Lights, Camera, Action!!
02/18/12 -12:06 Filed in: Website | Food Photography
In my month away from the grill, I did have spare time were I could spend some time working on this site. This month marks the 6th anniversary of the launch of this site. When the site had it's 3rd anniversary, I posted a movie chronicling the my first three years of grilling and smoking as pictured on this site. With another 3 years passing I'd been thinking of possibly making another movie showing the last 3 years worth of output. Until very recently several problems seemed like they would prevent me from adding more movies to the site. This blog entry will cover the new movies and the process behind their creation.
There were several problems large and small that I thought would prevent new movies from appearing on the site. The first problem involved my web site software. While there is a built in Movie page type, it had several limitations. The first was it didn't allow the movies to be warehoused on the site server. Warehousing is where a movie or image is hosted on the web server and not on my local hard drive with the web site's other files. When I’d need to upload the entire site, i’d have to upload the movie again too because it was housed on my hard drive. When the movie file is warehoused, it is uploaded to the server independently of the other site files. It is referenced from the website files but the movie file doesn't have to be included with the local web site file. This keeps the file size down and the movie file is uploaded only once. Until the last 2 months I couldn't find an add-on to RapidWeaver that allowed me to post warehoused movies and had the finished appearance I wanted. RapidWeaver is an extensible program and I recently found someone had written an add-on that could display multiple movie files on the same web page, the appearance was highly customizable and it had the bonus of providing playback in HTML 5 or Adobe's Flash. The standard behavior for this movie page is to attempt HTML 5 playback of the movie and if it encounters a browser, such as the current version of Firefox, which doesn't yet support HTML 5 based playback it will provided playback using a built-in Flash based player. So I could now post multiple movies without bogging down my RapidWeaver site file (by warehousing the movies), the page could have more than just rudimentary formatting and the movies could be viewed in any modern browser. The best part was all of the complexities of detecting the browser and providing the proper playback tools was built-into the add-on. My work consisted only of telling the add-on where the files were warehoused by giving it the url of the files, and writing the text descriptions for the page. No getting my hands dirty playing with HTML.
Once I'd cleared those hurdles, I had to create the movie. The movie was created using a slideshow made in Apple's Aperture software, which is saved as a QuickTime movie. The movie for the first 3 years ran about 6 minutes. As I set Aperture to filter out food photo entries created before 02-01-09 and began to pick images for the new movie, I could tell this movie was surely going to run longer. Once I'd gathered all of the potential images I saw that I was much more prolific in the last 3 years. There was no way I could condense this down into one movie. Since I now knew I could easily post multiple movie files, I decided to divide the images into categories using the same general organization as the site. After some shuffling around I finalized the number of movies at 6. I saved the movies out in two sizes. One appropriate for slower broadband connections or small screen sizes found in smartphones. The other was a larger sized movie which requires a fast broadband connection and is ideal for a tablet with a screen size similar to the iPad's or lager.
The movies are all posted and seem to work well in the tests I have run on several networks, several browsers, several computers and on several mobile devices (iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPad1). The default landing page is for the smaller sized movies (480 x 300 px.). This page provides links to the larger sized movies (864 x 540 px) should you have the necessary hardware and high speed internet connection. I would recommend you DON’T view the larger movies on your smartphone or tablet computer since most carriers are placing data caps on their so called "unlimited" data plans. You could use up a serious chunk of your monthly data allowance viewing these movies large sized. So don’t GO LARGE until you can view the movies using a WiFi connection or on a home computer.
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