Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Online Video

I've recently discovered a cool site that has lots of great science video content called SciTalks.com

"We comb the internet and upload a couple hundred links per week. We get them from all over the web from universities and august institutions like TED talks and the Royal Society. We also have our share from YouTube and Google videos. We know that there are thousands more! Please contribute links if you have them. You can also upload your own videos."

SciTalks.com is organized in a few different ways. You can browse by subject or by source type. Source types include: Academic, Broadcast, or Corporate. They also include a search function in case you're looking for something specific. The videos come from all over the internet and are in a variety of different formats. What are the different formats?
  • flv - Flash video. This is how YouTube, GoogleVideo, and many other video sites display video. These will play in your browser window, but if you download them you'll need a flv player. I recommend VLC for this. It is a free cross platform media player.
  • qt or mov - QuickTime. This is Apple's video format. So you'll need to have QuickTime installed in-order to view these videos.
  • rm or ram - Real Media. You'll need Real Player for this. I usually recommend against Real Player as it has a tendency to be too large and tries really hard to make itself your default video/audio player. Instead I recommend Real Alternative. Real Alternative is a much smaller program that is a whole lot less invasive.
  • wmv - Windows Media. If you're on a Windows machine you can view these with no problems. On a Macintosh you'll need Flip4Mac which will allow you to play these in QuickTime Player.
There is a lot of really good stuff on this site, and there is some mind numbingly boring stuff. With a little patient searching I'm sure you can find some good content you can use with your students.

Now, I know some people reading this are thinking you've never had any luck showing streaming video in class. The internet crashes and you're sunk or worse still, the internet is slow and your 10 minute video takes 30 minutes to show because it keeps freezing. Well, there are a couple ways to get around this with some videos. With others you just have to cross your fingers and hope it works the way it should.

With some videos, once they load all the way you can show them without your computer even being connected to the network. Just don't close the window you're in. Even better, some videos can be downloaded to your computer, then you can show them any time you want. Often it is possible to download videos even though the site you're visiting doesn't give you the option. The video I've included with this posts shows you how to use a Bookmarklet to do just that. Once you have the video on your hard drive you can show it to your class or even burn it to a DVD. If you have a DVD burner in your computer you'll likely already have software for doing this. Drop your video in and see if it works. If it doesn't work you'll need to covert it into a different format first. I use a free program called SUPER (download mirror) to do this. If you watch my video, I'll walk you through how to do this (or you can go to videohelp.com). Once it's converted, you can burn it to your DVD and then you're all set (while you're at it, burn a couple of extra copies to give to your colleagues).

1 comment:

Antonio said...

Very cool science site. Whoa!, the 10th dimension. Wonder what music sounds like there.
Anyway...on a Mac, Flip4Mac plays things perfectly