Video Documentation as It’s Never Been Done Before: An Invitation

Rob Kirk here. I’m Open Source Ecology’s documentation manager, and I’d like to fill you in regarding our innovative, collaborative approach to creating documentation. More than that, I’d like to invite you to consider becoming involved.

Collaboration is the core of Open Source Ecology. Much of the design work for the Global Village Construction Set is done through remote collaboration with talented people around the world. Design Sprints on platforms like Google Hangouts allow for easy exchange of ideas and design files.

But on the all-important documentation side of the equation, remote collaboration is not as simple or efficient. High definition video files are very large and uploading a file can literally take hours, or worse, time out entirely. Many skilled video pros have volunteered to help on OSE documentation projects, but the roadblock of bandwidth has made this collaboration very difficult.

This is all about the change. Open Source Ecology has launched a groundbreaking video collaboration project with latakoo, designed to help document the work of the organization and then to share the final productions with OSE users around the globe. Developed by a group of journalists and technologists, the latakoo platform is designed to enable users to send high resolution video files over the internet as much as 50x faster, with no loss of quality. Their application simultaneously encrypts, compresses, and uploads video to the cloud from almost any device and over any Internet connection.

Latakoo (

Through latakoo, remote video collaborators will now be able to download video in whatever format they need from the OSE archives as well as material shot during the builds, in full resolution, and then work with the footage. The videos created will benefit others trying the replicate the building of the Open Source Ecology machines, as well as help OSE better understand and improve upon their designs.

OSE’s founder, Marcin Jakubowski, has recognized the need for clear documentation since the inception of the project. He points out, “Without documentation you just can’t build on other people’s work.” While the open source hardware movement removes the proprietary barriers that prevent people from replicating and building upon others’ work, it is only first-rate documentation, freely accessible, that can unlock that potential. Video is a key method for offering information and instruction about the machines.

Just as it is using and continuously refining a collaborative design model to create the machines of the Global Village Construction Set, OSE also aims to break new ground by developing a collaborative model to facilitate the production of first-rate video documentation. Our next step is to recruit video production teams, spread out around the globe, to help produce, write, shoot, edit, and then share high-resolution material, in real time, anywhere in the world.

This collaborative approach to video production will result in efficiently produced video documentation for the machines of the Global Village Construction Set. But it will also forge cutting edge collaborative practices that can revolutionize video production for any project. If you work in any area related to video production and find yourself excited by the possibilities this work will enable, we invite you to be involved.

These are some of the categories of people that will be needed for the project. We welcome collaborators at all skill levels.

Producer/Directors – These are people that organize and lead a shoot. Sometimes they may also do the filming, but usually they are directing the film crew and conducting the interviews. They need to have a clear understanding of the story and goals of the shoot. These folks are very valuable if there’s a build happening elsewhere and we need to get it documented without flying our people to the location.

Cameramen/Women – This, of course, is a very important category. When we have an important event happening it’s great to be able to document with more than cell phones. Usually camera people will have their own cameras, and the quality will be much better than anything we can capture on a phone. A good documentary cameraperson usually can also act as a producer/director, be able to understand the story in front of them, get the right shots, and ask questions.

Editors – This is the other key category for us. The goal is to be able to post our “raw” footage on the latakoo platform and have these remote editors build videos from scripts that we write. They can work on their “home” systems, and the entire process can take place remotely. Latakoo lets them download the footage directly in whatever format they need for their editing system.

Graphic Artists – These people are important for creating explanatory graphics and titles for the productions. They usually are skilled in programs like Photoshop and After Effects or their open source equivalents.

Writers – This is another good category to fill. We could create outlines for scripts and then pass them along to writers who could turn them into editing scripts for our video editors to run with. This is important as we want to scale up to creating many videos at once.

Music – There is a wide variety of open source music available, but we’d be thrilled to have composers contribute new music cues for OSE projects.

Assistant Editors/Video Librarians – these are people who are willing to help us log and organize the raw materials we shoot (and have shot in the past). They will log the footage and help organize our database/video library. It’s important that they know a lot about the project, so their logs can have the necessary detail to make the footage useful for the future.

We want to emphasize that we welcome collaborators at all skill levels. I have a long history in creating documentaries for television networks like the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and would be thrilled to help new filmmakers learn more about any aspects of the television and documentary world. Together we can create documentation to further Open Source Ecology’s mission, and we can unlock the collaborative potential of video production.

When I learned about OSE’s work, I immediately wanted to know how I could be involved – how I could use my skills to help further this world-changing endeavor. If you’d like to be involved, too, contact me via email ([email protected]).

Robert Kirk, OSE Documentation Manager


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