Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Open Access Internet TV via Popcast: Create Video Torrents In One-Click

Here it is, another great new entry in a category, that believe me, will soon swell of services, tools and software that make it easy for anyone to publish and distribute video content online.

Announced on Thursday, Popcast is a new aggressive startup out of San Francisco, offering a simple enough to use toolset that leverages an "optimized derivative of BitTorrent" approach in a completely transparent way. The end user sees nothing and needs to know nothing about BitTorrent and its unique approach to effective P2P-based large file size data distribution.


The only thing required is the download of a player tool to see video clips (and to subscribe to video channels) and of a "producer" tool to "broadcast" the channel on the Internet.

Time to download the tools less than 5 mins. Time to register 30 seconds. Time to start broadcasting a clip 10 seconds.



Once you have registered on Popcast, you can easily download the Player and the Popcast Producer which are presently available only for the Windows platform (a Mac version is promised soon).

The Player provides access to the Channel Guide where you can (not too easily) select a video feed and subscribe to it. The new videos are automatically downloaded (just like FireAnt does) in the background.

From the Player one can also decide how much hard disk space to reserve for the downloads of these video clips. This is a welcome little feature and something I had been looking for since my early testing of another similar tool, the Open Media Network, which also operates in a similar way.

With the Popcast Producer one can very easily create new Video Channels and make any number of video clips available through them almost instantly.

What Popcast Producer does is the invisible creation of a BitTorrent file on your own computer, which can be immediately downloaded by anyone else who, via the Guide, wants to access that clip. The moment that someone else starts downloading your video clip that person becomes also a source for redistribution of the same video content, and so on.

Nothing is ever "uploaded" to the Popcast servers outside of the metadata information relative to the video clip that is being made available.

By using this P2P distributed approach, the bandwidth load is efficiently distributed among many users and the more the file is popular the easier and faster it will be to download it for any newcomer.

Other tools like the above mentioned Open Media Network, FireAnt, The Participatory Culture Foundation Broadcast Machine, Prodigem and Olivelink, among others, all provide direct means to bypass direct on-air broadcast channels allowing anyone to become at once a potential producer and distributor of its videos.

The only issue with P2P BitTorrent-inspired solutions is that unless you have a good number of people requesting your download, you need to keep your computer turned on for your clip to remain accessible to others.

What Popcast has achieved in a truly effective fashion is to make it altogether transparent for the end user to use BitTorrent technology in an absolutely easy way. Great job indeed (Prodigem should take a good lesson from this one).

In this light Popcast hopes to make it easier for those interested in do-it-yourself media to create, broadcast and subscribe to such shows without having to worry about complicated technical details or costs.

One of the advantages of this approach is that as soon as a video channel becomes enough popular to self-support its own distribution, it becomes also easier for who produces it to scale up quality of clips, by further increasing resolution and data rates. As Internet speed increases, distributed download efficiency improves, and many of these downloads take place in background and during off hours, the more we will care less about the size of these clips and start to enjoy full screen television-like quality on our computer screen.

The Popcast interface is Flash-based and it is simple, easy and intuitive for the novice, non-technical user to use from the very first minute of adoption.

As of now the service accepts only MPEG1, AVI and WMV files for upload.

Download here the free Popcast Player - 5.5 MB Windows version
Mac version coming soon.

Download Popcast Producer, to create your own video channels. - 2.3 MB Windows
(N.B.: Can't install the Popcast Producer unless you have first installed the Player).

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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, July 16 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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