Kaltura supports video culture through open source and HTML5

Posted on August 25, 2013


MIT open doc

For anyone working in video today the emphasis has to be on future standards. Confusion abounds when it comes to video codecs and formats, but in HTML5 – the web’s latest native coding structure – web pages will be able to handle video without using Flash players, or things like Youtube or Vimeo embedding, across all of your devices. So it’s a positive that Kaltura has developed an open source online video player and editor to get around the problem of being tied into any one format or codec. Just look at the proliferation of codecs and formats: MPEG, MPEG-2, MP4, Theora, MKV, WMV and then mobile formats like 3GP or 3GP2. It is a bit of a mess.

At present we have market domination by companies like Apple, Adobe or Sony and then a number of smaller companies pitch in with decent video players and editors. It is only when you come down to editing video captured on your mobile device or camcorder that you encounter problems like Apple’s Final Cut Pro’s inability to edit consistently using the H.264 codec (you must transcode into Apple Pro Res), or even recognise 3GP video. I apologise for slipping into techy ‘jargon’, but this is what it is like when you start to edit. Okay, you could use a cloud editor like WeVideo or the (stalled) Stroome project. These services are improving all the time, but if you need fine-grained powerful editing you can hit the wall pretty quickly and end up spending a lot of money to get a decent result.

HTML5 at least offers the promise of getting out of this kind of ‘lock-in’ that powerful media corporations prefer and that is one reason that Kaltura is championing the new web standards. HTML5 video will play inside web pages on any type of device. You don’t need a separate piece of software, a new codec or one specific type of video player to make it work.

Look at Kaltura’s html5video.org for the latest industry news on HTML5 development – it is biased towards Kaltura – plus links to several online archives containing freely usable ‘creative commons’ media files. On top of that Kaltura has an excellent blog looking at the latest trends in video production. Recent posts include Vine videos and how they are being used by celebrities, large brands and journalists to create innovative 6 second videos. Witness the recent Tribeca Film Festival for this mini-video platform’s growing popularity.


Other highlights include mentions for Alex Reben’s work at the MIT Open Documentary Lab with his ‘blabdroid’. Alex appeared at the Gateshead Thinking Digital Conference to talk about his project and what an interesting idea it is. This small, well-designed piece of low-tech is a mobile video recorder dressed up as a cutesy robot that asks to be picked up and then interviews its subjects in a disarming fashion that led Reben to conclude that his droid could pull confessions from people that a human interviewer could not. He deliberately designed the droid with large eyes like a baby seal to make it less threatening.

Finally, they point out the industries that are using instructional videos to strong effect, among them education. Massively open online courses (MOOCs) have experienced explosive growth over the past few years, whether this continues is open to interpretation. Do we assume that the innovators in this field – Stanford, MIT and of course The Open University – were doing it to simply expand the brand or more philanthropic reasons? For more information on MOOCs, take a look at the online MOOC List. Alongside this trend is the drive to bring conferences online. Webinars are an increasingly popular way of conducting online meetings and lectures but the creation of virtual conference spaces is slightly different. Second Life seemed to offer some promise in this space a few years back, but as yet there does not appear to be an industry standard. Whatever happens in the next few years it does appear that it is all to play for and ‘open’ seems to be the driving force behind these innovations.

Virtual conferences will become more commonplace as connection speeds increase.

Virtual conferences will become more commonplace as connection speeds increase.