I have been long aware of a feature in Elluminate Live that allows the facilitator to play video clips during on-line synchronous events. While the feature intrigued me, I hadn’t found the time to experiment with the feature functionality until today. While I do not have definitive results from my testing, I will share some of my observations from today’s experience.
During today’s event, I wanted to push out a video clip of debriefing interviews with iNGO staff who attended a recent project manager training in Uganda. The video clip was large (27MB) and was published in an .mp4 format (one of several file formats supported by Elluminate, including *.swf, *.mpg, *.mpe, *.mpeg, *.qt, *.mov, *.m4v, *.mp4.)
I signed into the Elluminate event about a half hour early and uploaded the video file into the Elluminate room. As I began to upload the file, I received the multimedia warning message displayed in the image below. While I was quick to close the window, I later realized the importance of the message (more to come on this later.)
The 27MB video took about 5 minutes for me to upload to the room (I would recommend that you try to compress your video clips into a smaller file size if possible.) What I didn’t realize when I first started the process, however, was that each participant entering the room, would need to buffer that content on their machine. The buffering process started automatically when each participant entered the room and worked without any problems. However, I recommend that you NOT plan to share a video as the first activity you conduct when facilitating an event, as the video files need a few minutes to buffer (in this case about 3 minutes.) As a moderator, I could monitor the progress status of the video buffering process on participants’ machines via an LED indicator that switched from red to green when everyone’s video clips were loaded.
So, how did the experiment turn out? Regrettably, the results were mixed. The video displayed successfully on three computers, and failed to launch on three others. Why? I can’t be absolutely certain, but I am almost positive that the inconsistent performance is related to the warning message I received when initially loading my content – “Participants must have appropriate media players installed to view these files.”
Each of the workstations that successfully launched the video had QuickTime Version 7.4.5 or higher. Conversely, at least one of the computers that failed to launch the video had an older version of QuickTime Player (version 6.5.)
On the workstations that launched the video successfully, the functionality was strong (admittedly they had good internet connections.) The quality of video was excellent, sound was clear as a bell, and there were no latency effects. The successful examples made me excited about the potential for using video as a facilitation element of Elluminate events. The caveat, however, is that moderators need to ensure that meeting participants have updated versions of QuickTime Player before they begin the session.
Which leads to the next logical question, “how do I ensure that participants have updated media players?” Do not assume that passing the Three Step Set Up process found at www.elluminate.com/support/ will ensure that Elluminate event participants have the required media players to access video. That Set Up process does NOT check the version of QuickTime Player. Instead, I recommend that moderators share the LINGOs Plug-in test link instead – which will provide a comprehensive snapshot of the workstations Quick Time player plug in. For more information about playing video files in Elluminate Live, see Elluminate’s Multimedia Playback documentation at: http://www.elluminate.com/support/docs/Multimedia-Configuration.pdf