A Look at Open Video

A Look at Open Video

This course is created for the School of Open as part of a 'course sprint' which took place at the Open Video Forum December 2012 in Berlin, a project convened by xm:lab and several international partners to address the needs of African IT developers and film-makers.

As far as we know, there are very few general overviews of the open video field, and the high level of technical discussion in highly-specialized fora might keep users and developers interested in the topic from getting actively involved. This is all the more important as not all developers are permanently online and free to roam the web for resources, sifting through hundreds of sites to find what they are looking for.

We believe strongly in the sharing of knowledges between users and developers. But we also think that a more comprehensive understanding of the issues involved in discussions around open video will create greater awareness of the politics of code: decisions about how content is encoded is directly related to what you as a user can do with this content. So seemingly technical issues are directly related to your freedom to create, share, and use, and we hope that this course will be of interest to you even if you have little technical knowledge (or, at this point, interest).

There are many other reasons to get excited about the possibilities of open video. Don't just take our word for it, check out projects like Open Video Alliance, FOMS, Mozilla Popcorn and HTML5 Video projects. Rather than listing all the good things about open video now, we'll introduce different arguments with examples in each chapter as we look at all the great tools that are out there. 

This course answers a call for resources which can be used to encourage and facilitate Hackathons, workshops and self-study on open video technology.


Overview of course contents

We wanted to start with contents that would be useful to end users of video technology and then take this knowledge deeper so to be of use to software developers in this area. To do this we have split the course into two parts.

Module I - End-User Technologies

We start taking apart video files to see what we find. We then take this further and start a more detailed take on licensing in chapters about Codecs and Containers. There are practical sections on creating open video files in this first section. The first section ends with a practical look at understanding and creating subtitles in the most open and accessible way.

Module one aims to be interesting useful to video editors, journalists, campaigners and anyone using video.

Module II - Open Video for Developers

Part two starts of with some information and examples about using open video on the web and a general look at online video technologies before going into an example of how you may move video metadata between different repositories. There is then a chance to dive into command line video encoding and manipulation with a gentle lead-in to that via some video datamoshing. As of the time of writing the section on video and mobiles is still to be written, maybe you can help out.  

Module two has a primary audience as IT students learning about video and software developers extending their knowledge to work with video.

More About this Course

During the Open Video Forum forum it was clear the issue of Vendor lock-in and Freebie Marketing are widespread in the ICT world in Africa. Prohibitive software licensing costs for video producers and developers can be avoided by increasing the adoption of open standards and Free software. However, there is currently very limited incentive to take up FLOSS solutions in this area of video in African IT hubs.

Limitations of this course

In this first version of the course we do not cover video editing with open video tools. This is likely to be may be a part of a revised course (a first revision course sprint has already been scheduled for April 18-20, 2013). Keep in kind that his course has been created in a very quick time frame. If we haven't included particular projects or open video frameworks and you think that they are important to add then we would love it if you would help us by contributing to this course. Please make suggestions in the comments section, the Mokolo video list, or simply send an email/link to ovf@xmlab.org.

Navigating this course as a student

We also cover a LOT of ground in this course. It is full of tasters of a wide variety of subjects and case studies to do with open video. We aim to give you pointers to explain exciting areas of innovation and encourage you to download and play with particular tools. Also this is not a course you have to work though in a particular order. If you find a chapter too challenging or not relevant to you, skip on to the next.

If you complete part one of the course you can apply for your "I looked at Open Video" badge which is surely worth learning a bit of nerd gibberish to earn. 

Task: Introduce yourself and aims

In the comments section, introduce yourself to your fellow students. Share a little about your interests in this area. Why are you interested in open video?