Weekly Shows

Brain wants to be on TV it looks like. He has pestered me for a month or so now to do a WEEKLY video news show on electric vehicles and conversion issues. I once did 12 years with a MONTHLY magazine deadline and it can be wearing. How we could do a WEEKLY magazine, and in video no less, I cannot imagine.

So we shot one, on a Friday. The next Friday he’s gone to the Citadel to see a football game. Oh well. How WEEKLY it will be remains to be seen. Picture an ever so often WEEKLY video.

But after doing two, I confess I like the format. We can weave in some of what we’re doing on the Mini Cooper. But we purchase, test and evaluate a lot of EV components in my pathologically curious but not very thrifty fashion. And we probably should share the information. And it will give me a chance to editorialize in the ranting and raving fashion I was accustomed to in the magazine business.

We’ll feature the current release at http://evtv.me on the main page. But I’ve created an archive page designed to present all past shows with a bit of description of what was covered in each of them.

I am convinced Internet video is the future. The cameras made a huge step function leap in 2009. The editing software made a huge step-function leap in 2009. YouTube now consumes as much bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2002. And the carriers are quietly becoming resigned to the fact that much more bandwidth is going to be necessary with video even swamping cellular phone traffic. But broadband keeps on. Six months ago, I tried to get 2 Mbps upstream/ 2 Mbps downstream from the cable company at $160 per month. They could NOT deliver it. I was getting 1.25 Mbps upstream and 12.75 Mbps downstream and had them yank it.

Two weeks ago they called offering 8 Mbps downstream and 2 Megabits upstream for $119 per month. I explained to the sales lady that they couldn’t do PART of that and until they could deliver what they were offering, I wasn’t interested. She said she was sure they could do it.

She “checked with engineering” and came back a couple of days later with a guarantee that if it didn’t perform, they’d cancel it no harm no foul – and no “who’s on first” like I endured last time. I agreed.

I’m getting about 1.85 upstream and 8.4 Mbps downstream. Close enough.

So what I’m seeing is a huge increase in camera capabilities, editing capabilities, and bandwidth in support of basically what consumers have demanded the Internet be – video.

We’ve located and licensed some great player software and hooked up with Amazon’s S3 storage service and their Cloudnet network. And we’re continuing to work on the model. What this means is we can offer a LOT better video than YouTube, and without the 10 minute limits. We’re doing 1280×720 HD video with H.264 compression (NOT FLASH). And with Amazon’s Cloud this is spotted on servers all over the U.S., Europe, and Asia. What this means is that the system automatically routes you to the closest edge server to download the video files, typically 2 Gigabytes each.

This lets us do long videos of an hour or an hour and a half, at quite acceptable resolution. And unlike YouTube, you’re welcome to download them and distribute them as widely as you care to.

We’re also experimenting with clickable ads overlaying the videos. These only work online at this point. But if you see a green panel pop up, you can click on it to go to that web site for more information. The video will pause right where you were at, and if you close the new tab or window, you’re right back where you were in the video.

I think these new video over Internet models are very exciting. A program isn’t ON at a particular time. It’s ON at YOUR time discretion. Yes, we have a weekly show. You can watch 3 weeks ago just as easily as the current one. YOU call the tune. I think that’s cool.

Downside? Well the YouTUBE model is based on YouTube paying the bandwidth charges. In theory, they make it up with ads. In reality, they’ve never caught up. They spend twice as much on bandwidth as they take in in ad revenues. So they beat up thte people that are providing content. You can’t post links to sites off their service (is that childish or what. We’ll FORCE you to stay here? On the Internet?). They limit videos in size, resolution, and length. And they splash stupid out of context ads all over your page. It’s actually an abusive horror as far as I’m concerned.

EVERYONE told me no one wants to watch a video over 5 minutes in length. I, in contrarian fashion, cannot imagine anything useful or informative that I would find in a video in LESS than five minute length. So we’re doing long videos. You can watch part of them, all of them, or go to YouTube and watch a 3 year old get his finger bit by his baby brother. In any event, you’re in control.

The downside is that I get to pay for the bandwidth. It’s running about 30 cents each time one of you guys watch a full video. So I’m hoping at some point all of this comes together and makes sense. For now, it’s all an experiment in the tools and models of a new Internet for me. As I watch traditional music distribution, movie distribution, and advertising models collapse in front of me, the question comes up – what comes out of all this and where does it go?

I believe it is a kind of interactive video web with links to both ads, product placements, and information. Whoever masters that medium in the future wins.

One of the back burner projects is to share the technique. There are actually a lot of pretty serious “Indy” video producers out there for which the current free models of YouTube et al simply aren’t working. We may pick out a few and show them how to do this like big boys.

Jack Rickard


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