Archive for ‘Mobile & HTML5’

January 17th, 2014

Wikimedia Community Debates H.264 Support On Wikipedia Sites

by Michael Dale

Wikimedia has been a long time supporter of royalty free formats, but is now considering a shift in their position. From the RfC:

To support the MP4 standard as a complement to the open formats now used on our sites, it has been proposed that videos be automatically transcoded and stored in both open and MP4 formats on our sites, as soon as they are uploaded or viewed by users. The unencumbered WebM and Ogg versions would remain our primary reference for platforms that support them. But the MP4 versions would enable many mobile and desktop users who cannot view these unencumbered video files to watch them in MP4 format.

This has stirred a heated debate within the Wikimedia community as to whether the mp4 / h.264 format should be supported. Many wikimedia regulars have weighed in, resulting in currently an even split between adding the H.264 support or not. The request for comment is open to all users of Wikimedia, including the broader community of readers.

What do you think about supporting H.264 on Wikimedia sites?

August 12th, 2013

Vine Goes Mainstream: the Evolution of the 6 Second Revolution (Video)

by Asef.Ahmed

vine-twitterIn 2011, the social medium of images was the new hot thing with Instagram established and Snapchat in its infant stages. Despite the popularity of these apps, many people were still wondering: what’s next?

Fast forward two years, with the world experiencing Vine-fever and the recent launch of Instagram Video, video, now more than ever, is king. But what is it that makes apps like Vine so popular? Can a six second video truly be a work of art or is it just a reflection of our generation’s shortened attention spans? Perhaps, just like mainstream media, it is a bit of both. As Vine becomes decreasingly recognized as just another internet gimmick, it evolves into a form of expression that greatly mimics traditional media (or, perhaps, it is also the other way around). Consequently, Vine, like digital media in general, has started occupying six different realms of mainstream media.

 

1. Vine Awards at Film Festivals

Yes, Vines are being awarded at film festivals. The Tribeca Film Festival, cofounded by Robert Deniro, created #6SecondFilms to honor Vines. Seriously, what more artistic validation could Vines need than that from the Godfather himself. The Vines were separated into four categories: genre, series, animate, and auteur (Described as “[Vines that]told a story or script that was truly unique. A tiny, concentrated expression of the filmaker’s vision”) and were judged by an esteemed panel that included the King himself, Goldberg.

Here is this year’s winner in the “auteur” category titled “There is No Sunny Side to this Story”:

 

2. Celebrity Stars

Just like Twitter and Facebook, celebrities from Tyra Banks to Terminator have adopted Vine. However, what differentiates Vine from the other social media platforms is that celebrities have adopted it as a way to express art. Sure, there are some stars that prefer to just shoot a six second clip of whatever they are currently doing or an inane video that has little substance,  but there is a large number of them, like Goldberg, that actually use Vine to tell stories. These artists see Vine as a challenge. They recognize what Vine truly is (or can really be): the haiku of digital media. Like a haiku, a Vine is simple, short and restricted, yet, paradoxically  complicated, beautiful, and free for those same reasons. Take a look at one of Goldberg’s Vines, “Latency.”

 

3. Instructional Promotions

We’ve recently covered the use cases instructional videos and Vine provides another unique method. Companies are using Vine to promote their products while giving nifty tips. Lowe’s has launched their “#lowesfixinsix” campaign that illustrates simple life hacks. Lowe’s has achieved a marketer’s dream by compressing incredibly useful information into one absurdly brief, yet engaging clip. For example, you can learn how to prep your grill for the summer in six quick seconds.

 

4. Advertisements

The vast majority of companies that use social media do it for promotional purposes. However, one of the main concerns with publishing video is making sure that your content is engaging. Companies do not want to invest a substantial amount of money into an advertisement and see that viewers are tuning out. Vine, similarly to twitter,  solves this problem by accepting our attention spans for what they are: weak. Many companies, like Microsoft, have gotten creative and found ways to use Vine to create short yet informative content. Take a look at this episode from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer advertisement campaign “Not Your Father’s Browser” for IE 10. 

 

5. Journalism

Now, much more than ever, we are linked to the news in an almost inescapable fashion. Twitter has helped revolutionize modern journalism by providing instantaneous coverage of events around the world. Any action, catastrophe, election result is immediately uploaded to our feeds. Vine, similarly, provides the swift impact of twitter but also allows the viewer to survey what’s happening. The most famous example of Vine broadcast journalism was done by the Turkish Pulse, who captured the immediate aftermath of the tragic bombing of the U.S. embassy in Turkey. The Vine not only provides the viewer with the information of what happened (that there was a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey) but also gives the user a sense of the moment, similarly to traditional news coverage.

 

6. Sports

Vine is still in its early stages with broadcasting sports entertainment. Due to the legal ramifications of distributing content that is protected and owned by various leagues, there are not any Vines of actual games or matches. This is extremely unfortunate because Vine would be the perfect medium to relay a thunderous dunk, game winning goal, last-second touchdown, or any important athletic play. However, there have been some breeches into the sports industry with Vines capturing pre-game warm-ups. Look at this one from the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Vine is often dubbed as the “Twitter of video”, which is not far from the truth (Vine is even owned by Twitter). However, the impact of Vine can be so much more. With a 140 character limit, Twitter, like Vine, limits its users. But if a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then at 30 frames per second, Vine is worth at least 180,000 of them.

July 2nd, 2013

Will HTML5 Force Apple’s Hand Over Online Video Standards?

by Asef.Ahmed

Kaltura-Video-Platform-Device-Detection-and-SupportOur very own Michael Dale was featured in a Broadcast Engineering article about how HTML5 may end Apple’s hegemonic authority and force the company to adopt the same standards as everybody else.  The new standards that HTML5 is setting such as: adaptive streaming with MPEG-Dash and Media Stream API, content protection via Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), and the lack of a need for plugins, combined with the inevitable large rise in the number of HTML5 developers over the number of iOS developers, could significantly reduce Apple’s market power. As Dale puts it, ” Apple will continue to be one of the major targets for app and service development but it will no longer be setting the pace.”

Read the full article here:http://broadcastengineering.com/blog/html5-could-last-force-apple-fall-line-over-online-video-standards

May 29th, 2013

Delivering on the Promise of HTML5 Video

by Michael Dale

HTML5-logo.svgEarlier this month the Web standards body, W3C, announced the first draft of the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification, which will allow content providers to add content protection to HTML5 videos for the first time. While EME will not handle the encryption process or Digital Rights Management (DRM) system, it will provide a standard for third-party plug-ins to support DRM in the web browser. The news elicited a mixed response from web platform commentators but there is no doubting its significance for the digital TV community.

Right now, the appetite for HTML5 video is strong, as a platform for a consistent, cross-device viewing experience. Developed with the new breed of mobile and OTT-capable devices in mind, HTML5 makes it possible, in theory, to standardise playback on any device, via the browser, and eliminates the need for plug-ins to create rich video playback experiences.

While ideal for basic video playback, HTML5 has a way to go before it becomes a fully-fledged solution for the most demanding use cases of online video delivery. In the interim, workaround tools, and online video platforms have emerged to help content producers and developers deliver on the multi-platform promise.

Historically, support for multiple platforms meant delivering a basic experience for a limited number of platforms, and supporting multiple codecs like H.264 and WebM (for browsers that did not ship with H.264).Today, the already complex HTML5 platform landscape of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla has been further complicated by other entrants, including Amazon and Sony (PlayStation) and makers of Smart TVs and Set-top boxes. Across all of these platforms, differences in implementations are emerging based on entrenched platform interests and device limitations.

Content protection and adaptive streaming are incredibly important to the digital TV community, but are two areas in which browser vendors have had difficulty in standardising around a single solution. While almost all contemporary online web platforms support HTML5, content providers are still typically choosing other options when DRM or adaptive streaming is required: Flash for desktop applications, and native apps for mobile devices.

Outside of premium DRM content, sophisticated, open source player libraries and platforms have helped streamline the process of online HTML5 and native video delivery. Modern video platforms work across “native”, HTML5 and Flash. For example, a single ad tag campaign from Google DART for Publishers (DFP) configured in a platform “player” can consolidate ad delivery across desktop Flash and HTML5, mobile HTML5, native iOS and native Android.

For multi-platform video, choosing a player that supports HTML5, Flash and increasingly native delivery, is important in order to provide ultimate flexibility. Consider the breadth of plug-ins the player supports, how well documented those features are, and how easily they can be integrated into the player.

Speed of loading is very important and fast HTML5 players are also helping push adoption. A recent study showed that many viewers begin abandoning videos if they don’t load within two seconds. There are many tricks to building a fast player that performs quickly, but it’s important to choose one that performs not only in benchmarks, but also in ‘real-world’ pages, where lots of other resources are competing to be loaded.

A player should also offer full integration with all the major ad networks and analytics providers in order to maintain a high level of flexibility and choice. How flexible the player is in terms of enabling you to customise the experience is also an important factor.  A library that supports easy customisation and skinning is critical if you are to succeed in meeting your brand and web presence goals.

Finally, it’s important to choose a player library that helps you negotiate the complex set of different HTML5 platforms. For example, you need to be free to choose between native or HTML-based controls for playback on iOS, and between Flash and HTML5 on a per platform basis (e.g. for Windows 8 and Android). It’s important that the library is closely integrated with a platform so that it can leverage all the back-end features that can help make the cross-platform experience work better, like creating video flavours for each device, and providing access to metadata management tools.

By 2014, we should see Flash fallbacks decrease in relevance as content producers can lead with HTML5 while still supporting those important business goals of high quality video delivery and branding. This is predicated on the imminent arrival of a number of new technologies and standards that will boost the appeal of HTML5. DRM for HTML5 video is one, but another major enhancement due out soon is the MediaStream API, which will enable improved live video event broadcast support and HTML5 as well as robust adaptive streaming.

In conclusion, HTML5 video is maturing quickly, overcoming some of its traditional challenges and should finally deliver on its early promise of providing rich content experiences across all screens.

This blog post was originally published on videonet.

Learn more:

- Why you should learn HTML5

April 17th, 2013

Plugins-Free WebRTC Based Peer 2 Peer Video Delivery – HTML5 Video

by Zohar Babin

Peer5 LogoPeer-to-peer has always been a disruptive technology, enabling new applications and high efficiency. It has become an essential building block for distributed, scalable services such as Skype, Bittorrent and more. Until today, the P2P has been absent in the rich world of the Web. Various plugins tried to fill this gap but lacked standard conformance and sometimes were even intrusive. For years, enterprises could only develop client-server systems, which have increased latency and are expensive to scale. Luckily, we now have a new P2P API which is part of the HTML5 standard — It’s called WebRTC.

According to Peer5, it won’t be long before WebRTC will transform the way we communicate online; “it’s the technological breakthrough that will enable a truly plugins-free web experience – from audio and video collaboration to recording solutions and more” says Hadar Weiss, Peer5 CTO, “so far, the missing piece in the WebRTC puzzle has been the development of the  DataChannels API, the browser feature that facilitates direct delivery of raw data between two or more users without a need for a server.”

Harnessing the power of WebRTC, Peer5 is set to bring hassle-free, peer-assisted video delivery to everyone with nothing more than a modern web browser (Currently on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox).

By building on top the DataChannels API, Peer5’s player plugin creates a peer-assisted network where viewers seamlessly share parts of the streamed video to enhance video delivery and reduce network bandwidth.

With the Peer5 solution now a part of Kaltura’s Tech Partners Program, a cutting-edge HTML5 innovation will be available with the first live demo of WebRTC-based video delivery, exclusively for members of the Kaltura community.

Peer5 Player Screenshot

We invite you for a sneak preview of this new disruptive technology and experience the first ever plugin-free, large-scale peer-assisted streaming of video from multiple sources around the world, where all registered participants will enter the live demo together, and watch as the video plays seamlessly from multiple peers.

To join the live demo, register at: http://kaltura2013.peer5.com

March 13th, 2013

The New York HTML5 Hackfest Meetup Notes – March 2013

by Zohar Babin

Thank you for joining us last night at The NYC JavaScript & HTML5 Monthly Hackfest and for the amazing AlleyNYC for hosting us. We had a great fun (as always), and learned a lot.

For those who missed the meetup, here is a quick summary -

We’ve opened the evening with (pizza and drinks) Michael Dale, Player Framework Product Manager at Kaltura. Michael gave a presentation of the state of HTML5 video and writing a player framework, giving a walk-through of Kaltura’s HTML5 Player Framework and launching the evening into a hackfest of player plugins creation.

Following after, Costa Michailidis shared the beauty of SVG based web application design in a 5 minutes lightning talk about SGV. Judging by the exciting feedback this lightning talk received, we’ll have to followup with an in-depth SVG session in a future meetup!

We talked about HTML5 video, popcorn.js, mwEmbed, SVG and hacked on player plugins.

html5hackfest-alleynyc

March 11th, 2013

Creating Engaging (and Very Funny) Content Using Robots (Video)

by Iddo Shai

“Robots will take over.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 11.10.30 AMHow many times have you heard that prediction before? However, it’s been more than 35 years since we first met R2-D2 and we don’t really see many robots strolling down the streets these days. But what if you could have robots shooting engaging videos like vox pop with random people or funny company videos featuring your employees? Well, that is actually possible today.

Here is an incredibly cute video that was screened by our friends at the MIT Open Documentary Lab during their great SXSW session, which focused on innovative documentary filmmaking. The star here is “Boxie” – a robot that was designed by Alex Reben with the MIT Media Lab. Take a look and stay tuned for more great videos from SXSW 2013!

March 10th, 2013

Storytelling Meets HTML5 (Video)

by Iddo Shai

sxsw-kaltura-logo-2013_

During the first 5 days of SXSW the interactive and the film tracks are taking place concurrently. This is a unique opportunity for content creators, entrepreneurs and programmers to re-imagine the way we tell stories online. One of the most exciting technologies in this space is Zeega - an open-source HTML5 platform that aspires to “remake the Internet” by allowing creators to easily mash together text, video, animation and sound.

We chatted with Zeega’s CEO, Jesse Shapins about all of this. Watch the video to see some very original content being created on Zeega today. And of course stay tuned for the latest on video technology showcased here at SXSW 2013.

To watch the full Zeega presentations featured in this video:

1. How I Got to Boston

2. Jesus Rocks

March 7th, 2013

HTML5 Based Mobile OS and the Future of Video Phone Apps

by Gal Nachshon

FirefoxOS-logo_610x385 copyIt was nine years ago, during the W3C workshop in 2004, that Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software proposed, and has been rejected for, their desire to continue and develop HTML with a focus “on developing technologies that are backwards compatible with existing browsers.”

A few months later, unwilling to budge their admirable ambition, Mozilla, Opera, and Apple began working on the evolution of HTML “under the umbrella of a new venue called the WHATWG.” In 2007, after much work and development led by WHATWG, the W3C showed signs of interest and formed a working group chartered to work on the development of what came to be HTML5 specification. By the time HTML5 became the hottest trend in application development, mobile became the hottest trend in user consumption. Therefore, it was just a question of time that the two would marry. Especially since HTML5 offers new levels of innovation for mobile developers.

As of last month, February 2013, Firefox – the web browser from the house of Mozilla – has lunched its’ first HTML5-friendly mobile OS in Europe. The low cost, sub-$100, smart phone is now presenting a new challenge to Apples dominance over the smart firefox OSphone market. The new device, ZTE-made, is built on a open Web standards meaning “that every aspect of the device – including even the phone dialer – is built as an HTML5 application.”

Firefox claims that such an approach will allow faster performance than the HTML5 typically used on Android or iOS devices “where web apps have been often seen as inferior to native apps on those platforms.” Furthermore, Firefox OS “also gives carriers the chance to customize and localize those interfaces and services – including apps – as they choose, a level of flexibility they cannot have with iOS or Android.”

All of these rich features offered by Firefox OS are achieved through its flexible base of HTML5 and web applications, and like wise is Kaltura’s. As seen on the right, a Kaltura HTML5 player smoothly fits Firefox OS display screen without augmentation and faults. It is this bed of APIs upon which the Kaltura player is based on that provides a wide range service across all operating systems such as Firefox OS, but also iOS and Android SDK alike.

Kaltura’s HTML5 full featured player, however, is one of the fastest html5 players in its class, and as a recent study indicates, web viewers start dropping if a video does not start to play within 2 seconds or less. Hence, performance is key for retaining viewer engagement, but likewise is the design.

player-load-play-time

With Kaltura’s Dynamic Embed HTML5 player, a more flexible embed call allows for  changing run-time parameters easily, set up custom callbacks, and target a given DOM element in a page. The embed will inherit CSS classes and attributes of your DOM targets for robust Responsive Web Design support (sample page). This is critical since HTML5 is integrated into so many new form factors as with the Firefox OS phone.

The use of HTML5 enables the Kaltura player, as well as Firefox OS, to have a universal and flexible reach in today’s mobile world amongst many others whom picked up on the hot trends of HTML5 combined with mobile. Based on a recent global developer survey by Kendo UI, out of 5,000 developers, 36% preferred pure HTML5 implementation for all platforms, yet right behind them, at 32% of developers prefered hybrid apps that are developed in HTML5 code wrapped in a native container per target platform. This shift toward HTML5 is not surprising for not only does it give better end-user results, it also allows rapid development of apps.

For as a result of working per platform, instead of multi-platform via HTML5, 39% of developers spend time developing the same app/feature for multiple platforms instead of generating new ones. This workflow is time costly and impractical for the end user, who therefore has to wait long periods of time for upgrades on his mobile device OS and apps. Yet  HTML5, by developing apps across all platforms, generates a unison functionality with copious and flexible options to guarantee equivocal experience on any device and encourages effective future development.

We all appreciate the flexibility, robustness, and Mozilla’s ambitions to make HTML5 a first class citizen ever since 2004. However, until the day HTML5 will become a global standard, Kaltura still aims to support the best possible experiences in all environments such as iOS, Android, alongside HTML5. Therefore, Kaltura is also building native tools for experiences that can’t normally be delivered over html5 yet due to DRM, such as and adaptive streaming on Android, in order to achieve true universal reach today.

 

March 4th, 2013

Brand Journalism – How to Do it Right (Video)

by Iddo Shai

This blog post was first published at Fourth Source.

newsBrand journalism is one of the hottest trends for online marketers. With the proliferation of high-quality and inexpensive cameras and easy distribution platforms, every company can now be a media company.

However, when thinking about your marketing strategy it’s important not to focus solely on heavily branded materials like product overviews and PR collateral. Sure, it’s important to have content that explains what your products are all about, but these would most likely appeal to a small group of current and prospective customers. In order to reach a wider audience you need to zoom out from your company and create content that would interest others in your space. The goal here is not more qualified opportunities and leads. Forget about that. With brand journalism, the goal is to make people aware of your brand by creating engaging content. If done correctly, you could find new audiences and strengthen the brand’s relationship with exiting customers.

 

Share knowledge

People love to learn. And people love ‘free’. Just look at the MOOCs revolution that allows anyone to get ivy-league education for nothing. You may wonder why Harvard is giving away its pricey classes for free. It’s simple. It reflects well on the brand and it establishes the university as a leader in education. It is also serves the classic mission of any university: teach, educate, inspire.

You can do the same. In any organisation there is a vast amount of knowledge that is extremely interesting to outsiders. If you share best practices, guides and useful case studies, you will soon find new readers and viewers (who might never have heard of your organisation before) to consume this content. It will most likely go viral and get picked up by other publications. It happened to us at Kaltura when our video was picked up by ReelSEO or when our HTML5 blog post got many hits via Google queries.

 

Useful tip: be specific. Use stats and link to useful sources. It will add credibility to your article.

 

Forget the Competition

If you are serious about doing good brand journalism, start thinking like a journalist. Focus on writing useful and balanced pieces that offer real insight. Don’t ignore other players in the space and be sure to give credit to them, when credit is due. You will soon find that the same players link to your content because they feel their customers could find it useful. And that’s exactly where you want to be.

Useful tip: don’t plug your product in every other sentence. Your readers are savvy and always look for “the catch” or secret motive. Don’t turn them off.

 

Use Video

The Internet is full of great content, so how can you stand out? Video is a great way. If you are going to a conference, use your phone to capture parts of the presentation. If you have access to a professional camera, that’s even better. People love video and although video is now very easy to produce many of your competitors won’t make the effort. Video will also give you new outlets – like YouTube and Dailymotion -where your content can be indexed and found.2012 player edu

Useful tip: make a habit of carrying your point-and-shoot with you. Most of them are still better than smartphones since they offer physical zoom and better sound.

 

Distribute wisely

Once you have a great piece of content, the fun can begin. You need to be proactive about finding your audience. Post it in relevant groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, tweet about it and encourage your colleagues to re-tweet. If it’s a video, upload it to video destinations, if it’s a presentation, share it on sites like Slideshare.

Useful tip: before publishing a good article on your site, send it to successful blogs and offer them the chance to publish the piece first, in return for a link to your website. Later you can publish the same article on your own site.

 

Think SEO

SEO is a major part of your distribution technique. If you do it right, Google and the market treads will do much of the distribution for you. First, make sure that your article’s title includes many popular key words (based on the Google AdWords tool). Also make sure to phrase the title similarly to how people would search for content (for example, in the form of a question). Here is a good example: Why You Should Start Learning HTML5 – A Beginners Guide.

Useful tip: use Google Webmaster Tools and have Google index your site periodically. This will make sure that new pieces (texts, images, videos) come up in search results.

 

Track Analytics

Creating and distributing great content is time consuming, so you want to make sure that you can see the results and improve your strategy. Using your site analytics you can see the top referral sites so you can know where your visitors came from. You will also be able to see top search terms that generated traffic.

Useful tip: use a url shortener (like TinyURL or goo.gl) for links you post on external sites (for example, for each LinkedIn group use a different url). This way, you will be able to track which specific posts and groups drive the most traffic.

Brand journalism is a key way to promote your message to a wider audience and position yourself as a thought-leader in your market. Today, with the use of video, brand journalism becomes even more engaging and exciting – so go ahead and try it. Feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments below.