video Web Video Technology

The Not Ready For Prime Time HTML 5 Players

With the iPad just days away from arriving at the doorsteps of nerds across America, the rumble of torch and pitchfork wielding nerds storming the Adobe castle is rising again.  There are two main camps in the whole Apple vs. Adobe battle. There are those who complain to Apple for not including Flash in the iPhone and in the forthcoming iPad and than there is the camp of people who at the wheel of the backhoe digging the hole to burry Flash in.  The Moses attempting to part the chopping waters of flash and html developers is HTML 5. HTML 5 is praised as the new upcoming web development standard that will bring unity and conformity to the web.

Youtube and Vimeo have both started to dip their toes in the murky water, following HTML 5s lead, and have HTML5 video players in beta. If you are using a compatible player like Safari and Chrome, give the players a try for yourself by going to and clicking on the try it out link for HTML 5 and there are links on compatible videos on Vimeo below the player to switch to the HTML 5 player.

First of all, let’s start with the good, to me the quality of the video seems pretty good and jumping around videos in a little better too. You don’t have to worry about flash always crashing on you as it is built in as part of the HTML 5 standard.

But, that’s about all that is good, at least yet. The main drawlback for seems to be the lack of the buffering bar at the bottom of the players that I have seen. This is especially frustrating when you have a slow connection or just youtube is slow for some reason.  Also not all the functionality of their regualr flash players haven’t been integrated into the HTML 5 versions, like with vimeo you can’t embed the HTML 5 version and you can’t watch the videos full screen; when you click the full screen button, the video blows up to take up the entire browser window. With youtube, videos that have ads, which is many of the videos from youtube parteners and youtube stars don’t work with the HTML 5 player, is reverets back to the flash player.

HTML 5 is coming, but I’m not ready to bury flash just yet. Certainly web designers need to be thinking about their audience and what devices they are using. The days of the flash splash page are hopefully all behind us and the end of sites made entirely in flash is not soon enough. I think it will take the push of several large sites such as CBS has announced that they are moving to HTML 5 and for them to blaze the trail and fix the bugs for the rest of the internet to begin to make the shift over to HTML 5.

gear Live Streaming SXSW

SXSW 2010: What Technologies Will Blow Up This Year?

Each year nerds from all the world flock to Austin for five days and nights of panels, parties and puking also known a South by Southwest Interactive.  It seems each year there is at least one application or technology thing that everyone is using at SXSW. Last year the big thing was geolocation apps mainly Foursquare that had a big swell in users at SXSW last year as all the cool people were trying to find out where all the rest of the cool people are at and which party is the one to be at for the night.  In previous years twitter really started to take off and gained size-able adoption and proof of that is in the almost constant chatter about SXSW which is especially annoying to people like me who aren’t lucky enough to be going this year.

So what will be the “it” things at this year’s SXSW? I have two things that come to mind, QR Codes and Live streaming. I think we are going to see QR codes all over the place as people are trying to network and QR codes are a great way to exchange the information that would normally be on your business cards.  If you don’t know anything about QR Codes click here for the wikipedia article.  I think the band, movie posters and leaflets that are plastered all over the convention center will have the new addition of a QR Code that sends the user to a site with more information about their show or movie. Be prepared to see a throng of nerds in shirts with huge QR Codes silk-screened on them, hawking their blog or whatever.

In the year since the last SXSW, Apple released the iPhone 3GS, the version of the iPhone yet that best suited for live streaming video, and apps like Ustream broadcaster and Qik that allowing people to do live streaming video over Wi-Fi or 3G has become possible. I think live streaming services like Ustream are going to see a lot of use from people at SXSW streaming events going on in Austin.  One man who will be doing this for sure is Leo Laporte. Ustream has lent Leo one of their streaming backpacks from LiveU a company that builds this portable computer designed for streaming.  The backpack has enough juice for about 6 hours of use. The secret sauce that makes this all work is 8 separate 3G modems, 2 each from the 4 major players, that work in concert to provide a solid connection and sufficient upload bandwidth that produces some pretty good looking video. I think we’re going to see a lot of live streams coming from Austin next week as many of the big podcasts like TWIT, TWiST, Buzz out Loud, NSFW, Diggnation all converge in Austin. At&t epically failed last year, greatly underestimating the strain that the more than 13,000 attendees would put on their network and they say they have been working since then to make sure that this year isn’t a repeat. They beefed up the cell towers downtown with more fiber, installed hardware in the Austin convention center and are bringing a convoy’s worth of cell tower trucks to cover Austin in a rich and creamy layer of 3G. We’ll see if this will be enough to handle the demands of bandwidth heavy apps and thousands of people constantly refreshing twitter every minute.

Home Studios Live Streaming Video Production

Thoughts on the Ustream Producer App

Ustream has released two new desktop applications for broadcasting to Ustream. There is a free version and a pay version for $199 that allows multiple cameras and add a couple other features. The apps are available for either Mac or Windows.  When you download the free version, there is an option to out the pro version with a really annoying watermark, but I suggest trying it before you shell out the two hundred bucks for the pro version.  The producer app gives broadcasters the same controls as using the web based broadcaster but adds some functionality of a video switcher and access to Ustream’s social networking functions.

The free version supports one live camera and allows you to capture video from your desktop as well, great if you’re doing a show with you on one camera and the other host in on Skype or if you are doing a PowerPoint presentation. The app allows you to switch between the live video, screen-cast, recorded video, and images and music. The switcher has 3 transitions, which to me seems like just one because I don’t call a cut a transition and I can’t tell the difference between “Smooth” and “Cross-dissolve”.

The pro version adds support for unlimited cameras, transitions, adds HD support and allows title and overlay functionality.  The pro version is pretty much a branded version of Wirecast and has most of the functinality of Wirecast but only works with Ustream and is cheaper at $199 versus the $449 for Wirecast. Trying to add titles is harder than it should be, but is doable and you can save the presets so you don’t have to change the settings for each show.

Final Verdict:

If you use Ustream, then definatly try the free version of the App and check out the pro features too. If you are leaning to the pro version and you’re on a Mac, then the Pro version is a good option for the money. If you want the pro features and are on Windows than I would suggest trying out Vidblaster before you buy. Vidblaster’s home version is $195 and I think is easier and more powerful than the Ustream App. A downfall for Vidblaster though is that you need a pretty recent and powerful computer to take full use of all it’s features.


Ustream Producer App