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The Prado “exhibits” its Rubens on the Web Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The publication of this interactive, online video, the first of its kind for use in the promotion of cultural material, represents a unique acknowledgement of the status of Rubens, one of the greatest artists represented in the Prado’s collection, as well as of the ever-growing number of people interested in the content and channels that the Prado has made available online over the past few years. This endeavour has been made possible due to the permanent support of Telefónica as sponsor of the Museum’s online projects within its Visitor Attention programme. Videos now have additional information layers and thus offer an option that might be termed “hypervideo”, in reference to the computer term “hypertext”, the name given to a text that leads to another, related text on a screen.

The Prado “exhibits” its Rubens on the Web

With the publication of this new feature on its web and following the enthusiastic reception that the Museum’s traditional online videos of its temporary exhibitions - regularly produced since 2008 - have received, the Prado has now taken a step forward by enabling users to access more detailed information in a simple, user-friendly manner. This new project is based on the exclusive, online, video interactivity technology developed by the Spanish firm Madpixel, which also developed the technological and methodological support used for the digitalisation and visualisation of the gigapixel images for “Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado on Google Earth”. This new mode of multi-media presentation transcended the limitations of a traditional video and enabled the user to interact within the audiovisual content itself, with the option to pause on numerous “hotspots”, which in this case will allow the user to access all the works by Rubens housed in the Prado. Users will thus have access to additional content associated with the more than 90 specific hotspots, both in the form of videos in which Alejandro Vergara, curator of the exhibition and Chief Curator of Flemish and Northern School Painting at the Prado, offers a detailed explanation of the works, and in the form of high-resolution, full-screen images and an explanatory entry on each work.

Direct access to the video, available only the spanish version.

Additional content formats

The content accessed by clicking on the different elements in an interactive video of this type is varied in nature. In this case, the additional content has been carefully selected with the aim of helping users to achieve an experience which is as similar as possible to actually seeing the exhibition at first hand. While of course not equivalent to the unique experience of direct contemplation of the works, the video offers the compensation of enabling users to obtain in-depth information on all of them through navigation of the images and access to additional explanatory content. To make this possible, the video features large scale, high quality reproductions of all the 90 works in the exhibition, shown full-screen and with the option to enlarge them. This feature enables users to appreciate tiny details not visible to the naked eye when looking at the paintings first-hand due to the physical conditions of being in a museum (the fact that visitors have to stand some way away from the works, and with a perspective determined by their location on a single, horizontal plane). In addition to full-screen visualisation, many of the reproductions are accompanied by an audio player that allows an audio-guide text to be heard while the work is explored by the user. In addition, all the reproductions have their own detailed, text entry that provides technical details on the works.

In addition to offering users an ever more enriching experience when exploring specific details in some works, the video has windows that reproduce an additional, explanatory video of the selected detail (in other words, a video within a video).

Easy access to additional content

The additional information available (videos, audios, texts, photographs) shown in the windows is read from external files housed in other channels on the web. As a result the speed of uploading and reproduction of the interactive video is the same as if it were not interactive. This solution also means that once the user has clicked on the desired element, the time of uploading the content in the window is equivalent to the time of uploading any other layer on the web.

To reproduce videos with this interactive layer, the user only needs to pause the video, locating the cursor on the reproduction window. Only at this moment will the interactive elements be shown, which can then be clicked on. These elements are not visible during the rest of the reproduction in order to achieve better usability and a less intrusive visual experience.

The main video and videos within videos

For the recording and production of the main video of the exhibition and for some of the additional videos on the works included in this application, the Museum benefited from the collaboration of the production company that developed the presentation video for the project “Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado on Google Earth”, launched in January 2009. This was again a unique and highly innovative project with regard to the application of cutting-edge technology to the dissemination of works of art.