TV, Video and Webcams
With broadband you can easily watch TV, video clips and
even entire films online. In order to view these you’ll need
a good media player that allows you to listen to music and
watch videos: Windows Media Player, RealPlayer and
QuickTime are free and easy to use. See Chapter Six for
more on these as well as instructions on how to download
each media player.
TV and Video on the Web
There are lots of video clips and films you can view on
the web and some broadcasters will allow you to watch
full television programmes online. However, you’re more
likely to find shorter video clips than full programmes until
more TV companies broadcast more of their programmes
on the Internet. TV Channels
Visit ww.itv.com or webtvlist.com for a directory of live
and recorded TV channels from across the world. Here
you’ll find everything from Reuters news (tv.reuters.com)
to the latest space updates from NASA TV (www.nasa.
gov/multimedia). Click on the channel name to watch it
on your media player.
For an easy way to watch TV channels and video clips
online, download Free Internet TV from holersoft.net. It
integrates the various TV websites into one easy-to-use
video player. You can try it for free but you will have to
pay a small charge if you want the full version.
An excellent place to start getting news, sport and
entertainment TV online is BBC Broadband.
First visit bbc.co.uk/broadband. Here you’ll find a list of
all the latest broadband video clips available.
Choose a clip. You’ll be taken to the relevant part of the
BBC’s website. Click on the link to start watching the
video of your choice.
When you click on a video link on a website you can
watch it in one of two ways: the website downloads the clip to your media player which starts the video for you;
or the video plays on the website itself (this is known as
‘streaming’). The BBC uses the latter and shows videos
online in the BBC Player. They have a number of players
including music, sports and news (Fig. 1).
Blinkx TV is a website that aggregates video from major
TV companies such as Reuters, Fox and CNN. It’s a great
place to find high quality video clips online.
Log on to blinkx.tv. From the home page, you can search
on any subject by entering one or more keywords in the
search box. Action 2
Blinkx will then list all the videos you can watch on that
topic from a variety of sources (Fig. 2).
Click on the video you want to watch and it will either
play in the video box on the right of the window, or you
will be taken directly to the website with the video clip,
which will start automatically.
You can also set up your own video channels with Blinkx.
Click on the Personal TV Channels link at the top of
the page and search for a topic, such as ‘motorsports’.
Press the Submit button to save this as a personal
channel. You can then access this channel again next time
you visit the website, so it’s easier to find videos on your
favourite topics. EXPERT TIP
After your initial search, you can refi ne your results further
using the bar under the search box. Move the bar towards
Date and your search results will show the latest video
clips by date. Move the bar towards Relevancy and your
search results will more closely target your topic no matter
what date they were made.
Other Online TV Channels
You’ll find lots of other websites which broadcast their own
TV ‘channels’ online. Many are an amalgamation of shorter
video clips. However, TV broadcasters are now looking to
offer full programmes online. UK broadcaster Channel
4, for example, airs some shows online before they reach
your TV screens. Look out for the BBC’s Integrated Media
Player, which allows you to watch BBC programmes you
may have missed from the past seven days.
BBC Integrated Media Player
bbc.co.uk/imp Blueyonder TV
Open Media Network
Films on the Web
There’s a small but growing number of websites from
where you can legally buy and download full films. Try one
of these websites or you’ll also find plenty of websites with
film trailers and short video clips in Chapter Twelve.
Movielink (US only)
Sky By Broadband
Searching for Video Clips
You can also search for any type of video clip on the
Internet. You may already be familiar with standard search
engines such as Google (google.co.uk) or Yahoo! (yahoo. co.uk). These allow you to find websites by entering
keywords on a specific topic. With broadband you can
now also use free video search engines that work in exactly
the same way. Some video search engines such as Google
Video have their own collection of videos you can search.
Others such as Singingfish trawl the Internet for videos
already online and then link you to the website where
you can find them.
Try searching for video using Singingfish. Log on to
At the top of the page enter keywords for a topic that
interests you. You can also select the type of file you are
looking for such as news or audio and other criteria such
as the video length. Then click on the Fish it button.
You’ll see a list of all the videos Singingfish could find
including the title of the video, further details and length.
Click on the title to watch the video (Fig. 3). Section 5:
Other Video Search Engines
You can also try these video search engines for more clips
Online Video Recorders
If you’re using a video search engine (see Section 4 of this
chapter) and want to record a video you must save the
selected video to your computer when you download it:
then you can watch it whenever you want.
However, many websites ‘stream’ video, such as news,
live events or music concerts. You can’t save these or radio
shows in the same way. To save these shows you need an
online video and radio recorder.
For a free online video recorder use Bulent’s Screen
Recorder. Go to thesilver.net and click on Download.
Follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
To do a simple recording, open up
the website that has the video you
want to record. Go to Start and
All Programs to find and start the
Screen Recorder (see Fig. 4).
Press Select Source and then
choose A Region. This gives you
a box that floats above the webpage
from which you wish to record.
You can move the box around your
screen or resize it using the arrows
in the bottom right corner of the
box. Fit the box around the section
of the webpage that will display
the video you wish to record, then
press the Enter key to confirm.
Select the Screen Recorder window at the bottom of your
desktop screen so it reappears. You’ll see a row of four
buttons at the top. Click on the image of a camera to start
recording. Click the Stop button to end recording.
Click on Save to save the video clip to a folder on your
computer. You can then open it whenever you want and
watch it again.
Use the Configuration button to change the settings.
Here you can tick whether or not you want to record sound
with your video clip, display the date or include the mouse
cursor in the recording.
You can use the Screen Recorder for many things. If you
use a webcam with instant messaging (see Chapter Four)
you can record your video conversations or you can use
it to record yourself using software on your computer, for
demonstrations or presentations.
You’ll need to be sure you’re not breaking copyright laws by
recording website video clips. In some countries recording
for your own personal use may be allowed as long as you
don’t distribute the recording.
Choosing a Webcam
A webcam is a mini video camera you connect to your
computer that records pictures and transmits them over
the Internet. Even if you have one already you’re probably
not using it to its full potential.
You’re not going to get television quality pictures with
a webcam as they are low resolution compared to your
TV. But using a good webcam together with broadband
will produce higher quality pictures and smoother video
What to Look For
Most webcams connect directly to the USB socket on
your computer. If you have an old computer without a
USB socket you’ll need a camera that plugs into one of
your printer sockets.
Higher resolution produces a better quality picture. You’ll
need a webcam with a resolution of at least 320 by 240
pixels and an auto focus lens that adjusts to different lighting.
In a dark room webcams don’t work so well, so you may also
need to buy a desk lamp to light up your face.
Frames Per Second
This is how many shots the webcam takes each second.
You will need at least 30 frames per second to obtain
You’ll need one of these to make phone calls online or
when using instant messaging, so choose a webcam with
a built-in microphone. If your computer is in a noisy
room, a separate microphone will be better or you may
find yourself shouting at your webcam.
Choose a webcam that you can attach easily to the top
of your screen or to a stand and that can be tilted both
horizontally and vertically.
Logitech’s QuickCam range (logitech.com) is a good
option. The more expensive models include smart
features such as camera zoom and face tracking which
automatically moves the camera when you move.
Creative (creative.com) or Trust (trust.com) are also
worth trying. On the other hand you could choose a
digital camera with a built-in webcam such as the Fujifi lm
Finepix (fujifi lm.com).
Connecting a Webcam
Connecting your webcam is simple. Your computer will
automatically detect the new webcam when you plug it into
the USB socket. It will then install the correct software and
prompt you through the set up process. Many webcams
also come with automatic installation for popular instant
messaging programs like MSN Messenger and Yahoo!
Next time you want to send an e-mail to somebody, make
it more interesting. Send them a video e-mail instead using
The software you receive with your webcam will differ
from model to model. The software will allow you to
record clips just like a video camera and save the video clip
file to your computer.
You’ll need to keep your recording short �" a few minutes
is probably the most you’ll be able to record. This ensures
the file size isn’t too big to send by e-mail. You can reduce
the file size and give yourself more time to speak by altering
your webcam software’s settings. You can select a lower
camera lens resolution, or lower frames per second (go for
15 instead of 30). The video won’t be as smooth but it will
still be good enough. You can reduce the sound quality,
from 16 bit CD quality stereo to simple 8 bit mono. It’s
still good enough for chatting to your mates.
Once you’ve recorded your video clip, all you have to do
is to send it as a normal e-mail attachment to your friends.
When they receive your e-mail and open the attachment,
they will be able to see your video message (provided they
have an appropriate media player, of course).
Instead of using your webcam software to record your
video message, you can use the webcam service from
Tiscali. Visit webcam.tiscali.co.uk. You don’t need to
download software or be a Tiscali customer to use this
service. Click on Register Here to get started.
Once you’ve registered return to the above website and
login using your account details. Choose Video E-mail.
You’ll see a page with the live image of your webcam (Fig.
5). Complete the boxes to tell Tiscali your friends’ e-mail
addresses, and if you wish, you can also type in a message.
Record a video greeting by pressing Rec to start the
recording and Stop to finish. Then press Send and your
friends will receive an e-mail invitation to view your video
Long Video E-mails
If you want to send a longer video that is too large to send
by e-mail you can upload the video to a free video e-mail
website and then send your friends the link where they
can watch it. Alternatively, try one of the ideas for sending
large e-mails in Chapter Nine.
Record a video as in Section 9 of this chapter. It might be
a birthday greeting or a message to your family.
Log on to clipshack.com and select Sign up for a Free
Login with your new account details and use the options
on the left to select Upload. Browse your computer for
the video clip you’ve just recorded with your webcam and
ClipShack will upload it to the Internet, into a personal
folder. This may take some time.
Add a description of the video and decide who can see
it. Choose All my Friends. You’ll then be taken to the
My Clips area where all the videos you’ve uploaded are
displayed (Fig. 6).
Click on the video you want to send, then choose the E-mail
option. Enter the e-mail addresses of your friends or family
and ClipShack will send them all an e-mail with a website link
they can visit, where they can view your video message.
Other Video E-mail Websites:
First there was blogging. This is short for ‘web logging’
and involves creating a personal website (or ‘blog’) on a
favourite subject. People use blogs to record their daily
lives, for holiday trips or to tell the world about their
favourite hobby. It’s a great way to put your life online and
to communicate it with friends.
Now there’s video blogging or ‘vlogging’. It’s the same
as blogging but using video clips. Try setting up a vlog
First of all decide what your theme is going to be �" you
could create a family website or one about your favourite
sport. Write some text about it and record one or more
video clips using your webcam. For ideas check out
vlogs that other people have created at vlogmap.org or
For a more professional look you can edit the video
clip you’ve recorded as well as add music or effects
using video editing software. Windows Movie Maker
(download it at microsoft.com/moviemaker) is an easyto-
learn free package.
Register with a free blogging website. This will create the
webpage that your friends can visit to see your videos. Try
the popular blogger.com and register for a free account.
Blogger.com lets you create your own personal webpage
but it won’t store your video clips for you. You’ll need to
load your videos to a free video storage website (there’s a
list of these in Section 10 of this chapter) and create a link
from your Blogger personal webpage to your video clips.
Creating a vlog does require a little technical know-how. If
you get stuck you’ll find help at videoblogging.info, groups.
yahoo.com/group/videoblogging, or watch the handy video
guide to getting started at freevlog.org.
World Wide Webcams
Webcams are popular all over the world and thousands of
people have put their own webcam footage on the Internet
for you to see. Some are of people’s homes, others are of
famous landmarks. If you like the idea of seeing what’s
happening elsewhere in the world right now, visit one of
these webcam directories for a list of thousands of webcams
you can watch.