Archive for the ‘Multimedia’ Category

File Under: Multimedia, Web Services

YouTube Makeover Offers Larger Videos

YouTube’s new digs. Image: Google

After months of experimenting with YouTube’s interface and serving limited trials to willing users, Google has launched a new look for the web’s biggest video-sharing site.

The new YouTube is reminiscent of Flickr’s redesign earlier this year — putting the content, in this case the videos, front and center. The new YouTube offers larger videos closer to the top of the page; the title is now below the video, just above the various sharing options.

The left of the page is home to YouTube’s new “Guide,” a list of all the YouTube channels you’re subscribed to, along with your history and video playlists. The YouTube Guide now comes with you across devices, offering up new videos and suggestions on everything from Android phones to Google TV.

The other notable change is that the page is no longer centered, it’s aligned to the left edge of the browser window. The result is a slightly less cluttered page with more emphasis on the video, though the dead space to the right looks a bit strange if you’ve got a large monitor.

File Under: Browsers, Mobile, Multimedia

Firefox for Android, Now With Video That ‘Just Works’

H.264 video in Firefox for Android. Image: Scott Gilbertson.

Mozilla has added support for the H.264 video codec to its Firefox for Android mobile web browser.

Right now support is limited to Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and Samsung phones running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Mozilla is working to fix some bugs that currently prevent H.264 from working on other devices. Support for older Gingerbread and Honeycomb Android devices is still in the works.

This is the first time Mozilla has released a web browser with support for the popular H.264 codec. The company previously refused to support H.264, citing royalty and licensing concerns. Instead Mozilla touted Google’s WebM codec, which offers many of the benefits of H.264 in a royalty-free package. Unfortunately for Firefox fans WebM has failed to gain ground against H.264.

Adobe’s Flash Player plugin can also play H.264 video and, until Adobe decided to abandon Flash for Android, that was Mozilla’s solution for H.264 video in Firefox for Android.

With WebM adoption lagging and Flash for Android dead, Mozilla found itself in a bind. Some estimates claim up to 80 percent of video on the web is encoded in H.264, forcing Mozilla to choose between supporting H.264 on Android or leaving Firefox users with no way to watch video on mobile devices. Fortunately for Firefox users, Mozilla decided to be practical and support H.264.

Technically the new H.264 support is not a part of Firefox, rather the browser is tapping into Android’s underlying H.264 support to decode video. That means royalty payments are covered by hardware makers, not Mozilla.

I tested Firefox for Android’s H.264 on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1 and for the most part H.264 video worked without issue. Some popular video sharing sites, however, appear to be doing OS/browser detection rather than feature detection — I’m looking at you Vimeo — which means that, even though your phone can play the video, Vimeo thinks it can’t.

Hopefully Vimeo and other sites doing the same thing will fix this soon because Mozilla is planning to bring the same H.264 support to the desktop. As with Firefox for Android, desktop Firefox won’t have its own decoder, but will rely on OS-level H.264 decoders. For end users though the result will be the same — video that just works.

File Under: JavaScript, Multimedia

HUGEpic Embeds Massive Images Without the Huge Downloads

Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights in HUGEpic.io.

HUGEpic is a web app for displaying massive images online and browsing them like you would a map. There are several Flash-based tools that can already do similar things, but HUGEpic doesn’t require a plugin, meaning it works perfectly well on both desktop and mobile devices.

HUGEpic means you can add very large images to your pages without forcing your users to download enormous files. HUGEpic works like Google Maps, but for images — only the data necessary for the current zoom level is actually loaded.

Developer Peter Bengtsson launched HUGEpic a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t until today that it gained its most useful feature — the ability to embed HUGEpic’s image browser in your own site.

Other nice features in HUGEpic include permalinks for bookmarking or sharing images with friends. The permalinks even remember particular locations and zoom levels within an image, as does the new embedding feature. As you pan around on your image, the position and zoom level are automatically inserted into the HTML embed code. There’s also an option to draw annotations on a layer on top of the image.

HUGEpic is what Bengtsson calls a “little fun side-project” so it may not stand up to massive traffic, but the code is available on GitHub if you’d like to set up your own instance of HUGEpic. [Update: As Bengtsson notes in the comments below, "all images are served from a Amazon CDN with servings from every continent in the world. Also, it's built to be very fast. The home page alone makes over 4,000 requests per second."] For more info on the tools behind HUGEpic — which include a Tornado server with MongoDB and Redis on the backend — see Bengtsson’s original blog post.

File Under: HTML5, Multimedia

Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker Brings Video Remixing to the Masses

Popcorn Maker 1.0 makes video remixing a snap. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Mozilla has released Popcorn Maker 1.0, the company’s mashup-creating, video-editing suite for the web. Popcorn Maker makes it easy to pull just about any content on the web into a video container you can then publish back to the web.

Despite the interactive nature of the web, video on the web remains little more than glorified television in your web browser — a passive experience in the midst of the otherwise interactive online world.

It doesn’t have to be that way. HTML5 makes video into just another HTML element — editable, hackable, remixable.

It’s HTML, after all. And that means it can interact with other HTML elements or use JavaScript to augment video in real time — annotating videos with information like location, details about the people and topics in the video, subtitles, Twitter feeds, current weather information, links and much more.

The problem is that there aren’t a lot of tools that make it easy to create interactive web videos, which is where Popcorn Maker comes in.

Popcorn Maker is a free online video editor for mashing up, remixing and adding outside content to web videos. Popcorn Maker’s drag-and-drop timeline interface makes it easy to pull all kinds of outside web content into your videos. For example, add photo overlays, maps, links, in-video pop-ups of Wikipedia entries, Twitter widgets with relevant hashtag searches and so on.

As you would expect from the makers of Firefox, Popcorn Maker is built entirely from web technologies — pure HTML, CSS and Javascript. But more than just being an impressive use of web standards, Popcorn Maker 1.0 is a genuinely easy-to-use video editor and that’s no small feat regardless of which tools you use to build it.

I’ve been playing around with Popcorn Maker for a few days now and it does indeed deliver on its promise to bring video editing to the people. To get started you just need to pull in a video you’d like to annotate or remix. Adding a source video is just a matter of pasting in a link to a YouTube, Vimeo or Soundcloud video. Alternately you can just add a link directly to your video file.

Once you’ve got your base video (or videos) in Popcorn Maker, adding elements to it is as simple as grabbing one of the “events” from the right hand side of the editor and dragging it onto either the video stage itself, or the timeline below. Once your event is in the timeline you can change the settings, resize it, move it around and otherwise tweak it to behave the way you’d like.

Once everything is working the way you want, just click the share link and Popcorn Maker will give you either a link (or an embed code) you can paste anywhere on the web.

To get started remixing videos, head on over to the Popcorn Maker site. If you want to see some examples, check out new Popcorn Maker projects on Webmaker.org. For more background on how Popcorn Maker works, check out the Mozilla Hacks blog post and watch the video below.

File Under: Browsers, Multimedia

Make Flash Work on Any Website in Internet Explorer 10

Webmonkey.com in IE 10 on Windows 8. Photo: Screenshot/Webmonkey


Internet Explorer 10′s “Modern” (or “Metro”) mode includes limited support for Adobe’s Flash Player plugin — websites approved by Microsoft can access Flash, unapproved sites cannot. Fortunately, intrepid Windows 8 users have already found an easy way to extend Flash support to any website.

Microsoft originally planned to leave Flash out of the tablet-friendly version of IE10, but later changed its mind. Dean Hachamovitch, Internet Explorer VP, said at the time that Microsoft “believes that having more sites ‘just work’ in the Metro style browser improves the experience for consumers and businesses alike.”

But the only time Flash “just works” in IE 10′s Metro mode is when you visit sites Microsoft has approved. Developers can submit their sites to Microsoft for approval, but if you’d like to take matters into your own hands, user Marvin_S at the XDA Developer forums has figured out how to add whichever sites you like to Microsoft’s whitelist. To edit the whitelist, just open the file C:\Users\[USER_NAME]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\IECompatData\iecompatdata.xml in a text editor of some kind. Then add whichever domains you’d like to be able to access the Flash Player.

To make sure that your custom whitelist isn’t overwritten when Windows 8 updates the list, open IE 10′s Tools menu and select the Compatibility View option. Then uncheck the box labeled “Download updated compatibility list from Microsoft.”

Be forewarned that one of the reasons Microsoft has limited which sites can access Flash is to limit security vulnerabilities; editing the whitelist yourself and turning off updates may expose you to Flash-based attacks, especially given that during the testing phase of Windows 8 Microsoft was slow to apply Flash updates.