Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Archives: The return of a long-lost friend

When we suddenly had to move from Zaplive's platform to our own one last year we knew we were going to be in for a challenging time, and that it would take a while to restore all the features we'd gotten so used to. Basically we had to start with a clean sheet of paper and develop everything from the ground up. But, even so, we would never have thought that reconstructing a recording and archiving system would take as long as it did.

We've finally cracked it though and it will be relaunched later today. With a few exceptions, most streams have been recording again for some time already, so there will be lots of 'old' footage to look back to and 'video mark'. (Some exceptions unfortunately include the Safari game drives and water hole camera where due to the streaming issues we've only managed to properly start recording about two weeks ago.)

All the recordings and video marks made in the old days, when they were still called 'seek points' or 'hot spots' will be available again. Only once we started working on it did we realise there were so many of them. We're starting off with almost 500,000 video files and close to 80,000 video marks from the old days and are now adding thousands of new clips every day. Hopefully soon to be augmented by lots of video marks created by you.

Another amazing fact we found was that over half of the existing video marks were created by two people only! Between the two of them, Kathy (in WV) and Sharon Moser created close to 45,000!!! I can't even imagine how much effort they must have put into that. To them, but also to all other video markers a big 'thank you' from us and I'm sure all other viewers, as archives without video marks are like an encyclopeadia without an index: There's lots of valuable info, but it's impossible to find.

While the general functionality will be the same as before there are also some notable differences:
  • The archives are fully functional from within the player, and that includes embedded players on other web sites.
  • In addition to a title and description, pre-defined 'tags' can be added. These will help with searching as they will avoid mis-spelling and regional spelling differences.
  • There are several ways of finding archive clips and video marks, including directly entering a date, and the player will stay on that page after watching a clip, so no more need for endless going back one page at the time for each clip.
The version that will be launched is a basic version. PixelProject will still be smoothening out some of the rough edges over the coming days, but in view of all the nest activity we decided to not hold back the release any longer. For future releases, we will add Facebook and other sharing, separate pages for archives with more tagging and search options and, very soon 'seamless play' will be added, This means that once the end of one clip is reached, the next one will start playing automatically. This will making watching long events, like e.g. Safari's game drives, or events that run across two or three clips that much easier and pleasant.

One final bit of good news for many, as we've had many questions about this, is that the wild dog den archives will also return! A little bit more work is needed here, but I'm hoping to make them available within a week from now.

As said, all functions should work, if sometimes with a rough edge, and we'd like to hear your feedback on any problems you might encounter, suggestions for improvements, etc. Please send these to webmaster@wildearth.tv and include the word Archive somewhere in the subject line, so we can identify them.

Finally, together with our producers I've tried to add as many tags for all streams as possible, but if you feel some you'd like to add are missing also please let us know at webmaster@wildearth.tv, with 'Tags' somewhere in the subject line.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

WE won a Roscar

The whole crew at WildEarth Safari are over the moon because we won a Roscar (Rhino Oscar) for our LIVE safari broadcast.

This is a great honor and a special moment for the whole team. As many of you know WE have been working and toiling for many years to bring the world a quality LIVE safari experience and winning this award is a sign that our peers in the world of wildlife filmmaking recognize this contribution.

The Roscar was awarded in the new category of 'Alternate Broadcasting'. I think the fact that our broadcast is both LIVE and in 3D was a large factor in the judges decision making. This combination of LIVE and 3D makes the experience of watching our safari extremely immersive if you are lucky enough to have a 3DTV and can receive our High Definition broadcast channel (WildEarth) on either Freebox (France) or Roku (United States).

The awards ceremony was the culmination of the 2011 WildTalk Africa conference held at Spier wine estate near Cape Town, South Africa in late March. The conference was extremely interesting and WildEarth had a booth where we demonstrated our 3D content, presented some of our upcoming projects and had the opportunity to network with many of our industries leading producers. We were also honored to be invited to chair a panel discussion entitled 'Beyond TV', which was a very interesting discussion about some of the alternative distribution channels open to wildlife filmmakers. Of course 3D dominated the conference and WildEarth was also represented on panel discussions related to 3D work flow and specifically the LIVE broadcasting of 3D High Definition video.