Internet Video Publishing: A Beginner's Guide
Internet Video Publishing was one of the biggest trends of 2007, and it has never been easier to create, publish, share and promote video for the web.
Photo credit: Andrei Zyk
In this beginner's guide to Internet video publishing I take you through everything you need to know to get up and running. I take a look at:
- Creating your video - whether you want to make a video blog, live webcast, split screen interview, mashup or screencast
- Editing, adding effects and exporting your video using both desktop and online applications
- Where to publish your video and the differences between the services available
- Monetizing your video - how to turn your efforts to profit
- Licensing your video - the benefits of making it easy for people to share your content
- Promoting your video - what to do when once your video is online if you want people to watch it
- Additional resources you can use to find out more about publishing video to the web
Photo credit: Eray Haciosmanoglu
Creating Your Video
Obviously the first thing you'll need to do is actually create your video. There are a number of approaches you can take to getting your video made. Here are some examples:
Perhaps the quickest way to get up and running with online video publishing is by creating your own video blog, or "vlog". This is easier than ever now given the range of simple, free online tools that allow you to create your own video show.
Video blogs are regularly updated series of videos that can be about anything you'd like to talk about. More often than not video blogs take a "talking head" format, with the producer talking right into their camera or webcam.
If your subject matter is interesting enough, people will likely forgive you a lack of production values. Nevertheless, there are some easy techniques you can make use of to spice up this popular (and perhaps over familiar) format.
Eric Beck of the excellent Indy Mogul has put together this great intro to making sure you factor in some "shot variety" in your next video blog. This is the technique used by popular vloggers like Ask a Ninja and (formerly) Ze Frank to keep their talking head style videos visually interesting.
If you feel confident about doing a bit of light editing, you might also consider adding in some graphics, or screencast elements between your direct address clips. This works very well for the team at Rocketboom, for instance.
Given that your live session is then recorded, you can still share the results a week, a month or a year later.
Ustream is perhaps the easiest to use and currently most stable of these platforms, and is Robin Good's own preferred choice of live streaming application. However, if you'd like to record live interviews with people in a different location, Mogulus and Operator 11 provide good solutions.
Split Screen Interviews
If you want to create great looking split-screen interviews, you have a couple of options available to you also. This can make for an interesting way to discuss your thoughts with online contacts, regardless of how far apart you're located.
Sightspeed, which Robin Good recently reviewed makes it very easy to record a video chat session, as either a single video file or separate files which you can then edit. This way you can create a split screen video interview with the ease of making a phone call. Sightspeed is Mac and Windows compatible, so this is a great cross-platform solution.
The latest version of Apple's iChat has even better functionality, but is very limited due to the fact that it doesn't run on Windows. If you're recording Mac to Mac interviews, however, there is no better solution that I know of.
For a live side-by-side recording solution, Blog.TV is perhaps the easiest way to record interviews, even if the quality is somewhat behind that of SightSpeed.
Remixing and Mashups
Of course, you don't have to physically record a thing, and if you feel like creating a video mashup, the options are almost limitless.
A mashup takes existing video footage and edits or juxtaposes it in new and interesting ways. You can do this using the desktop and online video editing tools I discuss below.
The one thing that you need to be careful of is using copyrighted footage, which could get you into trouble. The best approach is search for clips that you are legally allowed to use via Creative Commons search. Alternatively, you can use Public Domain footage - which is free for anyone to use as they wish.
If you'd like to find public domain footage you might want to check out my guide to finding free stock footage.
Another highly approachable way of creating video is putting together a screencast.
In short, a screencast is a video recording of your screen, taken from within your computer. This is a great way of demonstrating how to use a certain application, reviewing a website, or
There are lots tools available to help you to make your screencast, and Loose Wire Blog does a great job of collecting them together.
Techsmith's excellent Jing Project is a great free option for Windows and Mac users, too, and is perhaps the easiest to use screencasting tool available. I reviewed it previously here at Master New Media.
Editing, Adding Effects To And Exporting Your Video
When you have your video footage you may or may not wish at that point to edit it together or add effects. You can do both either from your desktop, or using a free online service.
Desktop Editing and Effects
The easiest ways to get your video edited are using the free software bundled with your computer. For Windows users that will be Windows Movie Maker, Mac users can make use of iMovie, and GNU/Linux users might use Kino.
Each of these programs has the basic capabilities to both capture your video (whether from your video camera, digital stills camera with video feature, or right from your webcam), and place it on a timeline for editing. You'll also be able to add simple text, effects and transitions - such as fades and dissolves - between the frames of your video.
If you find yourself wanting to up your game, the most popular professional tools for the job are Apple's Final Cut Pro Studio, and the tools included in Adobe's CS3 Production Premium, alongside other contenders such as Sony Vegas and the Avid range. Expect to plough a fair amount of money into these tools though as the cost of having professional kit to work with.
Mac users can make use of the nice middle ground of Final Cut Express, which retains the core functionality of Final Cut, without the extra trimmings professionals might require. Windows users can take advantage of Sony's similarly cut-back iterations of Vegas.
For a free, cross platform alternative Jahshaka is shaping up to be an interesting contender worth keeping an eye on.
When you've finished editing and come to the part where you are planning to export your finished video file, I personally recommend outputting your video to the following specifications:
- MP3 Audio - if you have an option, this is a light, web-friendly encoding option
- Video dimensions of 640 x 480, so long as you are working with traditional, TV shaped 4:3 video. If you are working in 16:9 Widescreen video, you'll get good results with 520 x 288 for PAL (Europe) or 520 x 292 for NTSC (US and Japan).
So long as you keep within a ratio of 4:3 or 16:9, you shouldn't experience any distortion in your video however
- Medium to Best quality, if you are given this option
- Bit Rate of between 300 and 700 depending on how much of your audience you are willing to lose by going for the upper end of the scale
- H.264 encoding, again, if you are given the option.
Editing and adding effects online
If you'd like to do all of your editing and effects right from your web browser, there are no shortage of options available to you.
Two of the best online video editing services are Jumpcut and Eyespot, and both make it relatively simple to import, trim and add titles and effects to your footage before sharing the results straight to the web.
Then, if you'd like to add subtitles or other video overlay effects, you might want to look into Bubbleply, which I test drove alongside the sadly now defunct Mojiti in my guide to subtitling and dubbing your Internet video.
Where To Publish
Where you publish your videos will to some extent depend on what's most important to you as a publisher. One solution - which I discuss below - is to cross-publish your videos to a number of services.
There are now dozens of places that you can share your video, and they range in quality and popularity. If I had to choose three from those currently available, I would upload my video to:
- YouTube - YouTube is by far the most popular of video sharing sites. Unfortunately, the quality of the vidoes isn't the best on the web in my humble opinion. Nevertheless, for exposure's sake, it is well worth making use of
- Blip.tv - Blip.tv comes out tops in terms of offering great quality video, multiple file types, a great looking, unobtrusive player, excellent community features, and opt-in (or out) advertising, in addition to a host of other features. Highly recommended
- Vimeo - Relative newcomer Vimeo has a great player, and now features true high definition video as an option. The results are some of the best looking streaming video I have ever seen (or so far at least).
If you'd like some more ideas you might want to check out my guide to where to share your videos on the web.
Furthermore, TubeMogul provide an excellent analysis of the different demographics that use the various video services, and this is well worth investigating.
Finally for very thorough, hands-on comparison of the quality of over fifty online video sharing services, check out LifeGoggles Online Video Comparison.
One way of making sure your video gets plenty of exposure online is to cross publish it to several sharing portals at once.
There are a number of services that make this relatively easy, and allow you to post a single video to multiple sites without visiting them all each time. Initially you will need to set up accounts with the services you choose to publish with, but once this is done, you need never return.
Two services that will help you to get your videos quickly posted across ten plus websites are:
- TubeMogul - which not only posts your video to a number of sites, but also lets you track its popularity and views from a single console. More about this in my recent review of what is a must-use service for anyone publishing video on the web.
- Hey!Spread, from the same people that bring you the excellent video conversion service Hey!Watch is another great way to get your videos quickly cross-posted. It has the added benefit of being able to convert and add a watermark to your videos in for the bargain. More about this in my full review of the service.
Web video doesn't yet have a standard format. The nearest you'll get is the Flash FLV format, which runs on almost any browser. However, there are some people that prefer to deactivate Flash in their web browsers, and others that reject the format on the grounds of it not being Free Software(in terms of licensing, rather than money - Flash is free to use, but its underlying code isn't open to all).
These issues aside, people are now watching video originally published for the web on a number of devices - from iPhones and other cell phones, to high definition television sets.
One approach to keeping everyone happy is offering your video in a number of formats. You might consider transcoding - making new versions of your video in different formats. Popular formats to convert your video to are:
- H.264 encoded Quicktime files. H.264 is undoubtedly going to be the biggest codec of 2008 now that it is integrated into the latest iteration of Flash. H.264 allows you to create great looking high definition video at small, web friendly data sizes
- 3GP is a popular format for mobile phone video that will allow most cell phone owners to view your content
- Windows Media Video is a popular format for Windows users, not all of whom will have QuickTime installed
- Ogg is an open, Free Software friendly video solution.
- iPod video is popular, for obvious reasons
- PSP video is another portable video format for the Playstation portable
To transcode your videos you have a number of options, also. You can convert your videos easily online using the excellent free Zamzar service, or the better featured, very cheap Hey!Watch service previously reviewed here by Robin Good.
There are dozens of desktop solutions for converting your video files.
Mac (and Windows) users will find most formats covered by Quicktime Pro, an inexpensive paid upgrade to the free Quicktime player. Visual Hub is another excellent budget solution well worth investing in.
Windows, Mac and Linux users might also consider the totally free MPlayer.
Monetizing Your Video
Monetizing your video is easier than ever, and if you decide to go this way there are plenty of options available to you.
If you use services such as Blip.tv, Revver or Brightcove to share your videos, you'll find baked-in capabilities to include advertising in your videos. If you opt in to this advertising, you'll be eligible to receive a revenue-share of profits made from the ads.
And even if you don't use a video service with built in advertising features, you might consider taking advantage of a service like AdBrite InVideo, which will serve adds over your existing video content (see my review of AdBrite InVideo here).
This is before you consider the possibilities of selling in-video advertising or sponsorship deals - but to stand a chance at either of these options you'll need to first build up a significant number of regular viewers. At the time of writing, there are only a handful of web video producers making a living this way, but 2008 might just be the year that this changes.
For more information you might want to check out my previous guide to monetizing your web video, Scott Kirsner's excellent list of "sites that pay" or Robin Good's own recent guide to monetization and marketing for web video.
Licensing Your Video
Licensing your video using Creative Commons deeds can be a really effective way of letting people know what they can and can't do with your work.
Creative Commons licenses give you a range of options that allow people to share your video, or to remix it, under the terms that you approve of. What this means is that if you apply, for instance, an "attribution share-alike" license to your work, you grant anyone that finds it the permission to display and share your video, so long as they give credit to you and include the license terms so that other people can do the same.
Compare this to traditional copyright whereby use of your work is extremely limited unless express permission is asked of you directly, and it's easy to see how giving your video a CC license will help people to confidently spread it around, share it with friends, add their commentary to it - or even, if you choose - mix it into their own work.
You can license your video either by adding a note in the description field of your video sharing site, or by including a reference to the license in the video itself - perhaps at the end of the clip.
Promoting Your Video
Now you have your video on the web, but unfortunately so do several other million people. So how can you give yourself a better shot of making sure your video gets seen?
Assuming that you've already made use of the cross publishing resources listed above, and given your video a Creative Commons license to make sure people share it far and wide, there are some other things you can do to grab attention:
- Tagging - When you upload your video, make sure you don't ignore the tag section of the upload form. Effectively tagging your video will really help people running a search to find your content. Think of tags as helpful pointers that help people to identify the contents of your work - not using them is like trying to sell tinned goods with no labels on them - you can do it, but you aren't likely to be wildly successful.
So if your video is about how to write your first blog post using Wordpress, for instance, you might add tags (separated by commas, usually) for "wordpress", "wordpress blogging", "blogging", "blog", "first blog", "beginner's wordpress" and so on. The more descriptive tags you use, the better.
- Keyframe or thumbnail image - If your video has a great "thumbnail" image - the frame of the video that appears in search results before the video is played - you'll have a much greater chance of getting it watched on YouTube and other services.
Some sharing services will allow you to choose your own thumbnail from anywhere in the clip. Others, such as YouTube, use the clip right at the mid-point of your video as a Thumbnail, giving you two further alternatives in your options. Viral video star "Nalts" gives his tips on how to set an effective thumbnail in YouTube.
- Effective titling - If your thumbnail and tags are well thought through, don't blow it by writing a useless title. Just as with blogging, your best shot at getting your video clicked on is to either tease your potential viewer or give them an accurate description of the contents of your video
- Get the word out - Once you've optimized your video for discovery, the next thing you need to do is get the word out about it.
If you have a blog, blog about your new video. If you use Twitter, Facebook, del.icio.us or other social media services, make sure you publish a link to your video in any or preferably all of them. You could also consider writing a Squidoo or Hubpages entry related to your video, and cross promote it that way.
The key is to make sure your video is either linked to - or better yet, embedded - in as many places as possible.
If you want some more great tips on putting together your Internet video, you might want to check out the following resources:
- Make Internet TV is a fantastic resource, guiding you from finding the right camera right through to getting your video noticed
- Lifegoggles Online Video Quality Comparison gives you examples from over fifty web sharing services
- Beth Kanter's incredible screencasting primer has everything you need to get screencasting, and more besides
- Freevlog is the definitive resource for anyone even thinking about videoblogging (a.k.a. vlogging)
- Indy Mogul is another great resource for independent film and video makers on a shoestring budget
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