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A lot of neat things happening with Video.  I saw this coming back in 1996 but particularly called it two years ago.  Traditionally print magazine publishers, I saw video as the next “disruptive” publishing technology.

It’s not there yet.  The Canon Vixia cameras have made it where you really can shoot HD video in a way just not feasible before, and at a remarkable drop in cost.  The really not very good and much larger Sony HD cams we were using initially were $5000, hard to log the video off, didn’t REALLY do HD, and of course were huge.  The Canon’s have gotten so good you can shoot 5 or 6 hours on HD on a single battery and logging it off onto the computer is trivial.

Final Cut Pro is our editing suite.  I know six or eight ways to crash it every time.  No real bug reporting methods.  They don’t really want to hear it.  And it takes 16 or 18 hours to render some of these videos using a 12 processor Mac Pro with 4GB fiber drives.  But for the first time, you can edit video fairly cogently on a PC and it WILL complete the render process 9 times out of 10.

Bandwidth growth is a little slower although it seems the Cable Television networks are about the only ones that agree with me that Cable and Broadcast business models are on the verge of collapse.  They are scrambling for a foothold as Internet  Service Provider and have correctly determined that an order of magnitude higher data rate is the way to shut the telcos out of the deal.

In Chatanooga Tennessee of all places, they are installing 1 GB Internet to the home.  Bandwidth is happening slowly but surely.

We have used a player called JWPlayer from Longtail Video to play flash videos.  You may not be aware of it, but when you view EVTV videos, you are actually downloading them not from our two page little web site on the Apple server, but from Amazon.coms Cloudnet computer network.  This is the footprint, and the videos are stored there.  More importantly, this allows you to download the video from the server closest to you, whether that’s in Tokyo or Oslo.  It not only eliminates the scaling problem, but it dramatically enhances performance worldwide.

JWPlayer was actually the player used by YouTube originally.  The source code is available, and YouTube has since modified it for their own use (without actually contributing the changes back to the community – what creeps).   The player has a LOT of features, many more than we use.  But I’ve found it quirky and error prone and very difficult to troubleshoot.  Often, with minor errors it just does nothing, with no indication as to what the problem is.  And of course, it behaves differently on each computing platform.

The holy grail is to do away with the player entirely.  A group has been working for several years on extending HTML with Version 5.   This version will include, among other things, a much simplified VIDEO tag and standardizes on H.264 video compression.  I don’t know why there are still sour grapes yoyos continuing this debate.  H.264 was inevitably the lingua franca of video even before it was officially released.

In any event, HTML5 works quite well with the Apple iPhone and iPad and we’ve been struggling to deal with that.  Safari has HTML5 built into it already.  Google Chrome has a badly mangled version of itsorta kinda working. Firefox, darling of the LInux crowd, has NOT supported it in that H.264 ultimately is a patented technology and the whole Linux Religious Left are pathologically against anyone owning anything.  This religious fervor has basically doomed Firefox, one of the hard chargers in the move to unseat Internet Explorer, to irrelevance and ultimately a dwindling future and obsolescence.

That all moved one step closer today as Microsoft released the beta of Internet Explorer 9.  I haven’t tried it yet.  It REQUIRES Vista to run I’m told so the Windows XP survivors will have one more screw turned in the relentless Redmond pressure to upgrade.  But I’m told it DOES rather prominently support HTML5 Video.

There’s a few months of cleanup, but that basically tells the tale and HTML5 is the new playerless future of online video.  We tried Longtail Videos hopelessly unconfigurable 5.3 beta kludge, but it just doesn’t work.

So we’re putting up an entire alternate page set for HTML5 users.  This causes us to give up a few features we weren’t using much anyway.    But it works well with iPhone and iPad.  We’ve basically put our low res version in the box for viewing online.  Those who want the full high resolution HD experience, can click the TITLES of the videos and the larger file will start downloading.

So feel free to try the new pages.  A link on the main page simply takes you to the alternate main page, which also leads to the alternate Weekly Archives page.  If it doesn’t work out for you, sipmly go back to the normal MAIN page.

We’ll support both formats for a brief period.  But the handwriting is on the wall and it spells out HTML5.

Get over it.

Jack Rickard