co5tars: a new movie browser
October 8, 2008 8:21 AM   Subscribe

co5tars: a new movie browser
co5TARS is an application for browsing the history of film through the life's work of the people who make them. It's similar to IMDB in that you can search for movies and film people, but the interface is really about showing the relationships behind the movies. If you want to find out who the 2nd assistant director was on Aliens, use IMDB. If you're the kind of person who likes finding out that Cronenberg's cinematographer also worked on The Empire Strikes Back and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, then co5TARS is for you.

Movies are shown using a visual timeline, which presents more information than a simple textual list. For example: directors work much less frequently than actors; and career gaps (such as James Stewart joining the USAF during WW2) show up very clearly. The most important connections are displayed - such as the relationship between Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese - and it's easy to follow career changes over time. The timeline also permits quite complex queries. For example, Steven Spielberg has directed many different movies, but there's a clear distinction between the movies he directs and produces himself, and those he directs for other people. And Clint Eastwood hasn't acted in anyone else's movies for the past 15 years.

The data is drawn from Freebase, which is a freely editable database, and also allows us to perform the extended queries needed for the visualization. If you find mistakes in the data, you can go straight to Freebase and fix things yourself.

If you like this, you might also enjoy the browser we made for the archive of the Harper's Weekly Review some years ago.
posted by daveje (2 comments total)

Very cool interface and fairly intuitive. I really like all the ways you can filter - timeline, by role, genre, etc. However, it's annoying that once you're in a person's bio, you can't click on other people's names and go to their bio. For example, I searched for David Mamet, and then clicked on Joe Mantegna, but it just acted as a filter - apparently if I want to go to Joe Mantegna's info I have to search for him. Also, this movie is inexplicably illustrated with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
posted by desjardins at 8:26 PM on October 10, 2008

You can double-click on a name to go to that person's timeline, and you can also drag and drop names onto the timeline to make more complicated filters. As for the David Mamet movie, that's a problem in the original database, which you can see here. (If you're compelled to fix the image, you can create an account on Freebase and fix it yourself!)

Thanks for the feedback!
posted by daveje at 10:20 AM on October 11, 2008

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