Archive | August 2012

The party-goer’s guide to H.264 support

If you’re at one of those parties where you find yourself discussing H.264, then you’re probably going to be hard-pressed attracting the attention of that hot-looking person of your opposite sex standing just by the window looking wistful while downing the Rioja. So, just how do you make H.264 /HTML 5.0 sound sexy while still seeming smart and not too dorky?

BELOW: At the Streaming Media East conference in New York City, video expert Jan Ozer led a how-to presentation on encoding for Apple iOS devices. It’s in Flash…

It’s challenging… 

Sure, you could try talking about how previous online video codecs didn’t have the support of two big industry standard bodies (ISO and ITU) which mean the electronic components to support other codecs ended up becoming more expensive.  Read More…

Is this the future for video conferencing?

Video-conferencing’s such a great idea, but if you have a face like mine you’d probably benefit from make-up and good lighting before you get too involved in in-depth chat.

The other limitation is that these sessions tend to become fixed, a row of little static heads on screen all chattering earnestly away. In order to show people things you need to move them into the front of your camera. How can you put a little more life into these sessions?

That’s why we’re interested in the possibilities of new start-up firm, Double Robotics, which has an idea that could make video conferencing just a little more personal — an iPad mounted on a Segway-style roller. Read More…

So, what is Unified Communication?

One of the things we do here at Dreamtek is help customers develop effective Unified Communications (UC) collaboration solutions. We thought we’d take a few moments to explain what that actually means.

Read More…

Tools for citizen journalists

The Arab Spring proved the effectiveness of on-the-spot news reporting by non-professional witnesses, bringing images of social and political upheaval and giving major news organisations and the public glimpses of what was happening, when it was happening. Here we’ve assembled a few simple iPhone (and Android) tools anyone can use when they find themselves living the news.

[CTV News President Robert Hurst on the success of the Dejero LIVE Platform during the 2010 Winter Olympics Olympic Torch Relay. (Which didn’t use an iPhone.]

Dejero LIVE

LIVE + is a portable broadcasting system that lets iPhone users capture and deliver live HD or SD video using a mobile network or Wi-Fi. The system intelligently shares load between the chosen network(s) in order to ensure the best possible quality.

The app also makes use of both front and rear-facing cameras so reporters can film themselves offering up some commentary on what is taking place. The system also supports broadcast quality cameras when used with the company’s hardware solutions. For on the fly reports, the iPhone app is free, but requires Dejero LIVE + Broadcaster server.

Citizenside

An app and an active and busy online portal offering up a host of freshly-captured local content, the iPhone/Android app supports Facebook sign-up, in-app filming and tools such as voting, social network integration and email sharing of content.

The limitation of course is the need to set up an account, a step that could leave some reporters exposed to potentially being identified in situations of social/political instability.

The website is quite interesting, as it offers an interesting location for alternative news and reporting of events which might otherwise remain unknown. What makes it even more interesting is that the world’s third largest news agency, AFP, owns shares in Citizenside and frequently offers up its content.

Completure

Developed directly in response to the Arab Spring by a Lebanese national, Completure (formerly known as Signal) lets users capture still images of real-world events using their iPhone cameras. These short clips are geo-tagged and then can be browsed and voted upon by other users, though video isn’t yet supported by the app.

The geo-tagging has raised some concerns, particularly for people filming in a trouble spot who might be fearful of being identified as doing so. For that reason the service lets users place a delay before images (with location data) are published and in future the location won’t need to be displayed with the image.

This solution isn’t available yet but is expected to emerge from private beta soon.

[How the Meporter system works.]

Meporter

This system tries to cover a lot of bases, supporting words, images and video alongside tools for export of content to social media networks. Content is assigned by categories (crime, entertainment, sport).

The caveat for some potential reporters must be that the service requires users to log in in order to confirm their location information, which could put reporters at risk in some situations.

The positive side of this requirement for self-identification is that the service supports a range of social networking features, so friends and fans can easily follow your feed and keep track of your new stories as they are made available.

[Rawporter stresses the commercial potential of citizen news reporting.]

Rawporter

The Rawporter app uses your iPhone to capture video that is then uploaded to a shared online platform from which media outlets can view and purchase clips for use on shows. Still and video images can be shared in this way. In a future upgrade the company intends making it possible for media firms to file general requests for specific footage.

However, it seems unlikely too many Rawporters will grow rich through the system, which hasn’t begun selling content just yet.

That citizen journalism is coming into its own is clearly evidenced by the changing habits of news channels: you see more and more phone-captured video clips on broadcast news, and CNN even offers its own iReport service to stimulate such reporting.

YouTube and the changing face of TV broadcasting

Apple may be ditching YouTube app from iPhones, but that’s unlikely to do too much damage — all anyone needs to do is navigate to the video sharing site’s homepage using Safari and use the ‘Add to Home Screen’ command to access the clips. The move does however serve to confirm that the online world’s video broadcasts are becoming as important as conventional broadcasting.

[We’re really quite pleased with this Olympics video we made last week.]

Changing the channels

Viewing habits are changing. This means online destinations such as YouTube are becoming “real” broadcasters. That’s part of the thinking behind the evolution of YouTube channels, specific places for different sorts of content that you can find if you dig around the service.

These channels are part of an ambitious attempt by the Google-owned service to begin offering a range of niche channels from showbiz veterans. The company has poured $100 million into the channels so far and intends spending twice that on marketing.

There’s a huge range of channels on offer, including Comedy, Bollywood movies, Investigative news reporting, Monty Python and more. These destinations have been quietly made available throughout 2012.

Dreamtek has made a contribution to this, developing and installing a state-of-the-art TV studio at Google’s London headquarters as part of the Creator Space scheme. Take a look at the Creator Hub and keep it bookmarked for some of the work that’s coning out of there.

[Here’s an example of the investigative reporting you can find exclusively on YouTube.]

Content is king

Similar investments are being made worldwide, Nirvana Digital a Bollywood audio and video content creator and distributor has launched a YouTube Content Creators Network in India. As in the London studio, YouTube partners will be able to use these facilities to create new content.

Nirvana Digital said that it plans to create the largest video network for Indian content and it is looking for video creators across various genres. It’s also preparing to offer thousands of Bollywood films for free viewing via YouTube BoxOffice.

What does this mean? That’s simple, really, it means a viewer in the UK will be able to access homegrown content from different parts of the world on their mobile device, computer or smart TV. As smart television evolves (Apple TV, Boxee and so on) you’ll see these viewer friendly resources made increasingly available on the box in the front room, too.

That’s a problem for conventional broadcast models. The world is becoming multi-channel, giving viewers a broader choice than ever before. Key events such as The Olympics will continue to draw crowds, but everyday viewing faces even stiffer competition.

The promise of wider choice is great, but it’s also a challenge. Not only will this impact conventional broadcasting business models, but content consumers will increasingly be challenged by the complexity of navigating through all this choice. And that’s where social media comes into its own.

A UK TV Licensing survey suggests 57 percent of adult social media users aged under 35 turn to social networks when they’re deciding whether to watch a show or not. It there’s a buzz online, they might give it a try.

[We also made this Olympic-related clip]

Olympics records

The Olympics have been a huge example of how things are transforming. Queen’s University social media expert Sidneyeve Matrix notes: “Social media is stealing away some of mystique of Olympic television spectatorship. You don’t need to tune in to prime time Olympic coverage to find out who won the gold medal in swimming or rowing. Why watch a broadcast in the evening of an event that happened four hours ago when you already know the outcome because of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or reading an on-line newspaper article?

The Olympic audience is becoming more fragmented,” said Velti chief marketing officer Krishna Subramanian.For brands that want to reach Olympic viewers, this is an important finding as it highlights the ability to look beyond TV and focus on secondary devices such as smart phones and tablets.”

Over 40 percent of Americans are live-streaming Olympics coverage on their smartphones and tablets. Already one-third of Europeans are streaming TV shows over the Internet, up by 10 percent on 2011.

Of course, YouTube isn’t the only Internet-based channel that’s begun threatening established broadcast. Other examples include the BBC’s iPlayer, Apple’s iTunes, Vimeo, Dailymotion.

All of these services are hungry for new content, and that’s where the opportunity sits for creative — the world’s crying out for interesting new content, and the race between these services means the next big thing could come from somebody’s front room. And we think that’s potentially very, very interesting.

Web-conferencing is growing, growing, growing. Here’s why…

Apple does it, Google does it, Microsoft and Adobe do it, it seems everyone’s at it these days, are you? Oh be still with your naughty innuendos we’re talking about webcasting, what else?

[Remember when those little Apple web transmissions kept the tech world interested? Here’s a little clip showing the introduction of the iPod.]

Forward fast

It wasn’t so long ago when an Apple live (or more recently ‘post-live’) event stream was a bit of a rarity. It seemed fans of that company almost lived for the chance to stare at a mini-Steve Jobs dancing in that little QuickTime window. It was the thin end of the wedge, even then hardworking elfin engineers were working hard to deliver video codecs that combined the twin pearls of lossless compression and low bandwidth.

That future is now, with an array of video and audio conferencing tools out there for almost any use, from consumer arrays such as FaceTime to Skype video sessions (soon to be included in the box with Microsoft Office 13) and Adobe Connect.

There’s many, many more — particularly in the enterprise space the big names (Oracle, et al) offer up packages designed for everything from face-to-face conferencing with document collaboration to full-scale, full-site video asset and conferencing deployments.

[Adobe explains the advantages of Adobe Connect 9 for business, government and end users.]

Virtually being there

At the high-end of the market you’re talking about deeply secure transmissions, hosted on the company’s own servers for exchange of perhaps the most confidential information and hush-hush discussion between the leading lights within the firm.

Enterprise users in particular are jumping excitedly upon the Unified Communications bandwagon, seeking out its promised enhancements in productivity. That’s why 95 percent of CIOs think presence and availability solutions are so important. In other words, the value of video webcasting isn’t just about B2C communications, but also in B2B and internal business transactions.

Adobe in June introduced Adobe Connect 9, which offers up all manner of ways to create company-controlled and branded web conferencing tools, including analytics, engagement tools, document sharing, collaboration and more.

These solutions aren’t just for enterprise users and corporate meetings; nor are they for consumers wanting to spend a little quality time staring at the video representations of people they happen to be speaking to in chat rooms and the like. There’s lots of uses, take:

  • TED talks
  • Online education sessions
  • Viral advertising and marketing
  • Medicine — your virtual doctor
  • Conventional broadcasting online
  • And so many more

A greener way to save money and time

Why do companies like it? Webcasting is relatively cheap. It enables firms to deliver their message to their target group at relatively low cost while still retaining control of what’s being revealed.

You can host a global summit of key players within your company/industry without requiring that anyone catch a train, plane or automobile. The US Travel Association reported that 31 percent of business travelers used videoconferencing in 2008 to replace at least one business trip (Bell, 2011).

That’s a cost saving in the short term and also goes a little way toward reducing a company’s environmental shadow by cutting fuel usage. On average, firms switching to unified communications solutions (which usually includes videoconferencing) see their travel costs dip by 20 percent.

“The need for companies to reduce their travel costs while maintaining communication with their workers and clients will drive the European video conferencing endpoints market,” notes Frost & Sullivan analyst Iwona Petruczynik. “Increasingly stringent environmental policies imposed by the European Parliament will also promote market development.”

All about contact

Webcasting opens opportunities for fully productive remote working; it can even transform business efficiency by making key personnel available at the times you need them.

Just to grab a recent example from within the education industry, the University of Auckland is now able to directly connect with over 250 schools in New Zealand using Sonic Foundry’s MediaSite webcasting suite, with the institution admitting itself to be saving “thousands” of dollars on travel. Not to mention the time it takes to get around, which can then be used more productively in other ways.

“The webcasting market is anticipated to grow by an annual average rate exceeding 20 percent during the next five years,” says Steve Vonder Haar, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Webcasting & Streaming, Wainhouse Research.

This probably helps Cisco’s assessment that by 2013, video will account for an astonishing 90 percent of all Internet traffic.

Web-conferencing is here to stay. Are you and your company making good use of it? Let us know in comments below.

YouTube Creator Space

YouTube Creator Space

Everyone here at Dreamtek is really pleased with this week’s announcement of the all-new YouTube Creator Space here in London

YouTube’s official announcement video for Creator Space.

We’ve been working with YouTube to put this cutting-edge Creator Space together, and we’re incredibly excited at how the best-in-the-industry equipment we’ve been able to make available there will be used by many YouTube partners across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

We helped with the design, build and installation of the space. We aimed to make an extremely flexible video creation suite. The idea is that creators can walk into a studio, choose what equipment they want to use and set the place up for their specific project.

This means that we’ve made the space configurable: Cameras are on movable tripods; Lighting desks are on trolleys. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved.

Dreamtek Director, Victoria Neeson ran the Creator Space project: “I feel incredibly privileged and proud that Dreamtek were given the opportunity to work with Google and YouTube at their new London Creator Space,” she says.

Our team of project managers and engineers worked tirelessly to deliver this fantastic facility on time and on budget, supporting our client’s construction and internal management team every step of the way.  Dreamtek has proved that we have the expertise, commitment and strength to deliver a project of this profile and scale, resulting in a first class, innovative space for YouTube’s partners to create exceptional content.”  

It is amazing to think that some of the most successful creators on the platform, with millions of views, use little more than their bedrooms, a webcam and any props they can lay their hands on to produce compelling videos and build a global fanbase,” wrote Sara Mormino, Director of YouTube Content Operations and Next Lab, EMEA in the YouTube Creator blog, announcing the Space.

One of YouTube’s many helpful videos for film creators.

We know that millions of clips are being uploaded to YouTube every day — 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

We know that among those there are some real gems, fantastic videos made on a shoestring budget in people’s homes.

YouTube Partner ‘TomSka’ is making an impression with his original clips — this one’s achieved over half a million views.

The idea for the Creator Space is simple: “What if we gave free access to cutting-edge film creation technology to YouTube partners who’ve already shown us what they can do with the basic tools they have available at home?”

For more information on the space, see YouTube’s blog announcement here or the Creator Hub

The future of online broadcasting isn’t going to be solely defined by what’s coming out of exiting major broadcasters, but also by the independent cinematographers who are producing great content today.

What makes your content stand out from the crowd? Originality, passion, and uniqueness seem to matter more than ever in the online age, and that’s what we think the Creator Space is all about: putting great tools into the hands of great people.

We’re very excited to see what comes out.