Meerkat and Periscope

If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably started seeing more and more tweets like these:

I started noticing Meerkat in my feed about a week ago and I have since been testing it. As I was preparing to (finally) write this blog about it, Periscope became available and now seems to be — on Twitter at least — the “must have” app.

I won’t go into the specifics of each, other than to say that they enable iPhone users to stream live video to their followers, where there’s a decent connection. Most of those followers come through Twitter and the streaming is synced up with that network. Periscope is produced by the folks at Twitter, by the way. You can learn more about Meerkat here. You can learn more about Periscope here.

What I will mention are my own observations and comparisons of each.

THE GOOD

Each app is easy to use. I was up and running and broadcasting from each platform in minutes.

Each is also really fun, once you get past those initial “this is my desk” streams. I live streamed from my drawing board as a test of each service and had some good interactions with folks.

Each app has lots of buzz right now, too. I imagine that “ease of use” and “fun” are big reasons why, but they also offer a logical “next step” to a generation accustomed to social sharing.

I like that Meerkat lets you schedule a stream and that Periscope gives you some basic stats, as well as a roster of viewers, when you complete a live session. I think both apps have a clean, simple look, although I would give Periscope the advantage when it comes to aesthetics.

THE BAD

Vertical video? I have to admit, when I started using Meerkat, I was streaming my video with my iPhone in the horizontal position, as pictured below. That’s how I’m accustomed to shooting and watching video on my devices. And the Meerkat app looked like it was allowing me to shoot it that way, as the screen naturally auto-rotates. It wasn’t until I saved that stream to my phone that I realized it was cropping my horizontal stream into a vertical video.

Meerkat at sunset

Call me a video snob if you wish, but if this remains a “vertical-only” medium, I might just tap out. I understand that vertical video is not going away. But neither is horizontal video. Let us have the option to shoot/stream in either orientation, please.

By the time I tried Periscope, I was expecting vertical video. To its credit, at least, the app does not auto-rotate when you turn your phone. So I didn’t have the impression that it was recording in widescreen.

FLEETING CONTENT

As I tested each app, I started to get the impression that maybe, just maybe, I’m not their target audience. Not only do I want my video widescreen, but I want content that can be permanent. In reading about Meerkat and Periscope, I’ve begun to see multiple parallels to Snapchat, which I briefly attempted to use but quickly disregarded. The biggest thing I know about Snapchat is that its moments are fleeting.

And in these early versions of Meerkat and Periscope, so are their broadcasts. You can save the streams to your phone, which you would then have to upload to YouTube or some other host to archive it and replay it. Not a horrible scenario, unless your video is vertical, which is not copacetic with devices other than smart phones. I also noticed that Meerkat streams did not save completely to my iPhone — I suspect my storage space might have been the culprit. Periscope, however, did seem to save the entire broadcasts as videos to my camera roll.

You can view video streams on multiple devices or online in your browser. You can participate in them by using each app on your iPhone or iPad. Neither app is yet available on Android devices.

But neither of those services offers embed code to share video streams elsewhere on the web. Perhaps because streams are too ephemeral?

A possible solution? Allow Periscope broadcasts to display inside of a tweet (as opposed to clicking a link now). Then, you could embed that tweet in a blog post or news story and display the live stream.

WHY PERMANENT?

Part of the reason I was testing out these apps is because I work with journalists whose iPhones have becomes essential tools of the trade. We tweet photos, record video, file updates and more from the scenes of various events. The ability to easily live stream — and interact with people while doing so — from those places is very appealing. But we also need to be able to easily re-use and archive those streams to make our coverage complete. Saving those streams to our phones gives us an option, at least for now.

MY WISH LIST

I think these apps are worth watching, and I look forward to seeing what future releases look like. I hope that those releases include:

  • An option to broadcast and save horizontal video;
  • The ability to embed live streams;
  • Android versions of the apps;
  • Better filtering and searching of streams;

What do you think about the apps? Leave your comments below, or find me on Twitter (@carnolddesigns)

 

RELATED LINKS

 

 

 

 

 

We Have Concerns: Jurassic edition

Inspiration comes in many forms and from many sources. The cartoon below resulted from a recent “We Have Concerns” podcast titled “We’re Doomed.” If you’re not already listening to “We Have Concerns,” I highly recommend it. Hosts Jeff Cannata and Anthony Carboni take a humorous and entertaining look at various stories submitted by listeners. New episodes post Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. Listen to the episode that inspired this comic by clicking here.

 

WeHaveConcernsJurassicEdition

Some highlights from 2014

I have to admit, I sometimes lose track of time. And by “sometimes” I mean “most of the time.” While looking back at the past year and compiling my “best of” lists for TCPalm.com, I found myself saying to myself “That was this year?” a lot.

It also made the experience fun, though. And it was  nice to be reminded that, hey, it was a pretty good year!

In no particular order, here are a few items that stood out.

RISE OF THE IPHONE VIDEO

A growing trend at TCPalm this year — probably with a lot of journalists across the country, in fact — is mobile, smartphone video. For a lot of us, that translates to iPhone video. We’ve used Videolicious extensively this year and it’s proven itself to be a pretty handy tool. For the most part, it allows journalists to quickly produce and distribute good videos from the field. I won’t go into all of the ins and outs of the app, but if you’re interested in video you should look it up.

Probably the biggest test I put it through this year was in July, when I accompanied our local Boy Scout Troop 772 on a tour of Washington, D.C. Over the course of three days I produced 13 videos. And that was in three jam-packed days of tours of Congress, walking the National Mall and more.

You can watch those videos in the playlist below, or click here if it doesn’t appear.

 

TIME-LAPSE IS FUN!

Something I tried to do more of this year was time-lapse photography. I’ve always been intrigued by it. When used properly it can have some really beautiful results. As the year came to a close, I revisited some of my footage and, along with the work of my fellow photojournalists Sam Wolfe and Xavier Mascarenas, re-cut this video of the Treasure Coast.

 

DIAGON ALLEY OPENS

dragon

I still get goosebumps when I think about seeing that dragon breathe fire for the first time, or riding the Hogwarts Express or just walking wide-eyed around the street and appreciating all of the fine detail and work that brought this experience to life. I also took advantage of that opportunity to try using a new storytelling tool I had recently become aware of, Exposure. Click here to see my Diagon Alley photo narrative.

 

REACHING A WIDER AUDIENCE

You never know what might resonate with people on social media. Okay, maybe that’s only half true. I think we have a pretty good sense of what could be popular, but getting eyes on your content is the name of the game. I saw a couple of spikes on Twitter this year that were not unexpected. The first was during a NASASocial event I attended in September, which is highlighted in yellow below.

twitterSpike03

The tallest bar in that yellow block equals 32,257 organic impressions. It’s mostly due to this tweet, which came at the end of that event — I was back in Fort Pierce after the original launch was rescheduled:

 

 

Fast forward to November in that same bar graph, and you see an even taller bar. That one equals 47,763 organic impressions and is the result of Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) retweeting an animated gif I made one morning.

Animated Gif of Chris Hardwick and Al Roker

 

INKTOBER

Finally, there was Inktober, a social media movement motivating artists worldwide to create ink artwork throughout the month of October. It gave me a much-needed push to get drawing again, which I’ve continued.

 

There are actually quite a few more I could list here, but it’s getting late and the New Year is approaching.

May 2015 treat you all kindly.

We’ll always have Inktober

 

A few of my Inktober drawings scattered on the old drawing board.

A few of my Inktober drawings scattered on the old drawing board.

I’m writing this post later than I’d anticipated, but nonetheless still wanted to post. If you follow me on Twitter (@carnolddesigns) and Instagram (@ChristopherArnoldDesigns), then you may have seen me post more drawings than I usually do.

I blame — no, I THANK — Inktober for that.

I discovered Inktober at the start of October. Its premise was a simple one: 31 drawings in 31 days. I used to draw a lot when I was growing up. I mean, a LOT. My earliest honest-to-goodness career goal was to be a comic book artist. I loved doodling, sketching, penciling and inking. As I got older, however — and as I imagine a lot of others experience — the career plan went a different direction, life continues to happen and I drew less and less frequently.

I still love it, and so I leapt at the Inktober opportunity (an Inktobertunity?) to dust off the pens, sharpen some pencils and DRAW.

I didn’t quite make it to 31 drawings, but I did a bunch. Here are some of them. Who knows? You may just start seeing more artwork on this blog…

Thanks, Inktober.

Lagoon LifeMissyDeadpool and DarylInspired by Norah