Posts tagged ‘video’

Healthcare videos running on standard mobiles


Many people have asked us about how to run the videos we’ve demonstrated in the OppiaMobile app on standard mobile phones (not Android smartphones), so this afternoon I had a go at converting the Basic Skills video from Global Health Media Project to run on my old Nokia 6230i (I’m not sure exactly how old this phone is as I got it second hand over 6 years ago). The original low-res version I downloaded from the GHMP website was 33Mb, which is too large to fit on the 32Mb MMC card my phone has, but with a bit of conversion I was able to get this down to just over 5Mb and still be good enough quality to watch on the small screen. For those interested the full technical details of how I converted the videos is below. If you’d like to download the final 5Mb version you can get it here.

Here’s a video of the video running on my Nokia, I’ve also show the basic skills video running on the HTC sensation – just to give a comparison with screen sizes and video/audio quality:

There are lots of reasons why we’ve focused on using Android phones for OppiaMobile – but I’ll leave them for another posting.

The technical details for converting the videos:

For my first attempts at converting the videos I used WinFF (note that I use Ubuntu on my desktop so all the details below is specific to this OS), this converted the videos fine and they played well on my laptop, but when I copied over to my phone I wasn’t getting any sound. Turns out that my phone doesn’t support the AAC audio encoding format, but AMR encoding. To get WinFF or other video conversion tools to process the video with AMR as the audio encoding, I needed to compile ffmpeg with the opencore-amr library. Follow these instructions to do this on your machine.

I then also found this tool for converting videos: Mobile Media Convertor. My first attempts weren’t too successful, I kept getting the error message “Error while opening encoder for output stream #0:1 – maybe incorrect parameters such as bit_rate, rate, width or height” then when I finally got it to convert it still didn’t play on my mobile. Finally I got it figured out and the settings I needed to use in mobile media convertor were:

Audio Frequency: 8000
Audio channels: 1
Video Size: 176:144
Audio Codec: libopencore_amrnb

To set these, press the ‘advanced’ button after selecting the ‘Mobile phone – 3GP video’ conversion option.

Using these settings (almost 6 minute) video was down to 5.3Mb – the quality isn’t great when viewing full screen on my laptop – but it’s perfectly fine for my Nokia phone.

New OppiaMobile video

I’ve just uploaded an updated OppiaMobile preview video, showing some of the changes we’ve made over the last couple of months, especially with the updated interface design and with our platform name. I’ve also launched the OppiaMobile website, so has some extra information pages especially for course authors and for developers.

For those interested, I used an Android screen recording app to create the video – was easy to use and could record my voice at the same time (though it requires a rooted phone to work). With the previous demo videos I’ve made of apps running the mobile, it’s always been tricky to get my digital camera to focus on the screen properly and also so there aren’t reflections from the mobile screen. Although I think it looks good, I think I still prefer videos where you can see the whole phone and it being manipulated. One issue I found was that when I was demonstrating the videos running, they automatically play in landscape mode, but the rest of the video is in portrait, so I needed to cut and rotate this part of the demo. I’d be interested to hear if you think a video of the full phone (and my hands) or a screencast recording is preferable as a demo of the app.

Relatively musical

Here are a couple of videos from some of my more musically talented relatives:

Seafret – my cousin, Jack is the singer:

more info on Seafret  and an interview, and Duck Baby (my uncle, Mike, the singer, is Jack’s dad)…

Finally, a bit less musical, my brothers LED stickman costume:

Stickman LED costume from Matt on Vimeo.

Video of updated training content app

Over the last few days I’ve made quite a few updates to the app. The key difference has been to add the functionality to switch languages. Here’s a quick video of the app in action now:

The updated app package is available here if you’d like to try this out for yourself.

I’ve also started working on the server side where we can track the user activity. So far I’ve only made a couple of very basic pages, just for demo purposes, which show graphs of the recent activity for each module and another page which gives a list of the users for each module and their progress so far:

Graph of recent activity in modules

Table showing detail of which users are taking part in the module, their progress so far and the last time they accessed the content

We need to think a little more about what information is useful to show here, for the tutors/supervisors/managers etc and also to work out how we may be able to present this information on the mobile device – similarly to how we developed the mobile scorecard application for patient management.

Video Content Management and Streaming with Kaltura and Moodle

Through the elearning training we are trying to encourage teachers to make more use of video and other multimedia content in their courses. This presents us with several issues, mainly because most video streaming sites are blocked by the University (to save bandwidth). This means we either don’t include the videos or we download to run them locally. So far we’ve just been uploading them into the Moodle course, which is fine for relatively low numbers of videos (or for very short videos), but is soon going to become unsustainable. Also, we’d like to suggest video content teacher may wish to use – so it wouldn’t be appropriate to have these filling up the Moodle server.

One solution is to use a multimedia management streaming server, so over the last few days I’ve been testing out Kaltura. It’s an open source video content platform and has plugins for Moodle, WordPress amongst others.

Installation was straightforward enough on my laptop, once I’d got the necessary prerequisite packages installed and settings. Couple of issues I did come across:

1) On my first attempt at installation, it installed on the root of my webserver, so I was unable to access my other web applications. This was because I specified ‘localhost’ as the domain. I tried to figure out how to move to a subdirectory (see: but haven’t got that one figured out yet. So I just set up a new host (http://kaltura.localhost) and used this instead. So now I can access Kaltura and my original webapps, with out switching configurations and restarting apache.

2) When the prerequisites say that you need a mail server, it really does mean that you need one! After installation, when creating publisher accounts, the login details are emailed only – so there’s no way to set the password except by following the link in the email. I assumed I’d be able to reset the passwords manually and so the mail server integration wouldn’t matter to much. Given that this is just running on my laptop, I haven’t got a mail server running, so then had to set about trying to get one configured. Fortunately I found these instructions on how to configure postfix to relay through a gmail account on Ubuntu (I’m running 10.10). I set up a clean/default postfix installation and used the settings/instructions posted in the comments by Michael M. I used a ‘disposable’ gmail account, so that if something goes wrong, I won’t get blocked from my normal gmail account, but seems to be working well so far. It’s also good now that I can have emails sent for all the webapps on my machine.

So after I had these 2 issues resolved, I was ready to start having a play. All seems to be working well, although I was hoping that people would be able to browse the uploaded content without having first logged in. I guess we’d just need to create a generic account. If anyone knows how to set this up then please let me know – or if there is a generic Kaltura content browser application that I could use?

I tried uploading a few flv and mp4 videos to embed onto a webpage, and seem to work well. A little slow on my machine, but then my netbook probably isn’t designed to be a media processing and streaming server!

My final experiment was to look at the Moodle plugin, unfortunately I had a few more issues with getting this working. When trying to register the module in Moodle, I kept getting the error that ‘Your Kaltura registration failed. Missing KS. Session not established’ when trying to enter the url, username and password for my Kaltura server. After a bit of investigation I found it was a bug with how the partnerId was(n’t) being passed. I found a hack around this, see:, but it’s not pretty!

Now I have the option to add a video resource in Moodle directly from my Kaltura server, or so I thought I had, currently whatever I seem to search for (tags, video titles, categories which I know exist in the account I have) returns no results. Next step is to try and figure out why I can’t seem to find any of the videos I have uploaded…

Pop star

A friend in Mekelle sent me this video of Hoye Hoye by Gizachew Solomon, you may recognise one of two of the people who appear just after 1”50′:

I’ve not yet managed to find the full interview that we did for ETC that this clip has been taken from – but I’m still looking 🙂

Videos from Ethiopia

Now that I’m back in the UK and have access to a reliable fast internet connection, I’ve uploaded some of the videos I’ve taken over the last 18 months. They’re almost all unedited (except the Debre Damo one – except I didn’t do the editing) although I may try to edit some of these clips together…

Sulphur Springs in the Danakil:

Juggler at orphanage Christmas show:

Visiting the Debre Damo Monastery:

There are plenty more short videos that I’ve uploaded too.

Attempts at video editing on the Asus Eee

RecordMyDesktopI’ve used Camtasia Studio (Windows) a few times before for creating some training/how-to screencasts, but now I wanted to have a go doing something similar using open source software (on Ubuntu Jaunty) instead. To make it more interesting I also wanted to run it all on my Asus Eee PC (4G) – not exactly a machine designed for heavy video processing.

First issue was how to record the screen, for this I used RecordMyDesktop. A very simple program to install and run, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Selecting the area to record (I wasn’t selecting whole window) was a bit fiddly and sometimes took me several attempts to capture the right area, without chopping off a side or two.

If you’re recording a for a long time and your screensaver kicks in (or screen goes blank for power saving), you’ll need to disable the screensaver and power saving – unless you particularly need a recording of it.

What I had most trouble with – and only came up with a workarounds solution to – was capturing the audio. RecordMyDesktop wil capture the audio fine but had problems getting the recording volume level right without creating a lot of hissing. The hardware on the Asus for sound isn’t exactly fantastic. In the end I found that I had best results when using a jack lead to plug the headphone output into the microphone input! If anyone has a better solution to this or some advice about on the recording levels to capture the audio more reliably, then please let me know.

So, now I’ve created a .ogv (OGG video) file but want to edit it a little. I wanted a really simple video editor for 2 reasons, firstly I don’t wand to spend the time learning a bit video editing package and, more practically, secondly, I don’t have a huge amount of disk space left on my 4Gb drive!

I opted for Aviremux, though unfortunately this doesn’t accept OGG video files, so I used mencoder to convert to AVI (basic instructions).

For the actual editing I used Aviremux. I found it very easy to get started with and use – unlike some other video editing software.

In the end I found that my original screen recording had sound out of synch with the video – not in the initial few mins of the capture, but further in. I’m not sure why this should be the case – if anyone has any idea why, I’d be pleased to hear them.

Overall, it was a little frustrating getting this to work. I’ve not managed to achieve what I set out to do, but think this was more to do with the hardware than anything else.

Learning Languages

Realising the other day that I don’t even know what Amharic or Tigrinya sound like when spoken I’ve now found a few learn Amharic videos on YouTube… the one below gives some basic phrases to use whilst shopping or eating out:

Though not sure I’ll ever be able to pronounce ‘… ligezaw ifeligalehugn’ (meaning ‘I would like to buy…’)!

The LOJSociety has posted up several more Amharic instruction videos which I’ll start to try and learn.

Unfortunately I’ve not found any videos for learning Tigrinya, though I did find out that Tigrinya and Amharic do use the same script/alphabet (Ge’ez) – but unsure yet if that actually makes things any easier or not!

If anyone has any pointers to videos of how to learn Tigrinya, then please pass them on.

VSO in Ethiopia video has a video showing the work VSO is doing in Ethiopia.