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Petition: We Think RailsConf Sessions Should Be Recorded, Properly

In Events, News

petition.jpgThis year, RailsConf brought in a new idea of allowing people to record sessions themselves and upload them to The problem is, few people are carrying good gear around to conferences, and even fewer want to hold up their Flip HDs throughout a whole session.

Other Ruby conferences have used the services of the excellent Confreaks conference recording team to bring high quality videos of sessions and presentations to the Web. For example, consider the videos of MountainWest RubyConf 2009 and acts_as_conference 2009; they're awesome! High quality, slides shown next to the presenter, the works.

The problem is that companies like Confreaks cost money and some conferences don't want videos of presentations leaking out. RailsConf is already partially happy with the latter, though, and if they could spend potentially $15k-$25k for an hour of Tim Ferriss (this is his quoted rate, though whether they paid this is not known), surely < $10k for full video coverage is a bargain. Update: Turns out it's not quite THAT cheap. But see the comments below for responses related to this, including one from Carl Youngblood of Confreaks himself.

If you agree, let O'Reilly hear your voice. Either state your support on Twitter using the tag #railsconf and say you want the talks filmed, or leave a comment here in support. At least this way, we can find out if people want the sessions taped, and if so, they'll have no excuse of not knowing about the demand.

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85 Comment Responses to “Petition: We Think RailsConf Sessions Should Be Recorded, Properly”

  1. #1
    Peter Cooper Says:

  2. #2
    Christophe Lucas Says:

    Please record those sessions, because ruby does not solve ubiquity yet!!!!

  3. #3
    Nick Quaranto Says:


  4. #4
    Ntino Says:

    Yes, yes, yes, I pledge !

  5. #5
    Lonny Eachus Says:

    Absolutely. Mountain West had good recording, and it was much appreciated... I could go back later and refresh my memory about some of the talks.

    It does not have to be done by an expensive "professional", either. I have a video recorder and tripod that are perfectly adequate to the job, as I am sure do many, many others. I think that if you set up a schedule, offered only a small fraction of the prices quoted above, and gave adequate credit for the work, you would have no shortage of volunteers.

  6. #6
    Jeremy Pinnix Says:

    Completely agree that RailsConf sessions and presentations should be professionally recorded.

  7. #7
    Peter Cooper Says:

  8. #8
    Mike Says:

    I totally agree. This is not only disappointing, but infuriating. It seams like things were actually much better before O'Reilly got involved, and they better not try to sell the videos either.

  9. #9
    Dr Nic Says:


    I am not always ready to learn a given topic presented at a conference and it is wonderful to be able to watch the talk months later when I'm ready to absorb it.

    Publishing videos is an excellent advertising platform for a conference itself and also its sponsors at the time.

  10. #10
    Michael Latta Says:

    +1 I was really disappointed the sessions were not recorded given they were in the past.

  11. #11
    Matthew Platte Says:

    +1 for those few who live in Nebraska and seldom see the civilised world.

  12. #12
    Mike Moore Says:

    Yes please. I strongly agree that the sessions should be recorded.

  13. #13
    Ilya Grigorik Says:


  14. #14
    Steve Newell Says:


  15. #15
    Andy Mayer Says:

    Yes please. I strongly agree that the sessions should be recorded. Especially anything by Tim Ferriss.... HAHA!

  16. #16
    Adam Meehan Says:


    I don't even care if they charge a small fee to view them. Still cheaper than the flight over ;) But seriously it would be great. ConFreaks do great work.

  17. #17
    Marty Haught Says:

    Definitely, recording them is the way to go. It's good for everyone and given the size of the RailsConf budget it's not as big of a hit as it is for the smaller regional Ruby conferences.

  18. #18
    Lynn Wallenstein Says:


  19. #19
    Craig Buchek Says:

    I'd definitely like to see the videos. I've seen videos of some of the presentations in prior years, but some are missing, and some are not up to par.

    For example, there's a video of Ze Franks's keynote, but the slides are not included. So you miss half the jokes. :(

  20. #20
    Jake Says:

    +1 I wont hold my breath but I will hope.

  21. #21
    gabriel Says:


  22. #22
    Michal Hantl Says:

    I'm absolutely pro!

  23. #23
    Martin Carel Says:


  24. #24
    Eric Berry Says:

    Yes please!!!

  25. #25
    Peter Cooper Says:

  26. #26
    Peter Cooper Says:

  27. #27
    Matthew Lang Says:


  28. #28
    Tom Ward Says:

    +1 for those of us in Europe, for whom a trip to Vegas is just too expensive. If James and Murray managed to record Ruby Manor (cost £12 including lots of free beer), then I don't see any excuse.

  29. #29
    Thibaut Says:


  30. #30
    Eric Cranston Says:

    Yes of course. Hell if it's a money problem we (all those not able to attend) could all just donate to pay the bill.

  31. #31
    Mathieu Says:


  32. #32
    Matteo Borgnolo Says:


  33. #33
    David Backeus Says:


  34. #34
    Brandon Says:

    Great idea, however, it would cost significantly more for ConFreaks. There posted rates are at:

    $1000 per room per day, $600 per hour per room per day, and $500 web setup.

    So 4 rooms * 4 days * $1000 = $16000
    And 4 rooms * 4 days * 4 hours * $600 = $38400

    So ~ $55000 is a really rough estimate.

  35. #35
    Wilker Says:

    Yes, sure it should be propertly recorded!!

  36. #36
    Vesa Nieminen Says:

    +1 from Finland.

  37. #37
    nnc Says:


  38. #38
    cs Says:


  39. #39
    Neeraj Singh Says:


  40. #40
    Ivan Schneider Says:


  41. #41
    Peter Cooper Says:

    Brandon: Interesting! I spoke to someone from Confreaks yesterday and they indicated it would likely be far cheaper than that (without giving a specific figure). Perhaps they would be willing to heavily negotiate to cover such a high profile conference but I don't believe they have even been approached.

  42. #42
    Ivo Dancet Says:


  43. #43
    Christoph Olszowka Says:


  44. #44
    Carl Youngblood Says:

    Brandon, keep in mind that we offer a discount if the customer is willing to release the videos under a creative commons license.

    The example you gave of four hours per day for four days would be about $45,000 total:

    But you could also say that the tutorials don't need to be recorded, which would reduce the cost further to about $35,000.

    We would also be willing to consider a variety of scenarios to reduce costs, such as using fewer cameras per room etc. We would bend over backwards to make this a win-win for everyone involved.

    Keep in mind that there are a lot of challenges to our work that make it expensive. Reducing the cost of our services would also reduce the quality of our output and potentially interfere with the smooth operation of the conference itself. There is an incredible amount of setup to make a conference recording run smoothly.

    For example, the cheapest solution to recording a conference is to just install iShowU on every presenter's laptop and have them record the audio and slides of their presentation in sync. But this solution has the downside of interrupting the speaker and making sure his/her machine is set up before each presentation, then collecting the data afterward. The recordings are also not full frame rate. In practice the required user intervention makes this almost impossible to be successful. The least disruptive method of recording the presenter's laptop output is to put equipment between the laptop output and the projector, but this equipment is expensive.

    Another consideration is how many cameras to use. If you only use one camera, you can't capture audience questions, so the quality of the recording is reduced.

    Another thing that people often don't consider is that there is a tradeoff between live editing and post-production costs. If we reduce the amount of equipment we bring and just record everything to disk, then we have less equipment costs but much more post-production work to do. If we bring the necessary equipment to edit our work live, then our equipment costs a lot more but we greatly reduce the cost of post-production.

    Most video production companies that I am aware of are in the habit of doing more post-production and less editing on-site, and they charge a lot of money for editing hundreds of hours of video footage. We've priced out some competitors and found that they cost quite a bit more for equivalent services.

    I just wanted to clarify all this so that people won't be discouraged from at least talking with us and seeing what can be done to come up with a solution that is within their budget.

  45. #45
    Kevin Marsh Says:


  46. #46
    Peter Cooper Says:

    Awesome comment, Carl.

    Updated the post to note it's not quite as cheap as was stated :)

  47. #47
    Brent Miller Says:

    +1 for recording *all* the sessions

  48. #48
    daniel lopes Says:

    +1 for record the sessions (maybe not all, but most importants if the cost don't fit the budget)

  49. #49
    Matt Conway Says:


  50. #50
    Grzegorz Kochan Says:

    +1 for recording *all* the sessions,
    I'm sure that there are a lot of sponsors interested in supporting RailsConf sessions recording. Rails and ruby is all about community, except RailsConf isn't right now...

  51. #51
    Radarek Says:

    +1 for recording talks.

  52. #52
    AkitaOnRails Says:

    Totally +100000

  53. #53
    Piotr Sarnacki Says:



  54. #54
    Tubis Says:


  55. #55
    Scott Becker Says:


  56. #56
    Giles Bowkett Says:


  57. #57
    Magnus Holn Says:


  58. #58
    Diego Scataglini Says:

    +1 for having it professionally recorded.
    If money is the problem it should be made public which talks can be recorded and which can't so that attendee can get organized.

    Same thing goes for Oscon. Hint Hint.

  59. #59
    Carl Youngblood Says:

    Thanks Peter. I just realized that I should clarify that the quotes I provided were for FOUR simultaneous sessions, lest they sounded unjustifiably expensive. That's a boatload of equipment.

  60. #60
    Jacob Atzen Says:


  61. #61
    Alan Says:

    +1 proper video coverage would be awesome.

  62. #62
    Seth Ladd Says:

    I'd be perfectly fine if there was a subscription fee for the recordings. I don't expect to get everything for free, and if there was some reasonable charge for the videos, then I'd be willing to pay for it. There's still an incentive to attend the actual conference (networking, discussions, asking questions in real time) but for those that can't attend, charge them a little for the videos.

    Some of the value add can be professional syncing of the speaker and his slides, proper audience mic'ing (confreaks does this well) to capture questions, and the ability to ask the speaker questions during a reasonable window (say, 30 days after the video is posted you can post a question just like you would have asked at the session.)

    Lots of interesting ways to share the content and make a few bucks.

  63. #63
    mlambie Says:

    Perhaps there could be digital attendance to the conf? Many international visitors would be able to "attend" the conference if it was streamed, plus you could record the streams for later release.

  64. #64
    Scott Ballantyne Says:


  65. #65
    Jeff Says:

    Judging from some of their videos I've seen, the Confreaks output is almost better than being at the talk in person! Pony up the $$$ O'Reilly!

  66. #66
    Jeff Whitmire Says:


    Confreaks does an awesome job, love their work.

  67. #67
    Andre Lewis Says:

    +1! I was at Railsconf, but spent most of my time at our booth on the expo floor or in meetings. All told, I only saw three sessions including keynotes. I would really appreciate being able to see the sessions I paid for but couldn't attend.

  68. #68
    Chess Says:


    I wouldn't mind paying a one time 'donation fee' to get the videos. Maybe a combination of a slight increase in ticket price along with a one time donation fee can cover the added costs?

  69. #69
    Brandon Says:

    Hi Carl,

    I saw your setup at MWRC 2009 and was very impressed. I think your prices are fine, and justifiable too. I just wanted to point out that Peter's estimate of $10,000 in the original post wasn't realistic.

  70. #70
    Roland Says:


    that must be done.

  71. #71
    Suzanne Axtell Says:

    Thanks for starting this thread, Peter, and for everyone who has contributed so far! We appreciate the feedback and will certainly consider it as we mull over plans for next year. And a big thanks to everyone for coming out to Vegas to support RailsConf, y'all made it an awesome show.
    Suzanne, O'Reilly Conferences team

  72. #72
    Marek Says:

    I join too.

  73. #73
    Carlos Kozuszko Says:


  74. #74
    Dave S Says:


    Also, RailsConf should keep the price lower than $995 or whatever it is. That is fine for corporate types whose big firms are paying for the ticket, but anyone in a bootstrapped startup would prefer something a bit cheaper.

    Golden Gate Ruby Conf was only $200 and had superb content.

    I don't think Rails people care to see celebrities live, and would rather focus on technical discussion.

  75. #75
    Maurice Fäh Says:

    That would be nice indeed.

  76. #76
    Jeff Barczewski Says:


    These videos are priceless. Confreaks does the best work of any I have seen.

  77. #77
    Andy Ferra Says:


    I'm really dissapointed that I won't be able to catch the videos from RubyConf, here I just thought they haven't made it online yet.

    Boooo O'Reilly!

  78. #78
    Ryan Porter Says:

    I agree. The recordings this year are useless and I stopped trying to watch them. The audio is so horrible that you can't understand what's going on even with the volume on full.

    The RubyConf videos on Confreaks are so good and the RailsConf videos are so bad that it makes RailsConf look like it's not really worth attending. RailsConf looks like amateur hour by comparison.

  79. #79
    Dalibor Nasevic Says:


  80. #80
    Sean Hussey Says:

    Yes, I would like to see them recorded properly. With 4 tracks, it was impossible for even attendees to see all of the talks. In some time slots, it was a toss-up as to which talk I wanted to see most because they were all very interesting.

    The experiment of crowdsourcing the video was an interesting idea, but given that it was mostly a failure, the entire community loses out on this resource. O'Reilly couldn't decide partway in to change course, and now this conference's content (in context) is gone.

    I enjoy the work Confreaks does. With this conference, I'd even be willing to pay for the content. Free is better, but I understand these things aren't cheap. Maybe a discount to attendees, if going this route.

    This was a good conference with a lot of great content. The problem is I was only able to view 25% of it. I feel like I missed out and didn't have a choice. This is a first-world problem, for sure, but with the tech and resources we have today, I don't see any reason why this couldn't have been recorded.

    I don't know that I would pay for another multi-track conference like this without knowing the content would be recorded.

  81. #81
    Ben Atkin Says:


  82. #82
    mudphone Says:

    how about we just stop going to o'reilly conferences?

  83. #83
    Sunny Says:

    Yes please record them!

  84. #84
    TJ Lee Says:


  85. #85
    yortz Says:


    Please record the RailsConf Sessions!

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