Large Scale Digital Video Submissions
June 21, 2006 11:33 PM   Subscribe

I teach a college course that requires my students to turn in video projects. Each project is, at the most, 500 MB. In the past, we've had the students burn their projects onto CDs and/or DVDs. We'd love, however, to come up with a way for them to submit them electronically. How could we pull this off? Would Google Video work? Would Streamload be reliable? YouTube? (FYI: there are 75 students and each of them turn in 7 projects through out the semester). Our budget is modest ($50/month at the most).
posted by JPowers to Technology (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:43 PM on June 21, 2006

Get a web host that allows FTP upload and gives you around 35GB storage to do all the uploads, or ~20GB to do the uploads in two batches. Then, get the students to get a free FTP Client like SmartFTP. This is probably the cheapest way.

Alternatively, how about dropsend? Only disadvantage is users would have to share 1 account. The $19 pro account would allow the upload of all the files in two batches.
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:47 PM on June 21, 2006

Woah, yousendit looks better. I'd missed that somehow.
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:53 PM on June 21, 2006

Where are they going to be uploading the video from. I've got average DSL and 500MB takes me a day to upload.
posted by 517 at 11:53 PM on June 21, 2006

They will be using a T1 connection (via the school's computer lab). Problem is, they can't stay logged in overnight, since it is a public facility.

I should also say, it'd be super nice if we could stream the projects, as opposed to having to download then watch.
posted by JPowers at 11:58 PM on June 21, 2006

If they are being uploaded from the school's system, where are they uploaded to? If they are being uploaded to a different part of the school's system, there really ought to be a systems administrator who could sort this out for you.
posted by MetaMonkey at 12:02 AM on June 22, 2006

We have the option of putting them onto a school server, but this server can only be accessed on campus. This means we can't grade from home, which is a must (being graduate TAs, we don't really have an office -- sitting in the computer lab for hours upon hours is not fun).
posted by JPowers at 12:05 AM on June 22, 2006

I think burning it to DVD is your best default option. That way they can show it to others more easily as well. Waiting for a 500MB movie to download isnt the best way to impress someone you want to share your portfolio with.

If they want to stream it, try to accomodate that as it comes.
posted by sophist at 12:23 AM on June 22, 2006

In that case, it's probably not a good idea to be using outside services. Can the school's IT department not set up a VPN for you? Alternatively, you could wait until all submissions are complete, and then burn sets of projects onto DVD's (75 students @ 500mb each = no more than 10 disks, yeah? That's not so bad. Burn them all, then split them among your peers). Or maybe copy them all onto some portable USB hard drives. Then you could take them home to mark at your leisure.

There are lots of not so bad compromises to be had here. Point is, though, if the students are coming to the labs anyway, it doesn't make sense to force them to upload outside the network.
posted by Drunken_munky at 12:30 AM on June 22, 2006

Your campus may well have a VPN or proxy system by which you can access these files from home. But if you're grading from home anyway, you should just have them put the videos on CDs; you'll be waiting around forever to download all these projects.

Never underestimate the bandwidth of physical objects.
posted by beerbajay at 12:30 AM on June 22, 2006

So you want to get the video from the campus computer to your home computer? If you really don't want to use DVD, you may be able to get a systems administrator to set up an ftp server, as I suggested above, or a virtual private network, then you download them from there to your home computer, though depending on your internet service provider, 35GB may take a good while to download.

To reduce the size of each file, you could get the students to compress the footage with something like XviD. However, it will not look quite as good as the DVDs.

Youtube uses a lot of compression, and should be avoided for things like this. I think google video is better, but I haven't really used it much.

On preview, I agree with what others have said - burning the lot to DVDs in the lab is most likely the best option.
posted by MetaMonkey at 12:39 AM on June 22, 2006 is a webhost that only charges for what you use. I have about 500 megs on one account and it costs me pennies a day to host/run. 10/year will get you a dot whatever, but if you dont mind its free. They have the prices for storage/bandwidth (uploading is also added into bandwidth usage if your going to do some guess work on the prices). Other than that is another place that will gladly host large video files for free. There is a nifty ccpublisher app on that helps with the ftp, however i liked running the ftp from filezilla because it lets me resume, the ccpublisher borked ona big file, but i heard they updated it recently.
posted by psychobum at 12:57 AM on June 22, 2006

I think you're going to run into a lot of problems if you use third-party hosting for this - think about how difficult it is sometimes to get all 75 students to submit their project at the same time - now multiply this by the fact that you're dealing with some company that probably doesn't have a useful or contactable tech support system.

The IT people at your university are being PAID to help you with stuff like this. It's the best bet if you really want that much server space and streaming capabilities, even from off-campus.
posted by muddgirl at 5:31 AM on June 22, 2006

JPowers writes "I should also say, it'd be super nice if we could stream the projects, as opposed to having to download then watch."

Darwin Streaming Server is your friend. Free and relatively easy to config. I don't know how your campus runs things, but you may have more luck working with your department IT than some campus-wide entity. At worst, pick up a used P3 with a decent amount of RAM, throw in a good-sized IDE hard drive, and hook it into a wall jack. Ask for a dedicated IP from campus IT, name the machine, and you've got your own streaming server.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:42 AM on June 22, 2006

I forgot to add, you won't want to be streaming DVD-quality video over the 'net unless you've got straight Internet2 pipes between you and the server. We have problems enough sending 1Mbs 320x240 over the net with our project.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:44 AM on June 22, 2006

Stick with the DVD.

Realistically, even at T1 speeds, as all the students in the lab, at the last minute try to upload 500+mb, will choke the T1 (assuming nobody else used that bandwidth at the time.) And what if a student's upload fails?

On the other hand, a 5-10 min DVD burn, realisticaly, is far easier , faster and relatively cheaper.

75 students x 7 submissions x 500 megs each = 262.5 Gigabytes of information.
posted by filmgeek at 7:18 AM on June 22, 2006

posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2006

Last semester I took a class in Video Blogging at Temple University. We had to have all our assignments turned in online and we used the service. Early on the prof did a lecture on video compressing in Final Cut and by the second week or so the majority of the class had little to no problems having all their assignments turned in online. She also set up a site, Videoblogging Resources Page that you might find quite useful. If you have any questions feel free to ask me further.

[My 2 Cents]Honestly, I found this to be a really useful way to screen material and it's nice when you want to show good work your classmates have done to someone else.
posted by SteveFlamingo at 10:33 AM on June 22, 2006

The IT people at your university are being PAID to help you with stuff like this. It's the best bet if you really want that much server space and streaming capabilities, even from off-campus.

Well, if his department has paid for IT support, sure. :) Don't call them expecting any help if your department doesn't already have and IT support staff or doesn't pay a larger IT staff to be supported.

Also, expect that what a competent IT staff will provide you will be an actual long-term solution to your request that can be expanded upon in the future. Don't expected a cobbled together old systems with a pirated copy of Windows 2000 Server on it. If that IS what you end up with, well, don't expect it to be very reliable. (Often what looks easy and functionial in theory often turns out to be an unsupportable disaster in practice.)

From my own experience with folks wanting to store stream video, there are no cheap/free easy solutions. Although storage itself is cheap, the infrastructure to move that much data as well as realiable provide backups and uptime... maybe not so cheap.

I think the DVD/CD solutions here are seroiusly the easiest thing to do with. Plus you can actually grade the CD with a Sharpie. ;) "Good work. Less zooming please."
posted by smallerdemon at 12:20 PM on June 22, 2006

That's it, you've convinced me. I'm sticking with physical CDs and DVDs.

I tried out some of the suggestions here (along with a few video hosting/streaming sites I found on my own) and the upload and download process is (1) too unreliable (2) too time consuming.

Thanks for preventing me from making a big mistake.
posted by JPowers at 1:25 PM on June 22, 2006

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