Video Comments – Revisited

A few years ago, John Schimmel and I worked on an in-time commenting system for video. Specifically we made a WordPress Plugin that interfaced with the built-in WordPress commenting system including user authentication, spam prevention, and so on.

Unfortunately, it no longer works out of the box because we used the QuickTime plugin for video and support for that is waning in the browser space.

Yesterday, I did a quick and dirty update to allow the plugin to use HTML5 video rather than QuickTime. To my delight, it mostly works: Video Commenting Test (try in Safari or Chrome as the video is MP4/h.264).

What still needs to be done is to update the Admin interface to allow multiple video sources and mime type selections for HTML5 video and removing the QuickTime specific portions.

Also, I would love to put an HTML5 canvas on top of this and let people make spacial in-time!

If you are interested, I put it up on GitHub (make sure you use the html5 branch). Pull requests are welcome!

Re: Networked Video in 10 Years : Networked Video == Parseable Video | Not sLop

Interesting, I just got some comment spam on this post from January 2007: Networked Video in 10 Years : Networked Video == Parseable Video | Not sLop.

In the post, I describe the proceedings from a breakout group at that year’s Beyond Broadcast conference.  My conclusion was that online video needs to be more than just video online, that it needs to be parseable (indexed and hyper-linkable and so on).

Unfortunately, for the most part, online video now, is pretty much the same as it was then.  Typically it exists on a web server as a file, is embedded in a web page with a bit of textual information around it and that’s it.  Not a lot of interactivity or time based meta-data as part of it.  Certainly not parseable in the way described in the post.  No easy way to link to specific content or to associate content on the page with any particular point in time in the video.

Fortunately, while that is still mostly the case, it isn’t always the case.  The good folks at Mozilla have been working on an open source JavaScript library called Popcorn.js that allows any time based media (audio/video) to execute code, manipulate a page, display other content and so on.   They have even created a GUI interface so you don’t have to be a JavaScript programmer in order to take advantage.  Nice!

I spent last week, during ITP’s Teach Yourself JavaScript Together, getting familiar with Popcorn and then gave a workshop that showed it (as part of an overall HTML5/JavaScript media workshop).  If you are interested, here is the talk (jump in a little more than 2 minutes):

YouTube Link and the notes are here.

Local Report 2012 | Creative Time Reports

The piece that I helped Robert Whitman create is up on Creative Time.  

We had 90 or so callers send in video and make phone calls via a custom iPhone app, Android app and regular phone number over the course of an hour.

Check it out:

Obscura Cam now in the Android market!

I am happy to report that the app I have been working on in collaboration with Witness and the Guardian Project is now available in the Android Market.

The app, Obscura Cam is the outcome of the first phase of our
Secure Smart Cam
project to create smart phone camera software which allows for greater privacy and security in the capturing and sharing of media.

Of course, it is all open source

The Secure Smart Camera App for Human Rights Video : Video For Change :: A WITNESS blog

Bryan at WITNESS put up a blog post concerning the app that I am working on along with other Guardian folks.

The Secure Smart Camera App for Human Rights Video : Video For Change :: A WITNESS blog.

It’s worth a look if you are interested in the intersection of human rights, mobile technology and citizen media. It’s an open source Android project too!

Major League Baseball and the Live Web

Some time ago, I cut the cord.. disconnected from cable. Some time after that, I got rid of the antenna as well.

I still watch television content, just not over the air or via cable; rather with a Mac Mini hooked up to my TV via the internet.

For the most part this works out just fine. I have no lack of video available due to a Netflix plan for both DVD and streaming (I use the streaming service waaaaaaaaay more than the DVD service), Hulu, and streaming, video podcasts and BitTorrent. (I am by no means alone, many people I know have a similar setup.)

The one part that doesn’t work out so well is when I want to watch a live televised event. TV it turns out is a pretty good medium for dissemination of live events. It is on these occasions that I generally miss having cable or an antenna hooked up to my TV.

Specifically during the last election I had a hard time watching the returns come in via streaming stations, during the last Superbowl I actually ran a long coax cable out to my yard hooked up to an antenna to watch the commercials.

Last week, I decided that I wanted to watch some of the baseball playoffs (this week it is the World Series). Being able to go out and watch the game at a bar is an option, I did so the first night but I can’t do that for every game. For the next game, I decided that I would try to watch it live online.

I noticed at first that the MLB did have some kind of streaming service but I wasn’t ready to plop almost $30 for a subscription..

Instead, I checked for the game on Justin.TV and UStream. Unsurprisingly, it was there (and a lot of people were watching). MLB it seems doesn’t have the resources to shut down (through DMCA takedown notices) pirate streams very quickly. I loved the chat room on the one that I was watching. It was a bit like being at a bar but actually talking when I liked and ignoring when I didn’t (which is a bit hard when the drunk next to you decides to talk to you in a bar).
ustream baseball

The best version I found was a stream of an ESPN broadcast from India. I was watching the game with people from all over the US and the world. It was fun, people were chatting, talking about where they are from, which teams they like and so on. It was also kind of fun to watch the commercials from India especially since I didn’t know what half of the products/companies were. The quality of the stream wasn’t that great, it stuttered at times, it was pixelated, definitely wasn’t good enough to watch full screen and so on..

Unfortunately, being the internet, the chat at times would turn ugly. The trolls showed unfortunately showed up and did everything possible to incite anger in those there to simply watch and talk about the game.

Shortly after that, the stream was shut down due to a DMCA takedown.

This seemed pretty ridiculous to me. The broadcast I was watching was a low quality version of what was already on TV. The commercials were in place, MLB or Fox wasn’t paying for the bandwidth and so on. It was just opening up the game to an audience that couldn’t ordinarily watch it on TV due to where they live or not having a television available. I do understand copyright and the law and I know that this is illegal but I still don’t see the point is doing anything about it. Perhaps if MLB or Fox just made it available they could make a bit of money showing some relevant commercials..

In any case, it was time to go back to and have a look see. After trying to figure out if I could even watch if I paid for it (it seemed I couldn’t since there was a “National Blackout”), I decided to try out the alternate service: I thought that it was actually just a way to watch the playoffs rather than the full service and it seemed it didn’t have the same blackout restrictions.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) that isn’t precisely what you get when you sign up for What you get is a pretty slick service where you can pick and choose which cameras (up to 4 at once) you want to watch. You get the live audio from the TV broadcast. The cameras you can choose from are the same ones they have available for TV (blimp, slow motion and dugout included).
What you don’t get is the actual switching that occurs for the live TV broadcast. This is somewhat problematic since you can only see a portion of the action at any given time and many of the cameras when they aren’t live on air are moving around quite a bit, setting up the next shot and so on. It is actually very difficult to watch a game like baseball in this form.

What was also unfortunate is that the cameras weren’t in-sync. I realize that can be a bit difficult to accomplish but, come-on.. They could have tried to at least make them close. Even if you clicked the “Sync” button on the top of the screen never seemed to match up.

This service while technically interesting had a lot of possibilities but instead it just made me ache for a normal television broadcast. I have some new found respect for live event directors, switching between all of those cams for 4 plus hours of a baseball game is definitely a hard job.

Podcast Aggregation..

I was just looking through the feeds that I subscribe to in iTunes (audio and video podcasts) and noticed that every single one of them had a little exclamation point next to it indicating that it stopped updating as I haven’t watched or listened in a while.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I really really do enjoy watching and listening to many of these. Second, I have listened and watch some of these recently, just not through iTunes (or my iPhone). Most through their website or through online radio (NPR shows on WNYC).

With broadband pretty ubiquitous and even phones being able to be used for listening to or watching online audio/video, aggregators are becoming much less useful (and increasingly wasteful when considering bandwidth usage).

Since really the only reason I still have to use iTunes as an aggregator is to sync things to my iPhone for viewing on the subway (where I don’t have network access), I decided to pare down the list quite a bit.

What I took off and instead will just watch/listen to online:
Alive in Baghdad
Ask A Ninja

(and a bunch that are defunct such as Boing Boing Boing, EFF Line Noise, The Show with Ze Frank, We Are The Media, WGBH Lab Showcase, <sniff>)

What I left on for iPhone consumption (mostly audio since I typically am doing something else like email on my iPhone on the subway):
Joe Frank Radio
NPR Science Friday
On The Media
The Onion Radio News
The TV of Tomorrow Show with Tracy Swedlow
They Might Be Giants Podcast Podcast
TEDTalks (Video)
This American Life

I also have a bunch that I haven’t decided yet for one reason or another. Mostly they are done by friends of mine and I just love to see their updates (bandwidth and space be damned):
Tech Trek TV, pouringdown, Ryan is Hungry, momentshowing,

(Nothing here is new, just wanted to take note of it)

Online Video Player Survey

For a project that I am working on, we are doing a quick survey to see what features and functionality people are interested in with regards to online video players. This doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive survey of the various players out there, rather it is something that we will be using to gauge what people like and dislike in the range of features.

If you have a moment, check it out:
Online Video Player Survey

ComVu – Mobile Broadcasting

Wow.. Steve Garfield just pointed me to: ComVu – Mobile Broadcasting . Live streaming from my mobile phone.

This is something I have been looking for and/or contemplating developing for quite some time.

What is especially nice is that they don’t seem to be doing anything funky with QuickTime so I can embed myself live anywhere and it should work any time that I am live: MobVCasting: Double Wow..