The Participatory Culture Foundation has been hard at work building up several services that make great use of online video. As such we at ReelSEO thought it was time that we took a look at them to see how they're doing. The PCF is a non-profit organization that wants to build a new open mass medium platform that's simple and easy to use.
Two projects – Miro and Make Internet TV are already up and running so I've decided to take a look into each and let you know what they're all about and how they're going along.
Make Internet TV
The Make Internet TV project (http://makeinternettv.org/) is about empowering people and giving them the necessary tools and information to allow them to create and publish video online. They offer a six chapter path of information and services to help you.
Step 1 – Equipment - This step gives you some basic information on types of cameras and recording devices. It tells you the difference between DV and Digital and offers some opinions on to whether or not you might want to use a specific device depending on what you want to do. They have some fairly well done areas on major device platforms which will certainly help inform novices and might even give some guidance to those with a little experience but looking to upgrade their equipment.
Step 2 – Shoot - This step gives good, basic information on how to hold your camera and some techniques for getting that proper framing. It also gives some information about sound recording including types of microphones and a few tricks.
Step 3 – Edit - In the Edit section they give you the most basic information about the video editors that are included in today's most popular operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux. The section also gives hints on how to get your video off your camera and onto your computer.
Step 4 – License - Step 4 starts talking about the license of your material and offers two possibilities Creative Commons and Copyright & Fair Use issues to make sure you don't get in trouble if you use material from someone else and so you know what others can potentially do with your material.
Step 5 – Publish - Now to get your video published on the Internet. They take a quick look at some of the most popular sites including YouTube, Hulu, blip.tv, TubeMogul, DailyMotion and more. They even give you some tips on setting up your own video blog etc.
Step 6 – Promote - This final section talks about getting your video in front of viewers, three typical types of viewers and options like streaming, embedding and downloading. They cover very little in this area. They talk about iTunes, Miro (another PCF project, see below) and syndicating your content via mefeedia and vlogbot.
Overall the service won't be a great resource for those of us who are already using video online but it could become a valuable resource for the millions of people who are new to Internet video publishing, for example the million iPhone 3GS owners and anyone who gets into online video later down the road.
MIRO - Open Source Video Download and Player
Miro (http://getmiro.com/), the other PCF project, is an Internet TV platform that is trying to make watching video online as easy as watching broadcast TV at home. The Miro player will not only help you find programs to watch but will download them so that you can take them with you and watch them whenever and wherever you want.
It's a full-screen, HD-capable player and covers over 6,000 shows and video podcasts. It's not only an HD video player but a general one as well and can playback Quicktime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, Xvid and more. It even included a BitTorrent client so you can download and watch in the same application. The content guide itself covers YouTube, blip.tv, etc.
Downloading the software is quick and painless and when it begins after a fairly well done install interface you're presented with the web-based Miro Guide. Anyone can add their media RSS feed to the directory and get their content included in the guide to start attracting more visitors.
They are working to incorporate a lot of other cool features in the player including an ambitious subtitling support project that will be able to automatically find the subtitles if they are available from sites like OpenSubtitles.org etc. The software gives you the ability to rate videos and then takes those ratings and can create playlists of feeds that it thinks you might like. You can even create your own guide and feed list and plug it into the Miro Guide for your personal use.
You bet! With Miro you can email feeds and videos, share links and videos out to popular social networks and even import and export your feed lists.
Version 2.5 of Miro is on the horizon and promises a list of new features and better speed. They're reorganizing the library, boosting speed and more.
One of the problems I see with the Miro guide is simply that there's tons of content and wading through it is tedious. Hundreds of podcasts about nothing are mixed in with hundreds of podcasts about things I have no interest in. That means that if you start putting your video podcasts into the directory it's going to be difficult for many to find them unless they end up being most popular, top rated or the videos get chosen for the 'Videos You'll Love' lists for viewers. With over 585 pages of new shows, it's certainly going to be an uphill battle to get your video seen.
But at a player Miro is cool. It can play just about every form of video that's popular and even some that aren't so popular. It can automatically download the videos you choose so you have them when you want and you can delete them as you need to. There are some big name shows like Diggnation and Tekzilla and you could possibly find tons of new videos that you might like. Of course a lot of shows won't show up in your lists if you're not in the proper region so Miro is no work around for restrictions at sites like Hulu, damn.
Is this the future of online television? With the automatic download that allows you to watch whenever and wherever you are, it very well could be. Time-shifted TV is quite popular and there's no reason that something like this shouldn't prove popular with travelers and business people who spend a lot of time on the road. Plug into the internet, fire up the player and it starts downloading any videos that you've subscribed to, similar to podcasts and iTunes. It even ties into LegalTorrents so you can get other forms of entertainment outside of video.