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Slashdot Asks: How To Best Record Remote Video Interviews?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the otherwise-we-will-torture-you dept.

Input Devices 96

You've probably noticed that Slashdot's been running some video lately. There are a lot of interesting people and projects in the world we'd like to present in video form, but some of them are too far away for the corporate overlords to sponsor travel to shoot footage in person. (Another reason my dream of parachuting to McMurdo Station will probably never manifest.) We've been playing around with several things on both the software and hardware side, but in truth, all of them have some flaws — whether it's flaky sound (my experience with the otherwise pleasing RecordMyDesktop on Linux), sometimes garbled picture (Skype, even on seemingly fast network connections), or video quality in general. (Google Hangouts hasn't looked as good as Skype, for instance. And of the webcams built into any of the laptops we've tried, only Apple's were much worth looking at. Logitech's HD webcams seem to be a decent bargain for their quality.) We've got a motley bunch of Linux, OS X, and Windows systems, and can only control what's on our side of the connection: interviewees may have anything from a low-end laptop with a built-in webcam to elaborate conferencing tools — which means the more universal the tools, the better. (There may not be any free, open source, high-quality, cross-platform video conferencing tools with built-in capture and a great UI, but the closer we can get, the better.) With all that in mind, what tools and workflow would you suggest for capturing internet conversations (with video and sound), and why? Approaches that minimize annoyance to the person on the other end of the connection (like the annoyance of signing up for an obscure conferencing system) are especially valuable. We'd like to hear both sides, so please chime in if you've had especially good or bad experiences with capturing remote video like this.

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I recommend (3, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489749)

Courtroom sketch artists

Re:I recommend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489967)

Mobile phone on a lanyard.

Camera obscura.

Re:I recommend (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490547)

I was thinking Chat Roulette. It can be both exciting and disturbing at the same time.

Re:I recommend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490957)

Fucking hilarious. Mod +9.7 Funny!!!!!!!!

Build a network of local talent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489757)

... like me. I do much audio recording / engineering (session going right now) and would love to help. I also do video recording and editing.

Re:Build a network of local talent (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491401)

We'll be right in touch ... Anonymous :)

Seriously, pop an email to feedback at slashdot with more details, if you have any video pitches to present :)

timothy

PLUS SKYPE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489763)

the complement of msn plus for skype is very good on quality.

Transcripts (5, Interesting)

Crasoose (1621969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489779)

Whatever you end up doing I would appreciate it if you could include a transcript of the conversation if the video isn't particularly important. I usually end up reading these stories on break or when it is particularly slow, so transcripts make an otherwise worthless video entry useful to me.

Re:Transcripts (2)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489833)

I second this comment.

As a general rule, I try to skim once to find pertinent information and skip over filler content, something that is next-to-impossible with video. Having a transcript makes this much easier (especially in Q&A sessions).

Additionally, I can take in the content as time allows, with minimal backtracking to pick up the context when I have to break away to do something else.

Re:Transcripts (3, Interesting)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490073)

Hi there,

I've been adding transcripts to most of the Video stories as of late. I was nudged today saying I should check the replies because apparently there was some official interest in having this done.

Whatever happens there, if there won't be any official transcripts, I'll try to continue to provide them as time allows.

Which brings me to one recommendation for the videos.. not so much the recording side, though: Please get ooyala to fix their player :| Infinite spinning disc of buffering when trying to seek? Reminds me of RealPlayer.. except at least its buffering wasn't infinite ;\

I have no valuable input on the streaming-recording side as HD resolutions are apparently one of the goals - that's going to be problematic in general, I suspect. For most of the videos that's probably overkill, anyway?
But perhaps some interviews could be done not so much on-the-fly but rather with a list of questions, so that video can be recorded locally and transferred after the fact - the interviewee would still have to be willing to and capable of record(ing) this, of course, and the interview would be a lot less dynamic.

Re:Transcripts (1)

Crasoose (1621969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490119)

I have been reading your transcripts, you are doing great work and I appreciate your time spent.

Re:Transcripts (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496233)

Thank you, and you're welcome :)

Re:Transcripts (1)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490993)

Hi Quasi, I have been reading your transcripts too and I really want to know one thing: how are you doing them? Are you seriously doing this manually???

Re:Transcripts (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496135)

Yes, manually. See also: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2746001&cid=39483397 [slashdot.org]

To expand on that a wee bit. I tried using a speech recognition system but they make quite a few errors. Google's is one of the best out there and if you've ever used YouTube's closed caption system you've probably quickly stopped doing so.

My brain is also not wired for listening to one thing, and watching text appear as another thing, and detecting errors and quickly fixing them that way. Maybe with a lot of training, but right now it's just confusing.

So what I do is record the audio and while playing back the video make note of times when there's something happening - a significant section change, something being pointed out that wouldn't become clear from the spoken lines, etc. Once recorded I actually perform the transcription, which mostly means hitting play, typing, and hoping I can keep up. When I can't, pause playback for a moment, finish typing, un-pause and continue.

If there's a word I just can't make out, I'll make a note of it. If there's a proper name, I try to make sure I have the correct one. For example, the Qu8ke video referred to a building as the former "Chess Hall of Fame". Not knowing any better I thought I must have misunderstood that, but a bit of Googling around showed that, indeed, it was once known as such. Another example was the recent video of a tabletop developer referring to something that sounded like "Munchkin 8 - Have Horse, Will Travel". But because it's a proper name, I double-checked, and it's actually "Munchkin 8 - Half Horse, Will Travel".

I have done transcribing before, many years ago, and recently did it again for the HexBright Open Source Light videos - although that was more to make sure people could search through those transcriptions to what was said and in which video, so they aren't descriptive.

When I saw a recent Slashdot video emerge I remember from earlier videos the complaints that not everybody is in a position to play back videos and would rather have text. Transcriptions can build a bridge between the desire by a site to feature videos and the desire by its users to not have to watch them.
I do recommend watching the videos, though - a picture is worth a thousand words, a video etc.

The only annoyance is the video player of choice. If it supported seeking solidly, it would cut out a one of the steps I outlined above.

Re:Transcripts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39496467)

You may find this [nch.com.au] helpful. Works in Linux under wine, all except the foot pedal controls. Free as in beer.

Re:Transcripts (1)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39580667)

Thanks for explaining .... I don't envy you your job!

Re:Transcripts (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39580845)

well, it's certainly not my job - but thanks all the same :D

Re:Transcripts (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491419)

We've been very grateful for your transcripts -- I hope you've gotten some ad-free pages as a (heartfelt but I realize inadequate) token of our gratitude. If not, ping :)

timothy

Re:Transcripts (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496385)

Glad to hear it :)

I have actually had the checkbox to disable ads for quite a while now (well before the video transcripts), but I haven't checked it as of yet.

Re:Transcripts (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492215)

I've tried to contact you about doing video transcripts for $$. Either the email associated with your UID is dead or you don't check it. So if you see this, please email robin at roblimo dot com.

Just about everybody who gets paid to work on Slashdot started out as a volunteer or random poster, so you'd just be the latest one to go pro.

- Robin

Re:Transcripts (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496481)

Oh that goes through a white list, so I wouldn't have received it if you used that e-mail address :) I will be in touch. Good job on the SlashdotTV page!
( And whoever designed the icon to make the antenna poke out from the bar? Kudos to them. )

Re:Transcripts (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 2 years ago | (#39515699)

Gotta have the antennas. Please do be in touch...

Thanks!

Re:Transcripts (2)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490271)

Transcripts all the way. But if you want quality video: mail them an already configured camera on a mini-tripod. Call them on the phone, tell them to press [Record], also record your end of the conversation (sound only), get the camera back, mix the sounds. It will never be as good as a cameraman+soundman with 2 plane tickets.

Re:Transcripts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490745)

Great suggestion!!!

I've also found audio let's me take things like
TED talks on the road without missing much. There
are very few interviews that benefit from video.

 

Why Video? (4, Insightful)

eljefe6a (2289776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489785)

I am curious why video is necessary for these interviews.

Re:Why Video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489821)

Because timothy can't fap to the tranny hooker if he can't see it.

Re:Why Video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489957)

I am curious why video is necessary for these interviews.

The classic geek answer.

Re:Why Video? (0)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490451)

To read body language, for one.

Re:Why Video? (1)

eljefe6a (2289776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491645)

Yes, there is the obvious ability to see the other person. I am more curious to know what function(s) these people are being interviewed for.

Re:Why Video? (0)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492221)

This is for video interviews to post as articles.

Re:Why Video? (1)

ddt (14627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493297)

People don't read, but they watch videos.

Re:Why Video? (2)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493503)

Why video? Because it's linear, and we don't want random access to interview responses?

Hmm, maybe because video is time consuming to digest instead of quick to read?

That doesn't sound right, maybe because video interviews don't allow for reasoned responses?

To make subjects self conscious?

Maybe because video content can't be web searched effectively?

Wait, I know, it must be to reduce cost, because not everyone with a computer has a keyboard available in this era of tablets?

Perhaps due to written interviews being simply copy/pasted for publication instead of hours spend editing video?

I'm sorry, I was in video production for years, and never saw a single interview that wouldn't have been more informative and effective written.

Re:Why Video? (1)

snicho99 (984884) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493883)

Your point is very well taken and for the most part I have to agree with you - AS far as communicating specific, for example technical, ideas are concerned. But as for communicating more subtle more nuanced things about the interviewee - especially things the interviewee doesn't specifically set out to communicate - video has it over the written word every time. You can't always tell if someone is lying over video - but you almost NEVER can when you're reading the written word.

I like sex (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489789)

Lick my taint, please, timothy.

Build it. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489805)

Sounds like you have an itch. Scratch it. You have a legitimate business need for this software, use some of that corporate money and invest in the tools you need. Then open source them so we can all enjoy.

Post the transcript (2)

JackPepper (1603563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489811)

Forget video. Just post a transcript of the interview to Slashdot and a link or embed the youtube video. I really enjoy being able to read the TED talks because I can't stand watching most of the videos. I like reading because it's faster than listening to some one pause between concepts.

Record it non-realtime (3, Interesting)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489819)

Consider holding the video conference using the lowest-common-denominator, e.g. Skype, but having the remote party also record it locally using a higher quality codec with standalone video recording app. Once the interview is over, have the remote party compress the file (Handbrake is easy to use, even for non-tech minded) and transfer it using conventional means (FTP, etc.). Though this might mean you'd need two cameras at the remote location (unless you have a way to split a video device to two different apps), it will eliminate network bottlenecks, latency, and resolution constraints.

Re:Record it non-realtime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489861)

This seems like the best possible solution. There are already other places that do this, including Twit.tv. (In fact, the majority of their programming involves Skype. I believe NSFW Show actually records audio and possibly video from Brian's side, as he makes the Skype calls on that show from Texas.

Re:Record it non-realtime (1)

snicho99 (984884) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490795)

I concur. An even better solution would be to engage a local freelancer or stringer to do it. That way they'd actually have a decent camera, decent audio gear (people so often overlook this) and might actually know something about lighting, sound, scene etc. Doesn't have to be expensive maybe a couple of hundred dollars for an hour long interview. You can still do the interview over voip, just get a million times better picture. Have a point of difference.

Re:Record it non-realtime (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491871)

Hell yeah on the audio thing. I am just trying to watch some recorded "webinars". The video quality is quite good, but the audio is really gruesome. Sounds like recorded through a tin can and is hard to understand. I am near headaches just a couple minutes in.

Re:Record it non-realtime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490941)

I've seen theverge.com do this for podcast's broadcast-ed on Ustream.
This isn't the best solution though, assuming many future interviewees don't have a video recording app set up, they will probably also make mistakes (theverge and other do this with a closed group of staff that can be relied on to do things right every time).

This is a great question, actually .... (2)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489839)

My friend has a tech podcast he produces weekly, and he's run into the same desire to do remote interviews.

We've found that for a Windows PC, the Logitech Orbit AF was a pretty good webcam. It has motors in it so it can pan and tilt, as well as auto-focus, and the camera "ball" sits on a tall, thin stand so it's basically at eye-level when sitting on a table or desk in front of the user(s).

The stand is, unfortunately, a little on the flimsy side (basically, the ends of the plastic pole that snap into the camera and the base are just mini USB connectors - so liable to break if the camera is knocked over a few times). But if you treat it with care, it seems to be pretty effective. Logitech's accompanying software supports face tracking too - so if the user moves, the camera tries to follow their head.

As for software, my friend always used Skype - but definitely with less than stellar results. The big benefit to Skype, though, is its popularity. Most people you call and ask to do a video-conference with you either have Skype already set up, or can quickly download and install a copy. Plus, it's cross-platform compatible. But yeah, it seems like video quality varies with it, even when both parties have very fast broadband connections -- and on longer sessions, it seems to eventually lose the audio or video at some point in the call.

"Open-source, High-quality, Cross-platform" (0, Flamebait)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489849)

You know the drill. Pick any two.

Re:"Open-source, High-quality, Cross-platform" (2)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490341)

Since when was this a thing? Sounds like something an uneducated bar star would say about finding a partner. "You have to pick any two : Rich Smart or Good Looking". Those are stupid compromises made by pessimists and defeatists.

I could name a few dozen open source projects that are all 3 but I won't. You've interacted with at least a dozen just by posting here.

ask the interviewee to record (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489865)

The best solution is to provide a software to the other end to record the conversation. That way his/her answer and behavior will be perfectly recorded and that is what you care about. Then send the file by any means (network, USPS, ...) Provided these are *slashdot* interview, I am sure the interviewee (is that actually the right word?) will know how to do that.

My thoughts on this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489869)

interviewees may have anything from a low-end laptop with a built-in webcam to elaborate conferencing tools

Do keep in mind, the video quality is going to suffer if you go too far on the low end.
For awhile I was testing a skype imitation on various machines at work.
Even when network conditions were perfect, if the machine couldn't keep up with the streaming video, the quality was shot.

As far as solutions go, I really don't have an answer. I usually use Skype for things like this, but it seems you've already tried that.

Why can't I post a video response to this? (4, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489889)

Maybe because text is so much more efficient to create, transmit, store, analyze, consume, etc.?

Re:Why can't I post a video response to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491615)

Disingenuous. A post is not an interview.

Re:Why can't I post a video response to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492531)

Text has advantages if you have a big number of applicants and I recommend text at that stage. Video response is better for a smaller group, but both these features are what we have built our video platform for hiring. I work @vidcruiter

XSplit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489893)

While I don't use xsplit for video conferencing, I see lots of casters use it to stream content (from web cams, desktop, to direct x games). I tried it out and loved the result. In the end, I did not like the sound of my recorded voice so I stopped casting.

I see the pro version supports skype. It would be worth a try or awesome if someone that had experience with that feature could comment on it.

http://www.xsplit.com/

FRAPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489969)

I have had very good results with a properly set up Fraps Install.
Can record DirectX games from outside the game while in fullscreen.

Most use it to record WoW Fights.

Thanks!

Apple iChat (5, Informative)

danaris (525051) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489991)

Best I've seen so far has been Apple's iChat. It lets you record video chats natively and without hassle, with both parties having to agree.

Works with AIM, Jabber/Google Talk, and (in the Messages beta) iMessage.

Obviously the main flaw is that it doesn't work if the person on the other end doesn't have a Mac. If they do, though, I don't see any reason not to use it. There are even scripts you can use to set it to automatically ask to record each call when it starts.

Dan Aris

inPerson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490649)

Perhaps it would be best to ship something under a bailment agreement to the interviewee:
http://inperson.creative.com/ [creative.com]

That way you would have some level of consistency. Alternatively, you may be able to do something custom with a netbook and better camera/mic.

Jitsi anybody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490005)

Anyone try Jitsi's call record feature?

http://jitsi.org/index.php/Main/Features [jitsi.org]

#irc.trollTalkc.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490017)

development. BSD If 5you have our ability to More grandiose

It doesn't matter (0)

MagicM (85041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490087)

If you have an awesome interview with a person the Slashdot crowd cares about on a topic that is relevant, then video quality doesn't matter. Worry about the content first.

How to Best Write English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490097)

Communication of ideas is the purpose of writing. Understanding of your idea by the reader should be the primary goal. If the language of English is difficult for you to write in, perhaps the employment of an editor can be of assistance. An editor, whose job is to edit the text that you write that you want people to understand, can maybe show you how to best edit your headlines so they are best understood by readers?

Why a transcript (sometimes) isn't as good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490165)

Body language
Tone of voice
Getting an idea of the person being inteviewed
Hearing a human voice in this often written world

Transcripts are great sometimes, if your'e just looking for the numbers or hard info text is great. But a lot of the inteview gets lost. Plus, 20 minutes of video, that's a lot of text.

As for software, I've only ever used skype, though as mentioned that's usually not an ideal setup. Unfortunately I haven't found anything else that does a better job and doesn't need a big setup on both sides. So Sky.Net it is.

Re:Why a transcript (sometimes) isn't as good (2)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490291)

Body language
Tone of voice
Getting an idea of the person being inteviewed
Hearing a human voice in this often written world

These are reasons why a video and transcripts are different, not why either is better. Any one of those can skew the usefulness or appeal of a message being presented by video. Of course, sometimes the message itself is not the primary point, and the ability to make judgements about the messenger is paramount. IMO, video should only be used when the credibility of the messenger is significantly important. Otherwise, it is a waste of resources.

Re:Why a transcript (sometimes) isn't as good (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490819)

and there are reasons why a transcript is better:

when I have limited time and I want to read through the important parts.
When I want to have a brief scan of the topics to see if its something I want to view in depth.

If you only provide video, I have to decide whether its worth spending my time viewing it or not, and typically, that means I pass up and head for the next link. There are plenty of links vying for my attention, I don't need ones that are in less than accessible.

I had to laugh out loud (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490181)

"We'd like to hear both sides" haaahaahahaa

I'm tired.

Move the mouse cursor off the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490231)

Seriously, Slashdot. When you record a Skype conversation and post it, remember to move your mouse outside the window so I don't have to see a big white arrow on somebody's forehead for the whole thing.

Use Wowza Media Server and Adobe Flex/Air (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490309)

Wowza is low cost, supports AWS hosting and has DVR functionality built-in, you just point the client at the DVR App to start recording broadcasts. It will save this broadcast as an FLV file on the server, one for each broadcast. You can extend this functionality to whatever edge case you may have by using Java POJO coding as well as transcode using FFMPEG. Another nice plus is that it can support playback at various bitrates so you can offer adaptive playback to support lower bandwidth clients as well as those with fast connections. On the whole, it's very straight forward to get up and running with Wowza.

The draw back is that it uses RTMP for incoming stream recording and since there is no HTML-based Device support (yet), use of a webcam or external camera requires you use Flash based technology for the Broadcast Client. The good news is that you can develop a Flash based client for all platforms, aside from Mobile Browser. Android, iOS and WebOS can be delivered as Native Apps written with Flex with a captive Adobe Air Binary inside, Air also allows you to create Desktop Apps for Windows and Mac, though Linux support has been tossed due to lack of interest from Flash hating Linux users (however Linux support can be had by using older SDKs if it is an absolute must have). Wowza supports re-streaming, so the videos could be streamed as mp4 instead of flv and via other protocols (such as HLS) so other non-Flash based players (such as an HTML5 video tag in a mobile browser) could play back the recorded video.

The major cost here is in the development of a tailor-made broadcast and playback client to the various platforms (a good AS3 developer could write a single core codebase that has a web, and native app UI to minimize cost). The Wowza license is $50/month on AWS and similarly priced to host on your own hardware. Unless you have several hundred or more regular viewers, bandwidth costs should not be a factor.

Why bring video . . . (2)

Tihstae (86842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490315)

to a text based discussion like /.?

Re:Why bring video . . . (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490503)

For a filtering mechanism and another way to weed out candidates.

First facebook logins and now this. Sigh

Basically if the candidate looks down he is either lying or not confident. If it is a woman if she doesn't move her lips that much when answering a question she is lying or irritated. Another way to drop a candidate out. etc.

They annoy me as you can hire people who big smiles and huge personalities, but are all ego maniacs and might now know their job that well. It is bullshit.

FYI a little hint is if you smile and stair into the camera and do not move and sell yourself you can ace these interviews easily. Just do not act naturally. This is another reason besides facebook checking, IQ tests, insuring currently employed only, and psychological profiling is just a waste of time for HR powerfreaks.

Re:Why bring video . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490571)

Way to jump the gun.

Re:Why bring video . . . (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492763)

Your complaints are valid, but are totally off-topic here - timothy's talking about the "reporter talking to an interesting person for our edification" kind of interview, not the "grill prospective job candidate & indulge in HR power-trip" kind of interview.

Broadcasters have this same issue.... (2)

undo (3635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490353)

I'm workign in TV news now, and have worked with many of the majors over the past few years. There is not a universal winner.
Skype does remain extremely popular because of it's ubiquity and it's fantastic ability to handle very crappy connections. It's not the best when you have plenty of bandwidth, but it's certainly the best when you don't. CNN takes live shots to air off Skype regularly.

That said, if you are willing to pay, Vidyo is doing some decent stuff. I know of at least 3 'radio shows on tv' that operate over Vidyo, with cameras at the radio studios, and the broadcast control room hundreds if not thousands of miles away. I'm not sure about linux support, but there is a free client for OSX and Windows, so any interviewee can download it and join right up using whatever webcam is available.

I'd recommend not looking for a single solution to rule them all. Instead, try and schedule about 10min at the beginning to see what you can get working - start w/ a high end, like Vidyo, if it's struggling or they can't get ti going, try facetime, still no love, step down to Skype.

That is, frankly, what the pros are doing.

parachuting to McMurdo (-1, Offtopic)

kievit (303920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490369)

If you are a good linux sysadmin, you have a physics degree or related, you are in good physical health (including good teeth), you are neither claustrophobic nor agoraphobic nor nyctophobic nor frigophobic, you are a stable person with good communication skills and you are in for an adventure: apply for the position of IceCube winterover [wisc.edu] . You'll pass through McMurdo several times, possibly staying there for a few days depending on weather conditions. Parachuting is usually not part fo the deal, but who knows. They also run marathons there on the ice. Deadline for application is March 30, so if you like this idea you need to act fast.

Re:parachuting to McMurdo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491805)

Parachuting is usually not part fo the deal, but who knows.

Based on previous comments re:Timothy, I think many /.ers want the parachuting part maintained. A HALO jump in mid-July sounds perfect.

Not what you want to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490435)

I have done such things in the past and to be honest the best way that I have found is to use audacity to record the audio separately and then have them send it to you and edit it in later, and use what ever you can for video recording. If they have a low rez camera they may be able to borrow one from someone they know, or buy it from walmart and return it the next day. If all that fails then just use the low rez image and edit in still frames of their work minimizing the amount we have to look at their pixilated face.

Simple solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490529)

I'm not trying to think outside of the box here, but why not FedEx an affordable digital video camera with a mini tripod, and a return postage label. You would get uniform video/sound quality, the only question is the self-framing skills of the interviewee and any system will have that. They could upload the files if it is a time sensitive interview, or you could get the files off of the camera when they ship it back. You just have to work out how you want to communicate your questions to them, ie standard phone and such.

AV guy answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490669)

If you don't want to tax the computer at all.. Split the video signal from the computer to a record deck. Say it's a VGA output. scale it to YUV and record it on a HDVcam. Then edit the video. I know this sounds like a the long way, but it will probably be the best quality.

While recording to a deck, you could also have a good camera setup that inputs to the Video conerence and splits the signal to another recorder.

Other options for recording video conferences without skype are actual conference units. like Tandberg or polycom. they usually include outputs that allow for recording. Also video conference bridges can be used for the purpose of recording the conference as well. They charge quite a bit to ensure the call, but work very well.

Mac/Windows Skype recording software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490673)

My go-to utility on the Mac is Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype, it records audio and video. For Windows, PowerGramo for Skype works - it records both and audio.

Use hosted service based on Vidyo / VidyoCast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490827)

Our company, Coroware, regularly deals with this issue and can help you solve this problem. We can provide inexpensive hosted solutions based on Vidyo and VidyoCast technologies. The technology deals well with the realities of questionable network, bandwidth, CPU power and webcams, but allows for HD video and audio as resources allow. Linux is a little more difficult to deal with as the linux client is very beta, but the iOS and Android clients work incredibly well, as does the Windows and Mac clients. The company will even demo the solution for you and set up a demo account for you to try before committing to anything (though honestly, the costs are very low).

www.coroware.com

open source *this* (0)

Tommy Bologna (2431404) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490929)

How about hiring a professional that understand the technical issues instead of half-assing a solution by shouting into the dark?

Is it possible to automate transcripts? (1)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491243)

What methods are people using to provide these transcripts? Piping it to Google Voice? Splitting out the audio and running through Dragon Dictate? Farming out to Mechanical Turk?

I was thinking about trying to provide transcripts for a large number of videos and nothing strikes me as particularly easy or reliable. Any suggestions?

Video adds little to interviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491679)

I've been using Skype to record interviews, but have never found the video worthwhile. Watching two people stare at each other isnt my idea of interesting, and it makes it many times harder to remove the ums and ahs with acceptable results. I've settled on audio only, with a transcript. It's what I prefer to consume, so it's what I produce.

If your interested in using Macs (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491829)

Try http://www.shinywhitebox.com/ishowu-hd/ [shinywhitebox.com]
10.5-10.7 support, lets you record screen, cameras and has great support.

Webcam recommendation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492159)

Curiously, the PlayStation Eye is the best webcam I've used, particularly for frame-rate.

Hardware (1)

Troke (1612099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492485)

Once you find a software solution, don't forget the hardware. I recommend shipping a Logitech or HP webcam as well as a decent audio capture device to the person to be interviewed and have them ship it back when done. Low cost, and you standardize the video and audio capture quality.

WebEx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492647)

I would recommend WebEx. I have been the organizer as well as attendee on many different WebEx conferences and have found that it works pretty flawlessly. The setup is idiot proof on the attendee side (click a link) and the software is cross platform; they support Windows, Mac, and Linux on the desktop side as well the major mobile platforms- iOS, Blackberry and Android.

The nice bit is that you do not have to spend time screwing around with the technical details of making the meeting or interview work; you can just get on with the business of actually doing the meeting or interview. If you have any problems, you kick it to their support department - that is what they are there for.

How to get high quality and maintain good sync (4, Interesting)

Markmarkmark (512275) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493359)

I've played around a lot with this stuff for more than a decade. Skype can be okay if the remote system is powerful, well configured, has excellent broadband, a good external webcam and good lighting. However, those necessary things will only rarely all be present, particularly internationally. If you want high quality and a high degree of future-proofness for the video assets you are going to so much effort to create, there is a counter-intuitive alternative.

There are truly amazing small consumer camcorders now available for $500-$700 that work great in low light, capture excellent 1080p, auto focus on faces, auto iris, auto WB, etc quite well. I shoot with high-end pro gear and these little consumer cams deliver an unbelievable picture for the price. Ship one of these to your remote location with a small AV clamp that will mount it to the top of the monitor next to the webcam. Do your live interview via Skype through the webcam but have your remote location turn on the HD camcorder after the Skype session begins. The camera will beep when it starts recording and you can use this beep to later sync the Skype recording with the HD camera recording. After the interview, the remote location can plug the camera in as a USB device and Dropbox the recorded file over to you in non-real-time (AVCHD peaks at ~24mbps but is often much smaller). Or if it's not as time sensitive, you can get the file off the SD card when the camera comes back.

This also gives you the advantage of providing a handheld camera to your remote location. Even rank novices can shoot 'B-Roll' type footage of remarkable quality. The handheld image stabilization on these cams is impressive. If you give your remote amateur "crew" a simple shot list and ask them to first watch a ten minute YouTube tutorial on basic camera handling and shot composition, the results can even rival semi-pros. This way you'll have something to intercut with the talking heads to further elevate your production value.

Yes, this implies that you are actually editing your final product. Basic editing will again double your production value over raw webcam recordings. It doesn't have to take too much extra time, particularly if your remote camcorder has it's time-of-day clock set roughly right. Your handy intern can be making a shot list of good/bad clips and restarts on your end during the interview and reference this via TOD + clip offset time during subsequent editing. This saves a lot of hunting around inside the clips. With practice you should be able to do a basic edit with canned intro/outro, standard title overlays, B-roll cutaways and some still graphics (logos, product shots) in about 3X the total running time of your output. Note: that's just active work time, not unmanned background clip downloading or final output encoding, which you can batch up and leave running unattended.

Finally, as we say in TV land, audio is more than half the picture. Sending a basic wired clip-on microphone will do wonders for your production value by reducing machine noise and ambient room echo. If your remote location is in North America you can send them the Radio Shack part number for a decent clip-on mic that they can pick up themselves for $25. Regardless, if sound/video from your end is going to be seen then you should use at least use high quality mic and camera on your end.

Re:How to get high quality and maintain good sync (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39497163)

Which camcorders would you recommend?

Re:How to get high quality and maintain good sync (1)

JTW (11913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39499123)

Actually that's a stellar idea.

I recently bought a POV cam from Contour cameras.

Standard is 720p with omnidirectional sound, about 3-4 hour recording time on a single charge, the memory cards can hold up to 8 hours.

But it can shoot 1080p and it is not advertised as Low Light, but works very good in low light.

The camera settings can be configured by manipulating a text file on the memory card that it reads on start up.

The native recording format is H.264 MOV files, so all the compression is done up front.

The ContourROAM camera I have has a standard 1/4 inch-20 UNC screw mount point on the bottom so send a little table top tripod along with it.

It's basically fool proof even though it doesn't have a view finder, just aim and shoot. It has a single slider switch for On and Off.

So if you recorded the interview with one of these and conducted Q&A over the web with a web client, you'd get the best of both world, extremely high quality, hi-res interviews with low noise and a wide angle lens. But still be able to conduct the interview in a conversational manner.

The fact that sound is recorded along with the video could be plus and minus, it could be a primary source, or a backup source, or a sync source to couple with the web audio and video.

Double Enders All The Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39493539)

My friends and I have been recording audio podcasts for years now. It didn't take us very long to notice the superiority of "double enders". All three of us (so it is actually a triple ender) record ourselves at the best quality we possibly can, while talking to each other via iChat, Skype or anything that comes handy. After the fact the others send their files to me and I edit the stuff together.

If you really care about quality you have to do this for video too. Make sure however you don't hear the echo of the other end in your recording - wear headphones - both for the interviewer and the Interviewed clebrity.

great video, distant participants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39493617)

Though it continues to be developed, Vumanity has a great system for recording and putting together interviews in a "talk show" format. They already have a system for high bandwidth use and are now working on low bandwidth designs with great video. Here's a link to a youtube video made with the system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOsMiTAYvPM. Have a look at how the video looks and how it all comes together.

Thousands of shows have been made. They typically use a PC and a webcam for each person. When they're done, the finished show is put together in the cloud in a few minutes and is ready for viewing.

Because they're developing they're interested in giving the system a try under different conditions. Go to their website, show your interest, see if it suits you.

FFMPEG for recording until Kazam is mainstream (1)

mystuff (1088543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494077)

Until Kazam [twm-kd.com] gets a bit more traction and is further developed [omgubuntu.co.uk] stick with FFMPEG and use a script like this:

#!/bin/sh

INFO=$(xwininfo -frame)

WIN_GEO=$(echo $INFO | grep -oEe 'geometry [0-9]+x[0-9]+' | grep -oEe '[0-9]+x[0-9]+')
WIN_XY=$(echo $INFO | grep -oEe 'Corners:\s+\+[0-9]+\+[0-9]+' | grep -oEe '[0-9]+\+[0-9]+' | sed -e 's/\+/,/' )

ffmpeg -f alsa -ac 2 -i hw:0,0 -f x11grab -r 15 -s $WIN_GEO -i :0.0+$WIN_XY -f webm -vcodec libvpx -threads 2 -y output.webm

Blue button? (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494577)

I seem to recall a teaching software called Blue Button, that was featured on FLOSS Weekly. Not sure if it went both ways tho.

Snapz Pro on your end (1)

superposed (308216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494771)

I highly recommend using Snapz Pro X [ambrosiasw.com] on your end. This can record all the audio and video that shows on your computer (which must be a Mac). You would just need to setup a Skype call with your interviewee, start recording and off you go. You can also set it to record only a section of your screen (e.g., the main Skype window). I've used it to record PowerPoint lectures pretty successfully (including ambient audio).

I believe iChat can have better video quality than Skype, but it is not sufficiently cross-platform for all your interviewees. So you're probably stuck with Skype unless you want to start posting videocameras back and forth to your interviewees.

You would probably do well to make a separate recording of the interviewer using a videocamera, and splice that in to the interview.

Re:Snapz Pro on your end (1)

superposed (308216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494793)

ScreenFlow and various others listed here [appstorm.net] look like they could also be perfect for the job (recording computer audio, microphone, local video and on-screen video).

Another vote for iChat/iMessage/FaceTime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495055)

Best quality I've seen for a live conversation, particularly wrt to sound using a built-in mic (better mics can be used of course).

I know I'm supposed to advocate for the open-source alternative, but in this case, there isn't one. Nothing against Skype either (I use it fairly regularly as my go-to for non-iOS people) but I don't find the quality to be as high (simple as that really).

Now that iChat/iMessage/FaceTime work with both Macs and iOS devices, that covers nearly everyone outside the Android development team you might want to interview, so there's also that.

Though you should go for the FaceTime HD cameras when possible, even the crappy VGA cameras used in the front-facing iPad and iPhone are quite acceptable if the framerate is decent. Let's not forget we've all been watching 720x480@30fps interlaced (otherwise known as NTSC SD) for most of our lives until recently ...

Improve the audio SOURCE (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495095)

Highly compressed audio is hugely affected by how much background noise is present in the source audio. You want to maximize the spoken voice, and minimize everything else. This optimizes the compression algorithms by giving them the best possible data upon which to base their decisions about what gets taken out of the audio. The compression ratios are often 60:1 or higher, which means that for every 1 byte of data that gets passed on to the listener, 60 bytes are taken out. Ouch.

You must get the microphone close to the speaker. Sound pressure degrades as a square of the distance from the source, so get the mic right up close. A clip-on microphone is great because the body is partially shielding the microphone from background noise, the mic can pick up sound waves coming from from the chest as well as the mouth, and it is unobtrusive.

Do not compress to a stereo codec, a mono codec will actually sound clearer. The speaking voice has a very limited dynamic range, so you don't want the compression algorithm to devote any effort to including sounds outside that range. Using a cheap microphone can actually help in this regard, as it will not even respond to frequencies at the extended ranges.

Ask Bloggingheads.tv how they do it (1)

mike10027 (1475975) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495777)

Bloggingheads posts hour-long video conversations between two people and have been doing it for a few years now. I know they're now trying to use Skype when possible, but that requires high-speed on both ends, so they still use the old system a good portion of the time. My understanding is that there's some sort of hardware setup that gets shipped by post to the interviewee, and each side talks over the phone and looks at a camera. The people talking can't actually see each other, which is one downside, but the quality is generally good. http://bloggingheads.tv/ [bloggingheads.tv]

Vodburner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39497591)

Vodburner is probably the easiest way to get both sides and then be able to quickly put them together into a back-and-forth or talking heads video.

http://www.vodburner.com/

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