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.