My Long Journey into Video Streaming

Just over a year ago, I decided to try to move deeper into the convergence of video and the web (see the Collaborative ABC Project for one aspect of that investigation). When doing class projects with students, I have often burned the videos onto DVD (time-consuming when you have 80 students) and worked to share them via our class websites and weblogs (yes, we have a school website and two different blogs — one for daily homework assignments and one for showcasing work from my writing class). In doing so, I have relied on either YouTube (although almost never) and GoogleVideo (more commonly) or TeacherTube (sporadically). My concern is always the links that bring my students eyeballs to inappropriate places. (With TeacherTube, it is has been a frustration with the buffering time).

So, after filming 24 different puppet shows last week and wanting to share the videos with both students (they never get to see their own shows as they are behind the puppet theater) and their families, I decided that I wanted to find a way to host the videos and stream them myself. This way, I have complete control.

It hasn’t been easy, partly due to my own lack of knowledge about web hosting and video conversion, etc. But I think my perseverance has paid off.

Here is my journey:

First, I took videos of the 24 puppets shows on my digital camcorder, and then used MovieMaker to create small versions with titles. But the files are still huge and really not in any state to embed in websites. One thing you learn quickly about video is how huge the files are going to be if you want any sort of quality.

So, I posted a query to the Classroom 2.0 Ning Community, asking about advice, and some folks were very helpful. It was here that I began to realize that I needed to convert my movie files into a flash or Shockwave format. This makes for better streaming. I experimented with YouConvertIt and it worked but it was slow. So I bought a video conversion program called SoThink video encoder, which is very flexible and allows for converting videos to different kinds of formats. Thus began much experimenting about size of files to be created and formats. I went through a whole process of creating flash movies before I realized that shockwave is better for streaming (I am trying to cut back on the buffering as much as possible).

After converting all of the files to a SWF format (shockwave), I then thought about how to host the files. At Classroom 2.0, some folks suggested using my school server (not an option for me for both space reasons and for access reasons). I tinkered with using my Box.Net account, where I host my podcasts and store important files as a backup, and that worked but it ate up a lot of my alloted space. So I turned to a video hosting site called 4Shared Video and paid for a Silver account that allows you to embed video that you have in your account.

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So, after many hours of uploading the videos, I now had to figure out how to embed the files. I used Google Search and came upon a site called (ahem) Free Video Codes that will generate html code for embedding video files being hosted elsewhere. It was very handy and easy to use.

So now I had my videos stored somewhere, and I had the code to embed, and now what? I needed a way to showcase the movies. I tried out a variety of different things. I embedded some of the videos into my school homepage but found the buffering of multiple videos just too much. Someone at Classroom 2.0 suggested using my Wikispaces site, and I did try that but found it wasn’t what I wanted.

Once again, I turned to Google again. If you have a gmail account, you have access to something to Google Page Creator, which allows you to create websites under the Google umbrella. I realized that the site now allows you to set up multiple domains, which is nice since I could not establish a website just for the puppet shows. I then created a title page, with links to an individual page for each movie. So the entire site is now 25 pages.

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I know some students and families are going to want a copy of the puppet show videos, and I am in no mood to burn DVDs. So, what I did now was uploaded the video files into my Box.Net account, made a download link, and placed that link below each of the movies on the websites. Now kids and families can watch the movies on the web and download their own versions.

Tomorrow, I will share the actual Puppet Play Website.

I suppose that is enough informationfor now, but I hope it will help others who may be thinking along the same lines as me and want to know a path to showcasing student videos without the use of a hosting source. (Of course, you could just use YouTube or GoogleVid or TeacherTube and make things easier for yourself).

Peace (in puppets),
Kevin

The Great Pumpkin Contest — 2007

My neighborhood is a tight community, with all sorts of unofficial events meant to draw us together. Each year, one man — you can see him here the video dressed up like a clown — organizes a pumpkin contest, and more than 100 pumpkins are often put on display.

Here is a tour of this year’s crop of strange pumpkins:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=4035392027853588895" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in pumpkins),
Kevin

What Students Say

The folks over at the Digital Ethnography site (who do some fascinating work) created this video about what college students are really saying and experiencing in their lives in this digital age. They used a Google Docs to have more than 200 students edit a document and create surveys of each other.

Interesting.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/dGCJ46vyR9o" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (with information),
Kevin

Toying (again) with Jumpcut

I am trying some more work with Jumpcut for editing movies (see ABC Movie Project for more information) and I just figured out how to embed JC here into Edublogs (I think), so I went into Jumpcut this morning and took apart, and then glued back together again, segments of some of my own letter movies.

Here it is:
[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.jumpcut.com/media/flash/jump.swf?id=D1F665E06F3F11DC9996000423CF037A&asset_type=movie&asset_id=D1F665E06F3F11DC9996000423CF037A&eb=1″ width=”408″ height=”324″ wmode=”transparent” /]

Peace (in cutting and editing),
Kevin

Professional Writing Retreat, part two

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. Using some pics, I created a little slideshow movie for folks who attended the Professional Writing Institute this past weekend. I also used my SuperDuperMusicLooper program to make some music for the movie, as I continue to check out the possibilities and limitations of that program.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-596529446926397614" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (on the Long Island Sound),
Kevin

Get Up — video

I used my loop remix of my song, Get Up, with some pics from a Creative Commons search engine (plus PhotoStory as an editing tool) and put together this music video:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-4430625363031699385" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (with truth),
Kevin

Mini-Movies from Camp

Here are a few more small movies made by kids at my animation camp in their free time. The first one is interesting because it is a take-off on the fairly famous (and wonderfully done) web-movie called Animator Versus Animation (and the sequel). I showed the kids how to do a version of it in Pivot but it is difficult (the original uses flash). Some of the movies have sound and some do not.

Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at TeacherTube.com.

Peace (in video),
Kevin

My Dog, Bella

I was trying out a computer from the school where my wife and I will be running a claymation camp (but she just got promoted to Curriculum Coordinator at her school and won’t be around the camp much!!) and created this little movie of my dog, Bella, as she sits by the window all day, waiting for someone to bark at.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-6797950917631760198" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Good Dog!

Peace (with kibbles),
Kevin

And finally … Stick Figure Movies

The last days of school for my sixth graders were spent working with a stick figure animation program and here are some of the movies they created:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=1158941878118862160" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=4626591408186972447" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in frame),
Kevin

Incredibly Crazy Clocks

The other day, one of my sixth graders asked me if I had ever used Pivot for animation, which led to an interesting discussion about how this freeware software could be used with MovieMaker to create a little animated film.

So I figured I would try it out and now I am hoping to let my students try their hand before the school year runs out (soon!) and also to use this very simple, yet cool, software as an introduction to the Claymation Animation Camp that my wife and I are running this summer for the very first time (gulp).

Here, then, is the premiere of The Incredibly Crazy Clocks, using Pivot to create the animation (it comes out as an animated .gif file), then I imported the file into MovieMaker where I added some original music of mine, and a title, an I got a mini-movie.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=6106772181624048098" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (frame by frame by frame),
Kevin