Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mr. Watson, come here!

After watching Will Richardson speak live from Prince Edward Island this past Saturday, I did what any aspiring geek would do--I tried to duplicate the technology. I notice that the broadcast was hosted by ustream.tv, and like any good Web 2.0 service, I could get a free account and start broadcasting.

My mind was spinning with the possibilities, and what I really wanted to do was to see if I could produce higher-that-webcam quality in a broadcast. My DV camcorder, a Canon ZR830, doesn't have a webcam mode, but Orangeware's WebCamDV promises to convert any DV camera into one. I downloaded the free trial (10 minutes of use before having to reset by rebooting your computer--ouch!), and got video right away. The audio was harder--maybe because I was too excited to think clearly about it. But after a couple of hours of idiocy, I finally figured out that I needed to put a cable from the DV camera directly into my laptop. Part of the difficulty, if I'm going to not beat myself up too much, was that there was some conflict with Skype video that kept locking up my machine, and the frustration of that made the obvious harder to see.

I've posted a couple of test clips at http://ustream.tv/channel/stevehargadons-show. Don't worry, no "lifecasting" for me. Maybe folks want to follow a young lady all through her day, but nobody's going to go gaga over the life adventures of a 46-year-old father of four. I am intrigued by the possibilities, though. To be able to cheaply (for me, since I already owned a sub-$300 camera, it was just the $20 for the software) broadcast and record good-quality video seems to open a lot of doors. (The sound on a DV camera is likely of higher quality as well.) And I'm thinking that the higher quality of DV cameras over your standard webcams could also make for some more interesting video conferences between classrooms, all you educators.

6 comments:

  1. Use splitcam, it's free and works fine. It took my panasonic with no webcam mode and made it work. Try it!

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  2. Ah, Chris, you are the master! :) Thanks for the tip.

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  3. Steve--
    Sorry I missed you for a test run..I ran ustream with my macbook camera AND skype with no problem. The video quality was not nearly as clear as yours but the audio worked GREAT and it was fine for my purpose..to create an "audio" for a google presentation I was giving for a course. I had some technical stuff I too figured out on the fly but it does have amazing potential. I think an "on the fly" audio casting site (like world bridges) but on the fly is in order to go with google presentations--oh the possibilities

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  4. In order to stream using my camcorder instead of webcam, I used a Pinnacle 710-USB. It's great - allows pretty much any kind of video device to be connected to pretty much any kind of video input.

    I'm still processing media, but you can find raw streamed archives and edited higher quality video from our UPEI webcast at http://www.edtechtalk.com/node/2319

    Cheers,
    Jeff

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  5. Jeff:

    Really good to know. Are there specific reasons you went the hardware route? Better quality in some way?

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  6. Used the Pinnacle device because the laptop I was using had no firewire input.  WebcamDV and Splitcam would be useful when streaming from a firewired PC though.

     In order to Ustream audio from those who skyped in, I needed to use the somewhat complex setup outlined in the Streaming Section of The Webcast Academy's Book of Webcasting.

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