The big news this week is actually a new web site design. Count Domagni has finally gotten things to a pretty good state with our video interface. The entire website now resides on an Amazon.com server with the videos remaining in the Amazon cloud.
This is all a bit of a technical issue and much of it is not particularly visual.
But for those with any interest, I’ll spray a few words of wisdom for those wishing to delve into video distribution.
Basically we have had the gathering of a perfect storm for some 20 years that is just now coming to fruition. This involves both the expense and capabilities of the video cameras, is heavily a function of the available non-linear editing suites and the computers that run them, advanced video compression techniques, and the Internet – primarily a bandwidth function.
Canon’s Vixia line of video cameras will give you 1920×1080 high definition video that is “good enough” for government work and in fact at this point a bit of overkill for our purposes. The uncompressed 1920×1080 version of our show this week is 96GB in size for example. That requires a couple hundred GB (uncompressed) of source video. Way to much for the Internet.
We edit down the video of course, and then compress it with h.264. H.264 is an international standard for video compression that kind of rolls up a lot of different compression techniques into one almighty mess. The heart of it is that we transmit a full video frame only about once per second. The intervening 29 video frames are much smaller, just a fraction, providing “difference data” of the image from one frame to the next. This video compression technique, along with dropping the resolution to 1280×720, drops us from the aforementioned 96GB to about 2.5GB. It is a phenomenal amount of compression.
We use an editing suite called Final Cut Pro on a MacPro computer that features 12 processors actually. These 12 processors allow us to render the video, a process that until just recently required about 18 hours, in about 2 hours.
And then there is the distribution. A couple of things happening there that aren’t quite finished. One is the iPhone/iPad Apple vs Adobe flash war and HTML5. Basically we have warring parties over what format our video should be in to properly display on a browser. Apple eschews “flash” because it’s from Adobe. This little battle hasn’t sorted itself out. Eventually, HTML5 will accomplish all, but the implementation of HTML5 is far from accomplished.
As to bandwidth, some of you have faster and some slower. We are focused on high end delivery of HD video. And we have to forfeit some of the late adopters as viewers frankly. Google is actually experimenting with home delivery of INternet in Nashville and now Kansas City at GIGABIT rates.
Meanwhile, we have to have servers to host these large videos and make them available. Anything I would build would be the wrong size on any given day, and worse, it would be in the wrong place. Enter Amazon.com. Amazon has been building a global network since 1996 to host their retail book store and now their retail anything store. This has grown to about 30 servers spotted worldwide and connected with hundreds of MB of bandwidth. They have an enormous IT department to maintain all of that and it is really quite separate from the retail operation. They kind of make tools the retail side can use to operate on this network.
A year or so ago, they decided to develop another revenue stream by making the same tools available to large corporations to use to outsource storage and other server intensive operations. They called it Amazon Web Services or AWS and it is really quite good. They priced it based on usage but I would call it “realistically” priced. The charges are on par with what you would pay to build and run your own service. And so in a buy or build decision, they come off very well. For corporations needing additional computer power between additions to their own network, it is a great way to “fill in.”
This really very open and inexpensive approach has worked well for Amazon. So well, that many corporations simply don’t have a server farm anymore or are simply running a legacy system from inertia, and doing all new development on the Amazon side.
The reason has MOSTLY to do with scale. The Amazon service is not as powerful or easy to develop on as a local server. But it has this huge advantage. It’s already BIG. We need a tiny bit of bandwidth in the great scheme of things to serve our viewers even largish videos, but it is hosted on this huge global network. If we suddenly “went viral” for a day, and had a million visitors, I would get a largish bill from Amazon, but otherwise our videos would serve as normal.
And it has reach. The servers are placed around the world. They just added one in Paris for example. If you are in France, you get your EVTV video actually from a server in Paris. This greatly reduces delays and network obstructions from the viewing process.
Our videos have been hosted on Amazon’s “Cloudnet” for some time. The actually web page was just on an Apple server. Frankly it doesn’t do much. It just has links to our blog (on Google) and the videos (on Amazon) and so it doesn’t actually do much and in fact the pages held on Apple are really quite small, simple, plain vanilla HTML that just barely glues all this mashup in place.
It was a little gawky looking admittedly. But it never really was what we are about. We see the web as almost collapsing into a video black hole that sucks up cable television, broadcast televsion, most of what you know of as the web, and parking lots on both coasts, into one massive video network. Within a few years, we’ll have hyperlinks IN the videos, text overlays, and the world will be one big video experience.
This is why we didn’t just start a print magazine for electric vehicles. Or try to get something on the Discover Channel. Or be MythBusters. Or Senior/Junior. Most of that is all going to be irrelevant as a communications medium. It’s going to be the net, and the net is going to be video. HD video and beyond. Picture 4000×4000 pixel video. That’s right Buzz… to infnity and BEYOND.
For any of my previous Boardwatch readers from the net, enormo opportunity here. This is the killer app of the Internet. IT will dwarf the web as you know it by an order of magnitude. YouTube will no longer be on the web. The web will actually subsume and become YouTube.
The ones who will struggle with this the most are what I call the Walking Dead. That is the mega industry that relies on video already. The “professionals”. They’ve been so busy shutting out the “indies” for so long, they have missed the beat change in the music. It will be all about “indies” and the distribution advantages that large video production houses and cable networks now have will evaporate like mists in the morning. What cable did to broadcast, is about to happen to cable.
Fortunately or unfortunately, this continues the trend to decentralization. And so as the enormous budgets for CBS and ABC and NBC news got reduced to a relative pittance in the move to cable, so the enormous cable budgets will evaporate as well. The good news is that there will be MILLIONS of jobs in video production. The bad news is that they will all pay $8 per hour. The entire economic model gets dispersed, instead of concentrated, and everybody is a video producer.
This is what we have been demonstrating with EVTV. Yes, I’m fascinated with electric cars. First love was networking and not likely to be supplanted easily. We are a demonstration of how to produce, develop, distribute, and monetize a video production on HUNDREDS of dollars per day, not tens of thousands. Kind of like the shift in magazine production in the 1980’s. And on a GLOBAL scale. in HD.
Next year there will be 1000 EVTV’s. And the year after that, 10,000. And then of course millions. Mostly bad. But some good. And some excellent. We hope by then we are excellent.
Meanwhile, we’ve moved our little HTML page to Amazon as well. Count Domagni has developed a bit of a new look. It is going to take some getting used to both for us and you. We’ll try to duplicate the features we had, but we are no longer going to fight the HTML5, iPhone, etc. battle on our pages. We’ll try to make an iphone version available somehow. For now, you can display the flash, or download the Apple .MOV movie.
In this weeks show we show a new build of a hot water heater for the Escalade. How’s that for a comedown. From infinity and beyond down to a hot water bottle. But this is a 24kw unit to produce a LOT of heat to heat both the car and the batteries. We won’t need all of it very often, or any of it that often. But we basically put a hot water box together with pump, individual control relays and two 12kw heating elements, for under $800. By using a relatively high end system ($589 on eBay) we get a nice metal enclosure that can old all of that in one box.
We’ll most likely add external components anyway. We’ll put an ordinary block heater and 120vac aux pump in the line elsewhere so that we can “plug in” our heater on cold nights and maintain a bit of a temperature in the system so it won’t need so much heat on startup in the morning. A little 1500 watt AC unit should be overkill.
We also talk in this episode about documentation for our Speedsters. We’ve named the Duh model Grunflachen (new fresh green areas) and the more powerful Redux model Geshwind (fast as the wind). We are working on an owners manual for Geschwind and you might find our acceleration performance page instructive. In this, we compare the acceleration performance of the original 1957 356 Speedster with the popular 1600cc S engine with both the Grunflachen and the Geschwind models we have constructed with electric drive.
As you can see Geschwind is a huge increase in performance. That’s not quite the entire story. The original 356 did not become an iconic classic based on its acceleration. It was a combination of an Erwin Komenda body design, and a very pleasant driving “feel” that put you in touch with the road.
The body design I continue to marvel at. Here in Cape Girardeau, very young children and adolescents marvel at this replica of the 1957 Porsche Speedster. There is no nostalgia here. They were not around in 1957. In fact, they don’t know it’s a Porsche, and don’t know anything about early Porsche’s. They haven’t seen it before. In fact, they think it is a NEW model car. But it looks “cool” to them just as it did to me as a young sprout. That’s a classic or iconic design. You could introduce that exact same shape in a new car in 2057, and people would think it looked very strange and very cool. You could do it again in 2157.
As to the feel, well frankly Grunflachen mimics it best. It has the same peaky 3500-5000 rpm band of performance as the original Speedster. It is lighter. We did extremely well with this design and I much prefer its driving characteristics. Putting the 9 inch Netgain and Soliton1 in Geschwind upped the performance dramatically, kind of like dropping a small block V8 into a 1957 Porsche Speedster and it makes about as much sense.
The trick is that the extra batteries in Geschwind give it a 150 mile range. And the HPEVS AC-50/Curtis controller can’t cope with the resulting 192volt pack voltage.
To tell the truth, I don’t need the range either. It’s kind of a bragging right. Yes, we can make a small sports car go 150 miles on a charge. And it will not be stupid looking or ungainly. But this car works best on the winding country two lane blacktops we have in such abundance hereabouts, through some beautiful country. It was the nature of roads when the 356 was born. ANd you wind along at 45-55 miles per hour mostly. I can do that for an hour and a half or two hours in Grunflachen, and that is usually more than enough for me.
Actually using it as a car here in Cape, 50 miles would be overkill. But that’s ok. This will preserve the batteries very nicely.
We do also feature an update from Duane Ball and Scott Smith with their Porsche Carrera GTS build – the Porsche 904. This car is coming along nicely and we think is going to be a stellar example of an electric sports car. By doing it themselves, they wind up with another inconic piece of history, fantastic performance, and instead of the $150K for a Tesla Roadster, they’ll probably have $75K in the vehicle. With a Soliton1 and an 11 inch Netgain, this thing will just fly. I think they’ll see something in the range of 5.5-5.9 second 0-60mph. And 120 mile range.