Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hamish on travels

Not much of interest at web2.0 conf in SF seams the dotcom boom is slowing - lots of big talk but not much innervation - still lots of money running around though...

Am a few hours north of SF, found a nice abandoned house overlooking the pacific surrounded by pine trees and redwoods, have been camping out there for the last few days - meet a nice Austrian cuppale in the VW camper van who I invited to stay - its sunny but windy.

The sea lians and deer are friendly, the volutes and eagles cureas - the is a beautiful turfed sapphire blue bird with a crest who comes and eats my bread creambs.

My solar editing system is giving me trubbale- think the sun is too strong here so editing going slow.

Next big stop Portland...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

OffineTV intro to San Francisco

Am in town for the Web2.0 conf

Monday, April 21, 2008

VisionOnTV - FAQ for Viewers and Producers

VisionOnTV FAQ

FAQ for Viewers

What is VisionOnTV?

Unlike most video on the web, VisionOnTV is designed to be watched like conventional TV, as simple to use as TV, as wide-ranging in its programmes as TV, but with content that is very very different.

To deliver you this TV experience, VOTV uses a mixture of peer-caching and direct download, which makes it different from youtube and other video distribution sites which stream the films at you without downloading them to your computer. VOTV has the advantage of delivering sharp-quality films which you can watch without waiting for the stream to buffer, and that you can keep if you wish. You can even project them on the wall.

Is my computer good enough to receive VOTV?

We recommend you have at least 512 RAM and a 1 Ghz processor. VOTV will not download films unless you have more than 5GB available on your hard drive.

Before installing the VOTV player application, it’s a good idea to clean your PC with an anti-virus programme (AVG is good free one), and use Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware to get rid of spyware and stuff.

Will receiving VOTV slow down my computer?

When you first register, we recommend you leave your computer on overnight. VisionOnTV will download a package of films into your computer as an introduction to the station. Your computer may slow down a little while this is happening. After this initial download, VisionOnTV will only update with new films as they are broadcast, and should not affect the speed of your machine. If you have an older computer, we recommend you do not run too many programmes at the same time.

How do I stop my hard drive filling up with VOTV films?

Any film watched automatically deletes after 6 days, unless you click to keep it. Or you can manually delete shows.

We recommend you install any of the 5 main channels that appeal to you. They appear when you click “VisionOnTV Guide” at the top of the sidebar. You could also install any of the other channels found through the “More Channels” link.
Now click a channel in the left-hand column. There are three settings for downloading from a channel (in the menu next to “auto download”): All – Get all videos New – Get Only New Videos Off – Don’t Auto-Download Videos
Choose which of these you prefer. We recommend downloading any videos which interest you from the blue archive section, and then setting auto-download to “New”.

You can then remove any channels you don’t like, or remove individual shows from channels, by uninstalling them from the side panel in Guide mode. (Right-click – Remove)

But I only want to watch one show…....

As above, in the side panel in Guide mode, Right-click – Remove all other shows But, you know, go on, why not try something else as well?

FAQ for Producers

What kind of films does VisionOnTV broadcast?
VisionOnTV is oppositional television which goes against the worn-out grain of media mega-corporations, gives a voice to the unrepresented, and promotes the social change which is necessary to save the planet.
But VOTV is also an outreach project, which aims to reach as many people as possible, to make social change via video a real possibility. This means we carry content which has the broadest possible definition of “alternative”, including comedy, soaps and music. We believe that social change takes many different forms, and we want to be screening them all.
If you’re not sure if your content fits, read the VOTV Mission Statement (url)

How do I submit a film to VOTV for broadcast?
If your film is already streamed or posted somewhere, send us an email with the url so we can watch it. If we wish to broadcast it, we will let you know with the details for encoding. Films on streaming sites are not good enough technical quality, so we will normally ask you to upload a better-quality bittorrent version via a bittorrent client such as Azureus Vuze (details of the spec required are below).

What is a bittorrent exactly?
VOTV cannot afford the bandwidth of owning our own server to distribute films, so VOTV films are hosted in one of two ways: by direct download from free server sites, and by bittorrent, where there are also no bandwidth costs, as “bits” of films are acquired from the computers of different holders of the film and downloaded as a “torrent of bits” from those different sources. We recommend uploading your film to azureus vuze (a bittorrent client), and then telling us that you’ve done it. You will need to register with vuze, but it’s quite straightforward.

How do I encode a film for VOTV?
Help pages at
At VOTV we use the most forward-looking codec (the mp4 codec h264) with the current best quality practicable. Quality is a trade-off between high-definition on the one hand and size of download and accessibility to popular streaming sites such as youtube on the other. The current best formula is the one given on the help pages, which compresses at a rate of around 10mb a minute. Please follow these guidelines, because we want your pictures to look as great as possible. (By the way, in addition to mp4/h264, we also support Ogg Theora, at a similar data-rate and frame-size.)
Films on VOTV are usually less than 10 minutes long, with longer films cut into episodes. This is because, generally, online viewers prefer to consume media in shorter pieces than on old TV. For instance, youtube actually has a 10 minute limit for uploads.

We also put out the complete films on an optional install channel, for public screenings.

Why is VOTV not open publishing?
As an outreach project, VOTV’s priority is to those viewers who will only watch alternative films with similar production values and story-telling skills as television. Many alternative films are unwatchable, and most are too long. It has been Undercurrents’ mission since it was founded to help improve the quality of activist films by working closely with producers, so that radical ideas and actions get the greatest possible distribution, and inform and inspire as widely as possible.

A social change media network which is open publishing is indymedia, which we recommend you use as well. Another is transmission, who also have their own customised player –

Do you take advertising?
On the VisionOnTV station itself we hope to gain some ethical advertising – no dodgy companies, and we will only take informational commercials, not aspirational ones.
We are also syndicating all films as widely as possible to corporate video sharing sites. Some of these will insert unethical adverts (we have no control over the advertising they choose), but we will encourage any viewers who want a higher-quality video without these ads to migrate across to VisionOnTV itself..
Right now we are not yet receiving any money from advertising (you need a minimum large number of viewers for each distribution site before they will give you any revenue).

Any money from any future advertising needs to go to support the costs of our not-for-profit station. We are unable to offer direct revenue to producers, though we are fund-raising for a production fund. What we will provide for you is a much greater distribution, from which you may be able to draw revenue yourselves (see below).

So what’s in it for me as a producer?
As much as you make of it. One way to fund production is to get a sponsor for a show. Really big shows raise money from merchandising. We can supply statistics on downloads for any pitch you need to make in the future. You could also get your own ethical advertising, and edit it into your video.

But I need to sell all those DVDs which are sitting in my cupboard…..
Fine. Your film on VOTV will be put out in short episodes. You can put an ad at the end of each part for people that wish to screen the whole film to buy a DVD.

What about copyright?
Most of the content on VOTV is broadcast with a creative commons licence ( Our favourite licence is Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike, which protects you from commerical exploitation, but allows other film makers to use your material as long as they put it in the same licence and attribute you. If anyone wants to use your material commercially, they have to approach you and pay you.

PLEASE make sure that any copyright images or music in your film are cleared for use.

I’d like to do my own distribution….
Go for it. We would never seek any exclusive rights from you, and we passonately believe in multiple sources of distribution. We are only one of a number of ways of getting your story out there. (We think we’re pretty good at it, though!) Our advice: don’t be exclusive – it doesn’t work on the net.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Don’t Drink from the Mainstream.

Here’s the note pinned on the studio door of Undercurrents productions in South Wales.
To do list for 2008

1) Make 10 new video series on topics ranging from Woodland skills to Technology reviews and from Political news to investigative documentaries.

2) Develop a desktop video player application based upon the open source software.

3) Launch an Internet Protocol Television Station which builds an open mass medium of online television.

Ps: Do it all on a minuscule budget

Alternative news organisation, Undercurrents does like a challenge. Born out of frustration in 1993 at the mainstream media’s lack of drive in reporting environmental issues, my colleagues and I searched for other outlets. After three years trying to convince BBC2 and Channel 4 to commission our documentaries, we decided to establish our own distribution. Rather than hanging around Westminster, our reporters immersed themselves in the vibrant counter-culture politics of the UK, giving us real insights into just how people were feeling about the future. While the mass media concentrated on apathetic youth, our cameras focused on motivated people intent on stopping a motorway destroying the medieval forests of Newbury or carving up the majestic Twyford Down. Many other reporters were too busy discussing the hairstyles of ‘eco-warriors’ to bother investigating the actual issues behind the tunnels and the tree houses.

Fast-forward to this century, to the floods, storms and record-breaking temperatures. Our climate is changing for the worse yet broadcasters are still very slow in appointing dedicated environmental journalists to provide consistent knowledge about the looming chaos. It is clearly up to the people themselves to get informed.

Years before the term ‘citizen journalism’ became fashionable, Undercurrents was training campaigners to make micro-documentaries using Sony Hi8 camcorders and twin JVC SVHS decks. Distribution relied upon the humble VHS cassette and a subscription model similar to magazines. Within 5 years we had sent out more than 30,000 videotapes, prompting Time Out to dub us "the news you don’t see on the news". By the end of the 20th century, we had succeeded in putting video cameras in the hands of people who actually had something useful to say, and giving them a platform to be heard from.

Undercurrents soon upgraded from our Sony Pd150s and invested in the handheld Sony HVR-A1E HD cameras and the shoulder mounted JVC GY-HD100. For the first five years of the 21st century we relied upon DVD and CD-ROM for distribution, even encouraging our subscribers to copy and distribute our discs under ‘copy-left’ licences to their friends worldwide with the understanding there would be no profiteering.

It was a great success, very little loss in quality leading to a few self-motivated people translating our films and widening the circulation further than we could ever have afforded. Our video archive is now one of the largest libraries of protest and social change events in the UK if not the world. We regularly licence our images to documentary makers such as Michael Moore and John Pilger. Our many clients include political comedian Mark Thomas and rock band System of a Down. While we supply dramatic images to Sky, ITN, and BBC News our camcorder images even appear in dozens of blockbusters, from Godzilla to Fahrenheit 911.

Today of course our DIY distribution is based around the Internet. Rather than paying for expensive streaming servers, we have decided to base it around the much more inclusive peer-to-peer technology of BitTorrent and peer caching LINK wikepidea. Designed in 2001, BitTorrent is a method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources. Instead, when data is distributed using the BitTorrent protocol, each recipient supplies pieces of the data to newer recipients, reducing the cost and burden on any given individual source, providing redundancy against system problems, and reducing dependence on the original distributor. Even the BBC have recognised the benefits of this path by shaping their i-Player around it. We are attracting subscribers daily by using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) video feeds. This is an invaluable system making it easy to subscribe and receive our latest content automatically.

Funding all this is of course is a sticking point, but our main drive is to ensure that ethical companies can make best use of the emerging technologies. In 2007 the audience for online videos in the UK rose to 21million, a dramatic rise of 28% over the previous year. So forget banner adverts, the smart companies want to embed their logos within relevant online videos. Earlier this month we signed a sponsorship deal with a progressive travel agency. will support our Bike2Oz series about the couple cycling the 12,000km to Sydney from Oxford highlighting the links between aviation and climate chaos.

While most corporations struggle to control the illegal distribution of their content with Digital Rights Management, we have decided to licence our work under Creative Commons licence allowing viewers to take our videos and change, screen or copy them figuring that a far and wide distribution is a huge bonus for our advertisers.

So things are heating up in the Undercurrents camp as we have spent the last year training presenters, video reporters and Final Cut Pro editors to make their own news from a wide range of perspectives.

Our VisionOnTV video player application, (based upon the existing Miro) will be released on April 1st 2008 with two ways of experiencing it in mind. First being a ‘lean back’ experience- i.e.: viewers can just sit back and enjoy the full screen high quality content. Once comfortable with the experience of viewing online Television, viewers will be encouraged to ‘lean in’- for the view-on-demand and begin to rate, tag, share, bookmark videos or just chat online about the issues being raised.

Developed under an GPL open source licence we will make the source code of VisionOnTV available granting anyone the right to use and develop it. This is what we view as progress when building the open mass medium of online television. We have a window of opportunity to keep IPTV open but there's a constant risk that large corporations will continue to build proprietary systems, which lock users into closed systems. By championing video RSS we hope we can help make a more level playing field. So our goal in some ways is to nudge the video industry in the direction of using open standards.

However creating an open TV network is only one of our goals.Climate change is real and people will never spontaneously take action themselves unless they receive social support and the validation of others. Governments in turn will continue to procrastinate until sufficient numbers of people demand a response. To avert further climate change will require a degree of social consensus and collective determination normally only seen in war time, and that will require mobilisation across all classes and sectors of society. The media has a huge role within that mobilisation and hopefully with the open solutions we are building, Undercurrents and VisionOnTv will play a vital role over the next decade. Undercurrents does like a challenge.

To download the VisionOnTV player go to
For more information about Undercurrents go to

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The freedom of the internet is becoming a very open hot subject

The freedom of the internet is becoming a very open hot subject with some corporations closing down possibilities in the drive for profits and some opening up possibilities vier the dropping of DRM and opening up applications to user creativity.

Net neutrality is becoming a very hot subject, don’t get your broadband from Virgin Media in the UK “The new CEO of Virgin Media is putting his cards on the table early, branding net neutrality “a load of bollocks” and claiming he's already doing deals to deliver some people's content faster than others. If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he'll put you in the Internet “bus lane”.” Read More HERE

On the other hand the BBC’s quietly dropping of DRM is allowing a flowering of options for users of there content and will likely see an explosive growth of there outreach. “It's been a great week for the BBC's iPlayer project: The Beeb has just announced that the iPlayer is now attracting 550,000 daily views on average. The iPlayer is also now officially available on the Wii, making it the first streaming service by a major broadcaster on any of the three consoles.” Read More HERE

All corporate propriety systems for video on the web are looking like billion dollar white elephants with the growth of open standards. “The popular BitTorrent site Mininova is currently Beta testing BitTorrent powered video streaming. The new streaming feature allows users to watch videos instantly, streamed from .torrent files.” Read More HERE

After the failer of DRM our ISP are to become the corporate gatekeepers of what and how we can access the open web – which they won’t close to propup the current obsolete copurate structers – they will waist billion of $ agen when will they learn that digital information just wonts to be free – and has a different economy to the traditions world of scaesarty we have lived in for the last 300 years.

We move from the 18th century industrial revolution to the 21st century digital revolution – if our natural environment holds together we have are living in interesting times. Check out our IPTV channel for more info

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This might be the ONE after all.

Just had anther look at this Myka bittorrt TV box - it might be the one we use as it supports RSS so just program in our channels and make our channel guide work with it and its the one - they need legit companys to push these so should be able to get a deal. More good info here

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Thinking about going to this conf - any one been?

The Allied Media Conference cultivates media strategies for a more just and creative world. Held every June in Detroit, MI, it is the primary point of intersection in the U.S. for alternative media makers and committed social justice activists from around the country.

We come together to share tools and tactics for transforming our communites through media-based organizing. The panel discussions and workshops of the AMC are hands-on and practical, intergenerational while youth-centered. They showcase the solutions emerging from places where creativity is a matter of survival. Out of the AMC, we evolve new skills and strategies to bring back to our local contexts. We deepen our relationships and expand our networks in ways that support ongoing collaboration throughout the year.

Allied Media Projects (AMP) presents the 10th Allied Media Conference, June 20-22 2008, in Detroit, Michigan.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Graffiti Night Out

pro alt-media video.

The Evil Guide to promoing videos