NCTV Online Video Content
Newington Community Television is primarily focused on, as the name suggests, television. However, the current state of television is that more and more people are watching video content online. Indeed, we've gotten many requests from viewers who want to watch NCTV on their computers. Some are subscribers to providers other than Cox or AT&T -- we probably won't ever be on satellite. Some don't subscribe to any pay service, and only get over-the-air TV. Some live out of town. Some spend most of their time in places that have computers and internet but no TV, like their office or Wi-Fi hotspot café. Many are just looking for the convenience of being able to watch what they want, when they want. So, without further ado...
Here are the programs we've recently uploaded:
|Specials||Talk to the Mayor||Common Sense Connecticut||The Kiwanis Hour||About the Town||Off-Site Videos|
|Newington Town Council||Newington Board of Education||Town Plan and Zoning Commission||Charter Revision Commission||Newington Town TV||Elections 2011|
Why can't I fast-forward?
For the first day or two after a new video is uploaded, a video may not fast-forward properly, or may experience excessive buffering.
Update: The backlog of old videos that weren't fast-forwarding has been cleared. However, new videos, especially longer ones, may still take up to a day or two to fast-forward smoothly.
Here's the wordy stuff that you might be interested in, but I didn't want to put it at the top, because then the first thing you'd see on the "video" page would be a screen full of text.
Can I watch live? Yes. You need to have installed the Silverlight plug-in. For Linux users, our streams do work with Novell's Moonlight plug-in, although additional libraries may be needed before installing that plug-in if you're using an older build. Anyway, here are the links:
Can I watch this content on my TV?
If you have COX in Newington or AT&T U-Verse in most of Connecticut, you already get NCTV's 2 channels, which are on 24x7.
On COX: NCTV is on channels 14 and 16. If you have an ATSC digital tuner (TVs since 2007 generally have this built in), run a channel scan, and you'll find NCTV on channels 117.170 and 117.173. If you only have analog service, you can call up COX and they'll set you up with one digital box, free of charge.
On AT&T U-Verse: NCTV's 2 channels are in the Channel 99 Community Access menu. You'll need to scroll down to the listing for Newington.
Other options: Depending on what type of TV and computer you have, you may be able to connect your TV directly to your computer (perhaps the one you're using right now) and use the TV as a monitor. For assistance with this, check your computer and/or TV's instruction manual, a local electronics store, or perhaps a tech-savvy friend. This works for both the live streams and on-demand content above.
Boxee and Roku: We recently began distributing our on-demand content to Boxee and Roku through Blip.tv. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to find someone who uses these services, in order to find out how to describe the process. If you use one of these services, we'd love to hear from you.
Why don't you have such-and-such show online? NCTV's programs come from a variety of sources. Some are made by NCTV volunteers under the auspices of the organization as a whole, like our Memorial Day Parade coverage. We'll try to put most of those up here. Others are made by third parties in distant places, who send their programs to public access stations across the state, country, or even the world. We'll put those on the air--they need to be submitted by someone in Newington, but can be produced anywhere. Right now, we're not putting them on our website. Frankly, many of these producers are putting their shows online on their own anyway, which makes the most sense, and avoids an insane amount of duplicated transcoding by all the stations that carry them. A few of these are linked to above in the "Off-Site Videos" tab. Somewhere in the middle are local producers who make their shows with cooperation from NCTV (such as using our studio, equipment, or volunteers), and in some cases NCTV may even be credited as a co-producer. For many of these shows, we'll seek permission from the producer to put them online, as we have with "About the Town", "Common Sense Connecticut", and "The Kiwanis Hour". At this time, we don't have any plans to digitize our back library of shows, sorry. Some programs that feature children, like the Spelling Bee, will also not be online.
What video format do you use?
Our live streams, use Windows Media, via SilverLight. Some of our older videos, like the "On the Road with Rod" program about automated trash pickup, and the 2008 Memorial Day Parade, are in assorted formats. For most of the newer stuff, though, here are the nerdy details:
Video: H.264/AVC codec, 640x480, 29.97fps, 1 Mbps
Audo: AAC, stereo (for those programs that have it), 160 kbps (usually)
And then: The video hosting site we use (Blip.tv) re-transcodes it. The result apparently plays more smoothly with their system.
Transcoding and stuff: Right now, HandBrake. In most cases, we start with the broadcast-quality MPEG2 video that we actually use for broadcasting (even when we have the original DV files, they tend to be so large and unwieldy that it's not worth the marginal quality improvement that might still show after compressing for the web). We rescale the width from NTSC-standard 720 rectangular pixels (for TV screens) to 640 square pixels (for computer screens). Depending on how the video was recorded, we'll usually trim off some of the border which on a TV would be in the horizontal or vertical blanking intervals. HandBrake's "default" de-combing filter seems to preserve resolution better than de-interlacing, especially for on-screen text.
For the podcast: HandBrake's built-in "iPod" preset, with the addition of the "Web-Optimized" and "2-pass" options.
My iPhone, etc. can't play Flash. How can I watch NCTV's online videos?
I'm glad you asked. Certainly one solution would be to watch on your computer at home, but you're clearly too on-the-move for that. You can subscribe to our video podcast by clicking here. If the link doesn't work (or if you don't use iTunes), here's the podcast URL: http://nctv.blip.tv/rss/itunes/ . These videos are sized for an iPod screen (specifically, the QVGA screen of the "iPod Classic" and the viewable area of the first 3 gens of iPhone/iPod Touch in vertical/Portrait mode), and are lower resolution and bitrate than the Flash. But, on the plus side, since they have exactly half as many lines as standard def TV, there aren't any interlacing artifacts. Anyway, try it out. If you like it, let us know. If you don't let us know how we could make it better.
Update: It turns out that, in some cases, the player we use will automatically default over to the QuickTime file on an iPhone (or other iOS device), but sometimes it won't. The distinction is that some of embedded players are actually linked to playlists, such as "all videos, sorted by latest posting" or "episodes of show xyz", which need Flash, and others are linked to individual videos, such as "the June episode of show xyz", which will automatically load the QuickTime version if it detects you're using an iPhone, etc. On the player above, here's how it works: the first video that shows when you load this page is the "most recent posting" playlist, which needs flash. When you click the name of a series, the first video that pops up is the "most recent episode of this show" playlist, which also needs flash. But, when you click on the thumbnail or episode title, that result should work on an iPhone or similar device. Incidentally, when you click on the name of the series, if you're using a small-screen device (iPhone or iPod touch), you'll need to use the "open in new window" function to see the thumbnails. I don't know yet if this is necessary or not for the iPad.
What about HTML5? It seems that HTML5 might be the future of online video. Or, it might not be. Right now, the compatibility across major browsers is still somewhat hit-or-miss, and in many cases requires a plug-in anyway (like Google Chrome Frame), which kind of defeats the point. Most of the major media companies, such as Disney (ABC), NBC Universal, News Corp (Fox), and CBS, are currently using Flash. If the world of online video gets to a tipping point and switches over, we'll probably follow.
Why Blip.tv? The short answer is that it meets our needs. It lets you turn off ads, which is important to stay compliant with the rules for Public Access. YouTube limits videos to 10 minutes, which obviously wouldn't meet our needs. Vimeo limits basic accounts to 500MB per week, which at 1Mbps works out to a little over an hour. Even with a paid account, it's only about 11 hrs a week, which might be problematic when we have lots of programming (like around budget season), or if we ever wanted to put up lots of old programs. Plus, based on a survey of videos they have up, it's seems like it may not support seeking past the downloaded portion of a video. If you think you've found a hosting service that would meet our needs even better, let us know.