I've looked into options for slow motion in the past, but haven't come across one that truly fits our needs as of yet. So I've come to the conclusion that our best option will ultimately be to rebuild our collection of short, demo clips of each step, adding a take to each clip that is played at half speed. In the meantime, however, there is one option you have that gives you the flexibility to pause, advance frame by frame, and scrub the playhead at whatever speed you like: Quicktime video.
Quicktime is Apple's proprietary format, however you do not need to own an Apple device to use it. There is a version of the Quicktime Player for both Mac and Windows PCs. If you don't already have it on your computer, you can download the Quicktime Player at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/.
Once you have Quicktime installed, go to www.ballroomdancers.com and log in to your user account. From there, click on the Custom Settings tab. Scroll about halfway down the page and look for an option entitled "Video Settings". Switch the setting to Quicktime, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Settings button. Now when you go back to the video viewing pages, you will notice that you are using a slightly different video player. This is the Quicktime Player, and it has more flexibility in terms of pausing, frame advancing and scrubbing the video.
To others who might be reading this: Be aware that the frame advance feature is exclusive to Mac and Windows PCs only. Unfortunately Quicktime for iOS on mobile devices does not provide the same functionality.
Regards, Jonathan Atkinson www.ballroomdancers.com
My husband and I were going crazy trying to figure out how to slow down your videos. We are new to dancing, and it's very difficult to catch the steps, even after repeated views.
There is a video viewer called VLC. With this viewer, you have two options to slow down steps: slow and slower (which they call turtle).
We use this when we video steps at our dance lessons and bring them home. It's a HUGE help. Of course, the only way to legally do this with ballroomdancers.com is for you to provide that option on your website, but this could save you a great deal of time if you chose to do so.
Unfortunately, VLC is a standalone player, which requires the video to be downloaded to the user's computer, rather than streamed directly from our server. The only types of player we can support are those that are widely available and can plug directly into a user's browser. By widely available, I mean ones that generally come installed on computers anyway, because we don't want to require people to download some special piece of software just to use our website. So in other words, that basically leaves us with Flash, Quicktime, Windows Media and as of late, HTML 5-based players.
Flash is what we had used for years, and it works quite well because we can purchase one of several Flash-based players that come with extra features like subtitling, support for multiple videos, playlists, commercials, etc. Most importantly, they allow us to link of the fly via XML, which makes it easy to keep the locations of our videos a secret and prevent (most) people from downloading them. However, I have not yet seen a Flash-based player that allows speed control, and I think that's due in part to the way that Flash itself streams video.
Beyond that, Flash is starting to fall out of favor, especially since it was shunned by Steve Jobs a few years back. It won't run at all on iOS, so we have since gone back to supporting Quicktime as an option for iOS, Mac, and any computer that won't play Flash for whatever reason. We would have switched to HTML 5 by now, but we're still waiting for a solution that helps us protect our videos.
The biggest problem of all with slow motion is that it's impossible to find a solution that will work on all platforms -- If it were available in Flash, that would only cover half of our audience, because we still wouldn't be able to do it through HTML 5 (which we use for mobile) or Quicktime. It seems to me that the best solution is one that doesn't require any special technology at all, and that's how we came up with the idea that a slowed-down version should be edited right into the video itself.
We also have to consider whether slow motion will still be in demand once we've added the full instruction videos across the syllabus. Once we get to the point where you can not only see it danced more slowly, but also hear it described by an instructor, one step at a time, including technical tips, multiple camera angles, close-ups, etc, I'm not sure anybody will still be asking for slow motion demos. But it is possible, because I suspect some people will still want the option to download a quick little demo without all the elaborate instruction. So we'll have to see how things go after this round of editing.
One other quick note about our videos: I realize they're extremely popular, and that for a considerable percentage of our audience, they are the only thing of real value (It's no accident that the videos are the only part of the website that we charge a premium for). But our aim is to change all that in the near future. Our vision of the product involves a much bigger picture: It's a multi-faceted approach where each piece plays an important role, and the video is just one piece of the puzzle. We want to be way more than just a source of instructional videos -- that's not what makes us unique. This is a work in progress, so it may not be apparent quite yet, but our goal is to provide a whole package, one where you wouldn't want to pick out the videos and remove them from the rest of the content. A pay-per-download model would undermine that vision, and that is why our business model is set up the way it is now.
I hope that makes sense. If not, feel free to comment or ask more questions.
Jonathan, I think slow motion videos would be of huge value! Even if you take the existing videos and play them back at half speed, or perform them at slower speed. I know it is a huge effort dance the entire curriculum at slow speed, but for beginner dancers like me, it is extremely helpful to see the detail of steps as they need to be performed. Heel-Toe step, or position of partners. If you want to site to be really useful as a learning tool, this is what is absolutely missing! Thanks.
Take a look at one of our teaching videos. Once you see where we're headed, you may decide that slow motion isn't necessary. When the man and lady each take the time to explain every step in detail, one by one, that's about the slowest motion you could ask for. :)
Jonathan It is possible to download the videos so they can be played with a player such as VLC or Quicktime with speed control. Real Player Downloader can be configured to link to the browser and identify videos played in the browser. These can subsequently be downloaded and stored locally. I believe this application is available for both Mac and Windows systems. Regards, Ted