March 23, 2006

Delphi Videos, How To?

I'm trying to find a way to produce and publish training videos on Delphi. I didn't have too much luck so far, as Google's video service is far from optimal for this purpose. So I'm looking for suggestions...

After the video capture experience at the Borland Conference (see this blog entry for more info) I've done some more experiments. I really find instructional videos to be a very informative and direct way to provide training on a development tool like Delphi. Showing live demos is what I do is most of my classes, in which slides play a very limited role. Of course, capturing these videos and editing them a little bit takes time. That's why I'm trying to figure out a way to make a little money in the process, enough to pay for the time devoted to it.

Enter Google Video. In theory, this service provides all I need: (almost) unlimited downloads of free videos and mechanism for selling videos on a per-view/per-day or on a permanent basis, the possibility of downloading a video file (using their custom palyer) for plyaback on the PC or online viewing with the browser. This sounded exactly what I was looking for. Well, the pay-per-video service is currently limited to given parties, but it should be a matter of time before this is opened up a little more.

The problems with Google Video are on the technical side. The system is optimized for real videos, not screen captures. It uses very strong compression and delivers rather poor quality, in my opinion. This might be OK on a general purpose video, but doens't work for a PC capture in which a user should be able to read the actual text on screen. Aftrer a mail exchange with Google Video technical support people and some trial and errors, I've figured out that for good quality video capture you have to go down to a resolution of 480x360 for the video player, while the embedded (flash) player uses 320x240 native resolution.

So I've made an experiment and captured this demo video of my screen (while I was playing with Delphi 2006 live templates) captured at 480x360. If you download it to the video player, it will look OK (dont' care about the audio as the PC fan caused a lot of noise during the capture). In the browser it looks far from good, but not too bad. When I tried at a larger resolution (640x480) the result was far inferior and barely understandable, as you can see in this other demo (spoken in Italian, again download it to see it at a slightly better resolution). I also uploaded one of the Borland conference files, but the resolution was much higher (1024x768, I guess) and it is totally unusable. I've seen a few other PC video captures on the services (like some from Keystone Learning, see this one for an example) that are equally unreadable (they also have severe audio problems).

As working in Delphi 2006 at 480x360 is a totally frustrating experience, for now this is a roadblock. Any alterantives to sugggest? I could of course set up my own video streaming server, but managing the payments would be a lot of work and I probably won't have enough bandwidth (still, I could try an open source Linux streaming server if I could fine one!).

I could revert to the classic DVD-based video training model, but having to produce an entire DVD with tens of hours of captures before you make a dollar out of it scares me a little. And people won't be able to buy only the videos they need or want to try out. Also, not living in the US, I'd have to find someone to manage shipping and handling for me, which adds extra costs. Rather than in this direction, I looked for services similar to what Google is offering but with better resolution, but could not find anyone (well besdie a couple of very expensive ones that provide only free streaming).

So I'm very open to any suggestion/experience you might have. I would like really to work on this area and I'm looking for a solution. Feel free to post a suggestion here or to email me on my marco.cantu GMail account.





 

13 Comments

Delphi Videos, How To? 

Hi Marco,

from a technical point of view, I had very good 
experiences using Camtasia for recording the whole 
screen at resolution of 1280 x 1024. it allows 
exporting the files to several formats, including 
avi, dvd, flash ans streaming video.

the sizes of the videofiles are okay, a session of 
about 20 minutes takes around 14 mb as a flash-file 
and about 20 mb as an avi-file.

but i do not know how to integrate a kind of drm. :-/
Comment by Daniel R. Wolf [http://www.delphipraxis.net] on March 23, 12:11

Delphi Videos, How To? 

I use WINK for video-tutorials about my software:
http://www.debugmode.com/wink/

Wink can make stand-alone videos with an internal
player, or flash video for in-browser view. And
obviously it's totally free of charge.

Give it a try!
Comment by Sergio Pappalardo [http://www.silvercybertech.com] on March 23, 12:19

Camtasia or Wink? 

I am not sure if they can suit your needs, but you can
think about using the same tools adopted by Borland
for publishing their BDNtv live shows, "Camtasia" from
Techsmith [http://www.techsmith.com/].

There's also a free tool which I read a lot about but
I have not tried since now, "Wink" from DebugMode
[http://www.debugmode.com/wink/].

If you find these tools useful, I would like to know
your opinion about them. :-)

Bye,
  Marco.
Comment by Marco Breveglieri [http://www.marco.breveglieri.name] on March 23, 12:29

Hosting problems, not capturing problems 

Thanks for the info on video capturing tools. I have
used Camtasia, I've tested TurboDemo, I've installed a
couple of others (like the one for the Google Videos),
and will certainly try Wink...
... but my problem is not creating the videos, it is
hosting them/making them available/selling them!
Comment by Marco Cantù [http://www.marcocantu.com] on March 23, 12:51

Delphi Videos, How To? 

Try Wink its free and simple to use.  Version 2 will
support sound recording.

http://www.debugmode.com/wink/
Comment by Stuart Kelly [] on March 23, 12:52

Delphi Videos, How To? 

I have used Wink from http://www.debugmode.com/wink
and like it a lot. Wink doesn't have sound yet but
according to this post by the developer the next
version will:
http://www.debugmode.com/userforums/viewtopic.php?t=1878

You can sell your tutorials using ShareIt for
instance, they can easily generate a temporary
download for your product.
Did I mention that Wink is free? :)
Comment by Torkel Börjeson [http://www.tracktimer.com] on March 23, 13:08

Delphi Videos, How To? 

Maybe a solution like http://www.ezdrm.com/ could be 
the right one for you?
Comment by Daniel R. Wolf [http://www.delphipraxis.net] on March 23, 13:23

Delphi Videos, How To? 

  Hi Marco,
Maybe this will be a good solution. We have been 
working on e-video learning platform for a long time 
and developed a system targeted at people like you. 
It started with us winning a tender for producing a 
software to deliver online piano lessons. Then our 
client had the similar issues. They initially wanted 
to go DVD way, but it was way expensive, had 
diffcult licensing issues and not a realtime 
delivery. 
  So we implemented the platform with following 
features:
1) Very efficient non-proprietary compression method 
delivering high quality video and audio.
2) Encryption to protect video from piracy
3) Centrally controlled playback, extra protection 
from piracy
4) Multistream download on background, boosts 
download process.
5) Integrated e-commerce system 
and etc.

It is better to see once, than to hear 100 times. 
Please, have a look at http://mwmtv.co.uk, for demo 
of that technology. 

We are working on making this platform available to 
public. I see 2 alternatives, 
1) We host the megaportal where people like 
yourselves can create account and get tools to 
compress and upload video. Then their videos will be 
available from portal to download. Authors will  
earn per each sale and only pay  a small commission. 
2) Organization can buy a platform to host it on 
their website and will essentially have something 
similar to mwmwtv.co.uk.

What is your opinion? I am just wondering if this is 
kind of stuff which might be interesting to people 
like yourselves.

Regards,
H.G.
husayt_at_yahoo.com
Comment by Dr. H. Guliyev [http://mwmtv.co.uk] on March 24, 19:11

Delphi Videos, How To? 

Hi
I think that downloadable videos are much better 
than streamed ones. I personally don't have a 
powerful memory and I often forget things, so I 
prefer to have the video on my hard and watch it 
whenever I want.
And, I think that the SWF (Macromedia Flash) format 
is the best choice for screen captures.
And...If you want to make your videos downloadable, 
you can simply sell them via your site using 
solutions like paypal (easy to setup, cheap to use).

And if you want an eXtra security, you can write an 
application and embed your video in it, then sell 
serial number via web, you can also limit times that 
user can watch the video with your application !

Hope to be useful
Sorry for my WEAK English !
Shahab
Comment by Shahab-o-ddin Mokhtari [http://www.minasoft.info] on March 30, 23:25

Delphi Videos, How To? 

 i have used many screen capture, but none of them 
are fit for my need, since i used <a 
href="http://www.yaodownload.com/video-
design/screencapture/grabxp_screencapture.htm">GrabXP
</a> , it's really wonderful!

http://www.yaodownload.com/video-
design/screencapture/grabxp_screencapture.htm
Comment by goodman [http://www.yaodownload.com] on April 25, 09:06

Delphi Videos, How To? 

 Video Capturix lets you capture movies (in AVI 
format) from any Video for Windows or Windows Driver 
Model (Version 2005 or higher) video source. You can 
also freeze video images and save the image in BMP 
and JPEG format or copy the image to the Clipboard. 
You can even take timed snapshots to create a movie. 
A "Full Screen" option lets you transform your 
monitor into a video screen. An "Auto start" 
function gives you the ability to schedule a date 
and time to start capturing, Motion Detector gives 
you the ability to start recording when the video 
source changes. Other features include: an 
integrated movie viewer; the ability to print 
directly from any video source; the ability to 
insert copyright information into AVI files; and the 
ability to insert date, time and title information 
into your image; the ability to identify what codec 
compresses a AVI file and many others. You can also 
trigger the video/image recording using a joystick 
button or even a sound level detection. With the 
TWAIN scanner you can now scan documents and photos 
using Video Capturix 2005.

http://www.yaodownload.com/video-
design/videorecorders/video-
capturix_videorecorders.htm
Comment by smile on April 27, 10:13

Delphi Videos, How To? 

Wink version 2 is now available
http://www.debugmode.com/wink/ with audio support!
Comment by Stuart Kelly [] on April 29, 13:12

Delphi Videos, How To? 

 I don't know if you know krikor, but he is a very 
nice person. he is also a very talented and 
experienced developer, he has just released 2 
training dvds . and he has just started.. the way he 
is doing it is great. maybe you can contact him.
i hope to see many training videos out for delphi
Comment by Garrick [http://www.onlinedelphitraining.com/] on May 30, 08:19


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