The Not Ready for Prime Time HTML5 Players

HTML5 video is taking over the world! It’s just that the world isn’t ready for it yet. Flash has powered both good and bad websites for years now, but video publishing has been democratized by the ability of anyone to publish their content by embedding a Flash player into a blog post or a web page. Shoot your video, upload it to YouTube, and publish. Simple.

And now, the downsides. Flash is a plugin in a web browser, which needs to be installed – and updated on a regular basis. The other downside? It doesn’t work on iThings – iPods, iPhones, iPads. Flash is having it’s performance problems on other mobile devices, and it doesn’t seem to be that Apple is just making it up.

So how does this all clear the way for HTML5 video? What is HTML5 anyway? The what is it question is answered by a very informative website called Dive Into HTML5 by Mark Pilgrim. HTML5 is (the shortened description) a specification about how components work in a web page, but they include fancy new capabilities like animation and video, and more interaction – you know, like Flash – but without the plugin. It does it natively with whatever browser you have, as long as the browser supports the capabilities. It’s why HTML5 is not quite ready for prime time yet. Not all the browsers fully support it. The Internet Explorer browsers have been particularly slow to adopt it, though IE9 will make up quite a bit of the distance that its predecessors left it.

HTML5 video is being adopted more quickly that the other HTML5 bits because of the Flash deficiencies mentioned previously. However, the browser support issue needs to be dealt with. A common way forward is to program for the HTML5 video and then have a “fallback” plan in case it isn’t supported in the browser. In other words program so that Flash kicks in if there is no HTML5 video support. Do a search for “html5 flash fallback” and you get a bucket load of procedures.

Now this is where you should be shouting, “You’re doing it all wrong!” Why? Because the HTML5 support is immature, and it shows. The built in players just don’t have the functionality of the Flash players. Use the same search terms for falling back to HTML5 and you get much less information. But that’s how it should be done. Look, Flash works great in the modern web browsers because it has been around for so long. It has years of development on its side. So use it. Then if your device doesn’t support Flash (I’m looking at you iPhone and iPad), fall back to HTML5. A great tutorial by Lee Brimelow shows you how it’s done.

A word of caution is that the HTML5 fallback works for standard web pages, but it gets tricky to make it work in a WordPress installation. Luckily there is a nice plugin for that. Rodrigo Violante has created the HTML5 and Flash Video Player plugin which allows that Flash player with HTML5 fallback functionality, and it works like a charm. It should be noted that sites like YouTube and Vimeo are also using a Flash interface, but support for the iDevices is there as well (you need a Vimeo “Plus” account for their mobile, non-iPad, support). However, keep in mind – it’s still early. We’re still in the dress rehearsal phase.

 

Posted in Audio & Video, New Media, video | Comments Off on The Not Ready for Prime Time HTML5 Players

Evom. Is it Mov(i)e backwards?

Welcome to the new school year. I’m still shaking my head about where the summer went. I’m also still grinding gears from vacation last week, but despite those issues, I’m very excited about 2010/11 at UMW. While perusing my RSS feed today, Lifehacker reminded me about Evom, a Mac only (sorry) video converter that is super slick and easy. If it were on the PC it could be the one program I would recommend to do a myriad of tasks.

Evom window
Evom comes from a company called Little App Factory, makers of the Mac DVD ripping software RipIt! I don’t know where the name Evom came from, but the program works great. It converts many types of videos, and uses the ffmpeg engine to perform its magic. The beauty of the program is the ease in which it gets video into the right configuration for Apple devices. You drag a file from your hard drive into the interface and you get asked which device you want to prepare the file for.

Evom convert
Choosing the iTunes or iPod buttons gives you the option convert the video, or to ditch the video and just save as an MP3 audio file, so it’s handy for ripping audio from video files. You can also prepare videos for an Apple TV (and therefore iPad), or for uploading to YouTube. It’ll even take care of the uploading part (supply your YouTube credentials). You also have the option to simply save the file to a folder anywhere on your computer.

OK. So lots of converters do similar things to Evom. Big deal. Well, for me the big deal is that it can also convert videos that are ON YouTube. If you’re using Safari or Firefox, simply drag the YouTube link from the address bar to the Evom window, and then choose your destination. The downloading and conversion can take a while, depending on connection speed, length of the video, etc., but it all happens in the background. So it’s YouTube to iPod, or iPhone, or iPad, or Apple TV, or to PowerPoint or Keynote, in minimal steps.

One wrench in the works, and it’s not Evom’s fault, is that the Google Chrome browser doesn’t allow the dragging of links into the Evom window. I don’t know what prevents this, but there’s a simple solution. Simply copy the link, with a Command-c shortcut, or by clicking the Edit menu and Copy, then paste the link into Evom (use Command-p or choose Edit>Paste in Evom). Since Google Chrome still does not have a YouTube downloader extension, this is a great solution for grabbing those videos.

One final word about Evom. It’s free!

I know.

You’re welcome.

Standard disclaimer about grabbing YouTube videos or ripping audio from files. Remember there are copyright issues.

 Flickr photo by ShellyS

Posted in Audio & Video, converter, itunes, New Media, video, YouTube | Comments Off on Evom. Is it Mov(i)e backwards?

Recording DVD Segments on a Mac

In the “how long were you going to have that feature and not tell me” category comes the ability to record in the Mac version of VLC. What it allows you to do is record segments from a DVD. You see, in the Windows version of VLC (since version 1.0 came on the scene), you have been able to record a DVD that is playing. The Windows version has a record button in the program (you need to select View>Advanced Controls to make it available). Once you do that you can hit the button to start recording, then hit it again to stop.

For almost a year now, and even during my recent NMC presentation, I have been under the assumption that this was a Windows only feature. In exploring the new version 1.1 for the Mac, I discovered in the keyboard shortcuts area a “record” option. Invoking “Shift-Command-rOption-Command-r starts a recording, and pressing the same key combo again, stops the recording.

This, of course, dramatically helps the workflow of using clips from DVDs on the Mac. After saving the recording, I would use Handbrake to convert it into a web ready MP4 file, then upload it to a web server.

See my screencast on Recording Segments from a DVD. Insert the standard disclaimer here about copying DVDs and Fair Use.

Posted in Audio & Video, Blog, New Media, video, VLC | Comments Off on Recording DVD Segments on a Mac

ACCS 2010

Fast, Cheap, and Under Control – March 17, 2010

This information has been updated and is now located on the Fast, Cheap, and Under Control page.

Posted in blip.tv, Presentation | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

iMovie HD

Apple’s iMovie HD (version 6) is the venerable video editor that users were so fond of that Apple offered it as a download after releasing iMovie ’08, which was not well received. The current version is iMovie ’09, which is included with all new Macintosh computer purchases or available separately in the iLife suite. iMovie HD is no longer available for download. If you still have iMovie HD available to you, it is a very capable editor and one to consider before you upgrade to something like Final Cut Express.

The video above is the introductory video from a playlist that you can use as a guide for how to accomplish basic tasks in iMovie HD. Each video will play in turn (with a slight delay between videos). You can view an alternative version of the playlist that allows slightly easier navigation of individual videos.

iMovie HD 6 Getting Started Manual (PDF)

Posted in Audio & Video, imovie, mac, video, YouTube | Comments Off on iMovie HD

iMovie HD

Apple’s iMovie HD (version 6) is the venerable video editor that users were so fond of that Apple offered it as a download after releasing iMovie ’08, which was not well received. The current version is iMovie ’09, which is included with all new Macintosh computer purchases or available separately in the iLife suite. iMovie HD is no longer available for download. If you still have iMovie HD available to you, it is a very capable editor and one to consider before you upgrade to something like Final Cut Express.

The video above is the introductory video from a playlist that you can use as a guide for how to accomplish basic tasks in iMovie HD. Each video will play in turn (with a slight delay between videos). You can view an alternative version of the playlist that allows slightly easier navigation of individual videos.

iMovie HD 6 Getting Started Manual (PDF)

Posted in Audio & Video, imovie, mac, video, YouTube | Comments Off on iMovie HD

iMovie HD

Apple’s iMovie HD (version 6) is the venerable video editor that users were so fond of that Apple offered it as a download after releasing iMovie ’08, which was not well received. The current version is iMovie ’09, which is included with all new Macintosh computer purchases or available separately in the iLife suite. iMovie HD is no longer available for download. If you still have iMovie HD available to you, it is a very capable editor and one to consider before you upgrade to something like Final Cut Express.

The video above is the introductory video from a playlist that you can use as a guide for how to accomplish basic tasks in iMovie HD. Each video will play in turn (with a slight delay between videos). You can view an alternative version of the playlist that allows slightly easier navigation of individual videos.

iMovie HD 6 Getting Started Manual (PDF)

Posted in Audio & Video, imovie, mac, video, YouTube | Comments Off on iMovie HD

I need new media space!

DVD and HD Collection (3)

One day, all of the people on the Internet will have an unlimited area to store all the digital media files they could ever want. Storage space is getting cheaper and digital files are getting smaller with the use of better compression techniques. What do people do now though? Let me give you a couple of situations where the storage dilemma rears its ugly head. Here at the University of Mary Washington, we’re moving to a hosted Blackboard solution, and the dilemma is that there will now be a smaller storage area (100MB quota) for files associated with a given course. For some faculty that could mean three, two, or even one PowerPoint presentation.

The other situation is our umwblogs.org installation also has a 100MB limit (though we do have some control over that limit). Where will users store their video and audio content? Privacy is also a concern for these files. How do we keep the control over who sees a PowerPoint presentation? YouTube is a great place to store video, but can those videos be made private? This article will provide those answers and more. Luckily, those answers involve using very cheap web services (as in free).

Make your files smaller

No matter where you store your files, you will want to make them as small as possible. When it comes to PowerPoint, keeping the presentation simple will make for smaller file sizes. However, if you use pictures, your presentations can balloon in size. So here is a way to make the pictures in your presentation smaller.

Use “sharing” web sites

An alternative to sharing the PowerPoint files directly with the recipient, either through something like Blackboard, or through email, is to use a sharing site. Slideshare is a service that allows the sharing of PowerPoint presentations. You create an account, then upload your file and it gets converted into a Flash version for presenting on the web. You can present the small version or use the full-screen option. The Flash version does not include the animations or transitions that you use, but there is an option for downloading the original file which will keep those effects in tact. There is also an option for creating a private web address for sharing the file with only selected people. You can upload up to a 100MB file.

If you want to store and share video, we do recommend YouTube. Even though videos can be made private, faculty may be reticent to use it because of YouTube’s free-form nature and the sometimes objectionable content.

If that is an issue, we recommend a service called DivShare. For your video, as well as audio storage needs, DivShare will give you up to 5GB (gigabytes) of space to store your media. Just as a warning, you are allowed only 10GB worth of downloads per month, so you may at some point want to limit who you share your files with. You can make any audio or video files private. They use an un-guessable web address to link to the media. A built-in audio or video player will play the file on the web page. DivShare also supports images, PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents, as well as PowerPoint files. It converts those files to Flash documents as well.

Using UMWBlogs

All of the sharing sites we mentioned, YouTube, Slideshare, and DivShare, and others we didn’t mention, all work very well in concert with the umwblogs.org environment (in fact many were created with blogging platforms in mind). UMWBlogs also offers a variety of privacy protections, and it functions in a much superior way to Blackboard in terms of media presentation. You may want to consider using UMWBlogs for a course website.

Creative Commons License photo credit: William Hook

Posted in Audio & Video, Blackboard, New Media, Powerpoint, video, YouTube | Comments Off on I need new media space!

I need new media space!

DVD and HD Collection (3)

One day, all of the people on the Internet will have an unlimited area to store all the digital media files they could ever want. Storage space is getting cheaper and digital files are getting smaller with the use of better compression techniques. What do people do now though? Let me give you a couple of situations where the storage dilemma rears its ugly head. Here at the University of Mary Washington, we’re moving to a hosted Blackboard solution, and the dilemma is that there will now be a smaller storage area (100MB quota) for files associated with a given course. For some faculty that could mean three, two, or even one PowerPoint presentation.

The other situation is our umwblogs.org installation also has a 100MB limit (though we do have some control over that limit). Where will users store their video and audio content? Privacy is also a concern for these files. How do we keep the control over who sees a PowerPoint presentation? YouTube is a great place to store video, but can those videos be made private? This article will provide those answers and more. Luckily, those answers involve using very cheap web services (as in free).

Make your files smaller

No matter where you store your files, you will want to make them as small as possible. When it comes to PowerPoint, keeping the presentation simple will make for smaller file sizes. However, if you use pictures, your presentations can balloon in size. So here is a way to make the pictures in your presentation smaller.

Use “sharing” web sites

An alternative to sharing the PowerPoint files directly with the recipient, either through something like Blackboard, or through email, is to use a sharing site. Slideshare is a service that allows the sharing of PowerPoint presentations. You create an account, then upload your file and it gets converted into a Flash version for presenting on the web. You can present the small version or use the full-screen option. The Flash version does not include the animations or transitions that you use, but there is an option for downloading the original file which will keep those effects in tact. There is also an option for creating a private web address for sharing the file with only selected people. You can upload up to a 100MB file.

If you want to store and share video, we do recommend YouTube. Even though videos can be made private, faculty may be reticent to use it because of YouTube’s free-form nature and the sometimes objectionable content.

If that is an issue, we recommend a service called DivShare. For your video, as well as audio storage needs, DivShare will give you up to 5GB (gigabytes) of space to store your media. Just as a warning, you are allowed only 10GB worth of downloads per month, so you may at some point want to limit who you share your files with. You can make any audio or video files private. They use an un-guessable web address to link to the media. A built-in audio or video player will play the file on the web page. DivShare also supports images, PDF documents, Microsoft Word documents, as well as PowerPoint files. It converts those files to Flash documents as well.

Using UMWBlogs

All of the sharing sites we mentioned, YouTube, Slideshare, and DivShare, and others we didn’t mention, all work very well in concert with the umwblogs.org environment (in fact many were created with blogging platforms in mind). UMWBlogs also offers a variety of privacy protections, and it functions in a much superior way to Blackboard in terms of media presentation. You may want to consider using UMWBlogs for a course website.

Creative Commons License photo credit: William Hook

Posted in Audio & Video, Blackboard, New Media, Powerpoint, video, YouTube | Comments Off on I need new media space!

Screencast: From VideoSpin to YouTube

screenshot_videospin_intro

Here is a screencast of an example editing session using VideoSpin. We take the video that we digitized from Windows Movie Maker, import it, add it to the timeline, insert transitions and titles, and then send it to YouTube.

Posted in Audio & Video, editing, howto, Screencast, video, YouTube | Comments Off on Screencast: From VideoSpin to YouTube