Friday, January 26, 2007

Online Video Publishing

Once you have made your film you'll need to publish it somewhere. You could burn a whole bunch of DVDs and then sell them down the local farmers market but perhaps you might also want to publish it for the world to see online. You could host it on your own website, if you have one but there are advantages to publishing on a video publishing site.

If your film is large or lots of people watch it then this could cause you problems with the bandwidth of your website. It may simply stop working or your host might block you or charge you money.

Legality and ownership
There has been a lot of press about people uploading recorded TV channels or films to these sites. But of course this ownership issue also applies the other way around. By uploading files you could be giving away some of the rights to that material.

The legal situation is complicated because multiple countries are involved. What may seem legal in one could be illegal in another. It is best to read the details on each site carefully before uploading.

Billy Bragg had problems with sublicensing without royalties when he posted his songs online.

Features and formats
People have different software and hardware to connect to the Internet and different bandwidths so how do you decide what format to publish in? One way would be to look for films that are similar to yours and then upload in the same format. Another is to publish in several formats and the final option is to select a site which does the conversions for you. Many sites use flash to publish films as it means that they can ensure that they can be played back on a wide range of machines. As well as converting file formats some sites also allow direct upload from phones or video cameras. A useful feature provided is to be able to host your films on these publishing websites but then include a link or embed the video in your own pages or blog.

Searching, tags and channelsExample of tags as used in Flikr
Once you have your video listed, you want others to find it. Pretty much all these sites allow you to search the site for a keyword. The big search providers such as Google and yahoo also have video specific search options. Tags are for me one of the great Web 2.0 inventions. By allowing the users to tag a video its possible to see what the popular films are and it saves you from needing to guess what keywords to search for. This is also used by some sites such as You Tube to show similar films to the one you are watching. Finally channels are collections of films of a similar genre, type or format. Some sites allow the users to create their own channels and some have a set defined by the site administrator. Finally some sites provide feeds which people can subscribe to so they can see when you add new videos.

See also,,,

Developer APIs
Some sites allow developers to access the meta data about your films and produce new functionality. For example a developer might mix video with mapping to allow you to see films of a town before you visit it. Unless you have a specialist need, APIs are unlikely to factor into your decision. However we may see that the sites with APIs are those that become more popular and get more visitors as there are different ways people can access the films.

List of sites
Currently, the most famous of the publishing sites is YouTube but there's a very large number of other options, the more I investigated, the more I found. It's quite possible I've missed some.

A long running site, hosting films such as Angry Kid from Aardman. Atom films may pay you for your films or via advertising. You can upload or submit your films by DVD, CD or Tape through the post.

Google Video
Since the purchase of YouTube it has been suggested that Google Video will change to read only. Google is already levering the advantage of YouTube by including their films when you search.

Ifilm is one of the old boys of online video publishing and was bought by Viacom International in 2005. IFilm has tags, channels, favourites and because of their ownership has content from the MTV range of TV channels. Playback is via a Flash based player and the site provides code for linking or embedding films. As well as a large range of upload formats IFilm will take postal submissions. IFilms committee will decide if your film is worthy of inclusion.

iPace Online Services
iPace online services is a complete solution from Magix which allows you to utilise their video, audio and photo products to publish content on the web.

I-Tunes allows you to sell your work on their site but is currently only open for downloads in the USA and you have to be invited to join. The Mantis Parable is a recent example of an independant animator being invited to join ITunes.

Used to be The Venice Project and has been bought by the owners of Skype. This site is still in Beta and seems to focus on watching rather than creating content.

Owned by google, the one that's in the press at the moment. Fully featured: conversion to flash, channels, tags, favourites, comments and embedding.

Video Egg
Video Egg provides you with advertising revenue from your videos. It provided it's own control to display the videos and can be added into your favourite networking or blogging site.

Yahoo Video
Unsurprisingly a wide range of search options here. Also the ability to add favourites, reviews and tags.

Zudeo specialises in High definition videos and users can upload, download and comment on videos. Zudeo uses Azureus software to download files in a similar way to Bittorrent. The BBC are working with Zudeo on some public trials.

Others not reviewed include:

Other Links
Business Week report on Online Video sites.

A discussion on CGTalk about selling short films.

Shorts International are selling some short films on ITunes including some that were shown at this years London International Animation Festival including one of my favourites "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello Dir Anthony Lucas".

Monday, January 22, 2007

Multimedia Linux - Ubuntu Studio

"Ubuntu Studio aims to be a multimedia editing flavor of Ubuntu for the Linux audio, video, and graphic enthusiast or professional who is already familiar with the Ubuntu-Gnome environment.

The team currently plans to contain the following applications:

Cinelerra - Video Editing

Soma - Audio

Jahshaka - Animation, Keying, Effects

This seems like an excellent idea, we will see in a few months how successful it is.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ray Harryhausen Creature List

A fabulous list of Ray Harryhausen's Creatures, that can be ordered by creature or by film.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

XNA Game Studio

One of Microsoft's latest creations is XNA Game Studio, this is a tool kit that can help you make games for Windows and XBox 360.

Whilst watching a presentation on what this is, I was struck by a thought that it could be useful outside the game arena. For example can it be useful to help manage my film assets?

For example ever wondered what shaders use a particular bitmap texture or if a scene links to a specific external character or prop file? What do you do if you want to send things to others? How do you know if you need to send a particular file? If I make an improvement to a particular model, how do I know which files need re-rendering with that item? How many times is a particular texture used?

The information is there in the files and it can be checked by opening them or analysing them but as the number of files increases that's going to be a problem.

XNA Build should be able to help and the examples shown on the slide show provide an insight into finding obsolete files and dependencies between files.

Question: What kind of media asset mangement do you use? Please reply in comments.


Monday, January 08, 2007

RIP Iwao Takamoto

I'd not intended to turn my blog in to an obiturary column but it's been a bad few weeks for animation grand masters.

Iwao Takamoto was born in Los Angeles in 1925 and spend some of his early years in the Manzanar internment camp. He went on to become an award winning animator working for big names such as Warner Brothers, Disney and Hanna-Barbera.

He is famous for inventing Scooby Doo and Astro (the Jetson's dog) but also worked on Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, The Addams Family and one of my favourites Hong Kong Phooey.

More recently he received the Golden Award from the Animation Guild and talked to Animation World Magazine about Flash.

Iwao Takamoto died 8th Jan 2007 from a heart attack but his work will live on.

Friday, January 05, 2007

16:9 - Microsoft Movie Maker

Just a quick tip for something I found today. If you want to publish your "movies" in the movie aspect ratio of 16:9 and are using Microsoft Movie Maker then you can change the aspect ratio on the options tab. This then will change the dimensions of the files you save.

What have Aardman been upto?

This post is in response to a comment left by michael

I too was thinking, "what have Aardman been doing lately" and initially thought that they seemed to have cut their output and moved into the toys and books market, this was partly due to receiving a Wallace and Gromit comic as a Christmas present.

However, with a little further investigation they have been very busy...

Lets not forget Flushed Away which was in the cinemas this Christas. Aardman have been working on this for a few years now and as mentioned in the Southbank show they are moving into CGI in a big way. The plot is a little too Hollywood for my liking but the characters and animation are top quality.
The plasticine slugs and rats from Creature Comforts have been accurately reproduced in CGI for this film and I believe that they had the worlds first singing maggots in a film. According to BlueYonder the same slugs have also recorded a music video with breakdancing.

According to the Aardman website they also have "The Presentators" on nickelodeon and "Angry Kid" on BBC3.

What's next?

Again according to their website there are 3 films in the making and new shows including:

Chop Socky Chooks: "a cgi series for cartoon network featuring “kick-ass chickens in kung-fu capers“ "
Shaun the Sheep: "a kids series featuring the much loved character from ‘a close shave’"
Animated Sketch Show (working title) which they are working on for citv

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years Resolutions for Animators

Here's some New Years resolutions for me, but they could apply to any animator.

1) Do better backups
This one was due to loosing some critical files from the computer over the holidays.

2) Experiment with different styles
So far I've only really made stop motion and model based CGI films and the results are beginning to look a bit similar. I think it would benefit all of my projects to make at least one short film in a completely different style. I'm thinking of changing my origional idea of animating Captain Correct in 3D and instead do that as 2D using Anime Studio (another Christmas present)

3) Sketch more
I've got a small notepad as part of my Christmas present and a short pencil from Ikea. My aim is to sketch out more of my ideas when I have them rather than waiting till I get back to the office.

4) Training
Last year I looked at the courses in London's St Martin's College. Although I probably won't have time or money to attend one of those, I do intend to get some online training and run through some more tutorials in all those books I've read.

5) Finally finish project
The Flea Circus Film has been work in progress for a couple of years now. Its time I knucked down to some serious weekend and evening grafting to get this completed.