About Rashomon

Recent protests, political unrest, and news events have been well documented with digital videos and photos posted online to social media sites such as YouTube. As access to smartphone technologies increases, this trend of capturing and sharing world events in digital formats will only accelerate. Yet as fragmented glimpses shared across divergent networks, it remains difficult to obtain a comprehensive view of contested events, resulting in viewers often drawing uninformed and contradictory conclusions. To help address this issue, The Rashomon Project is developing an open-source toolkit that can facilitate the rapid assembly and public review of “Video Timelines” where many video and photo perspectives are time-aligned and displayed simultaneously. Our goal is to allow the public to gain a richer understanding of contested events from user-generated video and photo than is currently available online. A Project of the UC Berkeley CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative with Witness.org, The Guardian Project, The Berkeley Human Rights Center, and The UC Santa Cruz Digital Arts and New Media Program.

(Screenshot of UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident, Nov. 18, 2011; synced and displayed on Rashomon Website: http://rashomonproject.org/davis/)

Features in Development

Aside from our ongoing effort to improve the speed and accuracy of our synching processes as well as our viewing display, we are also working in a number of ways to improve both the user experience with the site as well as accessibility. Such efforts include:

  • Adding an annotation feature to project links so that users can direct viewing attention to specific moments, comment on these moments, and generate a more interactive user experience.
  • Isolating audio so viewers can isolate relevant audio captured in one video while muting audio from other videos.
  • Creating mini-urls where users can isolate and share just a small sample of video from within links with longer timelines with many video sources.
  • Improving ease of upload for activists to quickly make videos available for sharing.

Advisory Board

LeilaLeila Hilal

Director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation 

Leila Hilal is director of the New America Foundation Middle East Task Force, which covers in-depth analysis and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa. Ms. Hilal has consulted widely and published on conflict mediation policies in the Middle East, including for the Chatham House, International Development Research Center, International Center for Transitional Justice, Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, and the Euro- Med Human Rights Network. Ms. Hilal obtained her J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and LL.M. from Harvard Law School. Extended Biography

christophChristoph Koettl

Emergency Response Manager, Crisis Prevention and Response Unit; Amnesty International USA 

Christoph Koettle is the Emergency Response Manager at Amnesty International USA and works on urgent human rights situations such as armed conflicts and large-scale represessions of civil society. In his work, he focuses on exploring the intersection of technology and human rights and specializes in utilizing geospatial technologies such as satellite imagery or interactive maps for human rights research and advocacy. Extended Biography

SamSam Gregory

Sam Gregory, Director WITNESS

Sam is the program director at Witness.Org and is an internationally recognized human rights advocate, trainer and video producer who helps people use the power of the moving image and participatory technologies to create human rights change. He directs WITNESS’ programmatic work, and leads on their Cameras Everywhere initiative.


Related Resources and Articles on The Rashomon Project:

“Hey Youtube, we want to sync multiple videos from the same event” By Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic: 25 April 2014

“Social Filmmaking: Do people actually *want* to make videos together?”
 By John Nack, Adobe Blog Posts: 9 January 2014.

“Software Reveals The True Story Behind Citizen Videos” By Virginia Prescott, NPHR: 15 July 2013.

“Multi-shot video can identify civil rights abusers” By Hal Hodson, New Scientist: 28 June 2013.

“The Rashomon Project aims to combat ambiguity in video” By Alistair Reid, Journalism.co.uk: 15 April 2013

We Witness: A Panel on Digital Video, Social Media, and Political Protest

October 2012: Rashomon Project Among Eight Winning Ideas for Apps from the Future by the National Science Foundation / Mozilla Ignite Challenge https://blog.mozillaignite.org/2012/09/ideation-winners/.

Video Description of The Rashomon Project

Beta Version of Interface (Dec 2012)