bava.tv brought to you by PeerTube

I recently said something along the lines of….

The nice part about a ds106.tv, as Tim reminds me, is there are no copyright trolls. Small can be very good for a video community. Plus, I have already spent my time dealing with the Youtube copyright crap, and I have no interest to go back there. Everything I have on Vimeo is backed-up locally (and remotely); I basically have my bug-out bag by the door ready to go at anytime. If they delete my videos, it would just mean finding another home for them, and maybe that is exactly what we’ll do with ds106tv  ?

And that is exactly what Tim did when he got the open-source video platform PeerTube up and running for ds106.tv. I took one look at it and immediately knew it was the alternative I’ve been looking for for some time now. What’s more, you gotta love their motto:

Our aim is not to replace them [YouTube, Vimeo, etc.], but rather to simultaneously offer something else, with different values.

One of the coolest things about PeerTube, other than it being free and open, is it’s premised on a decentralized, federated network of a variety of instances (not unlike Mastodon). So, for example, I can federate my own instance, bava.tv, with ds106.tv and folks who come to either can explore what’s on both. Even better, there’s the ability to provide redundancy so we can back-up each others videos in the event of server issues, take-downs, etc. It’s everything ad-revenue and premium video sharing services are not.

But it gets better, it also has the youtube-dl open source python library built-in so that you can migrate your videos off services like YouTube and Vimeo. But as the above Tweet from the Electronic Frontier Foundation makes clear, the youtube-dl code is currently under attack by the MPAA and RIAA for enabling copyright circumvention. In fact, trying to takedown open source code is an already established tactic, back in May the MPA did the same thing to the open source software Popcorn (a Netflix clone). But in that case the developers of Popcorn appealed to Github to re-instate their repo:

The developers submitted a DMCA counternotice explaining that the MPA’s request is not legitimate. The code is owned by Popcorn Time, not the MPA, and Popcorn Time asked GitHub to restore access.

“The code is 100 % ours and do not contain any copyright [sic] material please check again,” the developer wrote.

The app’s developers made a good point here. The identified code (not the built app) is not directly copyright infringing and it contains no direct links to copyright-infringing material either. This means that a DMCA notice may not be the right tool here.

Faced with both requests, GitHub has now decided to restore full access to the Popcorn Time repository.

Let’s hope youtube-dl gets as lucky as Popcorn did back in May, but at the same time you begin to understand that in many ways Github is just as arbitrary and liable as Youtube to remove and block access to our culture, this in the form of code, based on power plays by monied interests. It’s the same mistake of consolidating resources, and by extension power, in the hands of a few monolithic sites (rather than federated across many) that gets us back in the hole.

In fact, the Youtube-dl makes archiving videos you want to save from around the web unbelievably convenient for copying videos in seconds.

It”s been over 8 years since I lost all my videos on YouTube thanks to copyright claims and the unilateral arbitration at the hands of for-profit platforms, so it is nice to finally have a really tight alternative. I have been playing with it for over a week given I wanted to make sure the Docker installation works on Reclaim Cloud (it does!), along with the CLI tools that make migrating an entire Vimeo or YouTube channel to PeerTube absolutely painless. I did this yesterday and brought over over 275 videos, and all the accompanying metadata—so good.

I think the thing I appreciate the most about PeerTube is the way it lets you explore your own and others videos. Tim has been uploading all of his videos to ds106.tv and we are working on federating my site with his (it is actually simple to federate instances, but I deleted my previous instance so there have been some caching issues) and I have been able to discover so many of the old gold DTLT Today episodes, not to mention ds106 gold, and more.

I think the larger plan is to give people account on ds106.tv to upload videos for the ds206.video course we are designing, or even better, help them spin up their own PeerTube instance to see what its all about. To that end I need to work on a one-click install for PeerTube on Reclaim Cloud, which should be very doable, as well as a more in-depth how-to for the peerTube CLI given wrapping your head around that really makes this tool amazing for migrating a large amount of content in a short period of time. ds206.video is already paying dividends and it is still months away from starting. #4life

Brainstorming ds206.video

I’m gonna try and make this post short and sweet because the conversation above says it all. In episode 24 of Reclaim Today Tim and I were once again joined by Andy Rush to  brainstorm the design and structure of an open course we plan on running in the new year called ds206.video (#ds206video). Yeah, we are piggybacking on the venerable ds106 community, and figured it might be a good time to create a special topics course for folks to learn and share working they are doing around producing, creating, and streaming video. If the course is half as fun as the above discussion, it is going to be a blast, and it has been quite a few years since I have had the time and energy to work with folks to build out an ecosystem, and this post comes a few days late because I spent much of the last 3 days playing with Wiki.js, Peertube, and Discord, which will be at least 3 facets of this open course. I have a lot more to write about this, but I am still knee-deep in Peertube, which is a brilliant open source P2P Youtube alternative, that I have been looking for for the last 8 years:) There will be much more to come on the ds206.video experience, but if you are interested join the Discord chat and get ready to co-create a community TV station around ds106.tv! #4life

I think the time is nigh, and if nothing else, Tim’s 20 second intro to the above video is not to be missed, click play and FEEL THE RUSH!

Talking Digital Identity with GO-GN

There is no better feeling than when some of your plodding experimentation starts to come together after several months of work.

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of presenting to the GO-GN network about digital identity. I asked Martin Weller and Beck Pitt if I could experiment a bit for this talk with some various video shots via OBS, and they were more than willing to let me run wild. In fact, they were even accommodating 🙂 They gave me a test account for their video conferencing application, ClickMeeting, which quite frankly was one of the best I’ve used yet.* I did a preliminary run at this setup with my “5 Questions about EDUPUNK” video last weekend that  I posted about earlier this week. The primary difference was that this was in front of a real-time audience and if I messed up there were no do-overs. Dear reader, I nailed it!

My discussion of digital identity might be broken up into two parts: 1) I play the hits and talk about my blog, narrating your work, and the now venerable ds106, but part 2) was a bit of a departure wherein I discussed the possibilities of streaming video for new ways of building and imagining presence. I was lucky that both Meredith Fierro and Katie Hartraft did the heavy lifting by modeling Tik Tok-style narratives and being far more insightful and thoughtful than I could ever be! It was a lot of fun for me, and I was more nervous about this presentation than I had been about one in a long while, which for me is always a good sign I am stepping out of my lane and trying something new. For me the form was the message, I was spending 45 minutes presenting my story via dynamic, streaming video. It wasn’t The Wire or anything, but it was mine in ways the typical video conferencing video box never could be. I didn’t stream it to ds106.tv out of respect for the GO-GN network, given they invited me to their space, so no need to push folks elsewhere, but I could have quite easily. What’s more, I could record a hi-quality version of the video I can then use for my own purposes. Something like this….

One drawback of this version of the talk is that I didn’t capture the ongoing chat (though I could have), and I didn’t capture the audio questions Martin asked towards the end. I edited the above video to account for that, but GO-GN has the more complete version up on their Youtube account, embedded below:

Now riddle me this, which is the official document? Textual historians are gonna be working overtime for the next few centuries 🙂 A couple of interesting notes about the version on Youtube is that with it came copyright claims that made monetizing it impossible. Fine by GO-GN and me, but it does get to an issue that came up in the talk regarding the lack of de-commodified green spaces for video on the web . The nice part about a ds106.tv, as Tim reminds me, is there are no copyright trolls. Small can be very good for a video community. Plus, I have already spent my time dealing with the Youtube copyright crap, and I have no interest to go back there. Everything I have on Vimeo is backed-up locally (and remotely); I basically have my bug-out bag by the door ready to go at anytime. If they delete my videos, it would just mean finding another home for them, and maybe that is exactly what we’ll do with ds106tv  🙂

Anyway, I am getting off topic here, this entire process has gotten me even more excited about working with Tim and Andy Rush on a special topics ds206† course, namely #ds206video. And while we still have to iron out a bunch of details, I did mention this development in the above video, and Andy and Tim are officially on-board. It will be a multi-week open course around working with OBS, streaming video servers, hardware, video editing software, etc. with the idea of helping interested folks bolster their video game. I’ll hopefully have a lot more to say and blog about this anon. But for now let me try and document what I did for the “Like <3 and Subscribe to Your Digital !dentity in the Time of Corona” presentation.

In fact, it was quite similar to the process I blogged about for the EDUPUNK Q&A, so I will try and keep this a bit briefer with the understanding you can refer back to my previous post for details (at some point I’ll try and come up with a more cogent tutorial).

Like with the EDPUNK Q&A I had 3 main scenes:

1) The Console Living Room:

2) Reclaim Arcade

3) Slide presentation mode

Each of these scenes is composed of pretty much the same inputs/shots as the OBS screenshots in the EDUPUNK Q&A post. Only difference is I deigned to change my shirt, or at least the unbuttoned button-up. What’s more, I added five video shots this time versus the four I used in the EDUPUNK video. Katie and Meredith’s Tik Tok videos were Media Source inputs of a video file I had in a folder on my desktop. Nothing else special, other than making sure in Advanced Audio Preferences for the videos I could monitor to hear it as well as the audience (see “Brian on Crack” example in EDUPUNK Q&A post). For the Buggles’s “Video Killed the Radio Star” video I included my webcam in that shot so I could be goofy and sing/dance along. This was as easy as adding another video capture device, my webcam, but I made sure there was no audio for me on this.

The coolest bit was Katie filmed her 2 minutes discussion of her story around her viral Star Wars Tik Tok against a green screen, so I could add the Yoda image cleanly behind her using the Chroma key in Filters for her video. That was a new process, and remarkably easy in OBS.

Finally I mapped my Stream Deck with the 3 primary scenes: LR (console living room), Full Screen (Reclaim Arcade shot), and Vinylcam (which is actually the presentation mode). The other five video scenes are in yellow and I order them to my liking, but can also label them to make sense for me.

The last bit which is different from the EDUPUNK Q&A video was I used the OBS Virtual Camera plugin for the Mac, it has been around for a while for Windows but a new development for Mac this Spring. This plugin let’s me choose everything I output from OBS as a camera input for an application like ClickMeeting or Zoom or any other video conferencing tool that supports it (this is why I needed to test ClickMeeting well in advance). It is super slick. When I chose the OBS Virtual Cam as my camera for ClickMeeting everyone can see my OBS app as the output. That worked brilliantly.

In fact, I tested everything again that morning so that by 2:30 PM when I was ready to test in the room I was sure everything worked—did I tell you I was nervous? Well, while the virtual video output was fine I had a bit of a scare when Paco, who was awesome, let me know the audio from the videos was not coming through. Oh no! I was racking my brain until I remembered I needed to use the virtual audio output from the Loopback application I use to mix sound together from various applications. Once I switched my audio from just my mic to the virtual sound output I named OBS Audio I was cooking with gas with only 5 minutes to spare, whew! After that, it was show time and I am pretty stoked we could pull it all off! Let me know if you need some comedy relief at your next online event 🙂

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*The big test ClickMeeting passed with flying colors was working with the OBS Virtual Camera plugin, but more on that in the post above.

†A few years ago Alan Levine and I toyed with the idea of doing a ds206 course (http://ds206.life) wherein we started thinking more intensely about various aspects of managing your digital identity and resulting work online. I think the idea of doing it as a course through a university (which was on the table at the time) was a bit more than either of us wanted to commit to given other demands, so we shelved it.

Reclaim Today: Tumamelt and Telepresence

024: Tunamelts and Telepresence

On Thursday Tim and I recorded yet another Reclaim Today episode, and I have to say this may be my favorite to date. Not only because we are beginning to see some of the fun possibilities manifest with the Reclaim TV Studio in this production, but it might mark the beginning of a truly awesome project. Tim and I have no shortage of good ideas when we get going, but Tim has really hit on some gold in his recent quest to bridge time and space to make sure Reclaim Arcade stays weird. He’s a genius, and I love the madness. But I might be getting ahead of myself here a bit, but the short version is he discovered this very cool site called Telemelt by Andrew Reitano, which is a way to play emulated NES games (amongst others) latency free online with friends. With the simple click of the spacebar you can switch who controls the game, and it is remarkably seamless, totally free, and a by-product of our current locked-down reality.

And to this equation Tim added another dimension, me and him playing them together in the proverbial and very real console living room in Fredericksburg with him in person and me on the robot. The combination of playing seamlessly via the browser and then “being” in the same space as a robot was quite remarkable. Which led him to the idea of what if we can replicate this latency-free game play for the Reclaim Arcade cabinets and have folks come in via robot and play with others that are in the physical space? A fleet of robots occupied by folks all over the world playing games in Reclaim Arcade….CAN YOU DIG IT!

I am sure I’ll have more to say about this, but it is also worth noting that this was our first stream using multiple-scenes with green screens and a little OBS Ninja action. I’m not gonna lie, I am loving our new streaming overlords 🙂

Reclaim Today: Taking the Studio on the Road

Click image for video

We’re currently building out Reclaim Hosting HQ’s TV studio, and as a result we’ve been doing more Reclaim Today episodes —which is a welcome change. In episode 21 we discuss what a video kit would look like for remote workers like Lauren and I. The idea being the mothership that is Reclaim Hosting’s office studio would be where all the heavy lifting happens, but Lauren and I would need to have tight video setups that allow us to seamlessly integrate for a distributed stream, not to mention the importance of having a solid rig as more and more events and trainings go fully online.

And we even had a view or two, thanks Simon! So the discussion delineates what a remote kit would look like, and below is the list of the equipment I got for my remote setup (Lauren’s differs a bit based on availability). There was more Elgato equipment available in Italy than the US (the company is headquartered just up the valley in Munich, Germany) as the demand for webcams, portable green screens, microphones, etc., is still peaking given the US is experiencing the never-ending lockdown. So, below is my annotated list of my remote video setup:

Elgato Key Light Air (2x): Lighting, lighting, lighting! One of the big takeaways from our discussion with Andy Rush a couple of weeks back was good lighting is everything. So I got two portable, adjustable desktop lights that I can link and control via my phone. These were $130 each, and I got two that sit on either side of my computer (as pictured above) and they do make all the difference but the app is a bit wonky at controlling both seamlessly, so that is something to consider. But I love how seamless they work on the desk behind my monitor on the left and next to the one on the right.

Elgato Wave Microphone: Next up is sound, and I currently have a Yeti mic that has worked for me pretty well, but one of the drawbacks is I tend to keep it off to the side and I find my levels are consistently low and it picks up everything. That said the Yeti may be more than enough for folks, but I wanted to try the Elgato Wave 1 to see if that was different, it just came this morning so I have to follow-up after playing around more, but a potential benefit of the Wave mic is comes with mixing software.

Logitech C920 Webcam: This is the camera I bought after mistakenly getting the Logitech C615, which sucks. While only $15-20 difference, the C920 is far superior. And I think this will be a good solution for most, I am still planning on mounting a Canon DSLR behind and above my main monitor and bringing it in as an input for OBS using Elgato’s Cam Link 4K video capture card. More on this experiment anon, but at $115 for the Logictech C920 (which is $20 cheaper than the Cam Link video capture card, and $1000+ cheaper than a DSLR) it is a very solid and affordable camera for a remote kit.

Elgato Portable Greenscreen: Finally the portable Greenscreen from Elgato officially makes me Elgato brand boy, doesn’t it? I can live with that, I had to pay a few bucks for this from a third-party vendor in Italy given it was sold out here, but not like the price gauging for it my vendors in the US right now. This has yet to come, so I will need to write more once I get it and can play with it, which will invite more posts around actually exploring the possibilities with using a Greenscreen when streaming, some of which Tim highlighted in the this video, and they are so fun!

Live from Jacksonville

For the 19th episode of Reclaim Today Tim and I sat down with old colleague and good friend Andy Rush, who in what seems like another lifetime was part of the UMW DTLT “dream team.” Fortunately we’ve been able to keep in touch on and off these last five years, where he has been keeping himself busy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida working as a Course Media Developer doing what he does best: all things video. As you may have noticed, Tim and I have been playing quite a bit with streaming video for things like KaraOERoke, ds106.tv, and the like. We are interested in doing even more, and given we have a ton of office space given the construction work for Reclaim Arcade was scaled back significantly. So, what do you do? Take the empty conference room and build a ReclaimTV station.  And who do you call? Your friendly neighborhood New Media Speicalist: Andy “feel the” Rush! 

So, this discussion is basically broken up into two parts:

1) us reviewing the limits and possibilities of the high-end TV studio Andy helped design at UMW for the Convergence Center. It is without a doubt an impressive space, but one of the things the discussion comes around to is that video game streaming has highlighted the array of open source tools for streaming and fairly cheap hardware that allows you to build a quite impressive “TV” studio on the cheap.

2) at around the 30 minute mark Andy discusses how he created a flexible, cheaper studio with a few basic features like a good mic, lighting, and the Black Magic ATEM Mini switcher (or Mini Pro or Mini ISO) to name a few you would be well on your way to a pretty impressive setup. Hopefully Andy will blog a more detailed list of all the things he was playing with in this video, but if you go to around 45 minutes Andy begins his tour and takes you through and names each piece of equipment.

You pricing and mileage may vary, but if you already have a decent camera and a fairly robust laptop, you can probably build a solid studio for $1000-$1500, which would be a big jump for someone doing it on their own, but for an edtech group or wanna-bes like ReclaimTV, that is a very manageable range. So, I am sure Tim is already ordering equipment for our nascent studio, and we promised Andy we would have another chat when we were further along and he can update us on the next phase of his work this semester: building a kit that faculty and students can easily use that is not necessarily just one big button 🙂