Anna in the paper

Anna is in today’s Melbourne Age. She has a show opening this Friday and scored an ‘entertainment’ come R

3gp playing in QuickTime

3gp is the file format that is a subset of MPEG4, that is what mobile phones produce. This means that the video your mobile phone produces can be embedded into HTML. QuickTime 6 pro can produce video in this format as is, and QuickTime can be used to play back embedded content. A colleague had some problem making this work off our server so I wrote up an embed tag for them to make sure it works. The specific thing of interest in the embed tag I’ve written is the use of src and qtsrc. Src is the usual attribute that loads a QuickTime movie, but if you use a file in src that only QuickTime can read, for example a .mov or .qti file, and then put your actual video in the qtsrc attribute, this forces the content in the qtsrc attribute to be played by the QuickTime plugin. So this tag forces the QuickTime plug in to play the 3gp content, no matter what the mime type settings from the server, or in the client’s browser, might say (though of course if they don’t have QuickTime installed at all then you’re buggered).

This is the embed tag I used, the getQT4.qti file is the QuickTime image format, a format that only QuickTime understands. If you want to get a copy of that file two compressed copies of it are available.

(btw, remember to strip out all the line breaks if you use the code below as your template.)

LuganoTrain.sitx

LuganoTrain.zip

<embed

src=”getQT4.qti”

width=”128″ height=”112″

controller=”TRUE”

bgcolor=”000000″

autoplay=”TRUE”

loop=”TRUE”

cache=”FALSE”

qtsrc=”toLuganoTrain.3gp”

type=”video/quicktime”

pluginspage=”http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/”>

</embed>

AV blogs

Userplane: AV Mail is a web site that uses Flash to let account holders record audio and video and to then post that video into their sites. It has an elegant Flash interface, and is a brilliant example of the things that Flash facilitates. For the average punter with a camera hooked up to their ‘puter this is very useful, but for those of us with FireWire and QTBroadcaster or any other simple app (iMovie works flawlessly), it is probably a complicated way to do something simple. It’s in beta testing, though the email I received inviting me to participate doesn’t say that it is closed or otherwise.

Lugano Variation One

I’ve just made a short brief vog. It uses footage from when I was hanging out with Lilia and Sebastian in Lugano during EdMedia 2004. I did a quick and dirty cut of the material together in Final Cut Express, then made a three panel movie in Live Stage Pro. Mousing into each of the video panes toggles its sound track on, and that’s all that happens in this one. Light weight, quick, and sorta quirky. Less ponderous than the Lugano Train work from last week.

So, Lugano Vartiation One, is the work, it is 7.5MB which is above my usual size but I wanted some decent quality in the work. Lugano was beautiful, the company was excellent, and yes, as the name implies, I’m planning probably a couple more simple variations around this simple theme.

looking for work?

This is the official email that we’ve sent out, if you’re interested in teaching here with us, read on…

The School of Applied Communication at RMIT University in Melbourne is looking for casual tutors in 2005 to teach subjects in Networked and Integrated Media. These subjects are designed to develop both practical and theoretical skills for the students taking them. They are also designed to be taught using a student-centred process based educational method. Those interested in these tutoring positions do not require prior experience in this approach to teaching but must be willing, with appropriate support, to engage with these ideas. An outline of the subjects can be found below. Tutoring work will be available in an intensive summer semester over January and February 2005, as well as in Semester 1 (Late February to June) and Semester 2 (July to October). Could anyone interested please email Leo Berkeley (LEO.BERKELEY@RMIT.EDU.AU ), attaching a CV.

Subject Information

Networked Media is a first year subject in the Bachelor of Communication (Media) degree. It has no prerequisities and assumes no prior knowledge in network media. The subject explores the practical and theoretical implications of the Internet for traditional conceptions of film, television, and radio. It will introduce a range of technical skills, including introductory Web design, networked writing, capturing, compressing and encoding media, placing this media online, and DVD design and authoring. The theoretical work undertaken will be an introduction to networks in the context of traditional media.

Integrated Media 1 is a second year subject in the Bachelor of Communication (Media) degree. It has Networked Media as a prerequisite. The subject provides a theoretical and applied foundation in the principles, problems and processes of contemporary networked interactive media. This includes emergent professional and social networks that are evident in contemporary distributed media (for example the Internet). The subject intends to assist students in developing a theoretical understanding of these networks in concert with practical application, including how to participate and represent themselves successfully and appropriately in such contexts.

Theoretically and practically the emphasis within Integrated Media 1 is on ‘network literacy’ which includes the ability to use, understand, represent yourself within, and utilise contemporary information networks. Students will participate within, while studying, the social nature of these network literacies, and the specific qualities of network ecologies.

Integrated Media 2 is a second year subject in the Bachelor of Communication (Media) degree. It has Integrated Media 1 as a prerequisite. Within Integrated Media 2, students are introduced in detail to the QuickTime media architecture. The emphasis is not on the specific software environment but on how to learn about a media architecture so that it can then be appropriated for critical and creative work. Students will develop skills in a specific interactive authoring environment, and extensive and detailed abilities in how to embed time based media in HTML. The major theoretical issues involved in interactive time based media, and the futures proposed by such work, will be explored in considerable detail. Students will be expected to show a high level of understanding of a key author in this field.

pinging blues

I’ve had a lot of trouble with pings lately, they just don’t seem to get out. So I’m currently trying to see if it’s a RMIT firewall problem or I’ve just got my settings the wrong way about.

Lugano train vog

This new vog is a minor departure from the recent ones that I’ve been making, which have all involved zooming and draggable movies. I’ll return to those shortly. The Lugano train vog is a larger work, and is deliberately intended to be more polished than the everyday variety vogs. It has been embedded so that it plays within QuickTime player, primarily because it is 720 x 540 pixels in size and that just looks silly as an embedded movie in the vog.

There is a picture track that takes up all this space, which is made up of three jpegs. The jpegs are photos that relate to the trip to Lugano I had earlier this year (for the EdMedia conference). Embedded within this is the video track, which is the footage that I shot while travelling by train from Zurich to Lugano on one foggy, damp, afternoon. Mousing in to the video track progressively slows the video, to half, quarter, eighth normal speed. Clicking within the video restores the track to normal speed.

One child movie soundtrack loops, this is an announcement made during the train trip about which stations are coming up next, in German and Italian. This is only a short sound grab, and so this loops via the child movie track independently of the duration and play back speed of the parent movie.

I added a small sprite track that contains some hand written frame rates. This is to let the user know the effect of mousing in to the movie and indicates feedback as to what the behaviour is. Hopefully if the soundtrack is looping at this point they might also wonder how a movie can slow down the video rate but not affect the soundtrack. They’re hand written because I just wanted something like my notebook going on, nothing fancy, nothing with that fancy Flash come vector aesthetic. There’s nothing fancy with the scripting either. I could have written a script that retrieves the frame rate and presented that in a text track, but that just adds to the processor overheads. The way I’ve done it is to just attach it to the same sprite that counts mouse enters, and when it halves the frame rate it also just changes the image index for the second sprite.

Since the movie is targeting QuickTime Player I added a couple of buttons so that clicking one moves the movie into full screen mode, clicking the other moves the movie back to normal. After experimenting with this I changed the event to mouse in rather than mouse click, I much prefer the action of ‘caressing’ the surface of the object that the mouse in event produces, rather than the lugubrious ‘click here’ that makes us all into experimental subjects. Touch with the mouse, things happen.

There are three photo’s in the movie as well, revealed simply by mousing around in there. Finding and displaying a photo has the effect of loading another child movie soundtrack, though I expect over a network this will not work because of the lag – mousing out stops the childmovie track and I don’t think it will have time to start playing given network lag. If this is the case I’ll rescript this a bit more so that mousing into and revealing a photo will play that soundtrack until you click. In fact, that’s a better idea, so I’ll do it now (insert sound of coding…….)

Ok, that only took 5 minutes. So, now if you click the photo then it stops that soundtrack and returns you to the other one. The three sound tracks I have added are rambling affairs, but suited to the medium. One is just remembering the train trip, one is thinking about thinking about place, and the other discusses my vog practice. This movie works much better if you take the download option…

teaching fatigue

This has been a big year (down here our teaching runs across two semesters, beginning end of February, mid year break, the second semester runs to mid October). Major curriculum change, innovation, new teaching models, and so forth.

While the first years (those who are the first to receive the new curriculum and methodology) are generally coping, and inspite of their protestations largely producing good work, it is time to start documenting much more regularly the sorts of things we’ve done.

Blogs. Well, every student has a blog. Which I do sometimes read, but in terms of assessment I have no intention of reading every blog post by each student through the year. That’s insane. It hinders students and prevents them from believing that the space is ‘theirs’. It also distorts the relevance of blogs since a key feature of them is that they are personal public networked writing spaces. So, how do we assess them? Don’t know yet, but the first effort this semester in one subject will be to allow students to self nominate say ten entries. These are to be submitted to me via email and these will be the ten that I assess. Yes, I will also skim the blog to make sure that there are regular entries, and this will affect their final mark, but they are responsible for nominating entries.

An assessment matrix is provided that indicates the sorts of qualities an entry ought to have for each grade level (a high distinction entry would have qualities that …) and a self assessment exercise is held where all students are able to evaluate a nominated entry against this matrix. This lets students concretise the grades in relation to their own work and demystifies what good, poor, and excellent work is.

The benefits of this are that my assessment load is identifiable and manageable. This is independent of how much writing a student may actually do in their blogs. Students are able to see and read the differences in quality between blogs and so the difference between best quality and worse quality work is easily recognisable. Students are able to assess their work against an explicit matrix and so are more easily able to recognise what they need to do to achieve the outcomes they desire. This also helps us model reflective practice more generally since these sorts of assessment activities require students to make explicit the qualities of their own work.

ruffled

Some feathers yesterday when I commented on Jeremy Allaire’s post. As I had mentioned in the email I was in a grumpy mood, but as Eli Chapman pointed out in email, the point is to generate critical mass around these distributed, applied, networked video appliances, and anyway of doing that is a good way. Happy to be corrected on that basis.

Ressentiment can be a bugger.

bleeding obvious

I got this via Steve Garfield on the videoblogging list: Now that video can be produced cheaply and with reasonable production

blogs and teaching

I’d mentioned here that we’ve started using blogs throughout our Media Studies program. They are to be used throughout the three years of their program, and not just as an adjunct (or more) for one particular course. They’ve been introduced into the second semester, largely because first semester introduced across most of their subjects the practice and discipline of journal writing (traditional journals).

Because it is integrated across the three years of the curriculum they have been introduced ‘gently’. Which just means this semester they are to use their blogs more as traditional journals. We did set up blog rolls, turned on trackback, but there is no assessment or other expectation that they would have to read each other’s blogs, comment on each other’s writing, and so forth.

In second year blogs as social emergent networks will be foregrounded, amongst other things (wikis and more general social software networks), and it is at this point that inserting themselves very specifically into blogging as a specific practice will be expected.

Well, more fool I. Ducks to water. What is happening in their blogs is similar to what used to happen years ago when I first introduced students to email lists. Many are prolific writers, they are all reading each other’s blogs (a conversation in class yesterday, I ask “How would you do x?” One student replies “Nico wrote about that in his blog” and proceeded to find the entry), linking to each other, and so on.

At the moment, as Ali observes (remember this is a first year student):

It seems to me that most people have started using their blogs to fulfill a socialising function. People have extended their friendships and personal relationships into their blogs, using it to discuss happenings and events, and generally gossip, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, its just another way of utilising the space.

Which does seem to be the case. There is a flurry of reading and writing that is impressive. Yes, it is primarily social, but remember, this is first year. This is helping develop community in the group, which is important as by third year we expect these students to be doing a lot of collaborative research and production work. It is also letting them own this space, and helping the students to develop their blog voices. There have been some issues, offensive or rude material, but to date I have not had to intervene and they have successfully negotiated these issues themselves. Which is as it ought to be.

Using blogs so broadly within an entire course is proving to be an interesting experiment, and to date certainly supports my initial hunches about its relevance and use.

ecto beta

Ecto, the best blog client out there, now has a public release for the beta for version two. There are a heap of differences between ecto 1 and the new version, and it is beta software. Follow the instructions, keep backups, and try it out.