SciCast Blog

Science video – ideas, techniques, sources, uses

Update on Downloads


At the ASE annual conference last week lots of people were asking about download versions of the films. Are we going to do that? Heck, yes! It’s been the plan all along, but technical issues have rather dogged us. This is about to change.

See, the downloads we’re planning to offer aren’t just the squiddly little web versions of the films. Oh no. You should be able to project these films onto classroom walls, burn them to DVDs and view them on a telly, cut them up and use just the bits you want, and do all sorts of other things with them we haven’t thought of yet. Which all means you need better-quality video files.

So that’s what we’re going to offer you. There’ll be two formats to choose between: WMV9 for Windows, and H.264 for everything else. Thing is, we’ve been promising you this for ages, so what’s the hold-up?

Rather embarrassingly, it’s that we’ve got the wrong sort of iPod. See, if we’re going to offer H.264 video we might as well make it compatible with video-playing iPods, and offer it up via the iTunes Store podcast directory so you can snag the latest films automatically. However, compressing video for iPods is a bit of a black art, particularly when we didn’t have an iPod on which we could test the files. Durr.

So this week I bought one, compressed everything, moved it over, and… it looked utterly gorgeous on the iPod’s screen. But I bought the latest and greatest iPod Touch, and it turns out that despite the documentation and technical specs, it plays very slightly different video formats to the other iPods. Clang!

Immediately after this little farce a huge parcel of film submissions arrived from SciCast Orbiting World Headquarters, which has proved rather distracting, so here’s the new plan: next Wednesday I have an appointment with the local Apple Store, who are assembling every different iPod they can find for a mammoth testing session.

All being well we’ll start rolling out downloads shortly thereafter. We have the infrastructure more-or-less in place, it’s just the details of compression settings that are holding us up.

I’ll keep you posted here.

About this Entry

This page contains an entry by Jonathan published on January 11, 2008 12:04 PM.

Here they come... was the previous entry in this blog.

Site outages is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.