Rosetimes intro

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yes, there is a way to capture very clear audio with two people conversing over the Internet. The trick is not to capture the audio that is transferred over the Internet, but rather to set up two camcorders and have each person capture their audio locally. (You can see some sample rosetimes on the web site.)

Then after the interview is done, it's possible for one person to snail mail their videotape to the other person, who then merges the two video files into one video file. There are several computer programs that can merge video files. The one I use most often is QuickTime Pro, which Apple Computer sells for $30. QuickTime Pro is available for Macintosh and Windows computers.

You could also use some entirely free software, such as AVID FreeDV. Or you could use Apple's Final Cut software -- or several other computer programs that are capable of merging two video tracks. Some of these programs have a steep learning curve, so you may want to find someone to help you merge video files. I can assure you, though, that the procedure is not difficult at all for someone who knows these programs.

What do we gain when there are a lot more community voices to hear and learn from? A lot. Wisdom resides within communities. The more we listen to each other, the deeper our understanding becomes. And we come to see our neighbors in a whole new light.

Imagine if more and more people in every community turned off their televisions and listened more to each other? We'd learn so much.

To help people get a more complete understanding of rosetimes, here is a FAQ (frequently asked questions) for rosetimes.

From where is the name rosetimes derived?

Rosetimes gets its name from Charlie Rose, an interviewer on public television in the United States, who has provided 15 years of interesting, thoughtful interviews. It's not often that a new video form is named after a person, but "rosetimes" is the best way of describing this new video form.

The second part of the name comes from the current times we live in, which are conveniently called "the times."

Do I need to be a video expert to create a rosetime?

No, but it does help if you know a little about how to light the human face. The most flattering lighting for the human face comes from above and falls down onto the face.

Does it require skill or expense to upload my rosetimes to the Internet?

It requires some skill (not a lot) and no expense to upload your videos to the Internet. There are several places that offer free, unlimited web hosting for videos including Google Video and the Internet Archive. YouTube is also a possibility if your video is less than 10 minutes long.

Do I need to own a digital camcorder to create a rosetime?

If you own an analog camcorder (i.e. from before the year 2000), you might be able to use it to create good rosetimes. Check to see if it has a microphone input jack. These are a small red hole in the side of the camcorder. If you have a mic input jack, and a clip on (lavalier) microphone, you might be able to create excellent videos with your analog camcorder. There is an extra step of converting your analog video to digital video, but that doesn't take a lot of time or expense.

Here is an example of some analog video I shot back in 1999. I used a donated Sony 8 MM camcorder to shoot this video.

Could I shoot the video for my rosetime using a webcam?

Webcam videos are a possiblity, although they might look and sound a bit grainy.
Here is a rosetime video from the built-in iSight camcorder in a recent Mac laptop. This video had a slight hum which I removed using BIAS Sound Soap, a $99 Macintosh program.

Could I shoot the video for my rosetime using the video feature of my digital still camera?

Yes, that might work well. I've been impressed with the video I've seen from Sony CyberShot cameras. You might need to buy a larger memory card to store more than a few minutes of video.

Are there any limitations as to the duration of my rosetimes?

Most people shoot rosetime videos using MiniDV videotapes, and those typically are an hour in duration. If you wanted to create a rosetime that last longer than an hour, there's no technical limits I can think of. Some of the most interesting conversations go on for far longer than an hour. In this respect, rosetimes exceeds the creative possibilities for television interviews.

Can I create rosetimes that other people can view on their iPod, Sony PSP or other portable video device?

I haven't tested rosetimes on any portable devices yet, but theoretically they should work. Apple Computer is rumored to be announcing a widescreen iPod in early 2007. Rosetimes should play very nicely on those.

I'm hoping some portable video players using Linux will also be an option for viewing rosetimes.

Suppose I wanted to create a rosetime, but I really don't want to buy a digital camcorder or digital camera. Do I have any other options?

I'm glad you asked. It's possible to create some compelling rosetimes using nothing more than two digital audio recorders and two people talking on cell phones with one another. I haven't tried any of these yet, but I'm convinced they would work well. You could merge the crystal clear audio from these devices using a free audio editing program named Audacity. If you wanted to, you could add still photos of both participants using QuickTime Pro. You could also add avatar-like drawings of your likenesses.

If there's anyone here in the DC-area who would like to try some experiments with this, please contact me sometime soon. ( The subject of your email should be: rosetimes experimenting

Are there any places in the DC-area that give classes on how to create rosetimes?

Not yet, but I would expect some of the public access television stations might give classes. I'm also available for small group trainings if you supply the homemade guacamole and reasonable recompense. You can also learn how to create rosetimes using QuickTime Pro by viewing the screencasts (narrated computer activity explanations) from the Making Rosetimes link at the top right of the web site. It's not that difficult to learn.

Where did the idea for rosetimes evolve from?

The idea for rosetimes evolved from some of these experiments I tried in 2004 and 2005.

I currently do not believe that Skype is an effective community media production tool. The Internet has too many delays (latencies) that cause audio traveling over the Internet to get warbled. The moral of this is never to believe anything you read on the Internet, especially if you wrote it yourself.

The idea for rosetimes also percolated forth from what I was reading about the possible uses of BitTorrent software to distribute video over the Internet.

If I wanted to create my own weekly or monthly interview talk show, is there a way people could easily subscribe to it on the Internet?

Yes. A free software program named FireAnt, for Windows and Macs, is one way people could subscribe to your show. If your interviews are interesting and authentic, you might be able to build up a small following.

Is it possible to create panel discussion videos using rosetimes?

Yes, although I haven't tried this yet. A panel discussion with 4 people ought to be quite do-able. If you live in the DC-area, are experienced at shooting video, and would like to participate in a panel discussion, thanks for sending me an email with the subject: rosetimes panel discussion

Incidentally, panel discussion participants need not live in the same city, state or country.

Why do you give away for free all the instructions for how to create rosetimes?

I invented rosetimes as a useful citizen journalism tool, and in the spirit of the Internet, distribute for free all instructions for creating rosetimes.

I'm hoping that rosetimes will bring new voices to the marketplace of ideas. We need to do a lot better about listening to each other. Through listening comes understanding. Through understanding comes wisdom. Through wisdom comes new hope.

Phil Shapiro

My general blog