Archive for the ‘Video’ Category


Facebook: Now streaming

Facebook has decided to expand its live streaming feature, which could have implications for a news organizations' social strategy. (Vicipaedianus x / Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Facebook has decided to expand its live streaming feature, which could have implications for a news organizations’ social strategy. (Vicipaedianus x / Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Last week, Facebook announced its plans to expand its live streaming feature. The social network, in a blog post, said they were testing the feature, known as Live, with a small portion of its users by iPhone.

While it is unclear when this will be made widely available to everyone, including news organizations, Facebook said it hopes to make it available to everyone soon. Originally, as the BBC reports, the feature was only available to celebrities and other high profile users.

Facebook’s decision to expand the feature comes as streaming video expands on social media platforms, most notably through Periscope and Meerkat. With these features, this will allow reporters to tell stories from specific locations they are reporting from, or allow users to submit user generated content on breaking stories to help aid reporting, after they have been vetted.

In addition, streaming video may also allow other ways for news organizations to interact with audiences, either through segments about stories or creating ways to engage audiences through discussion features. The streaming video can also be an excellent way to engage users not only through traditional platforms like television and the web, but also through their Facebook page, expanding their social outreach.

The possibilities for streaming video are endless for news organizations, and Facebook is getting on board with the roll out of Live. The question is how (and if) news organizations will end up adapting it as part of their social strategy.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

How Meerkat and Periscope can transform social journalism

You may have seen some tweets appear in your stream over the past couple of weeks utilizing two tools recently made available to the public – Meerkat and Periscope. Immediately, news organizations began testing them, seeing what works and what couldn’t work when it came to developing new relationships with audiences.

Indeed, as testing of these platforms took place in organizations around the world, there had been an increasing consensus that more work should be done, including the British publication The Economist, who did a live stream on Meerkat discussing the British economy. The Economist, according to a report from the Guardian newspaper in Britain, was one of the first UK news outlets to use it.

“Live streaming is fun and has the informality of Twitter rather than the seriousness of TV, so we should do more of it,” said Tom Standage, the paper’s deputy editor, in an interview with The Guardian, adding that it could bring wider benefits to the paper’s coverage of the UK’s general election, due to be held in May.

These tools, albeit new, have the power to transform news organizations’ overall engagement with audiences on social media, as social video continues to become increasingly popular not just on these apps, but on apps including Twitter, Instagram and Vine.

Yet, Meerkat and Periscope are able to stand out in the vast world of social media, because of the guaranteed immediacy of the interaction of audiences, helping them get the full story, especially on breaking events. There are no restrictions on time, and the experience of streaming becomes a live conversation, something Twitter had been keen to emphasize with its acquisition of Periscope.

With a number of directions that can be taken from a content standpoint, newsrooms should not be hesitant with these apps or incorporating them into a social strategy. Indeed, inclusion of them will be a step forward for the organization, and can allow more out of the box thinking when it comes to social strategies.

If you’ve not used it, take time to think now about it, and what Meerkat and Periscope can do for your newsroom. I’m sure you’ll find that the benefits outweigh the cons.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Twitter confirms acquisition of Periscope

Twitter officially confirmed today its acquisition of the live streaming app Periscope, which had closed in January for $100 million. Twitter’s Vice President for product, Kevin Weil, made the announcement via the social networking site.

As mentioned in Wednesday’s blog post, Twitter made the acquisition as Periscope continues testing in beta mode. It is unclear when it would be released to the public, but it could have implications on news organizations and their interaction with audiences on social media, as audience feedback is a strong component of the app, according to this report from the technology news web site TechCrunch. Comments can be posted on a stream, which would be seen by viewers of the stream and the broadcaster itself, the report adds.

The TechCrunch report adds that Periscope will be launched as a separate app from Twitter, with the ability to watch live and previously broadcast streams.

Alex Veeneman is a Chicago based SPJ member who is chairman of SPJ Digital and the community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer to Kettle Magazine, an online publication based in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

This post was amended at 5:26 pm Central time to correct the date of the mentioned blog post.

Is live streaming in Twitter’s future?

Twitter acquired the live video startup Periscope this week, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter has acquired the live video start up Periscope, which could affect Twitter’s video presence and usage by journalists. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

News has emerged this week that Twitter has bought a start up that could expand how journalists use video on social media.

Periscope, a live streaming start up, was bought by the social network for $100 million. The deal closed last month, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, but news of the deal emerged this week. Periscope is currently in beta mode and has not been released to the public.

The news of the deal comes over a week after Twitter unveiled a feature where video embedded on the platform can be embedded on a web site.

While the details are unclear as to the timing of Periscope’s release, this could be a potential new tool that could affect how journalists and news organizations use video, whether covering an event from the field or engaging audiences directly from the newsroom. This could also see an ability for Twitter to further engage potential users and could lead to an increase in user growth, a concern that investors have expressed to CEO Dick Costolo and management.

More developments are likely forthcoming, so keep your eyes peeled as Twitter’s latest acquisition may be one to watch as newsrooms look to make the best available resources of their social media strategy.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman and blogger at large of SPJ Digital, and community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

How can Twitter video help journalism?

Twitter unveiled its new video feature allowing 30 second videos to be uploaded. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter unveiled its new video feature allowing 30 second videos to be uploaded. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter unveiled January 27 two new features – the ability to send direct messages privately to groups, and the ability to upload 30 second video clips directly through the social networking site.

The features were unveiled amid uncertainty with the social network’s investors that user growth would be possible. In an interview quoted from Bloomberg, Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo said user growth remained a priority, as the social network reported its fourth quarter earnings last Friday.

Twitter had also announced that real time tweets would be appearing in Google searches, in a deal with the search engine. It is unclear when that feature would be made available to the public.

Yet, with the introduction of Twitter’s 30 second video feature, potential is introduced for journalists and newsrooms. Twitter’s video feature goes up against Vine’s 6 second videos and Facebook owned Instagram’s 15 second videos. The video feature is reported to be made available to users within the coming days.

In a telephone interview, Katie Hawkins-Gaar, Digital Innovation Faculty at the Poynter Institute, says this gives Twitter an advantage.

“Video is huge right now, both in social and digital news,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “Twitter recognizes that. The 30 second limit sets them apart.”

Hawkins-Gaar sees benefits for reporters working from the field for video to be uploaded to Twitter, but also sees benefits for the overall audience-newsroom relationship.

“Lots of journalists and newsrooms that use Twitter to look for breaking news and user generated content,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “It’s great for that. Those newsrooms are particularly excited about that content. Also those who use it use it for two way conversations with audience. I would like to see more people do that. I hope video enhances that.”

Hawkins-Gaar says that from a social standpoint, this could bring benefit to Twitter and alleviate concerns as it tries to grow.

“There is potential for it to save Twitter,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “It’s good for breaking news and things in the moment. The video feature seems to support that, especially in breaking news. People are looking for information.”

However, this feature also provides a risk, particularly for newsrooms, something that needs to be considered when looking at overall social strategy.

“If you’re a newsroom and want to focus on Twitter video, it’s time to talk about everything on social and look at where you should put your focus,” Hawkins-Gaar said.

Overall, Hawkins-Gaar appreciated the simplicity of the feature.

“One of the things that sets Twitter apart is how simple it is,” Hawkins-Gaar said. “I was happy to see how simple the video feature was. I hope they keep it that way. Focuses on short bursts of info and what’s happening in the moment. I hope it doesn’t change Twitter’s focus too much.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman of SPJ Digital and the community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

This post was amended at 5:51 pm Central Time to reflect a correction in the last paragraph.

GIF, JPEG, or PNG? Choose wisely

Taking Photos(Editor’s note: This post appears courtesy of Gateway Media Literacy Partners)

Seeing is believing, the saying goes. That phrase dates back to the 17th century, but it means more now than ever. Our image-driven culture places added value on what it can visualize at a glance versus what it can read. That’s why tweets are 35 percent more likely to be re-tweeted, Facebook posts are 85 percent more likely to be “liked,” and whole websites are 90 percent more memorable and clickable with meaningful images or graphics embedded in them.

Regardless, we tend to treat all visual content the same way no matter the source or purpose and have since the dawn of the browser-based Web 20 years ago. The result is an abundance of websites and social media loaded with images that appear blurry or ill-defined, that resolve too small or too large for the space allowed, or that hinder a browser’s ability to display a site quickly and effectively.

We never learned — or if we did, we keep forgetting — that digital image formats vary and each has a distinct, optimal purpose. Lacking an understanding of those purposes, we risk losing clicks, clients, and valuable attention.

So, resolve in 2015 to learn, remember, and properly use the three common image formats, denoted by their file extension names:

.GIF — It’s pronounced “jiff,” like the peanut butter, though some prefer “giff.” Either way, it stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and was developed by CompuServe in 1987 as a means of transferring space-hogging graphical files through slow connections such as. Animations, icons, line drawings, cartoons or any image with a limited color palette are better as GIFs because GIF permits certain colors to appear as transparencies instead of real pixels and can combine pixels of two colors into one to further reduce file size without diminishing image quality.

.JPEG (or .JPG) — This one, pronounced “jay-peg,” stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, and as the name implies was developed chiefly for photographs. Created in 1986 by said group, JPEG is the standard file format programmed into most digital cameras and employs a complex algorithm to compress images for optimum Web display. Some image quality is lost during this compression; however, in order to simplify compression, JPEG robs from subtler tones the human eye has difficulty noticing yet preserves the more distinct differences between light and dark.

.PNG — Pronounced “ping,” the format with the full name Portable Graphics Network went to market in 1996 containing elements of both the .GIF and .JPEG formats. It was developed as an open-source substitute for .GIF and is optimal for working with complex graphical logos and large photographs that do not need much compression. However, PNG is relatively new and so its images may not display well or at all on older browsers.

Not all digital images are the same. Treating them as if they were leaves a bad impression with Web audiences. By being mindful of these formats and their principal purposes, you can rest assured that the first visual impression you make will be a good one.

What can Instagram’s new app do for journalism?

Instagram unveiled its new app, Hyperlapse, a couple of weeks ago. But does it have any benefits for journalism? (Photo: Zenspa1/Flickr under CC license)

Instagram unveiled its new app, Hyperlapse, a couple of weeks ago. But does it have any benefits for journalism?
(Photo: Zenspa1/Flickr under CC license)

This past August, Instagram unveiled its new Hyperlapse app, designed to create time lapse clips from videos. This week, it got its first outing in journalism, as it was used during coverage of New York Fashion Week.

Journalists from publications including The Wall Street Journal and Lucky used the app to create time lapse videos of catwalks during events. Outside of New York Fashion Week, the LA Times used it to capture visitors with the NHL Stanley Cup.

With this usage, can there be benefits for journalism when it comes to Hyperlapse? Not many examples of it being used emerge, but some in the industry, including Catherine Cloutier, a data journalist with the Boston Globe and a co-organizer of the Online News Association’s chapter in Boston, are saying there are benefits.

I imagine it would be an easier and more user-friendly way to do a time-lapse video, which newsrooms use to show dramatic change over a span of time,” Cloutier said, in an email to SPJ Digital.

Have you used Hyperlapse? What benefits do you see Hyperlapse having in journalism? Let us know what you think in our comments section, post on our Facebook page or tweet us.

Alex Veeneman is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists based in Chicago. Veeneman also serves as Special Projects Editor and writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can tweet him @alex_veeneman.

Making videos on the go just got much easier

Software developer Adobe has simplified video production and editing for any journalist on the go who’s armed with an Apple iPad. The company officially unveiled today its new Adobe Voice app, a kind of PowerPoint on steroids now available for free at Apple’s iTunes Store.

Quite simply, Voice makes video possible without actually filming any video.

Through a simple step-by-step process, users simply insert their own photos or animation clips or download images from rights-free sources into a kind of storyboard template, then add text from a selection of more than two dozen preinstalled themes and 25,000 icons.

The app gets its name from the feature that allows users to then record narration by tapping the microphone icon at the bottom of each page as they assemble a scene. Voice also includes a music list to lay down an audio foundation.

Once complete, each video can be shared on social media, blogs, and websites, or uploaded for display on Adobe’s own servers, by tapping another icon.

Adobe predicts Voice could make the most noise at schools, where students and teachers can make quick videos without the hassle of complicated equipment or software. Net Worked however predicts a faster adoption by the public — and certainly by street journalists looking for yet an even quicker way to make a good first impression.

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David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Videolicious is looking good to newspapers

Videolicious logoIn print journalism, video keeps elbowing into the picture. News sites once devoted to words now see film clips as essential supplements to written work.

At the same time, those sites are trimming or eliminating the staffers who shot and edited those clips, preferring instead to have reporters with smartphones take over.

But many reporters lack the knowledge or inclination to shoot video, because they either never tried or are reluctant to tackle what seems like an overwhelming new set of skills.

That’s why newspapers such as the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are trying Videolicious, an application for iPhone and iPad that simplifies and somewhat demystifies video making.

Videolicious creates video reports shot fresh with iPhone or iPad, or from clips and photos already in the device’s camera roll. Users can record a voiceover for narration with the device’s reverse-camera feature while splicing clips with just a screen tap.

The free version of Videolicious has a 1-minute video length limit, with a maximum of 20 separate shots per video, and storage at Videolicious.com for up to 20 projects. Pricing plans for $5 and $10 per month add features like longer video, more storage, a music library and commercial branding.

Videolicious debuted in 2011 and gained popularity among real estate agents to promote their properties. This year, the Post assigned about 30 of its staff to test the product. The Post-Dispatch recently began tutoring reporters and editors on it as well.

Poynter.org has a demonstration of Videolicious on YouTube.

 

David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Instagram now lets you embed photos, video on websites

Instagram logoInstagram expanded its image-sharing capabilities Wednesday.

The social networking service unveiled a new feature that allows Web embedding for user photos and video. Before Wednesday, most sharing outside Instagram was limited to other social sharing sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Twitter.

Now, users can find share buttons next to their images appearing on Instagram’s website. Clicking on the button, located just south of the comment button, opens a small window containing an embed code that can be pasted into blogs, Web pages and news articles.

Below that code in the same window is a publish button. The photo or video includes an Instagram identity wherever it’s published.

As for technical details, that’s all Instagram said about the new feature. The rest of the service’s news release Wednesday dwelled on content ownership, which Instagram insists will remain with the image’s owner.

“Your embedded photo or video appears with your Instagram user name, and clicking on the Instagram logo will take people to your page on Instagram.com,” the release said.

In December, Instagram changed its terms-of-use policy to permit all user content as fodder for “paid or sponsored content or promotions.” The only way to avoid this was for users to delete their accounts.

Subsequent outcry from privacy advocates as well as Instagram users forced the service to apologize and change the policy after one day.

Instagram launched in 2010 originally for Apple platforms but grew to include Android devices in April 2012. That same month, Facebook acquired Instagram for about $1 billion in cash and stock.

 

David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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