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By Dr. Philip Baczewski, Director of  Academic Computing and User Services

Coming to a Website Near You

There seems to be a bit of an explosion of video on the Internet. OK, perhaps not an explosion, but recent developments indicate that video is quietly becoming as commonplace and ordinary as images in web pages.  Part of this may be due to the fact that most computers are now fast enough and have enough storage and memory to play and even edit video. The other contributing factor is the increasing availability of and subscription to broadband Internet services in people's homes.

Macromedia's Shockwave player has been around for quite some time and was one of the first tools used as a plugin to a web browser to play animations and interactive programs such as games.  Macromedia's Flash player provides a way to play media that's embedded in web pages.  Windows and Mac OS X both have built in capabilities for playing video. For Windows, it's Windows Media Player, and for Mac OS, it's QuickTime. And, both of these products are cross platform, so QuickTime is available for Windows, and a version of Media Player is available for Mac OS, although the Mac version of Media Player tends to lag the Windows version.

Video for You

On the Internet, we see sites like growing as places for individuals to post their own video selections. Some of these are snippets from broadcast or other captured video, but in other cases, it's amateur productions which might include a teen's attempt to produce their own music video to showcase any talent they might have.   Some of the material uploaded to YouTube has infringed on copyrights, but has also served to promote the source material. YouTube as recently imposed a 10-minute limit on video clips uploaded to the site.

YouTube is not alone as a video upload site.  Not to ignore any Internet trend, Google, has it's own beta video site. A number of others have been operational for quite some time. The general idea is to try to be the video equivalent of what has done for pictures. A number of these were recently compared by, with Vimeo, VideoEgg, and YouTube receiving their nod of recommendation.

Video has been common on sites like and for quite some time.  Of course, video is the bread and butter of these organizations, especially CNN.  But other organizations are making effective use of online video.  For example, offers video forecasts for a number of U.S. cities. Likewise, The Weather Channel web site offers video forecasts and other features from drawn from their daily productions.

Let them Entertain You

This trend toward online video is not being ignored by those in the entertainment industry that produce such content. ABC recently announced the availability of four of its shows as free downloads. These include commercials, but commercial-free versions of ABC shows are available for purchase on Apple's iTunes Music Store for $1.99 per episode.  Of course, with the introduction of the video iPod, Apple has made music videos and other kinds of video entertainment via iTunes.

Recently, it became possible to purchase and download some movies as they are released on DVD. The online companies, Movielink and CinemaNow have made deals with certain movie studios to sell movies online at prices similar to what you'd pay for the DVD. This is a big step for the movie industry. Unlike music, movie sales until now have been tightly limited to distribution on solid media (generally VHS or DVD). Opening up movies to online sales, makes them more convenient to acquire, without leaving your home, and paves the way for your Internet-connected computer to become your primary entertainment center.

Your Future Living Room

The coming world of online video is not lost on the computer hardware industry. It's no accident that Dell now sells High Definition TVs. Dell also has a line of systems that it bills as "Digital Entertainment PCs". Apple has positioned it's Mac Mini as a possible future "set-top box." Apple has also included personal media production and player software with it's newly sold systems (their iLife suite). So not only is it easier to view video from online sources, but now, it's easy to make your own video productions and share them via Vimeo, YouTube, and similar sites. So, if you are a future Cecil B. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up...


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