Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 18:27 UK

Rise of the mobile video blog

BBC Click's Dan Simmons
By Dan Simmons
Reporter, BBC Click Online

Video blogging on mobile phones

Since the marriage of webcams and broadband, the videoblog has become a familiar sight. It has also helped create the first internet celebrities.

Lonelygirl15 became a hit with online video watchers. It was a sort of teenager's blog, although the author was later "revealed" to be an actress working with a producer.

But now our video diaries are moving off the webcam and onto our phones.

Faster mobile connections, and all-inclusive data packages, means you do not need a wad of cash to upload from anywhere. And now more handsets include onboard editing, so you can just send the really good bits.

I shot and edited a short mobile video while on holiday using LG's Viewty phone. Each shot was trimmed and then added one at a time.

It is possible to add text, voice track, drop in photos, and even speed things up a bit, and then send the masterpiece directly to YouTube.

"A couple of years ago people were happy to record whatever they wanted. It was a new thing, video on mobile phones," says Motorola's Natalie Harrison.

"Now it's getting a lot more sophisticated. People really want to be able to tailor it, personalise it, and send it to their friends.

"If you want to put a great music track to it, cut out the rubbish parts, bring out the funny parts, you can really be your own editor," she adds.

Mobile editing

The Nokia N95's onboard video editor is more advanced than the LG phone, showing a storyboard and offering a choice of transitions.

Motorola Z10
Editing on mobiles is becoming more advanced
You can also mix the audio so you do not lose the natural sound when you add music or voice over and Motorola's new Z10 has slow-motion effects and filters, again all from the handset.

It is a fiddly business editing on a mobile, but doing so means you do not have to transfer the file to a PC, you can just send it and it is out there.

But some mobile operators are too busy trying to tie us into the websites with which they have signed exclusive deals.

"The telcos really need to be thinking agnostically about this. In other words, having these siloed containers where your content only goes to one site is not natural to the way the internet works," says Web 2.0 consultant Kathy Johnson.

"We want our content to be ubiquitous, to be in every place we want to find it. That's where it needs to be, " she adds.

From getting 10 or 12 clips of video perhaps two years ago, in the last year, with the big flood story, in a week we got over 240 clips of mobile footage
BBC Interactivity assistant editor, Matthew Eltringham
Sites like ShoZu allow you to post to various sites in one go. Upload your video once and it will post your video to your selection of any one of over 20 sites.

Other sites go on to alert your friends there is a new video to watch. Kyte, for example, sends a quick "heads up" using the micro text-blogging service, Twitter.

Capturing news

Video-making on your mobile need not be just for fun.

Broadcasters are seeing a surge in the number of videos shot on mobiles and sent straight from the scene of news stories.

BBC Interactivity assistant editor Matthew Eltringham says: "We've been getting considerably more mobile footage over the last 12 months.

"From getting 10 or 12 clips of video perhaps two years ago, in the last year, with the big flood story, in a week we got over 240 clips of mobile footage."

There are a few limitations to sending straight from your handset. The easiest way is to use multi-media messaging or MMS, which is like sending a text but for video.

It is fairly straightforward, but MMS can only deliver shorter videos which are typically less than 30 seconds. One alternative is to attach your video to an e-mail.

Live broadcasting

To speed things up a bit, why not send your video as you record it?

Dan Simmons using the Qik software on a mobile phone
Some people are broadcasting live content from their phones
Broadcasting from your mobile phone is the latest fad in the US.

Qik is one site that supports live streaming, but at the moment it is compatible with just a handful of models, mostly Nokia.

Once the application is downloaded, it is pretty simple to "go live". The phone shows the delay between capture and sending the video, depending on your connection speed, so it may be a bit stuttery.

But some people have started to do their own shows, and there is speculation that YouTube will offer a live streaming service later this year. How that could be moderated is not yet clear.

'Entertaining' content

You could argue that this is little more than a glorified video call, but these new sites do provide a wider platform.

Whether it is going live or uploading a carefully crafted masterpiece, the mobile can now deliver your video straight to your online audience. If, of course, you have one.

Web 2.0 consultant Kathy Johnson says: "The biggest problem with video blogging is that a lot of it is boring. It really is.

"Just because you want to be a star doesn't mean you will become one. You have to say something that's interesting, and you have to put it in a format that's enjoyable.

"At the end of the day, whether it's a video blog or on TV, it's entertainment," she adds.

Mobile video challenge
09 May 08 |  Click


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