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HD video: on my own domain, archive.org, blip.tv, Vimeo or Youtube?

There’s so much video content available on the web today, with many different styles for sharing.  The variety of considerations can lead one person to favour an approach that isn’t quite right for someone else.  After months of trial-and-error, I’ve compiled a comparison of web movies hosted on (1) my own domain, (2) Community Video on archive.org, (3) blip.tv, (4) Vimeo, and (5) Youtube.  I was motivated to share the experience of the Beat, Breaks & Culture festival at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto on July 11, in which my third son Noah performed in the final battle between Ground Illusionz and The F.A.M.

I’ve summarized my assessments in a table near the bottom of the (long) page.  The essential considerations include:

(a) Website blocking / Internet filtering? Is web site blocking (more formally known as Internet filtering) by national governments (e.g. by China and other countries); in public libraries (e.g. content judged offensive or inappropriate); or in workplaces (e.g non-work-related use) a concern?
(b) Media containers? The H.264 (MPEG-4) standard is emerging as a new leader, with Flash Video common as a plugin to most browsers but not supported on Apple products.  Digital cameras may produce AVI, MOV (Quicktime) or other formats, while different browsers natively support Theora (Ogg Video) and WebM.
(c) Browser embedding and linking? Once the web movie is on the Internet, how easy is embedding into a blog post, and/or creating a web link?
(d) Streaming and downloadable? Is it possible to both watch the video online in a browser, and download it onto a mobile device for later replay?
(e) Input formats and transcoding? What video formats are accepted on web sites, and/or is transcoding conversion required before uploading?
(f) Uploading (and transcoding) Is content uploaded through a browser or fat client, and is online transcoding an option?
(g) Streaming performance? Since video files are large, how do they look when streamed on the Internet?
(h) Copyright? Does the web provider have legal constraints or guidance?
(i) Cost Will an outlay of money be required (or desirable, if effort can be reduced)?

We’re on the edge of a emerging standard that is well described in the Dive into HTML5 online book.  We may be approaching an era where we can share movies and not have to worry (too much) about obsolescence.  Let’s look at each of the alternatives.

1. HD video content on my own domain and web site

Streaming media is better controlled by servers running RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) rather than the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) designed for web pages mostly of text.  Under HTTP, however, pseudo-streaming has recently become an option within the reach of do-it-yourself types.

Watch the larger 720x400px video or the original size 1280x720px video hosted on coevolving.com.

This pseudo-streaming takes advantage of the open source VideoJS script, either on manually-coded HTML5 pages or with WordPress plugin scripts.  VideoJS builds on the Video For Everybody code that determines an appropriate video format for the player in the browser.

There’s so much video content available on the web today, with many different styles for sharing.  The variety of considerations can lead one person to favour an approach that isn’t quite right for someone else.  After months of trial-and-error, I’ve compiled a comparison of web movies hosted on (1) my own domain, (2) Community Video on archive.org, (3) blip.tv, (4) Vimeo, and (5) Youtube.  I was motivated to share the experience of the Beat, Breaks & Culture festival at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto on July 11, in which my third son Noah performed in the final battle between Ground Illusionz and The F.A.M.

I’ve summarized my assessments in a table near the bottom of the (long) page.  The essential considerations include:

(a) Website blocking / Internet filtering? Is web site blocking (more formally known as Internet filtering) by national governments (e.g. by China and other countries); in public libraries (e.g. content judged offensive or inappropriate); or in workplaces (e.g non-work-related use) a concern?
(b) Media containers? The H.264 (MPEG-4) standard is emerging as a new leader, with Flash Video common as a plugin to most browsers but not supported on Apple products.  Digital cameras may produce AVI, MOV (Quicktime) or other formats, while different browsers natively support Theora (Ogg Video) and WebM.
(c) Browser embedding and linking? Once the web movie is on the Internet, how easy is embedding into a blog post, and/or creating a web link?
(d) Streaming and downloadable? Is it possible to both watch the video online in a browser, and download it onto a mobile device for later replay?
(e) Input formats and transcoding? What video formats are accepted on web sites, and/or is transcoding conversion required before uploading?
(f) Uploading (and transcoding) Is content uploaded through a browser or fat client, and is online transcoding an option?
(g) Streaming performance? Since video files are large, how do they look when streamed on the Internet?
(h) Copyright? Does the web provider have legal constraints or guidance?
(i) Cost Will an outlay of money be required (or desirable, if effort can be reduced)?

We’re on the edge of a emerging standard that is well described in the Dive into HTML5 online book.  We may be approaching an era where we can share movies and not have to worry (too much) about obsolescence.  Let’s look at each of the alternatives.

1. HD video content on my own domain and web site

Streaming media is better controlled by servers running RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) rather than the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) designed for web pages mostly of text.  Under HTTP, however, pseudo-streaming has recently become an option within the reach of do-it-yourself types.

Watch the larger 720x400px video or the original size 1280x720px video hosted on coevolving.com.

This pseudo-streaming takes advantage of the open source VideoJS script, either on manually-coded HTML5 pages or with WordPress plugin scripts.  VideoJS builds on the Video For Everybody code that determines an appropriate video format for the player in the browser.

Digital photos: capturing, archiving, printing, web sharing, photoblogging

Digital cameras have become so common that they’re often now a feature in mobile phones and audio players.  Pressing a button to capture a snapshot of time is so easy.  The workflow of storing, printing and sharing those images is complicated.  Many would like to return to the days when we would just take the film cartridge out of the camera, and drop it to a photo lab for processing (often in about an hour).

People take more photographs digitally than they did with film cameras.  In a six-month study in 2000, when digital cameras were relatively uncommon, subjects (aged 24 to 38) took 200 to 1000 (with an average about 500) photographs, compared to their prior non-digital accumulated collection of 300 to 3000 (with an average of about 1000) pictures (Rodden & Wood 2003).  This means that when digital cameras were relatively expensive — and camera phones didn’t yet exist — people were averaging about 1 to 5 photos per day!

People presumably use cameras because they want to be able to retrieve the images later.  In a study of 18 parents, the value of long-retrieval of family pictures was high (i.e. around 4.7 on a scale of 5).  On experiments of 71 retrieval tasks — finding birthdays, family trips, first pictures of a child, etc. — 61% were successful, taking about 2.5 minutes each.  On the 39% of unsuccessful retrievals, subjects gave up after about 4 minutes  (Whittaker et al. 2010).  This effectively means that, on average, nearly 40% of the digital photos taken last year are lost, and considerable persistence is needed for them to be refound.

I. What activities, platforms and artifacts are involved with managing digital photos?

Digitalization in photography has replaced trips to the photo lab with the copying of electronic files.  Industry standards have stabilized so that image files can be readily copied from cameras to personal computing devices, and onto web servers.  Here’s a diagram of some of the activities, platforms and artifacts in digital photography.

digital_photo_workflow

Based on this diagram, let me (a) pose some questions for reflection on the choices we implicitly make about managing photos, (b) outline some popular alternatives, and (c) describe the way I do it, myself.

II. What type of photographer am I?

Digital cameras have become so common that they’re often now a feature in mobile phones and audio players.  Pressing a button to capture a snapshot of time is so easy.  The workflow of storing, printing and sharing those images is complicated.  Many would like to return to the days when we would just take the film cartridge out of the camera, and drop it to a photo lab for processing (often in about an hour).

People take more photographs digitally than they did with film cameras.  In a six-month study in 2000, when digital cameras were relatively uncommon, subjects (aged 24 to 38) took 200 to 1000 (with an average about 500) photographs, compared to their prior non-digital accumulated collection of 300 to 3000 (with an average of about 1000) pictures (Rodden & Wood 2003).  This means that when digital cameras were relatively expensive — and camera phones didn’t yet exist — people were averaging about 1 to 5 photos per day!

People presumably use cameras because they want to be able to retrieve the images later.  In a study of 18 parents, the value of long-retrieval of family pictures was high (i.e. around 4.7 on a scale of 5).  On experiments of 71 retrieval tasks — finding birthdays, family trips, first pictures of a child, etc. — 61% were successful, taking about 2.5 minutes each.  On the 39% of unsuccessful retrievals, subjects gave up after about 4 minutes  (Whittaker et al. 2010).  This effectively means that, on average, nearly 40% of the digital photos taken last year are lost, and considerable persistence is needed for them to be refound.

I. What activities, platforms and artifacts are involved with managing digital photos?

Digitalization in photography has replaced trips to the photo lab with the copying of electronic files.  Industry standards have stabilized so that image files can be readily copied from cameras to personal computing devices, and onto web servers.  Here’s a diagram of some of the activities, platforms and artifacts in digital photography.

digital_photo_workflow

Based on this diagram, let me (a) pose some questions for reflection on the choices we implicitly make about managing photos, (b) outline some popular alternatives, and (c) describe the way I do it, myself.

II. What type of photographer am I?

Blogging, microblogging, webstreaming

While some of my activity on the Internet is recreational, I continue to play with web tools to learn about the ever-evolving technology.  While the average person has become comfortable with e-mail, web feeds are still pretty much a mystery to many.  The RSS and Atom specifications first used by newswires has become the principal form of web syndication for blogs and social media.

I’ve recently rearranged my pattern of web use (again).  To encourage readers to think about how they use the Internet, let me pose four questions.

  • 1. Which principles on web content do I have in mind?
  • 2. How do I post content, and flow it?
  • 3. Why have I recently changed my use?
  • 4. What consideration should web users have for their content?

With the way that technology continues to evolve, the specific web applications may change … but the pattern should remain the same.

1. Which principles on web content do I have in mind?

My attitude is reflected in two ideas:  (a) open content with attribution, and (b) open platforms with interoperability.

(a) Open content with attribution reflects that I like to share my learning with other people.   Posting the content on the Internet improves access and distribution.  I understand the workings of copyright — there’s a Creative Commons license on this blog — which means that I retain ownership of my words, on the condition that if someone wants to formally cite the work, he or she should cite me as the source.  I’m not an author who makes his living at writing, so simple acknowledgement is normally sufficient.

(b) Open platforms with interoperability means that I don’t want my content inappropriately trapped in places inaccessible to others.  I appreciate instances when content should remain private, respecting the needs of others and/or commercial conditions, but secrecy should be the exception rather than the rule.  The content should flow freely (i.e. free as in liberty), rather than having to stumble through technological obstacles.

2. How do I post content, and flow it?

With these principles in mind, I’m reforming the way that I interact on the web.  Here’s a diagram (linked to another page in an interactive map).

20091126_webstream-copy_475px

While some of my activity on the Internet is recreational, I continue to play with web tools to learn about the ever-evolving technology.  While the average person has become comfortable with e-mail, web feeds are still pretty much a mystery to many.  The RSS and Atom specifications first used by newswires has become the principal form of web syndication for blogs and social media.

I’ve recently rearranged my pattern of web use (again).  To encourage readers to think about how they use the Internet, let me pose four questions.

  • 1. Which principles on web content do I have in mind?
  • 2. How do I post content, and flow it?
  • 3. Why have I recently changed my use?
  • 4. What consideration should web users have for their content?

With the way that technology continues to evolve, the specific web applications may change … but the pattern should remain the same.

1. Which principles on web content do I have in mind?

My attitude is reflected in two ideas:  (a) open content with attribution, and (b) open platforms with interoperability.

(a) Open content with attribution reflects that I like to share my learning with other people.   Posting the content on the Internet improves access and distribution.  I understand the workings of copyright — there’s a Creative Commons license on this blog — which means that I retain ownership of my words, on the condition that if someone wants to formally cite the work, he or she should cite me as the source.  I’m not an author who makes his living at writing, so simple acknowledgement is normally sufficient.

(b) Open platforms with interoperability means that I don’t want my content inappropriately trapped in places inaccessible to others.  I appreciate instances when content should remain private, respecting the needs of others and/or commercial conditions, but secrecy should be the exception rather than the rule.  The content should flow freely (i.e. free as in liberty), rather than having to stumble through technological obstacles.

2. How do I post content, and flow it?

With these principles in mind, I’m reforming the way that I interact on the web.  Here’s a diagram (linked to another page in an interactive map).

20091126_webstream-copy_475px

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