Official Rules

Please read the following rules for your entries. By submitting an entry you agree to be bound by these rules.

Call for entries: This is a call for original documentary videos that explore and document the world around us. The top videos chosen will be featured as part of our new video series, Smithsonian In Motion. The winners may also be interviewed and highlighted by Any entry, even those not selected as winners, may also be showcased and eligible for additional prizes.

Entries will be accepted from February 1st, 2014 through May 31st, 2014 at 5:00 PM, EST.

Who May Enter: Videographers who are 18 years old as of February 1st, 2014, or older—except for individuals affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, including employees, emeriti, Regents, trustees, interns, volunteers, fellows, research associates and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses) and others living in their households—are eligible. The Smithsonian will determine an entrant's eligibility in its sole discretion.

What to Enter: Eligible videos are documentaries of up to up to 10 minutes in total length and 2 GB in size. File formats to be used: MOV, MP4, MPG, WMV. The videos must have been created (filmed and edited) since January 1st, 2013. The Smithsonian reserves the right to ask any entrant to provide written consent for certain or all persons appearing in the entered documentary or, in the case of a minor, the subject's parent or guardian and provide it to the Smithsonian upon request.

A sample release is available at Failure to comply may result in disqualification. Videos that have won any other contests or festivals are not eligible. We define winning as having won a grand prize or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place overall. Do not submit videos that are off-topic, partisan-political, contain personal attacks or expletives, or are otherwise abusive, threatening, unlawful (under any applicable federal, state, or local law, regulation, or rule), harassing, discriminatory, libelous, obscene, false, pornographic, or that infringe on the rights of any third party. Videos that do not comply with the rules will be disqualified.

Reminder to Respect Copyright: You must be the original author of the content that appears in your submission or have permission to use copyright protected material. If you are considering using existing materials (music, photos, etc.) for your entry you must secure permission and provide documentation of that permission.

How to Enter: Please submit videos and requested contact and contextual information on-line through our web site We do not accept videos submitted through the mail. Incomplete entries may be disqualified.

All Entrants Grant the Smithsonian Permission: By entering the contest, entrants grant the Smithsonian Institution, and those authorized by the Smithsonian, an irrevocable royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any purpose. Any video reproduced will include a credit as feasible. The Smithsonian and those authorized by it will not be required to pay any consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with the foregoing uses.

Entry Deadline: All entries must be received through the Smithsonian magazine web site by 5 pm Eastern Time on May 31st, 2014.

Evaluation Criteria: Eligible videos will be judged by the following criteria:

1. Creativity — overall style and innovation.

2. Execution — technical (image, audio and editing) execution. How good does the image look and sound. How effective is the pacing?

3. Originality — how does the entry stand out from the rest of the entries?

4. Story/Tone — how effective is the story being told? Or the tone that is being conveyed?

5. Exposition — how accurately are concepts and information communicated?

Judging Process: A panel of judges that includes editors of Smithsonian, Editorial Team of Smithsonian Channel, and others will review all entries and select finalists (number of finalists will depend on quantity and quality of entries) leading to the selection of one Smithsonian In Motion grand prize winner, eight category winners, and one Viewers' Choice winner. Viewers' Choice judging will occur after the panel of judges has selected the finalists on July 15th, 2014. Public voting will begin on July 15th and end July 31st. The video with the most votes will earn the Viewers' Choice award. All the winners will be announced August 11th, 2014.

Judges: Judging of the annual contest will be conducted by the editors of Smithsonian and selected judges.  The Grand Prize winner and the category winners will be chosen by the judges from the finalists. The Viewers' Choice winner will be selected through online voting as described above. Decisions of the judges will be final. Please do not contact us about the status of entries.

Prizes: Seven winners will be selected, one as a Grand Prize winner, one Viewers' Choice, and five category winners.

Grand Prize Winner: The grand prize winner will receive $2,000.00 and the Grand Prize winner's video will be shown on Smithsonian Channel On Demand.

Viewers' Choice: The winner of the Viewers' Choice award will receive $1000.00, and the Viewers' Choice Winner's video may be shown on Smithsonian Channel on Demand.

Category Winners: The winner of each category will receive $200.00. Winners, finalists, and entrants may receive additional noncash prizes. Recipients of prizes are responsible for paying any taxes they owe on the prizes.

Release and Additional Legal Rules: Each entrant holds the Smithsonian, its regents, officers, employees, fellows, interns, research associates, and volunteers, and SNI/SI Networks L.L.C., its officers and employees, harmless from and against all claims of any nature arising in connection with the entrant's participation in the contest, acceptance or use of prize. The Smithsonian and its regents, officers, employees, fellows, interns, research associates, and volunteers, and SNI/SI Networks L.L.C., its officers and employees, shall not be liable for any costs, damages, injuries, or other claims incurred as a result of any entrant's participation in the contest or winner's acceptance and usage of a prize.

The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law. The Smithsonian reserves the right to cancel the contest or modify these rules at its sole discretion. In the event of a dispute regarding the winners, the Smithsonian reserves the right to award or not award the prizes in its sole discretion. The Smithsonian reserves the right to disqualify any entrant whose entry or conduct appears in any way to: inhibit the enjoyment of others; tamper with the competition; violate these rules; infringe on the rights of third parties; or act in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Decisions of the Smithsonian are final and binding.

Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging. Winners must sign an affidavit, license, release and declaration of eligibility, and will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on a prize.