A Closer Look

Amateur Hour On Video

By Chris Barylick
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 25, 2006

When television came on the scene midway through the last century, it appeared to be simply a video version of radio, an established and popular medium that delivered news and entertainment.

This time around, in the fast-moving Internet age, the audio broadcast that's getting a video facelift -- the podcast -- hasn't even had time to build a name for itself in mainstream audiences.

But with Internet video sites such as YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Video growing in popularity and portable video-playing devices such as Sony's PlayStation Portable and Apple's video iPod easy to find on the shelves of electronic stores, it's no wonder that video-on-demand broadcasts, or vodcasts, are sprouting up all over the Web.

Now, vodcasters are taking their productions to the next level. Instead of uploading a video clip to the Internet and hoping Web surfers will find it, vodcasters are making their productions available on a subscription basis, allowing subscribers to automatically grab updated episodes.

Check out, among others, Apple's podcast offerings on iTunes ( http://www.itunes.com/ ) or those uploaded to Yahoo's podcast site ( http://podcasts.yahoo.com/ ), and you'll find a growing number of vodcasts, as well.

And it's not just video of preteens singing along to their favorite songs. Yahoo's site featured a video podcast of a chapel service and a 20-minute yoga routine, and iTunes showcased vodcasts of the NBA playoffs and ABC "World News Now." Both featured their fair share of the fun and silly, as well.

For subscriptions to the amateur clips, look no further than the sites that video enthusiasts are already using to upload and search -- YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com/ ), iFilm ( http://www.ifilm.com/ ) and Google Video ( http://video.google.com/ ) among them.

Some vodcasters, such as Patrick Lawson, 25, and Chris Born, 26, showcase their regularly updated show, called PSP Hacking 101, on their site ( http://www.psphacking101.com/ ). Lawson and Born, known respectively by the online pseudonyms "Pox" and "Ragable," regularly read video game news sites and develop a script of their own for a vodcast. Then, for a few hours every weekend, they shoot video footage about how to modify and upgrade Sony's PlayStation Portable video game console.

From there, it's uploaded to the various podcast directories and shared with subscribers.

Marc Freedman, a digital media analyst for the Diffusion Group, an analytical firm in Texas, said that the idea of amateur video on the Web isn't really new but that there's a push in the market to make it both easier to upload and host video, and to promote new content to lure new viewers.

"The phenomenon is the uploading and distribution mechanism," he said.

For tips on how to create your own vodcast, visithttp://www.washingtonpost.com/technology.

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