🏆 Milestone #46 ·

Added video support to Makerlog

I finally managed to add video support to Makerlog! You can now post short videos (less than 100MB). It's in beta, so do report bugs.

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Chronicles of Being Cheap

Turns out uploading video isn't as simple as just uploading an MP4 to S3 and calling it a day. There's stuff involved here: the biggest roadblock was generating video thumbnails.

Why generate video thumbnails?

Turns out if you pipe a good ol' MP4 to the HTML5 video element, it'll show thumbnails for you. That's nice and all, but...

It isn't magic: under the hood, it's literally downloading the entire file. Lots of Makerlog users are on data plans and can't afford to load 50-200MB everytime they want to view the feed.

What are the options?

Well, things were looking bleak.

  • Pay an external video API (expensive, annoying)
  • Process videos on server and generate thumbs (expensive, big load on server, annoying)

Aha! There's a third option!

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Turns out with a bit of wizardry you can generate thumbs for videos on the client. Just play the video locally on a <canvas> element, screenshot it, and call it a day.

I found a React element that did this automagically, made a better UX for it, and it's now live.

How it works

In a nutshell: once you upload a video, I set the processing state to true to prevent you from posting until the thumbnail is generated. The canvas does its magic. Then, I use the existing attachment field on the Task object to upload the preview for the video.

It's hackish, but not bad for a 3-hour effort. I can eventually make it more formal or switch to a paid provider. But right now we can't, so... MVP hack it is!

It's live

Start uploading short videos and let me know how it goes!

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