What is a Micromovie?

Sherry Holetzky

The prefix “micro” means tiny, minute, or very small. Combined with the word "movie," we get a very small movie. You may have also heard a micromovie referred to as an MPEG. The acronym MPEG may also seem familiar, as it is similar to the commonly used JPEG.

Micromovies are available in series that employ cliffhangers to keep the user wanting more.
Micromovies are available in series that employ cliffhangers to keep the user wanting more.

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the group responsible for creating the format. It is used to indicate an image that has been compressed. While the quality is somewhat distorted, and the image loses at least some of its detail, it is a convenient way to transfer or store images that would otherwise take up a lot of space. The same is true of the micromovie.

Similar to JPEG, the acronym MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts Group. Again, the name represents the group that created the format, in this case for moving images such as digital video as well as other multimedia presentations instead of just single, still images. Files are compressed to take up less space in this format as well.

A micromovie can be informative or viewed just for fun. Micromovies are generally just a few minutes long, some just one minute or less. Aside from simply compressing files or creating a short movie, there are also other uses. Probably the most recognized example is where unwinding DNA strands were captured on digital video by the University of California. While it took years to complete, the micromovie can be viewed in mere minutes.

The mobile phone industry has also adopted the term micromovie and as industry leaders continue to search for appropriate mobile content for users, the micromovie may become more popular. To view a micromovie on a phone that does not have high quality video, the frame rate as well as the resolution and size of the complete movie must be very small. Some films are a mere 15 seconds long.

Apparently, the less than perfect film quality and small screen size are acceptable for this short time frame. A lengthy film would most likely not be as enjoyable utilizing such a format. Also, many people are likely to view micromovies using their computer monitors rather than their mobile phones. Micromovies are also available in series, complete with cliffhangers, to keep the user wanting more. This movement has led to competition and there are even film festivals and other assorted contests that include the micromovie.

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