name>" -full
  eg: ltrace -a "Grant, Cary" -full
 
Mail-Server: TRACE ACTOR <name>
         eg: TRACE ACTOR Grant, Cary
 
For directors:
--------------
Unix: ltrace -d "<name>" -full
  eg: ltrace -d "Hitchcock, Alfred" -full
 
Mail-Server: TRACE DIRCT <name>
         eg: TRACE DIRCT Hitchcock, Alfred
 
 
21. How do I find a list of all the movies released in a particular year?
 ========================================================================
 
For a plain list:
-----------------
Unix: lindex -title -yreq <year>
  eg: lindex -title -yreq 1993
 
Mail-Server: INDEX ALL <year>
         eg: INDEX ALL 1993
 
For a list sorted by average rating:
------------------------------------
Unix: lindex -title -yreq <year> -smrr
  eg: lindex -title -yreq 1993 -smrr
 
Mail-Server: INDEX SMR <year>
         eg: INDEX SMR 1993
 
For a list sorted by number of votes:
-------------------------------------
Unix: lindex -title -yreq <year> -vmrr
  eg: lindex -title -yreq 1993 -vmrr
 
Mail-Server: INDEX VMR <year>
         eg: INDEX VMR 1993
 
 
22. How do I find a list of all the movies starring two particular people?
 =========================================================================
 
Unix: list -a "<name1>" -a "<name2>"
  eg: list -a "Tracy, Spencer" -a "Hepburn, Katharine"
 
Mail-Server: LISTA <name1> AND <name2>
         eg: LISTA Tracy, Spencer AND Hepburn, Katharine
 
 
23. How do I find a list of people who've played a particular character?
 =======================================================================
 
You can't do this at the moment in the Unix and Mail-Server interfaces, but
you can search for character names via the WWW interface. There is a link
on the database home page which will search the character names information.
 
 
24. How can I find out when/where someone was born/died?
========================================================
 
This information is contained in the biographies database and will be returned
as part of any query about the person you are interested in (assuming this
data is in the system - we currently have birthdate/birthplace information for
about 7,000 people).
 
Unix: list -name "<name>" -full
  eg: list -name "Curtis, Jamie Lee" -full
 
Mail-Server (for actors/actresses): ACTOR <name>
                                eg: ACTOR Curtis, Jamie Lee
 
 
25. How can I find a contact address for someone
================================================
 
This information is contained in the biographies database and will be returned
as part of any query about the person you are interested in, however, so far
we only have a handful of addresses. The address listed is always that of
the person's agent. It is not the intention of the database to ever store
private home mailing addresses.
 
Unix: list -name "<name>" -full
  eg: list -name "Hamilton, Linda" -full
 
Mail-Server (for actors/actresses): ACTOR <name>
                                eg: ACTOR Hamilton, Linda
 
 
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I hope you find this FAQ useful. If you have a question that isn't covered
please contact me via e-mail at <[log in to unmask]>.
 
Col
 
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Col Needham, The PC Users Group, UK <[log in to unmask]>
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Public access internet in the UK, contact <[log in to unmask]>
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