Questionnaire on Video Tutorials


(Metsys) #1

I’m planning on working on a complete set of Blender Video Tutorials that follow the same outline as the Blender Open Community Documentation project on Blender.org. I figure since myself, and anyone else that wants to contribute will be using the Blender Documentation as an outline, it will be easy to get started on such a project, and easily get those tutorials out.

I’m wondering what format people would most like these videos to be. I can easily make DVD quality MPEG-2 videos using my capture card, but the resolution might be an issue, thus I would likely include a zoom-in every once in a while, and the size would increase due to the perfect frame rate. Or, i could use Camstudio and get 1024x768 videos, save them as a Divx, and have some relatively small video files.

Doing both at the same time would be possible, but the 1024x768 guy would have to deal with the stupid zoom-ins every once in a while.

So, tell me what you think. If I can get a number of people in on this I would like to make this official somehow. So, when you go to the Blender Doc you’ll see links to these tutorials. I posted this idea on the blender.org forum (haven’t gotten a reply yet).

On top of all these ideas, I would like to make these files also available completely through bit-torrent, so we can have an butt load of video files without having to commit to an expensive server.


(Metsys) #2

We’ve been playing around with Xvidcap and we’ve been able to get a solid 15 fps with a raw write to the harddrive. Which means that I can encode it any way I want. So, it appears to be the best plan so far. We just have to toy around with the audio and syncing.


(=KH=Lupus) #3

I think if it comes with a blend file and documentation (maybe have the documentation written in the note window on the side of the viewport in the blend file) then you could go with the lower res video and only zoom in when necessary. People could probably follow you better with the actual blend anyway, and so wouldn’t need to see everything you do in the vid.


(GreyBeard) #4

I also recently asked some questions on this topic see

http://www.elysiun.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=29302&highlight=&sid=c063ef40e9a72e7e3bba2c394b735960

It seems that a 640 X 480 resolution @ 5 frames per sec. is adequate to get your message across and people were rather happy with this quality. At this frame rate / resolution you can get 1 min. of video complete with sound for 2Mb of file size. I am also in the process of trying trying to find someone or some organization to host the videos for me (I can’t afford the bandwidth).

Hope this helps GreyBeard


(bob_holcomb) #5

I think video blender files are great for tutorials. I think they should compliment the user docs, showing how to use the newer features and go more in depth on certain areas (LSCM, RVK, character animation) than the manual goes. Do you have a list somewhere on your video topics? I’m interested in helping if you want it.

I think the resolution should be high enough to clearly see what you are doing and the framerate high enough so the user doesn’t miss something important. My guess is something equal to or better than 640x480 at 10 fps should be adequate, but I haven’t played around with screen captures enough to know what is good enough.

I think the blend files for the tutorials are a definite must for the videos. It can’t hurt to make them available.

check out http://www.poopinmymouth.com (yes, I know it’s a sick name) for his low polygon modeling/texturing/rigging/animating tutorials. They’re a hefty download and kinda long, but I’ve learned alot from them that I apply to blender. I’d be willing to remake them for blender users if you could fill me in a little the software you use for screen capture and the final format to post in.

Cheers,

Bob


(Metsys) #6

I think if it comes with a blend file and documentation (maybe have the documentation written in the note window on the side of the viewport in the blend file)

Yup, that’s a good idea. I’ll probably end up doing some notes anyway so I can just copy/paste them in there.

It seems that a 640 X 480 resolution @ 5 frames per sec. is adequate to get your message across and people were rather happy with this quality.

The text in 640x480 is really small. The lowest that I felt I should go would be 800x600. The thing that really increases the file size anyway is movement on the screen. The 3D view in 800x600 is 313208 pixels and in 1024x768 is 528375 pixels. So yeah, it could double the size. However, i’m confident that most people use blender in at least 1024x768 to 1280x1024. It would be helpful if they had a higher res to learn by, especially since all of the buttons are all text anyway.

In my tests I actually found little to no difference from dropping the frame rate from 15 to 5 in the file size. I’ve tried to lower the bit rate of the Dvix encode but it creates some really bad ghosting. The difference between a full motion test in 800x600 showed 4mb per minute and 1024x768 showed 5mb per minute, and that’s with compressed audio. So, I think that’s a decent trade for quality and size. And remember, that’s will full motion in the 3D view constantly.

And it appears that most people are in favor of a higher resolution, according to the poll.

I think they should compliment the user docs, showing how to use the newer features and go more in depth on certain areas … than the manual goes.

Yeah, that’s what I thought to, especially since some features such as everything ratraced isn’t in the doc yet.

Do you have a list somewhere on your video topics?

Yeah, it’s on blender.org. It’s the Blender Doc :). It’s everything that is in the Bender Documentation. I’m going to try and follow the doc as much as possible, and include new topics within the flow of the outline. Topics that are not listed in the doc will be marked so that you know they are special and will contain tips, tricks, and techniques that are not described in the documentation.

I am also in the process of trying trying to find someone or some organization to host the videos for me (I can’t afford the bandwidth).

That’s why I have decided on using bit-torrent to distribute them. I’m confident that there are enough users that use it and would be willing to be seeds for the files. And then later I’m sure we can get some people to volunteer space. That’s another reason I hope that this become official. Maybe it can be hosted on blender.org. Video tutorials by the people that actually wrote the code would be cool to.


(Metsys) #7

Well, it looks like high-res and well prepared get-to-the-point tutorials are the most important to people. DVD tutorials would be nice, but since it is a little bit of a different beast, I’ll have to do that in a different project. Besides, I’m having trouble finding a program that will make a zoom-in windows around the cursor with a push of a button. Does anyone know of any in Windows or an X11 environment?

So, wish me luck. If anyone wants to contribute you can post here or mail me at metsys at icubenetwork dot com.


(Oyster) #8

I prefer flash tut to real video tut. Reasons:
1.real video tut often means big file for dl
2.annotations can be added to flash file easily than to avi file
3.interaction can be implemented in flash easily

plz have a look at
http://www.ctr.co.at/swf/3ds_max_1_zb1_num_calc.htm using free wink(www.debugmode.com)
and
http://www.techsmith.com/videos/studio/Overview/camtasia_studio_2.html?movie=2 using Camtasia
there is another free software camstudio too.
all of the 3 appz can save the annotated record to avi file.
Maybe someone like a printable tut, then wink meets the requestion, for it can also export pdf and html file.

As for the contents, I think the tuts in Blender Doc and the new features are the first choice.


(Metsys) #9

Well, the problem I have with Flash is:

  • Costs money
  • Includes more post-processing
    And that boils down to not everyone can do it, and will take more time making a tutorial. I’ve used Flash tutorials before (not for Blender though), and I’ve found that actually seeing someone do it and being able to hear their voice just makes it more real, as if seeing it happen in real life convinces you that you can do that as well, and it sinks in better too. Besides, if it’s planned you’ll get more information through a video quicker than by other means. And in my opinion, that makes it worth the 2Mb a minute.

The main idea behind this project is to provide a way so that anyone in the community can easily make their own videos, for free, and then make them available for download in a central location, and organized in a way that is familiar and makes sense. So, it is important that we can use software that isn’t going to cost us.

And as for CamStudio, it was my first choice. However, it has a 14 day trial period, and even though registration is free, the company (eHelp) has been aquired by Macromedia, and they have stopped giving out registration codes; it is unsupported software. Besides, I didn’t like the way CamStudio did it’s annotations.

I have come up with two solutions that will allow people to make their own videos. The first is a Windows solution, using FrontCam and Virtual Dub, and the second is a X11 Solution using Xvidcap (which seems to only work with nVidia drivers).

I also have more details on the project:

The video codec I’ve decided on is DivX, just because of the file size it generates and it’s well supported among most operating systems. 800x600 is going to be the video resolution (this smaller size has more to do with the hit on the system when screen capturing rather than the file size). It will be about 10fps.

File nomenclature is as ollows:
projectname-category-lecturename-supplement-blenderversion-revisionnumber. So it’s going to be something like these:
blendervt-meshmodeling-beveling-v232-r0.avi
blendervt-materials-rampshaders-v234-r2.avi
blendervt-materials-rampshaders-examples-v234-r0.avi
blendervt-rendering-motionblur-supplement-v234-r1.aviI am planning on having more up-to-date versions of a particular video file, that is why I have included the revision number in the file name, and I included the Blender version that was used when the video was recorded. Depending on the topic, it might be necessary to include supplement video files for that topic. For example, you might want to make a video just about using the material IPO and raytraced transparencies to make a frosted glass look. Hopefully this will allow for easy archiving and not having any duplicate files names.

I’m just about done with planning, and I’m going to start recording a few videos today. The first is going to be about ramp-shaders. I’ll probably do one about the interface (just because everyone else has done at least one), and maybe a crashcourse or video tutorial about how to make video tutorials.


(Oyster) #10

both of the flash-recorders can make continous record and be released without adding annotations.
however, the tut itself is the point, and the record tool is not. :wink:
look forward to your video tut :stuck_out_tongue:


(Metsys) #11

I have already recorded some videos. They should be up for download on Monday night.


(dwmcqueen) #12

If you make them in a decent enough format, I’ll compile a DVD and send it out to any who wants it ( for the price of the media).


(Metsys) #13

We are planning on doing something like that for the Blender E-Shop.


(dwmcqueen) #14

Then nevermind :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I’d rather Blender Foundation make a little cash…

I 'll await your release.


(akator) #15

I guess I’m “old school,” but I find video and Flash tutorials to be much less useful that things I can read and reference that are sitting on my desk next to me.


(CircleFusion) #16

You are comparing reference material to an instructional.
That’s similar to comparing an encyclopedia to a classroom.

I like books for reference purposes, especially if a topic is very complex. However, to get initially started with learning a new software/interface/design technique, it is very easy to learn it by seeing it happen while having it explained. This is especially true in a 3D environment, where it is much more difficult to explain how something works with words and illustrate with 2D pictures than to just show it happening with the mouse cursor while explaining it with audio.

New concepts are difficult to convey, especially when it comes to graphical software.
You’ve heard that saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, right?
Well, video is worth 10,000 words.
Video + audio is worth even more.

The next best thing would be to have someone show you the item in person, while further explaining things that you personally are having trouble with.

I think the BlenderVT tutorials are great! I just watched 3 of them. I don’t care if they are 50MB in size. That is what broadband is for. It would be smart to use bittorrent for distributing these tutorials.


(scotths) #17

My personal preferences would be the following:

  1. A video format that can easily be played on OSX without installing any additional software/codecs such as MPEG or MOV. The reason is that I cannot install software on my computer at work and the work computer has a way faster connection than at home and I cannot play avi/divx files out of the box.

  2. Files that are accessible by a regular web connection, no ftp or torrent downloads.

The ones I have been able to view and use are absolutely priceless. Thank you to everyone who makes them.

Scott


(sagat) #18

I fnd video tutorials to be more helpful than ordinary ones. Almost like if you are in a classroom


(Pseudo-G) #19

I think video tuts are the best way to learn new features in Blender. I can’t wait to see what develops from this… :smiley:


(Metsys) #20

I am currently planning to release them as XviD encoded AVIs. It’s really hard to please everyone with a file format that is playable in all operating systems right out of the box.

The only one that I can think of would be MPEG, which has terrible compression compared to MPEG4 codecs.

One possibility is that I could start encoding them in the MP4 format. Quicktime and WMP seems to play them, as well as VLC (although I’ve heard people in Linux have trouble playing them). So, if MP4 is something that people would want over XviD, then I’ll do it.

  1. Files that are accessible by a regular web connection, no ftp or torrent downloads.

My video tutorials have left a trail of server death in their wake. Sites have been shut down, hosting companies have gone bankrupt, and admins have died.

Okay, it wasn’t quite THAT bad, but many servers have choked from the load, so much so that all of them had to drop out except for one, and that’s the videos mirrored on Greybeards site, hosted through Ibiblio.

For something like this, we can’t avoid BitTorrent as our main distribution method. I’m working on video tutorials for 2.40 (which will cover most of the software this time), and I’m not going to release them until I get a BitTorrent tracker back up again.

I’m sure I’ll still be able to get those files hosted on Ibiblio, but BitTorrent will be were it’s at.

The documentation is going to be striped down to be more like a reference. The tutorials, explaining each topic, will be seperate instead of included in the documentation (like it is now). And video tutorials will play a part in that; you’ll have more than one way to learn the same topic. So, the future will have something that will be better for everyone.