Video on the Cheap
Alan Zisman (c)
2008 first published in CUE
Monday, 09 June 2008
I've started adding video clips of school events onto my school server
which is an aging P2 running Windows 98.
keeping to relatively small screen sizes, and using Flash format, even
on this low-powered server, we can have bunches of students watching
videos at the same time without lag and performance issues.
you could use the same techniques to put the Flash-formatted video
clips on your school webpage-- but then you run into issues of
permissions for every student shown that aren't problems if you keep it
within the school as I do.
There are free tools that can be used
to make doing this simple... I'm assuming you've already got digital
video clips you want to use, made perhaps with iMove (Mac) or Windows
Move Maker (Windows ME, XP, or Vista).
For instance - Handbrake: http://handbrake.fr/?article=download
is a free tool (Windows or Mac versions) that can take a DVD and
convert it to a variety of formats allowing the content to be viewed on
computer, iPod, cell phone, etc. It doesn't support Flash directly, but
I use it in this sort of product to convert student videos (burned to
DVD using iDVD on Mac or Windows DVD Maker (on Vista-- and the best
reason to get a Vista system-- it's much easier to use than iDVD) to
computer-format. The iPhone setting in Handbrake is perfect for making
a size viewable on a bunch of computers at once.
You could just
take that Handbrake-produced iPhone-format file and put it in a shared
location, and kids could view it by double-clicking the icon... but
performance is a lot better if you convert it to Flash.
The Free FLV Converter (www.koyotesoft.com
is Windows-only-- and can be used to search YouTube (etc), and download
videos onto your local computer-- handy if you want a whole class to
connect to YouTube for educational uses, since when multiple students
in a school do that at once, performance suffers (There are Mac
programs that can do this function). For this project, the feature
that's a killer is its Conversion to FLV option... point it to your
iPhone format video file, and it converts it to Flash format AND
creates a basic web page to display it (since Flash files don't play on
their own)... copy the Flash-formatted video clip and the associated
web page to a shared location (or your school server), and lots of kids
can play it at once with good performance.
I've got this in
place with a 55 minute student 'opera' performance that I videotaped
last week-- that's a 3.5 GB file in full-screen DVD-quality file,
scaled down to a 450 MB file when it's shrunk down... and I've had
classes full of kids watching it at once by doing the Handbrake/Convert
to Flash process.