Handheld TV production

Done it! I’ve managed to use the Nokia N93 to capture, record and publish video which is good enough for broadcast on TV as well as the web. OK, what I’ve made is only ten seconds long, to work around ShoZu’s 4MB upload limit, but it worked.

Here’s the clip on YouTube and here it is on Blink.tv. (These two links should launch in a new browser window.) (GM 2017: Blink TV changed its terms of service, so this has now been removed from that platform.)

The only kind of editing I’ve managed on the Nokia so far is to mark new In and Out points on video clips and assemble the revised clips into a new entity. This all seems to be done in native .mp4, which is great because the total new file size equals the sum of sizes of the trimmed source clips. ten seconds of .mp4=4MB
Contrast this with editing on a computer, where outputting Standard Definition 25fps PAL as QuickTime from iMovie on a Mac or as .avi from PremiereElements on a PC increases filesize more than tenfold. So ten seconds of video weighs in at 45 Mb. This is important if the mobile phone is to be used for capture and upload only, with editing being done on a computer.

A key thing I’d like to be able to do when editing on my mobile is to isolate the full-quality 48k audio from a video clip and use this audio as a bed upon which I can synchronise still images (photos) to tell a Digital Story.

Yes, there’s work to be done by mobile interface designers to improve the assembly mechanisms for clips, audio and photos on-board the phone.

nokia n93 photo
Photo by Andrew Currie

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 20 February 2007.

Using a mobile phone to tell a story

The three production phases on mobile are:
1. capture
easiest of the three, but the author needs to decide which forms to adopt
2. edit
(a) on the phone, limited scope but it’s possible to mark ins and outs on clips and assemble them on the phone.
(b) on computer. Technical issues include formats, conversion, standards, etc.
3. publication
(a) ftp via 3G connection using software like ShoZu or MobyExplorer to private ftp server, blip.tv, YouTube, etc.
(b) via lead, card reader, wireless or bluetooth to a computer connected to the internet.

Vloggers have been doing this for years, of course. What’s changing is the video quality on phones like the Nokia N93:

  • Video: 640×480 pixels, 30 frames per second
  • Audio: 48kHz, AAC stereo
  • A one-minute .mp4 file is around 20Mb

So you can now hold in your hand a device that’ll enable you to capture, edit and publish your own TV.

Now that’s exciting!


I had an interesting day in VideoForum 2007 at London’s Earl Court on Tuesday. Here are three products/newsbytes that may be of interest to digital storytellers:
1. Edirol R09 portable audio recorder looks ace. When I chose the M-Audio Microtrack, Edirol’s products could only capture audio at 44.1k and I needed 48k, because this is the native rate for audio for DV video. What the R09 seems to offer above the Microtrack is a more robust built-in microphone, replaceable battery and the chance to add reverb at the point of recording, which may be useful if you’re recording music. There’s a discussion, camparing the two at thesession.org

2. Adbobe Soundbooth. Much simpler than Encore, Soundbooth does enough for most digital storytellers. What does it offer that Auddacity and SoundStudio don’t? Well, the top and tail functionality is innovative: you drag bars to the start and the end of the waveform, you can drag in a fade to the start and end and there’s a one-click normalisation button.Soundbooth also throws in some musical scoring which lets you match the feel of the music to the story. Grab this free beta before Adobe starts charging for it.
3. Hot news: Abobe announced that its Production Suite is being made available for “Mactel” – their word for Macintoshes that have the Intel chip. It’ll be great to be able to use the latest version of Premiere on Mac once again.

I’ve been visiting this event for a few years now and it gets bigger every year; thanks to Kieron Seth for organising VideoForum07.