By far, the most difficult step for any would-be online video producer, blogger or videomaker is the ability to master the idiosyncrasies of a multitude of different video formats, encoding and compression nightmares and the needs to serve the same content optimized for different users and connections. Nonetheless all the buzz around video blogging and the online video revolution, it still remains very hard for the layman and non-technical person to conquer and come to master all these many technical issues.
Do you produce in Windows Media, Quicktime or Real? What about MPEG4? What kind of resolution is best to use to capture? And to edit? What about finding out which is the best codec, the right compression levels or data rate to use?
Finding the perfect combination among all these variables is just not for everyone. I myself have spent nearly two months in trying to figure out what is the best answer for each one of the questions above.
Shoot, capture, download, compress, encode, view. Repeat. I must have done this sequence hundreds of times in these last few weeks, just to find out the result for each one of the possible combinations.
And even when you are good at producing good quality video clips that can play on most users computers you are still left with the issue of uploading, hosting and serving the video effectively to your potential viewers. Though an increasing number of video distribution outlets has recently become available, hardly none provides the full feature set required for a video producer to shoot, capture, encode/compress, upload and serve in wildly accessible format your video masterpieces.
Eric Rice's Audioblog is one service that while having provided for a long while an excellent and easy to use web-based audio production facility has recently ventured into launching a complementary video publishing facility. Its prices are very accessible and a try-out is available to anyone.
Other online video publishing services like Vimeo, Veoh, Google Video, Ourmedia offer hosting and bandwidth but do not provide the integrated facilities to capture video straight from your webcam or mobile phone. JussPress and YouTube are more similar to Video Egg in that they both use Flash technology to capture, encode and deliver the video clips submitted.
But thanks to Chris Shipley of Demo who first hand-picked it for its latest showcase, and to Robert Scoble who first reported about it online, what I want to point your attention to is a new personal video publishing service that just blows everything else out there in the dust.
The Video Egg Publisher, is a new web-based service (Windows-only for now - Mac support coming next) that provides an ultra-smooth user experience to any would-be online video publisher. The Flash-based VideoEgg Player, is a "playerless" solution that does not require any external video player software like Windows Media player or QuickTime to be installed.
Once you access your online Video Egg account, capturing a video clip already downloaded in your computer or shooting a live commentary of yourself via your camcorder or webcam is also as easy as making a couple of clicks.
Video Egg Publisher supports most popular video formats including:
Not only. The VideoEgg Publisher also captures video directly from mobile phones (via email) and it can be used by non-technical people as it provides a well designed interface, an extremely limited set of options and a fully-enabled drag and drop interface.
The Video Egg Publisher also integrates some very simple, though very effective, editing tools, allowing the videomaker to easily cut, shorten or trim video clips in a matter of seconds. The video editor can also fast-forward (with audio) and rewind through the digital capture. Something not available in no other online video publishing facility.
Once you have the video footage ready, it's time to upload it to the Video Egg servers. One-click again and up it goes. Of course the speed of this operation is much dependent on the speed of your connection to the internet, but the interesting thing is that while the video is uploaded it is also compressed, encoded and optimized for delivery at different connections speeds and resolutions without any intervention from the user.
As soon as the upload is completed, you are ready to stream and watch your video online immediately.
Maximum clip length is 30".
Video Egg also provides you with a snippet of code that you can embed on your own blog or web page to integrate a streaming video clip of your uploaded content into any web page you have.
Streaming video means that the user that arrives in front of your video clip does not have to first download the video and then watch it, but that the user can click the play button under the video and can start almost immediately to watch its contents.
All of the video magic that Video Egg does it's realized with the power of Adobe/Macromedia Flash the ubiquitous media platform that can deliver graphics, animation, audio, VoIP and video to users on any operating system or web browser.
Video Egg takes full and best advantage of even the latest Flash capabilities accessible if you install on your computer the latest free Flash plugin (ver 8). In my initial tests with Video Egg I found the video quality to be quite good (especially if the latest Flash plugin mentioned above is installed). Even without the latest plugin video clips do stream almost immediately and their quality is at least on a par with what you get from services using the same technology (YouTube, JussPress).
I have tested Video Egg Publisher with both a Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks Pro and with my 3CCD Panasonic GV-250. The first clip published at the beginning of this article is done with the Panasonic and the second one.
It's been my impression that the quality of the videos uploaded to Video Egg Publisher can vary quite a bit. Though I could be wildly wrong, I felt that quality settings were changed on the Video Egg servers to decrease the overall quality delivered (probably to a spike in usage from new users who are just finding out about this new try-out). The other day my recording and synch were impeccable. And so it was the video after the upload. Today, if I tried to do the same with the webcam, it looked like the video was being shot at 10fps and the image quality after upload appeared also inferior.
It may also be my PC misbehaving for some other reason. But this is what I have seen. Test yourself and let me know.
Technically, the VideoEgg Publisher is a lightweight browser extension, which adds video capture, encoding, simple editing and upload capabilities to a standard Internet browser. I am very positively impressed.
You can try the Video Egg Publisher right now, at absolutely no cost. Just head to: http://www.videoegg.com/Publisher.html and have your webcam or camcorder connected to your PC.
With the try-out you shoot, capture and upload any video you want. Once you play it, you get a unique URL which you can bookmark and share with others.
This is a "demo" evaluation offered by the Video Egg Publisher and not the final implementation.
The Video Egg Publisher site states that the videos you upload and publish online will be kept available for others to view only for 30 days.
Whether this is a business model that will then require some fee to host your videos any longer or if it is just a temporary measure to fend off hordes of video publishers starving for such a usable solution I don't know.
What I can say for sure is that nonetheless the few shortcomings this is the best and most complete personal video publishing solution that I have seen to date.
Hats to the Egg for a truly cool service!
For more information, please see http://www.videoegg.com.
Free fully working try-out.