Coffeehouse Thread

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How are your videos prepared and edited?

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    I wonder how Channel9 records and prepares its videos. For example, what kind of software is used to analyse and fix errors in the videos. What cameras are used, how are the videos uploaded and streamed. How are changes made to the Channel9 pages to inform users and how are links added. Is the whole process automatic? And why is it so difficult to make the same videos downloadable?
    The choice of formats is also interesting. Why was WMV chosen and were other formats at firstevaluated? This is interesting since many of the advance video and audio editing programs do not still support WMV/WMA as their native format. For example, Wavelab and Cooledit Pro two famous audio editing programs still rely on wav and not really on WMA or at least WMA Lossless since compressed formats might be unsuitable for these kind of software.

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    I have a suggestion; this is slightly off-topic but not completely. I would like to suggest that if you move the camera next to the interviewers head (chin level) on a tripod then you will guarantee getting eye contact between the subject and the camera.

    At the moment people have a tendency to make eye contact with the interviewer and not the camera which is unnatural for people viewing it. I would also like to add, that when your asking questions AND showing a screen *(Threat modelling tool, video) then you really should have a second camera. Keep the first at chin-level to receive questions and the other always pointing very accurately at the screen. Edit it after.

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    Don't use a camera for viewing the screen. Just use a screen capturing program.

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    For this level of professionalism we can watch The Show while we wait for this Channel 9 project to grow.

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    I'm shooting using Canon Elura 50s, which aren't available anymore (they cost us about $500 at Best Buy).

    I just bought a Sony DCR-HC20, costs about $450. So far it looks a bit better than the current Canons.

    Until now Microsoft Studios has been doing the editing. They use Avid Express (a $700 editing program).

    I've done some editing with Windows Movie Maker and it achieves about the same results. That's using a $40 Firewire card to digitize the video and bring it into my Dell machine (nothing special there).

    Soon I'll be editing my own videos and compressing them.

    Why did I choose Microsoft Windows Media format? Easy. Some other team had already setup the servers and the format is lighterweight, better quality, and the servers work.

    Why is it difficult to make them downloadable? Two different server methodologies.

    The streaming media servers were setup to make it easy to get stuff onto them, but they only accept WMV files. Try to put an EXE up there and it'll reject it, from what I understand. The protocol that your media player uses to talk to the streaming server is NOT HTTP. It's a different protocol designed specifically for streaming audio and video over. Lots more on that over at

    When I worked at Fawcette Technical Publications, I used pretty much the same setup. Why? Because it worked and it was inexpensive. I tried all sorts of different formats and servers and liked Windows Media the best. Your experience may vary, which formats do you like? Have you ever tried to build a system where tens of thousands of people download and view each video?

    Regarding the camera work. My idea is to have a chat, just like I would if I walked into someone's office. The camera is just there and shouldn't be the center of attention. I don't want people to "pitch" to the camera. Maybe that's a wrong decision, but so far whenever someone looks directly into the camera the video just isn't as good.

    I will try to work on getting better camera positions, but often I'm working in small offices and it's hard to get a good angle. Keep in mind I'm not a professional and I don't want to make these things a huge production. When studios does it they make people put on makeup, write a script, work under special lights, have thousands of dollars in audio equipment and video equipment, and a two to four-person crew (sometimes even larger).

    I also do a very minimum amount of editing. Usually just find a decent start point and a decent end point. Why? Editing is work (er, it costs money). I also want a conversational feel to these as if they were shot live.

    That all said, lots of people are saying "improve the videos" so that's what I'm working on now. I just got budget to buy a better camera and lights and microphones (I'm only using $30 microphones right now -- the new ones will let me shoot two people at one time so you can hear what the interviewer is saying, and they'll be wireless so we can use them while walking around the buildings).

    Anyway, glad you enjoy them. There's some fun ones coming over the next week and my goal is to get all the downloads done by the end of the week.

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    I'm playing around with screen capturing programs, but keep in mind one of the goals of these: to get informal unscripted interviews. I don't want to replace the .NET Show.

    I also don't want to cause a lot of troubles for the people I'm interviewing. The less stress and time I take out of their lives, the better. (It actually increases the chance that I'll be invited to interview more people).

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    Not that I've ever seen one; but maybe there is some  thingamajig that can record video from VGA output? Maybe a project for the Citizen Engineers.

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