Monday, April 21, 2008

Video Solution

Last week my oldest son, Michael, Jr. was in a musical production at his preschool. Of course we videotaped it so we could share it. This wasn't the first time I had shared video online, but this time really made me annoyed. I was really annoyed with the poor quality of sharing sites like YouTube. I tried Facebook's video sharing, and it wasn't much better. I decided it was time to roll my own. After some experimenting here is the stack of tools and service I came up with.

Video Importing/Editing: iMovie. This is what I was already using. iMovie is famously easy to use. The importing is easy, the editing is easy. The default export is .m4v files, which are H.264 files designed to work on iPods. This is important.

Video Playing: Flash. I wrote my own video player using Flex. The Flash player has built-in support for H264 video. Thus the videos I export out of iMovie play naturally in the Flash player. They just need some Flash code to load and control the video stream. I wrote this myself as it was pretty straightforward. I created an external XML file as a metadata repository. This tells my player what videos are available and information about each video, like its size. I hosted the custom built player and metadata files on Google Page Creator.

Video Storage: Amazon S3. This was the most difficult part. S3 is relatively cheap. It is NOT easy to use, contrary to what others might say. I was shocked to discover that there is no interface (web or desktop) for uploading and managing files stored on S3. I wound up using S3Fox. It seems like a nice interface, but buggy. Amazon really should offer administrative tools.

Next Steps: Ideally I would build a plugin for iMovie that would upload the video to S3 and write the metadata about the movie to my Google Pages. I am thinking of doing an AIR app for this first, and then maybe go Cocoa. I must also monitor my usage to make sure that S3 is cheaper than other alternatives like

1 comment:

Erik Kastner said...

Awesome post! I really like any demystifying "hard" things. Last time I messed with flash video, flash didn't support h.264, so I had extra steps with ffmpeg and other junk.

one thing that might help your process: Transmit. It supports s3, and is the best interface I've found to it.