Apple is probably to blame for a fascination that I have had with video. Sometime in mid-eighties when I was working for Apple, I won a Sony Video8 camera in an Apple sales contest. I was hooked.
Like any good father, I took hours of soccer, hockey, and dance video over the years. I still have some of the video of our children playing on the beaches north of Halifax, Nova Scotia, one spring in the late eighties. I ended up with at least two other Sony video cameras over the years. A few years ago I spent days going through video and putting some clips on a DVD using iDVD. That DVD is now a family treasure.
I can also remember taking photos, movies, and music and creating a great prom video for my youngest daughter almost twelve years ago. I used iMovie and eventually did a version in Final Cut Pro.
When Apple's original .Mac service came along and eventually offered the opportunity to post movies on the web, I was quick to try that. Over the years Apple has changed .Mac and its descendant, MobileMe, so much that my early movies are no longer visible on the web.
I have long looked at the web as my filing cabinet, but Apple's propensity for change has made it a challenging storage partner. However, I suspect the motives of other "clouds" on the web are probably just as suspect. Google's motives are often especially hard to determine, and I'm not exactly excited about the somewhat forced connection between Picasa Web Albums and Google+ albums.
For almost four years I have been posting my videos to YouTube instead of Apple's cloud. Some, like this simple one of a sail boat docking in Beaufort, NC have been viewed thousands of times.
I find it rather ironic that Apple, the creator of Quicktime, has made it so difficult to keep my movies created using their software and hardware in their own on line world. With iCloud maybe things will get better, but Apple's track record doesn't give me a lot of confidence.
Unfortunately, things have gotten even messier than a few early pages with Quicktime clips not working. Apple's war against Adobe's Flash and other vendors' worries about the H.264 standard have created a mess if you want to do your own video and post it on the web on your own site.
It is to the point that the easiest way to do video on the web is to embed a YouTube video in a web page. Today, except on an experimental basis and for mobile users, YouTube video is Flash based.
You can get an idea of the problem for web developers by going to this YouTube site which lets you opt into their HTML5 trial. Depending on which browser you use and how your browser is configured if you use Internet Explorer, you will see different things. Just taking the time to visit the YouTube HTML5 site with both Safari and Firefox will give you an idea of the challenges faced by webpage developers who want to use movies.
Being very geeky, on my Windows laptop I have Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer. On my Macs I have the same without of course Internet Exploer. On my Ubuntu Linux machine, I have Firefox and Chromium. I also have a Kindle Fire and a new LG Spectrum Android phone where I use Opera Mini. I have friends with iPhones and iPads.
While all my browsers on most of my machines are the latest versions, there are plenty of old browsers out there. Even my 2004 Dual G5 is running a very old build of Firefox. Getting a web video to work on all of these is not easy.
I can remember when getting someone to see a video posted on the web was as simple as making sure they had installed a Quicktime plug-in. Of course a lot of people never could figure out how to install plug-ins, and they do cause troubles.
All of this led me to experiment with posting some video on the web. Over Christmas I got a new beach camera, a Nikon COOLPIX P500. I bought the COOLPIX so I wouldn't have to subject my Nikon D3100 and nice telephone lens to sand and surf dangers. So far it has been a great beach camera.
It turns out that the COOLPIX P500 takes some really great long distance HD video as long as you use a tripod.
One of the reasons that I wanted to do my own movies on the web is that I have seen increasing difficulty in posting YouTube videos directly from either iMovie or Quicktime exports. However, I can upload a movie directly from the Mac using the YouTube up-loader. Unfortunately the Mac program connections seemed to be broken on my iMac.
I actually didn't learn how bad the video mess was until after my first efforts which involved using code directly generated from Quicktime using save for the web. When I started testing that site with different browsers, I figured out there was a problem with most other browsers besides Safari and Internet Explorer.
I had an Apple friend runs some tests, and he also was surprised at the challenges. I did some searching on the web and came up with the site Video for Everybody. It has a pretty good discussion of the issues. Even more useful to me was an automatic code generator.
Of course Quicktime is no help in generating the new formats that some of the browsers are using so I ended up using two video converters, the Miro Video Converter and a video to Flash converter which I can't remember.
Based on all that I created a site with several movies in different formats of a Pelican preening itself. While I was working on all this, I put the Pelican movie up on YouTube.
After a little tweaking, I now have this Pelican Movie site which seems to work on all computers using all browers including Firefox and Chromium on Ubuntu Linux, my Kindle, and my Android phone. However, in order to get the Pelican movie working on the iPad and and iPhone I ended up creating another site done with Apple code and a reference movie. It also works with many but not all browsers.
This was an interesting experience, and certainly convinced me that embedding a YouTube movie into your website is the easy way to go. It does appear to me that most of the other vendors are lining up against Apple, but in the world of technology, today's enemy is often tomorrow's strategic partner.
On a side note I use Picasa on my Windows computer to manage most of my photos and video clips. So far I have had no problems directly exporting video from it to YouTube. That shouldn't be too surprising.
This summer I used a small Sony pocket camera to take some ACVHD video including the clip that I exported to YouTube for this great run down the White Oak River in our skiff.
However, the only way that I could deal with AVCHD video was through Sony's movie software. My Mac using Apple software didn't recognize the movies. Picasa on Windows was also no help at the time. I have noticed some conversion utilities recently, but I am using the Nikon with HD format now so the problem went away for me.
Perhaps these issues will get better over time, but someone is going to have to give in, and none of these large technology companies like to do that. My personal bet is that however YouTube goes, so will go the majority of the web.
If the end of January has you thinking about nice places to visit, read my post on why Beaufort, NC is such a nice place to visit.
Perhaps my tales of Beaufort's uniqueness might convince you to vote for Beaufort in Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns of 2012 contest. Those of us living on North Carolina's Crystal Coast would greatly appreciate the votes of technology folks interested enough to read about the challenges in posting web video.
You are even welcome to join us during the fantastic weather that has given us some magic moments on the beaches even during the heart of winter.