Being There With A Videolog

Submitted by Robert Alstead on Mon, 02/20/2006 - 16:00

I was recently at a conference in Vancouver, Canada, that I wanted to cover on video and share on the internet. The conference was about Open Source Content Management Systems (OSCMS), although the main focus was Drupal, a platform for internet publishing that is growing incredibly fast in popularity. A CMS is like a blog or bulletin board, but with more bells and whistles. It provides support for groups of people to publish diverse content from articles to streaming video.

Drupal, which celebrated its fifth birthday last year, is the free publishing system that was used by Howard Dean in his presidential candidacy campaign and satirical web mag The Onion, amongst others. I'd mentioned it a few times to the other team members here on iofilm, but it's a tricky thing to explain so I thought I'll put a video together to help give them more of a sense of what it's all about. In the true spirit of open sourciness I wanted to share this with anyone who might be interested. (You can watch here)

Keeping it simple

I faced two problems in doing this. The first was the time involved in putting such a thing together. The second, finding a place where anyone, anywhere with a computer with a decent internet connection can access it.

I decided just to take the "run and gun" approach to shooting and the quick 'n' dirty approach to editing, purely because I don't have time to work on a fully fledged doc. By the last day of the three-day conference I had a fair sense of who I wanted to interview so I took a video camera (Sony PD-150) to the conference and asked delegates if they would participate - all seemed more than happy to, as they say over at, "spread the Drupal love."

I didn't get to interview everyone I wanted to, due to time constraints and the footage is mostly talking heads, again, because I gave myself little time to shoot and edit (basically an afternoon). But simply by introducing some of the people behind the Drupal project, the video does the job of making what can be an intimidatingly complex system a little more accessible.

For a year or so prior to the conference, I'd followed discussions on Drupal, and I found it energising to meet some of the people behind this great web venture. So for me, it's also a useful videolog of the people I met.

Having said that, I make no claims that this video will entertain. It's information for geeks and perhaps Drupal geeks at that. No matter. That's the beauty of the internet - you can cater for small niches.

The final video after some cuts was about 35-40 minutes long. I did quite a bit of in camera editing (i.e. stopping and starting at what I thought I made natural pauses as I was recording) and when I imported my footage, with Adobe Premiere, I just ticked scene select and the footage was imported in manageable chunks. Whereever there was a break in the recording a new file would be created.

The video might have benefited from a voice over and some titling for interviewees, but time constraints didn't allow for it.

Getting it out here

So the next question was where, or perhaps how, to share this on the internet? I wanted to stream the video off my site, as well as make it available as a download, and easy access was an important consideration.

At least two Drupalites offered to host the video for free on their sites (just shows how much video hosting is out there these days), but since even the biggest video hosting web sites put a limit on the size of video you can upload I decided to try out Google Video for the first time.

The pros and cons of streaming with Google Video

Watch the Drupal video clips