With Pageflow 12 we’ve released the largest update since our open source platform for digital storytelling was launched in 2014. Next to a general refurbishment of the video stack, Pageflow now contains an integrated VR player that processes and plays mono- and stereoscopic 360° videos.
Besides that video loops can from now on be used like background images on almost any page type and are finally being played on smartphones and tablets that use the latest iOS or Android versions. Furthermore Pageflow 12 contains features for subtitles and alternative text for audio and video, which improves web accessibility for people with hearing and visual impairments. Beyond that, translations can now be added e.g. if an interview is conducted in a foreign language.
Pageflow’s integrated video player now uses “adaptive streaming“ across all browsers and devices. That way video quality dynamically adapts to changing network conditions, so that the best possible version is provided in any case – up to 4K.
With this update the page types “Background video“ and “Background image“ become one. From now on it is possible to use full screen video loops for almost every page type. How this might look like can be seen in this example:
It took a while until Apple finally released an iOS version that does not prevent auto play on purpose. This feature is necessary to play video loops on mobile. Thanks Apple, it was about time! Only restriction is that the loops can still only be played on mute so far.
How to apply: You will find a dropdown menu on the file tab, in which you’re able to choose between “Background image“ and “Background video (loop)“. This is available for the following page types: Text, Embedded video, Audio, Collage, Mosaic, External links and of course for the newly named page type Background image/video.
As from now Pageflow contains an integrated VR player that enables processing and playback of 360° videos, which formerly could just be embedded via Youtube and Vimeo.
Although Pageflow is not yet optimised for VR Headsets, an immersive experience of 360° videos is already possible with Google Cardboard. Pageflow detects users who access the page with Chrome on Android and displays a button to switch to VR view.
In order to be able to showcase a successful example of Storytelling with 360° videos we searched the web. This quest was short since we were lucky enough to find „Women on the Move“ by Shannon Carrol, Creative Director at Vivid Story in New York City. As participant of the “VR for Good Bootcamp“ hosted by Oculus, she developed an impressive 360° video story for the aid organisation CARE in Niger. Just 2 emails later, she gave us permission to show her beautiful project and we found the download link in our mailbox. The web can be such a good place. Thank you, Shannon!
A stereoscopic version for Google Cardboard can be found here: http://example.pageflow.io/360video-for-google-cardboard
How to apply: Upload your 360° video and choose the appropriate projection. The initial view angle can be determined on the “files“ tab in the page settings. By choosing the “autoplay“ option you can specify if the video is supposed to start immediately when the page is entered or if users shall start the video with a play button. In case that a user’s browser is not capable of playing 360° videos an alternative link to Youtube can be displayed to allow viewing the video in the YouTube app.
Detailed information about how to apply the new page type can be found in our helpdesk and via the integrated help function of the story editor.
So far, text tracks for videos had to be added in advance using video software e.g. to give users access to translations of foreign-language interviews. Sometimes these text tracks collided with the player controls, which often led to visual losses. Therefore, it was necessary to develop a solution which avoids this potential overlapping, provides subtitles in different languages and allows a manual deactivation.
Separate text track files in the formats .srt and .vtt can now be used for audios and videos by uploading the different languages variants via the file settings. It is also possible to select whether a text track shall be used as audio replacement, image description or translation.
Image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Another improvement to web accessibility comes with alternative texts. These texts can be determined for any media file via the file-settings and will be detected by screen reader software as descriptions for images, audios and videos. The hints are invisible within an entry itself.
So far the page type “Hotspots“ was limited to rectangle click areas. This update introduces the new concept of “Mask images“ which opens up a whole new range of possibilites.