Help with creating a video on demand page for a school TV station
March 24, 2008 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Ideas for creating a website for a campus TV station; basically a blog with embedded videos but I still need ideas and guidance.

So I'm part of the campus TV station and we've been thinking about building ourselves a website to publish our videos online.

We are not a TV station that does produce its own footage but we mostly record campus events and put them on DVDs. (There's really a lot more that goes into this it sounds) But occasionally, people want immediate access to videos and I think as a campus TV station it's our responsibility to cater to people's needs. For example, some important people came to campus recently and we really could not publish it reliably anywhere -we broadcast on the closed-circuit campus network and there's a web feed as well but no one really watches TV here.

So I've been thinking about basically creating a modified WordPress blog with publishing videos when we get them. Bandwidth is not an issue since it's mostly going to be on campus and we have extra bandwidth if we ever need it. And yeah, our machines are pretty fitting for that purpose.

I know a decent amount of X/HTML and CSS. I've done some PHP and RoR work but it's been a while.

My questions are on the web site.

1) We'll most likely use Flash. Our workflow is mostly Final Cut Pro based but we can export it to Flash apparently. I've tested some videos and they seem decent enough. However, I do not know much about integrating our own FLV videos into WordPress. Does anyone have any experience on that? I know there are tons of plugins for YouTube or the sorts but these videos will be hosted on our servers.
2) About that; I'd want to use a customized FLV player if possible. I'm not really sure where to start. If this is very hard, at the least I'd want to have a FLV player that allows full-screening. Any ideas?
3) I'm also looking for a decent looking WordPress theme. I remember seeing a paid one that was very fitting for a magazine sort of site but I cannot seem to find it. Ideally I'd create our own template but I really don't have time for that. Are there any DECENT templates that you can think that would be good for this purpose.

That is all I can think of right now. In general, I'd welcome all sorts of comments regarding this; if you have the slightest bit of experience in online video please share.

posted by the_dude to Technology (3 answers total)
JW FLV Player is kinda the go-to in most open-source FLV situations ... Not sure if it does fullscreen -- you'd have to check. There should already be JW FLV Player wordpress plugs (there's at least a couple 'unofficial' ones).

JW can be skinned, and if you want to simplify your workflow, you *can* work out an on-server transcode using ffmpeg (which can, in theory, watermark), however, it does eat server resources. I installed a Drupal video transcode/upload system this year (using the excellent opvideo plugin) and it works decently for videos under 50M.

The 'customization' process is basically going to be:

1. set up/upload JW FLV player
2. upload video
3. provide XML (which can be dynamically hardcoded) or EMBED parameters to inform JW FLV how to treat the video.
4. Play video.

Sorry I can't help with the Wordpress templates; FWIW I find that DIY really doesn't take that long (under 8 hours) if you've got a strong design comp to work with.
posted by fishfucker at 8:28 PM on March 24, 2008

Hi Dude,

I also worked in a college TV station, Rogue Valley Community Television, and we had similar conundrums. I think the biggest issue you are going to deal with is not with the development of the website but rather with the limitations of funding for this kind of expedition through the regular means of a regular college TV station. Unless you are in Ithaca or Syracuse, of course.

The real thing is if the cost of recording campus events is paid for by the university, like the cost of catering or the cost of table and chair set-up. Firstly, not every event requires or deserves to be put online in its entirety unless the dean calls your boss and makes a big fuss about it. Instead, the thing to do is to poll how much issue there is with the videos being put online, what the cost will be in terms of time and broadband usage and ferret out a fee to events that need immediate access. Then after you mix it down, have their IT people put it on their site with links to your own to buy DVD copies.

I know this puts your goal aside, but it will be a lot more cost effective than simply throwing 100 event videos online at once, seeing approximately eight people take the time to watch them (and even then not all the way through,) and see your server and usage costs go up in the meantime. By offering immediate online versions to departments and campus groups, you are really helping them build their own exposure and you can start offering side services, such as online photographic slide shows of events, short video tasters, and side interviews with VIPs that will add value and provenance to the experience.

You should remember as an RTF student that when you graduate, you're going to be walking into a market that has only two options: working in television and film and not working in television and film. Make your website about you and your friends and your work and your portfolio and make your work about showing that you are full of money making strategies for small broadcast operations. That way, when you graduate you might be behind the camera but you will be a producer.

If you grab this idea and need help with how to draft a proposal, feel free to contact me by mefi mail.
posted by parmanparman at 8:32 PM on March 24, 2008

Response by poster: @fishfucker: thanks a lot! that seems like a decent solution. i think it does support full-screen which is a huge plus. i'll probably will not need on the fly encoding. We really don't have that many videos coming up frequently; there's like 2-3 events in a month that's worth putting up. It'll probably go up as we create the website but still. Thanks for the info still

@parmanparman: I'm not a RTF student; I'm actually a cognitive science major. What I meant by campus events are actually bigger than that; most of the things we record are multi-camera and we use production grade equipment. According to quotes from actual production companies, our services are worth around 8-9K dollars per event for some events. The mean is less than that but it's still above 5K.

I kind of got confused reading your post but our immediate goal is to provide immediate access to videos right after the events; we are not really going for converting existing stuff and putting them online as well. That will eventually happen at some time but not a big concern now.

Most of the events we work for are done by students and apart from us they really do not have an outlet to the campus community; they do not have their IT staff to put those videos online. Most of them don't have a website.

As for server costs, I don't think that's going to be an issue. We have many clock cycles and and hard drive space that go untapped right now.

Thanks for the input though, I might ask you a few things at a later time if that's OK with you.
posted by the_dude at 9:21 PM on March 24, 2008

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