Flip Alternatives: 5 Great Pocket Video Cameras

Ok, maybe the Flip is no more but there are other products out there more than capable to take it’s place as this link proves

Flip Alternatives: 5 Great Pocket Video Cameras

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Flip Video RIP

It is with great sadness that we have received news that the Flip video camera will be no more…deceased…an ex-video camera. Whilst it is a blow for us Flip users, the reasons for the decision make some sense, and indeed our own observation of the students during the D-TRACES project support the announcement, i.e. students were happily using their mobile phones to capture video. A pity in many ways since the Flip was so simple; yes it had drawbacks in terms of camera functions but one-button click, easy video transfer & editing and YouTube integration meant for ease of use – something mobile phone manufacturers will have to match, and I’m not convinced they’re there yet.

Here is the email I received this week with full details of the implications:

Dear David,

Cisco recently announced that it will be exiting the Flip business and support customers and partners with a transition plan.  Cisco will continue its focus and commitment to deliver best in class solutions that extend the network as a platform, from businesses into the home through its Linksys products and consumer TelePresence solutions with ūmi.  

Cisco wants to thank you for being a loyal and enthusiastic Flip Video user. Many of you have inquired about what is going to happen to Flip in the future, if FlipShare software will still work and if will we support you in the use of your Flip. We have many of these answers for you and will continue to provide updates on our website at www.theflip.com.

Flip Support:
First, we want everyone to know that if you own a Flip or are considering buying one, we will continue to support you within the terms of our warranty which is 1 year from purchase date (United Kingdom).   For customers that have issues that are not covered by our warranty or that are outside their warranty period, Cisco will continue to provide support for a nominal fee until 12/31/2013. E-Support will also continue to be complimentary and available until 12/31/2013.  Details and updates about our support and service as well as our warranty policy can be found on our website.

Using FlipShare:
FlipShare software will continue to be fully functional and will be supported until 12/31/2013.  After that time Cisco will no longer support the application though it may remain functional as a software for offloading videos, editing, organizing and archiving. Video sharing will no longer be supported past 12/31/2013. Continue to check back here on updates on FlipShare.  

Flip availability:
Flip will continue to be available through our online and in-store retailers while supplies last. If you are looking at buying a video camera – it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the easiest to use video camera in the world! We will continue to honor our support and warranty commitments and FlipShare software as mentioned above.  

The Flip Team:
The teams have been reading your comments from emails and our social media community pages and are touched by the overwhelming number of thoughts and messages.  We hope you will continue to have fun with your Flip video camera, and we appreciate your loyalty and business.

The Flip Video team

Project update

Since the last blog update the project has moved into a phase of tutorial support with students now developing solo and site specific work as part of their core module studies. The process of developing their dance module pieces is expected therefore to be documented and reflected upon regularly through their online PDP blogs.

The first tutorial session (29/11/10) following the skills sessions showed that the group were at a similar stage of progress and understanding, all had blogs (created during the second technical skills session) and had demonstrated at least some published media documentation. An observation at this point was that the students seemed to feel the emphasis on their blog creation was very much in adding multi-media content (images, video, sketches) and as a result had neglected to add a representative proportion of written reflection alongside the media evidence. This resulted perhaps due to the emphasis the project placed on bringing the media skill levels of the group to a common level at an early stage before focussing on the process of pdp development and critical reflection itself. It is probably also indicative of the groups lack of experience in engaging with their own creativity in a reflective and critical manner and stepping away from the relative security of purely descriptive text as first year students. Feedback from this session to all students was to increase the volume and regularity of reflective writing on the blog in relation to the media content, to try to add reflective comments every time a piece of media content is added, and to explain the development progress that has occurred between blog posts.

The wednesday afternoon open studio sessions appear to have been a useful aide to the students with most now having booked time slots and used the equipment, space and staff resource to develop their work. Students have been encouraged to connect to each others blogs (via invite) in order to view their peers work, give constructive feedback via commenting and provide initial support for one another before approaching teaching staff. In practice the 30min individual studio allocations are insufficient for students to gain much practical development progress (although more useful for tutor contact time), as a result, group bookings (3 students) of 1.5hrs have been more commonly adopted and have eased the use of limited shared equipment and the documenting of solo pieces. The equipment itself has performed well, the Flip cameras have a 2hr recording limit but generally run out of power within 1-2hrs so rechargeable AA batteries have been required as a backup. Organizing the efficient uploading of content is also an ongoing process with many students still choosing to upload images directly to their blog space rather than to an image hosting site like Flikr as advised. There are also some issues regarding the immediate uploading of video content to Youtube after studio sessions due to the length of time required to upload the duration of footage produced. Both of these issues are resolvable, in the first instance students have again been advised to store images on separate hosting sites as their allocated blog space will eventually run out as more image files are added. Regarding video documentation we have advised students to go back to the Jerwood Bank blogs and Siobhan Davies RePlay to observe how professional dancers in this instance have used video as a part of their documentation and development process by capturing very small key fragments of movement. If the students begin to use the video in this way rather than conceiving of the video document as a fixed, final and privileged artifact that demonstrates the totality of their work rather than the fragments of its construction then they will simultaneously find that demonstrating their development and reflect upon it will be a potentially easier task, and they will avoid the technical issues associated with the uploading of longer HD video files.

Tech skills session 2

Last weeks skills session covered the basic steps in setting up a blog and posting different types of content. During previous weeks, students were encouraged to go online and search for blogs that interested them and that demonstrated aspects, either visual or thematic that they could imagine employing in their own blog. At the outset of the project the research team felt that a barrier to the uptake of online collaboration tools is often due to the lack of choice and individual ownership perceived by mandating the use of internal, institutional platforms. There was also a strong desire for the blogs and process formed during the projects short lifespan to have a life beyond the assessed period and it was therefore decided that students would be free to choose any platform on which to create their pdp blogs. WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr were all given as examples of free blogging platforms that the students may want to use, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each were highlighted. Ultimately the majority of the group decided to use Blogger (this was recommended both anecdotally by Sarah Warsop during the first session and later as a good all round platform) as it offered enough customization and control over all of the critical blog settings whilst being less technically complex than WordPress and more fully featured than Tumblr. A smaller number decided to use Tumblr mainly due to the design options and visual quality of the sites it can produce and were content to accept some of the additional tasks such as adding a disqus account to enable commenting on Tumblr blogs (not included as a standard feature).

Key areas covered in the session included:

  • Step by step creation of blog accounts during the session
  • Privacy settings – open/private (if private how to invite selected readers to the blog)
  • Comments & moderation (applying settings to enable author control over commenting)
  • Design (choosing themes/layout/gadgets)
  • Posting content (text/embedding video & image content)

Compendium e-Dance edition

An email in response to the survey request pointed me in the direction of the e-Dance Project (2007-09) “…investigating how researchers in e-Science Technology and Choreography can collaborate to learn from each other, and innovate new tools for researchers, practitioners and students.”

What caught me eye in particular was this, Compendium e-Dance edition and the Movie Map function especially. Compendium is software to create knowledge maps that allow users to make links to all sorts of diverse pieces of data, and so with the Movie Map function “…you can add nodes and links on top of a movie, having these annotations appear and disappear wherever you want over the length of the video.”

It’s probably easier to look at an example. This series of movies brings together Choreography researcher Sita Popat and e-Science researcher Simon Buckingham Shum, who demonstrate and discuss this tool (the first one gives enough of an overview). Lots to admire here for a shared choreographic exercise but a Compendium-lite version with a much simpler user interface and pared down functionality could be a more widely adopted tool (I’m thinking here of virtual scrapbooking!)

I’m in contact with Simon Buckingham Shum at KMI, Open University, and I hope to meet up before Christmas.

Getting started…

So the module formally begins tomorrow and the plan is to introduce the idea of a digital online professional development plan (pdp) to the students (and probably ourselves to an extent) and set out the aims of the module and the various skills sessions that will be taking place. Although there is very much a formalised structure to the module in terms of learning outcomes, the students will be encouraged to explore the various technologies for themselves and apply the idea of a digital portfolio in a way that fits comfortably with their existing working process. Hopefully they will become comfortable with the basic principles enough to begin self-supporting one another and sharing their own best-practice based on their experiments, there’s no particular right and wrong way to do this stuff, just figuring out a way that works best for you.

I attended the Repositories Support Projects ‘Doing it Differently’ event in Sheffield last week which brought together a number of HE institutions and funded projects to present different ways of producing academic repositories from custom configurations of e-prints and D-Space, to itunes-U and reference management software Mendeley and xpert. Of most interest to me in relation to the D-traces project was the presentation by Joss Winn on the potential for using simple WordPress blogs and multi-user installations as an effective repository for scholarly publishing. This is nothing new in itself, the idea of WordPress being used as a CMS is fairly well documented, however I was really excited to see someone offering up ways of publishing that are easy and cost effective and also relatively risk-averse. As with D-traces, the challenge is to not add more complexity to peoples existing ways of working that effectively turn them away from the digital. Joss described one very simple and effective change made to gain academic support to the idea of instant publishing within WordPress that I not heard of before, rather than perceive the blog as a fixed publishing end-point akin to traditional publishing methods, Joss simply began calling blogs ‘documents’ and encouraged users to work on multiple blogs or documents as they would a word document. The benefits of writing in this way being fairly obvious in that the blog itself works on the authors behalf by providing links, feeds, automated semantic tagging via opencalais etc. In this way we can begin to be much more flexible in our approach to both writing, publishing and self/institutional archiving. The use of RSS in creating subject specific research repositories linked from an institutional repository is something that I would like to look at further and I like the thought that through the creative use of simple feeds, any number of collections can be assembled and presented in a variety of ways through the WordPress interface. Joss’ presentation notes can be found here.

WordPress is a fantastic tool and can be made to do any number of things as well as offering up a massive amount of community developed widgets to suit most of the users needs. However I’m also very aware of wanting the students on the D-traces module to be able to get into the process of blogging right away, with the minimum of fuss and see immediate and impressive results. The emphasis at this point being on ease of use, adoption and enjoyment, beyond this the students themselves will decide what tools and technology to employ to suit their needs. Something that they might find an interesting alternative to WordPress is tumblr, which I had come across a while ago but revisiting it I think the visual format might work really well with their documentation and the short ‘notebook’ format might be less daunting than the full blown text heavy format of a traditional blog. I particularly like the ‘archive’ view of tumblr blogs for example culturite and I think it seems to make any content look automatically cool by its formatting. I’ll probably begin to experiment a little with tumblr, maybe by just linking the content from here into a tumblr site for now to see how it looks and which I prefer using.