Tag Archives: media

Latest interviews, and upcoming speaking schedule

Just a quick note to comment that I’ve added links to two recent interviews on the media section of my Speaking and Media page:

I’ve been at QCon London this week and also did a couple more interviews, again one on each of these topics – it may take slightly longer for these to emerge, though. Let me know if you have any feedback on these, always interesting to hear!

It may seem hard to believe, and indeed looking back at my schedule it hardly seems it, but I’ve been avoiding too many speaking gigs since an annoying incident back in December and a need to take a break! Coming up in the next few months, apart from the job change (!), I’m back on the road and I’ll be speaking at the following events:

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YouTube – everywhere?

Yesterday, YouTube turned seven.

I’ve recently become aware of just how pervasive YouTube has become. It’s available on a range of “computer” platforms – desktops and laptops, mobile phones and tablets. I’m able to access it via AppleTV, XBox, and a Sony Bluray player. Friends who recently updated their home media setup have it on their internet-enabled TV as well as via their Virgin Tivo box on the same “system”. Alongside BBC iPlayer, it’s actually more pervasive in the UK across the various devices many of us have in our living rooms, than the broadcast DTV/satellite/cable channels themselves. It’s also noticeably more present across a very broad range of devices, than alternatives like Vimeo which are arguably better at presenting more beautiful, longer HD content on the web itself.

This is both exciting, and also potentially problematic.

For those of us who have been seeing a multichannel, multimedia future ahead for some time, it’s a validation of the success of streaming web video in breaking the monopolies of the existing broadcasters and media companies. Over time, Google has added some tremendous value to YouTube – enabling creators to rapidly upload, perform simple edits, add soundtracks, and share content all within a rich HTML browser experience. It is also easy to reach a wide range of devices simply by ticking the “make this video available to mobile” box on the video management page – Google does all the heavy lifting of transcoding, resizing, and deciding on whether Flash or HTML5 is a better delivery mechanism, etc.

However, at the same time, it’s kind of… well, clunky. In order to consume content from YouTube on any of the platforms I mentioned before, you have to visit a dedicated YouTube widget, app or channel and then navigate around content within that box (oh, and each platform has a slightly different way of presenting that content). It’s not integrated with the viewing experience – I can’t just say to my TV or viewing device, “show me videos of kittens” and have it aggregate between different sources which include YouTube. Not only that, but we all know just how variable YouTube content can be, both in terms of production quality, duration, and the antisocial nature of comments and social interactions around videos. For some of the most popular videos I’ve posted on my channel, I can’t tell you how long I spend on moderating the most unbelievably asinine comments! Oh and, when we consider the increasing use of streaming video online – be it iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix or any other source – we constantly have to consider the impact on available bandwidth. Bandwidth and connectivity are not universal, no matter how much we may wish they were.

The other side of this is the group of voices who will point to the dominance of Google and their influence over brands and advertising. All very well, but I like to remind people that for all of the amazing “free” services we enjoy (Facebook, Twitter, Google and others), we do have to pay with an acceptance of advertising, and/or sharing of some personal data of our choice – or go back to paying cable and satellite providers for their services. It’s really a simple transaction.

I guess I don’t really have a message with this blog entry, other than to share my observation of the amazingly rapid rise of the new media titan(s). If I was going to offer any further thoughts or advice, it would be the following:

  • explore online video services more – you probably have access to them in more places than you think.
  • remember that video you produce may be viewed on any device from the smaller mobile handsets, to a nice HD television – so always try to produce your content at the highest quality setting possible, and let YouTube or the other video hosts do the rest.
  • richly tag and describe your content to make it easier to find. “Video1.mov” tells me nothing.
  • learn about the parameters which control how your content is displayed. I’ve previously written about this; the content is still useful but I should probably create an update.

This omnipresence across platforms is one of the reasons why I’ve started to primarily use my YouTube channel as the canonical source for all of my video content. Previously I’d used Viddler and Vimeo and occasionally posted a clip to Facebook, but now that I am able to post longer movies, I’ve also posted the full videos of various talks that I’d only previously been able to host at Vimeo. I’m not abandoning all other sources, but a focus on one channel makes a certain amount of sense.

 

Gallery

Photo post: IBM IMPACT 2011

I didn’t have a “proper” camera with me at IMPACT this year, but I did snap a bunch of images using my iPhone – they were either tweeted via yfrog, or through Instagram. Don’t expect the most awesome photography, but … Continue reading

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Innovation and Social Media

“Telephone and email still remain important, just as face-to-face meetings and traditional mail retain their spaces,” he said. “Social media is just that: social. It’s part of the way in which humans have driven technology to enable them to communicate, create, share and collaborate. It reflects our own desire as a species to form communities and to connect with one another.”

Last week I was interviewed via email by Camille Tuutti for an article she was writing for GovCon Executive. You can read a few of the things I said about IBM’s use of social media (including the snippet above) in the piece, which is now posted online.

Useful tools for homebrew media – my OS X workflow

As I’m sure regular readers are aware, I’m producing a wider range of media than ever before, now that I’m a regular podcaster and creating a range of video content as well. I thought it would be useful to talk a little about the range of tools that I’m using – far from professional level Final Cut or anything!

Hardware

The hardware is pretty varied. The core of the whole “system” is the MacBook Pro, which I use for pretty much all of my editing. That also has the iSight camera, which is adequate for videos which need to include my face, although I’d like something higher quality (any recommendations?). I’ve mentioned iGlasses before, which is useful for adjusting the iSight input. From an audio perspective I use a USB headset and also a Blue Snowflake USB microphone, which is absolutely great – compact, convenient, and it captures excellent quality sound.

If I need to capture video away from the computer, my current camcorder of choice is the Kodak Zi6 which can take HD 720p footage, albeit at a quality limited by the rest of the hardware (lens, sensor etc). I’ve yet to do a proper review of this, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a step up from either the Flip Mino or the older disgo Video Plus which I’d tried. I also sometimes grab snippets of video on my compact Canon camera.

Screencasting

For screencasts I use ScreenFlow. This is just a wonderful piece of software which is capable of recording both the screen, and from the iSight simultaneously. This allows the video to be overlaid into the screencast if required, so you can personally narrate what is going on. Even better than that, ScreenFlow lets you zoom in on windows and desktop features, and is really a general purpose compositing application… if you look at this video I made when I talked to a friend recently, you’ll see there are no desktop elements at all, just the video stream from the camera, a picture of him, and the audio, with some nice image tilt and reflection effects applied. ScreenFlow has also recently added text annotation features, which are really useful.

I’ve yet to use it for any practical purpose, but I also just downloaded OmniDazzle, which is now free. OmniDazzle lets you highlight areas of the screen with visual effects using a single keystroke – I can see this being useful in combination with ScreenFlow in the future.

Video editing

A few weeks ago I blogged about iMovie 09. I know a lot of people really dislike both iMovie 08 and 09, but I’m totally comfortable with both versions now, and I have to say that 09 is just beautiful. I’ve had no issues with it – it’s great for rapidly mixing and editing video, still images and audio. Watch my introductory series on YouTube or the whole thing as one movie on Viddler. I wrote a bit more about my use of iMovie back in December, too.

Here’s a tip: have you ever wanted to create some animated titles of your own? I have one word for you – Keynote! When I created the Home Camp TV title sequence it was a simple matter of creating a slide with some animated elements in Keynote, and exporting it as a Quicktime movie (which I did without sound, allowing me to overlay a choice of audio on the title sequence in iMovie). It’s great for quickly creating JPEG stills with text for titles, too.

In terms of finding audio to accompany videos… I’ve used both the pre-canned loops that come with iMovie, and also used some audio from Podsafe Audio. I do find that site a bit cumbersome to search though, so I’d be interested to know of any other useful, royalty-free resources.

Audio editing

I’ve not done a great deal on the audio-only side of things, but my essential tools here are Audacity for editing and cleanup; and Levelator for post-processing. That’s a really important point, by the way: only levelate your audio once everything is mixed together, the whole point is that it’s going to analyze everything and modulate the volume equally… if you have a bunch of snippets of audio and levelate them separately, then edit them together, you may well still end up with volume variations.

Another quick tip at this stage: to avoid issues with VBR MP3s showing up as weird (and incorrect) lengths in some tools, I bring the audio file into iTunes and do the MP3 export in there.

Imaging

For “proper” RAW photo editing and management, regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of Lightroom. I use Pixelmator for finer adjustments on exported images.

Beyond that, I find that iPhoto is useful for quickly grabbing snapshots from the digital compact camera for compositing into iMovie clips. Skitch and LittleSnapper are both very useful tools as well as they enable me to rapidly take, resize and annotate screenshots or clips of web pages. For diagrams and so forth, there’s nothing that can beat OmniGraffle.

Extras

Finally, a couple of other useful bits and pieces. Transcoding to different formats is through either VisualHub (now defunct) or ffmpegX. QuickTime Pro is an essential (and highly cost-effective) upgrade too, since it lets you make very quick edits to QuickTime movie files and control the output format more finely.

There. Now, I imagine this may attract a range of “have you heard of…?” “why aren’t you using…?” and other responses, but that’s how I’ve currently settled things. Hopefully some of the tips and thoughts here will be useful to other amateur content creators, too! 🙂