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Heavy Rain, Heavy Crowds

Rainy weather hampered the typically upbeat tone of the first day at SXSW, but it didn't stop the rush of the crowd.

Even on Thursday night, more than 12 hours before the conference officially began, hundreds of people crowded into the Austin Convention Center to pick up their registration badges.

It had SXSW regulars grumbling that the once-accessible gathering might be becoming a little too popular. For example, the "Bruno" preview footage scheduled for Sunday night -- comprised of three clips from the upcoming movie and totaling a mere 22 minutes -- is available to non-badge holders, guaranteeing a chaotic scene.

It’s a good thing that many of the new tactics this year included revamped attempts at crowd control. In the past, dedicated SXSW attendees had to rush from one location to another, zipping across downtown Austin while navigating a packed schedule. This year, SXSW has introduced a shuttle bus that runs until 2 a.m., making it particularly easier to reach the Alama Drafthouse in South Lamar, which lies significantly outside the central region of the conference.

Organizers also have implemented a unique ticketing strategy for mollifying fears of overpacked screenings. Unlike other festivals, SXSW actually has a fairly egalitarian approach to access: Anyone can buy the same badges allotted to members of the media, as long as you show up in time for admission. But now badge holders can pick up elite "tickets" to screenings up to two days in advance that let them zip to the front of the lines prior.

But there’s even an easier way to see some of the festival’s offerings. Cinetic Rights Management announced today that several features from 2008 have become available for a limited time on Hulu. These include the Harry Potter fan documentary "We Are Wizards" and Mary Bronstein's "mumblecore" feature "Yeast."

The latter film stars erstwhile SXSW darling Greta Gerwig, who was recently cast alongside Ben Stiller in the upcoming "Greenburg." Such success stories have become expected from the increasingly visible scene at SXSW.