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Blogtalk Downunder » Prototype three

Blogtalk Downunder
   May 19-22, Sydney

Blogtalk Downunder

Prototype three

Prototype three extends the ideas sketched in the first prototype, and then developed further in the second. This work, the most complex of the three, involves the use of two child movie tracks and an interactive track that consists of fourteen buttons.

One of the child movie tracks loads a video blog entry by Michael Verdi, his “Vlog Anarchy” (Verdi 2005) . This is displayed in a video pane in the lower right of the prototype, and in the original prototype this comes directly from where Verdi has published this video. This video does not automatically play, which is the case with the second prototype, as in this example the video is quoted in parts, and not in its entirety. This is, in many ways, a stronger example of quotation than the second prototype, simply because in the second example the entire video work is played, or available for play, whereas the usual model for quotation is, of course, to only cite a part of the entire passage or work.

In this example quotation is performed by the user clicking on any of the fourteen available buttons. Each of these plays a specific section of Verdi’s video, and only that section, and once it has finished playing it then plays my commentary that responds to Verdi’s points or observations. These commentaries, which are only sound tracks (there is no video associated with my comments) are loaded as childmovie tracks, and so as in the second prototype are only loaded and heard if requested by the user.

The video windows that appear down the left side of the video are of me, and have no sound attached, they are multiple videos suggesting and proposing ways in which we can also recognise that video in these contexts is as much an act of assemblage (of montage and collage together, see Miles 2003) as it is of publishing a ’single’ window of audiovisual content.

This model is the most mature in terms of its consideration of video as granular. The parent movie, which orchestrates my commentary and the quotation of the specific passages from Verdi’s video, constrains which parts of the quoted material is available, so exhibits the idea of quotation as selection. In addition, my use of child movies to load the commentary means that the user, if they wish to view and hear section twelve, does not need to download and listen to commentaries one to eleven. Similarly a section can be easily reviewed and replayed by clicking again on the relevant button. Such random access, the ability to move from any part to another, is of fundamental importance to any system of quotation in time based media.

However, since Verdi’s video (which is nearly five minutes in duration and nineteen megabytes) is, in network and blogging terms, a large object, a major constraint in this prototype is that it cannot work successfully until all of this external video has been downloaded. This is for the simple reason that if the user selects a commentary button that refers to a sequence that occurs late in Verdi’s material this can only be played if it has been downloaded into the parent video - you cannot physically jump to a point in the data if this data has not arrived yet! As a consequence this work is scripted in such a manner that it cannot be played until all of this video has been downloaded and cached locally, which then allows the work to operate properly. A second version was also made, where I recompressed Verdi’s original 320 by 240 pixel video clip down to 160 by 120 pixels (which is the size of the video window I am displaying it within in the prototype). This has the benefit of reducing the file size to 5 megabytes, which means it loads and plays much faster, and also significantly reduces the processor demands of the prototype.

In other words, because Verdi’s work is, in many ways, ungranular (and to the extent it is conceived of as an entire or whole object it strongly mirrors most existing video blog practice) to quote it within another video requires the incorporation of all of this material within the prototype so that parts of it can then be viewed. This is a legacy of the technical infrastructure of the HTTP protocol, and of QuickTime, so that there is no easy system to deliver specified parts of a file rather than the file in its entirety (this is technically possible and available and is known as byte serving).

note: This page forms a part of a hypertext essay by Adrian Miles. The homepage for this essay is located at:
A long version of this paper (containing some but not all of the text contained in the hypertext version) is available at:

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