UPDATE: YouTube has now officially released their new widescreen player, and the method I describe in the original post is obsolete, albeit still functional.
However, the embed code that YouTube provides doesn’t actually account for the fact that your video is widescreen. In other words, unless you change the height of the player that you embed in your website/blog, you will still get the black bars at the top and bottom of your video.
To fix this, you will need to change the height of your video in both the embed and object tags. While the dimensions of your video may vary, I’ve found that a 260 pixel height is the magic number for a standard widescreen video.
You can also embed higher quality videos by adding either “&fmt=18” (for good quality) or “&fmt=22” (for HD quality) to the end of the URL.
<object width="425" height="290"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/P3PDLsJQcGI&hl=en&fs=1&fmt=22"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/P3PDLsJQcGI&hl=en&fs=1
" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="290"></embed></object>
Of course, when you embed the higher quality videos, you can make the player you embed larger without artifacting. Be warned, however, that the HD quality videos don’t necessarily download very quickly. Your viewers may get frustrated while waiting for YouTube to buffer the video.
You may have noticed a link reading “Try the New YouTube Player Beta!” under videos on YouTube. The new player is pretty sharp looking. Moreover, it has a sweet widescreen version. Unfortunately, YouTube provides no instructions on embedding the new player on your blog/website. I searched Google and didn’t find any instructions anywhere, so after I figured it out, I thought I should share with the world.
To embed a regular 4:3 video, use the following code.
<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/swf/watch.swf?video_id=YOUR-VIDEO-ID-HERE"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/swf/watch.swf?video_id=YOUR-VIDEO-ID-HERE" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
There is one caveat when using the new player: the videos start automatically whether you want them to or not. I’m sure this is something YouTube will deal with once the player comes out of beta, but for now, we’re stuck with it how it is. At least, I think so. I couldn’t find any way to stop it, although I didn’t try using the API. If you know how to stop it from auto-playing, let me know in the comments.
To embed a widescreen video you must add
&vq=2&fmt_map=6/720000/7/0/0 to the end of the URL (shown in the following code box). However, there is an additional caveat when using the widescreen player. Most videos, even widescreen videos, will not work with it. If you get a message saying, “This video is no longer available,” and you’re sure you copied the code correctly, it means that the video will not work with the widescreen player. If you’re having trouble, you can test your code with the video id
X13o3efXTmk , which is the video I have embedded below. If it still doesn’t work, your code may be slightly off. Unfortunately, it’s very finicky and breaks at the drop of a hat.
I can’t promise this is repeatable, but I did upload one video that worked with the widescreen player. It had a 1.8:1 ratio (864×480) letterboxed into a 640×480 Quicktime video. I’m sure other ratios/sizes would work as well. The video below has an even wider radio, but 1.8:1 and 640×480 worked for me.
<object width="480" height="295"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/swf/watch.swf?video_id=YOUR-VIDEO-ID-HERE&vq=2&fmt_map=6/720000/7/0/0"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/swf/watch.swf?video_id=YOUR-VIDEO-ID-HERE&vq=2&fmt_map=6/720000/7/0/0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="480" height="295"></embed></object>
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Cynthia Ware: thedigitalsanctuary.org
Heather Zempel: National Community Church – Wineskins for Discipleship
Frank Chiapperino: Christ Church of the Valley
Mac Lake: Seacoast
Mark Howell – smallgroupresources.net
Description: FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter… is it possible to experience “virtual” community without ever meeting face-to-face? (Does iChat count as face-to-face?) Join some of the top bloggers in Group Life for a hearty conversation about technology and community.
CW: Technology is not a cure-all, and yet it is a tool. Our perspective on that tool and how we choose to use it is a stewardship tool, in the same way that you can use a knife to hurt or to heal (surgery).
Online technology fosters communication.
I’m not an advocate of forcing technology on people. There’s a lot of hype around new media right now. That will expand even more. We will be video-streaming our lives online, but there is no press on anyone that you have to be involved. There is a difference, especially generational, and we have to be sensitive to that. BUT, if people are migrating online, we can adopt early and become influencers.
HZ: I got on Twitter when I found out I was on this panel. Twitter is a microblog. You’re limited to 140 characters. If you think about Facebook status updates is kinda what it is.
CW: It’s a status update, the idea of text messaging update, but we are unable to keep it in that box. People use it in many different ways. It is a form of social media.
HZ: One way that it worked in my life this week is that Monday my husband and I wanted to go to Cracker Barrel. On Twitter I said, “Ryan and I are going to Cracker Barrel at noon,” friends in the DC area who are also on Twitter joined us.
With Twittering, you have your own status updates, and you have people that follow you and you choose to follow. For example, I am a follower of Cynthia’s Twitter feed, and I found out that she was stuck at the airport.
MH: It’s like a 24/7 confereence call.
I don’t see the updates on my phone but some people do.
I use Twitter when I want to talk about something that I’m doing as opposed to something I would post on. I have it set up so that when I create a blog post, it shows up on Twitter.
FC: It opens you up to a larger audience. People have the opportunity to subscribe for you via invitation or a search, or if you have a blog/webpage, you can link to your Twitter account.
There’s lots of customer service happening on Twitter in the customer service world.
MK: When I posted that I was switching from TypePad to WordPress, someone from TypePad followed me.
FC: Churches using Twitter in worship context. Fed a Twitter conversation to side screens during a worship service so people could interact during service. Google Vertizational blog for more info.
MH: It’s kinda like worship and the Blue Man Group in one.
CW: We don’t need every new-fangled technology. It can be overwhelming and redundant, but Twitter is creating an entirely new way for people to think about conversation. We’ve lost the boundary between the broadcaster and the audience.
You can follow people and not really say anything to figure out what’s going on.
There’s great value in me for being able to see who Heather’s friends are.
People come to church because others invited them.
Audience question: For someone who has had to block people from their e-mail address, this sounds dangerous.
MH: You can block people from your Twitter feed, but understand that the information is out there.
Audience follow-up: More concerned with people joining the conversation that aren’t wanted.
FC: You can choose to ignore something you don’t like.
CW: You can’t control the conversation/information.
I have Facebook friends, and in that I have former employers, etc. I can’t control what they do.
Decentralization: There is not a lot of control. That is what has such a broad appeal: don’t run me through your filter. In broadcast mode, the information is controled by a group of people in a bureaucratic way. Something similar happened with the Gospel historically.
We have to let down the criteria that we have for communicating.
FC: Let me expand on that a bit. On my personal blog, I recently posted on the political race, which is a bit controversial for a pastor. I don’t control my comments and was attacked by church folk for considering voting for someone who wasn’t pro-life. I might have posted another reply once, but I had people who knew me well coming to my defense. Because you have relationships in the digital arena, your’e going to have people who come to your defense, and a conversation will happen. I’m okay with not having everyone around me like me.
HZ: I had a similar situation on my blog when I posted on women in ministry. Lots of comments, people on lots of different sides interacting with one another.
I have a wide variety of friends on Facebook, not just ministry friends. They have very different religious beliefs. This isn’t about my image. I’m more concerned about reconnecting with these people who now see what sermon I’m preaching on Sunday. If it’s someone who’s intentionally being malicious, I would block those people, but I’m not seeing that.
I think Jesus would have a variety of Facebook programs that people would see as inappropriate.
Audience Question: We started a Google Group for a 30-50 something singles group that grew out of a big mailing list. We ended up migrating to Facebook so that people could see each others pictures, etc. How do we pull all of these people together?
HZ: For that to work, everyone has to have their own profile and join the group. As Cynthia said, you might have people who just aren’t interested in that.
FC: We have about four young adults large groups, a bit more of a younger crowd than you’re talking about. They’re on different social networks. We created a password protected Typepad blog. It helps maintain the privacy of the group. Provides a front page where you can post announcements, blog about events, post pictures of events, and people can comment on things.
HZ: We’ve used the blog format as well. We have zonegathering.com, which is our small group leaders blog. We found it is great for posting information/announcements but not for creating community. That’s where Facebook comes in.
MH: One thing I would add is that not all of us are tech savvy, as Mac confessed this morning, but I promise you that there’s someone in your group who is. You could have a range of solutions: Unifier, livekite.com. You won’t have to go through the same learning curve.
Audience Follow-up: Is there a place we can centralize this? Are there those applications within Facebook or somewhere else that can do that?
FC: If everyone was on Facebook that would work, but you don’t want to push people too hard. However, once you get critical mass, people will want to start joining.
ML: Is anyone using smallgroupfriends.com?
Audience Answer: It does basically what Facebook does.
CW: I encourage you to check out Unifier. It’s a product that you pay for, but don’t let that dissuade you. It 40 cents per month per person, and that’s what you would pay to announce the next baptism.
Every church that has a webpage online is multi-site because your church facility is one place that people equate with defining your church, but we all know your church is not your building, programs, etc. We all know that your church is a set of relationships under leadership. If you have a webpage, you have a place with static information with your street address and service times.
The idea of multi-site is brand new, and many people are evaluating if one of those locations can be online. We’d like our webpage to be a place that people come where we provide services as opposed to a dead-end.
At a church we were at, one of young tech people put a webcam on our site with the surf report. It provided a service that people wanted. Streaming services, pastors, small group leaders blogging. Links to other resources.
ML: We did move to an online campus earlier this year. If you were to come to our services in the building, you would have a couple of songs, teaching, and then response time. During response time people go place something on a cross, go light a candle to pray for someone, have prayer teams for people to be prayed for, and have communion stations for people to take communion.
We’ve been trying to figure out how to do this online. We’ve got candles you can light for prayer. You can pin a sin to a cross. For the announcements, we have an online campus pastor who does video.
Audience Question: What’s your website?
Audience Question: What’s your demographic, younger?
ML: It is mostly younger, but we’re still figuring it out. Look at lifechurch.tv et al.
CW: Leadership Network has a blog called Digital. It’s designed for ministers, pastors, church staff. In the left sidebar of that site toward the bottom, you will see links to churches with online campuses. I believe there are 15 links. I’ve taken online communion with LifeChurch, led an online prayer session.
Along with the question of who does this appeal to, there’s the question, “Can we forsake not the assembling online?”
There are questions that we don’t have answers to.
As we struggle to wrap our minds around this, there were 55 people who accepted Christ online at LifeChurch last week.
There may be resistance to coming into a church service, but people would attend a service online.
MH: A pastor at LifePoint saw someone watching the LifeChurch service online and raise her hand when Craig Groeschel asked people to raise their hand wherevery they are if they want to accept Christ.
Audience Question: Could you talk more about your online leadership development?
ML: We were trying to get people to come on Wednesday night for training. One problem was distance, we’re a multisite church. One problem was time. We’d have trouble with consistency. Also, people would come to me in October in the middle of the class and want to be a leader.
God has given leaders to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Lay leaders, not just pastors.
We’re going to move away from a program oriented approach to a people oriented approach. We’re going to put our leadership classes online.
We would sign up people to do a session online and then have their small group leader get together with them to debrief whenever it works for them. Then, I say, next week in small group, you’re going to lead the prayer and icebreaker. If they’re out of town next week, they can do session 2 the week after. Now, we can do training any time, anyplace, at any place.
We’ve trained around 500 people in the last year, as opposed to around 20/semester before.
We have leaders raise up leaders, coaches raise up coaches, and pastors raise up pastors.
You can’t just go online and do our leadership classes. You have to be referred by someone you have a relationship with.
We use moodle.com, but we hate it. We’ve hired a company to build something for us.
We do text, journaling, videos. It’s very interactive. The videos are short because I can’t sit there and watch something online for a long time.
You can go to mynextsteps.org to see some of the content, but unfortunately, you can’t get into the classes.
Audience Question: You talk about some of the appeals of the online worship service because people are opposed to church. Since the church is supposed to be a place of community and belonging, how do you create that online?
MH: As opposed to watching a service on TV, participating online is participatory. You can click, take actions, etc. At LifeChurch, you can only watch during a service time (Ed. Note: This forces there to be community present when participating).
You would probably find that people would actually rather participate online than in a real service, even if they hadn’t been burned in a church.
HZ: Alan told me a great story about an online small group. They had reached a greater level of community than many traditional small groups. They ended up meeting face-to-face because of the community that had been developed online.
CW: People may be afraid that if online is so great people will only go there, but that’s not the case at all. The idea isn’t to become a giant lake; it’s to become streams in the desert.
I have a friend who led someone to the Lord online through his blog.
FC: It has some interesting impacts in a group and community setting. We have an elderly couple with a modest house on a large plot of land. The township was trying to obtain this land through eminent domain. Some people in the church started a Facebook group to stop it, and a bunch of people showed up at the next town meeting to oppose it. The township changed their vote because of this.
Community online can mobilize a group of people to do something for someone in your church.
Audience Question: Being someone who thrives being with other people, how to balance being with people in real life and online?
MH: It requires your own discipline in how much time you will spend on it and how you will engage. That’s why I don’t have twitter on my phone.
ML: I’m Facebooking because I have to, not because I want to, but it helps me to connect with people.
It’s even helped me connect with my own family.
Audience Question: Recently in our church we had a fairly known person who’s son struggled with leukemia, and you could follow the whole process on Facebook. Plus, the dad was blogging the whole process. The boy died about a month ago. There were people who communicated from around the world through these tools. There were at least 2 or 3 churches that experienced revival around this. 25 people came to know Christ as a result of this process.
CW: We touched upon the dangers of being online, but it may be that the benefits greatly outweigh the dangers.
There’s also an age issue. My 13 year old doesn’t have a Facebook profile.
It used to be that meeting someone online was taboo. That’s no longer the case.
People want to be able to see their kids pictures online. People are participating in their families online. They connect using Skype.
If we are paying attention to the next generation, this is totally normative to them. They’re getting their assignments online. My daughter had to make a 60 second video for a school project. It’s normal to text throughout the day, to have a teacher text you.
Technology isn’t just for young people. It’s advantageous to people who are homebound, to the older generation. I had a couple of older women who e-mailed me every day to tell me they were praying for me.