Blog address changed

Considering that this blog is the main function of this domain and WordPress can be easily customized to be a portal, I decided to change the blog address to http://gqshen.com permanently. It’s implemented by referring to this document.

The main drawback is the old permalinks from bookmarks or search engine cache, i.e. those led by http://gqshen.com/blog, will not work. Instead, visitors will get to the ugly 404 page, though I have put a note in it.

UPDATE: Just installed the Redirection plugin at Urban Giraffe and it solves the URL problem almost perfectly.

Solution for video presentation in WordPress

I created a video collection page for my daughter’s blog long time ago but turned out to update it very slowly. A very important reason is the procedure to put the video online is much more complicated and time consuming than photo processing. Another reason is that the page lacks of convenient back end administration tools and playing controls. So I have been looking for a nice method to put video clips on blog for long time. What I want from this method is there’s a playing console so audience can watch the video clips without leaving the page. Another requirement is it must support playlist so that I can easily add or remove clips. Finally I found wordTube, a very nice WordPress plugin to integrate flash video player in WordPress, for various playlists or for single clip. Because of it, I spent some time these days to convert some of the old video files and find some other useful tools for this total solution. Following is my simple yet efficient solution to process video and put them online in WordPress.

  1. Capture
    I use a Panasonic PV-GS250 3CCD video camera for event video taping and a Fujifilm FinePix F30 for casual daily shooting. Both of them output good enough video quality for web presentation. The first step is to capture the video from the cameras to the computer. For F30, it’s just to download the AVI files to hard drive, and they have 640×480 resolution. For GS250, I use Ulead VideoStudio to capture from the tape and generally the file will be huge for a general length video clip, it also has 640×480 resolution. Now these downloaded or captured files are ready for editing.
  2. Edit
    This is the most time consuming step. I use Ulead VideoStudio for this task because of its intuitive interface and simplicity. Basically I just add titles and some simple transit effects between clips so more advanced softwares are just over kill. Besides titles and transit effects, I also do some cut and trim. So far I still leave the audio alone because for candid shooting of kids, I prefer to keep ambient sound. But I think I will try audio editing later. After all the edit, I export it to a video file. Currently I use Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V2 because after some comparisons, I found it gives decent quality and relative small file size. So what I get is an AVI file with the original video size, 640×480.
  3. Convert
    In order to put the video online in a flash player, I need to convert the video files to flash video (FLV) format. There are many converting tool out of there, some are commercial and some are free. I tried some of them including Macromedia flash 8 Video Encoder, Riva FLV Encoder and SUPER. Finally I stay with Flash 8 Video Encoder because it gives high quality flash video with its On3 VP6 video codec. It has batch convert, it’s easy to use and it comes with Macromedia Flash 8. Riva FLV encoder is a freeware and very easy to use and the conversion is much faster than Flash 8 Video Encoder. But the quality is not so good as Flash 8 Video Encoder for similar or even greater data rate. I guess maybe that’s caused by its Sorenson Spark video codec though I am not clear about its technical details. The FLV Player comes with it is fine so I just keep it. I also tried SUPER, which is also free but I uninstalled it because it just doesn’t have any appealing advantages comparing with Flash 8 Video Encoder. In Flash 8 Video Encoder, I convert AVI files to 320×240 medium quality FLV files using On2 VP6 video codec, 96kbps stereo MPEG layer III (MP3) audio codec. The file size of the FLV file is only about 1/9 of the original AVI file. The FLV files can be played on local computer by an FLV player, or embedded into a flash player on the web.
  4. Flash player integration
    I use wordTube, a plugin for WordPress, to manage all the video (and audio) files and integrate them with the blog. It supports playlists so I can generate various playlists from the media center. Also, it’s very easy to embed a single video file in a blog post or page. This is a very convenient feature for podcast while one still wants to keep an archive of the whole media library in different categories (playlists). The plugin uses the JW Media Player to play media files. Options are provided to customize the player in the back end, including appearance and controls. The media files can be on your server, or can also be on any other remote servers as long as it can be accessed.
    UPDATED 2008-04-17: The latest version of JW Media Player now supports YouTube, means that you can embed YouTube videos in your OWN player without downloading the FLV files. It’s convenient to generate a list of all your videos hosted on YouTube.

Essentially this is my workflow for video manipulation. I think it’s efficient while with good quality for personal video showcase, such as for a kid’s blog. Please let me know if you have any other better ideas on this topic.

If you have your blogs hosted at BSP’s such as Blogger and WordPress.com, you are not able to install plugins so this method doesn’t apply to your case. An alternative is you can upload your video files to video hosting services such as YouTube or Google Video then embed the video in your posts or pages. Both YouTube and Google Video provide necessary code for this purpose. You can refer to the instruction here and here, respectively.

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