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Fedora TV, the video quandary, and a request for advice (fwd)




Hi.  It's time to talk about Fedora and video.

As many of you know, we tried to start the "Fedora TV" project last fall in association with the nice folks at Lulu.tv. Unfortunately, between December 1st and January 31st, Lulu.tv went from a team of 4 engineers excited about Fedora as a test case for their technology, to one engineer trying desperately to hold things together, to out of business. Which means that "Fedora TV," in its current incarnation, is deader than Elvis. I'll be working to pull the domain away from the current abandonware site in the next few days.

The original goal of Fedora TV was to provide a "Fedora-friendly" home for videos that we had some control over. I think this is still a worthwhile strategic goal, but since we no longer have the help of dedicated engineers, I no longer think it's a sensible tactical goal.

The question that follows: "we've got lots of people who are excited about making Fedora videos. What's the best way, in the short term, to gather those videos together to make them accessible?"

People are already using whatever solutions are available to them -- YouTube, archive.org, blip.tv, and so forth. Maybe we can leverage some of these solutions to create a comprehensive "Fedora-approved" solution. If we choose to go this route, there are, in my view, a number of criteria.

First, a couple of criteria that any solution *must* meet:

1. There must be a way to view these videos in Ogg Theora. This is perhaps the most difficult requirement, but also the most important. If we force Fedora users to download proprietary software to view Fedora videos, we lose.

2. There must be a one-click download of each video from *somewhere*. A torrent tracker seems like a good idea and a way to conserve server space, but in practice, people ignore these videos.

3. The "one-click download" implies that there must be a centralized *and robust* hosting environment for these videos. We should have confidence that any such hosting environment isn't likely to "go away" -- the trap we fell into with Lulu.tv.

There are also, in my view, a few criteria that we *should* meet:

4. Users should be able to easily specify licensing of the videos.

5. It must be easy to let the Fedora community know when new videos are available, whether through RSS, some screenscraping app, or other means. An aggregated feed like "videos.fedoraproject.org" might be ideal.

6. It would be great to get a static screenshot of these videos to display in blog posts and so forth.

Finally, there is one controversial criteria that I believe we should consider:

7. While we continue to privilege Ogg Theora as the primary codec, we should also transcode these videos to Flash to reach the broadest possible audience.

What solutions seem to meet these guidelines? It seems like we've got a number of options. I'll go through them.

a. archive.org. Solves almost all of these criteria, and we have a strong affinity with their mission of building a digital commons -- but their infrastructure has been *very* flaky lately, and is turning into a bit of a dumping ground. Their RSS feeds and search both seem to be pretty broken on a pretty regular basis.

b. blip.tv. They support Ogg Theora as an upload format, but I was unable to get Ogg Theora to *download* properly -- I keep requesting the Theora file and getting the Flash transcoded file instead. Maybe someone can figure out how to make this work.

c. Roll our own. This will take clueful engineers, but there are a lot of options. Vaniv, the Wordpress fork that spun out of Lulu.tv, is one. Plumi, a plug-in for Plone, is another. Mv_Embed, a plug-in for MediaWiki, is a third. I'm sure there are others. The big downside here is that Fedora Infrastructure already has plenty of stuff to keep track of, and managing a video content site is a pretty big chunk of work.

d. Miro. Maybe this is the way to go. It's packaged in Fedora, so maybe it's worth having a handful of people set up a Miro channel and seed the content. We could use some server space in fp.o as seed space, I would think. I have yet to play with Miro personally, though.

The simplest thing is to tell Fedora video contributors to contribute to archive.org, set up an RSS filter to pull Fedora-themed videos from the oft-broken archive.org RSS feed, and let the chips fall where they may -- but I don't know if that's the *best* answer.

But we need *some* answer, and we need it soon.  Advice welcome.

--g

--
Greg DeKoenigsberg
Community Development Manager
Red Hat, Inc. :: 1-919-754-4255
"To whomsoever much hath been given...
...from him much shall be asked"


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