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.