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Video on the Web
Bringing Life to the Internet

Contributors: Gaben Chancellor

As more and more people turn to the web as their primary information and entertainment source, the expectation of what users find on websites continues to climb. While the web started as a text-based medium, the environment has matured. Websites which embrace graphics, ease of use, and rich-media, such as video, will stand out in the pack and rise to the top of the search engines.

Historically speaking, the Internet was a step backward from what the common consumer was used to… the full motion, full screen experience of broadcast television. The solution is as simple as you might think. You can recapture the interest of the common user by simply addressing that missing gap, by using video and motion graphics within your website.

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The many uses of video
The uses for video on an Internet site are quite varied, and when delivered in tandem with well-written textual information and professional still graphics, they can have quite an impact. Common uses for web-embedded video include:

Every business has its unique aspects, and may have special uses for video within the context of their processes or procedures. Take care to examine your primary uses for this video, and understand how it uniquely supports your goals.

The other obvious benefit of completing a video production is the other uses that your video can be applied toward, including advertising outreach (TV commercials), in-store displays, distributed networks, product use instruction / support, tradeshow displays, direct mailers (DVDs), product generation or sales team support. We can help you understand and produce for any of these applications.

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Video production strategies
Video projects are complex, but they can be made simpler and less painful by keeping your eye on the details, and taking advantage of lessons learned from the past. Often, the first concern you will have controlling the cost of a video production. While you can spend quite a bit on an extensive video production, there are a number of strategies for keeping your cost inline with your expected benefit. Yes, you can produce cost effective video productions!

Keep the following examples in mind as you pre-produce (design) your video project:

  1. Ample Pre-production. Proper preparation saves thousands. From taking the time to really think through your objectives, to catching problems before they arise, allowing yourself ample pre-production will make a HUGE difference in both quality and cost.
  2. Available Asset Assessment. Carefully outline the assets you have which will cost you very little or nothing at all. If you design with what you can readily access, rather than something fantastical, it will cost you less. Examples include: If you need an office environment, use your own, and dress it to impress. Need workers in the background, use your own. Need a fancy car to pull up… use your own!
  3. Budget and Timeline Commitment. You shouldn’t go into any project without a good idea of your ideal budget and timeline. By pre-thinking this, you can design your production to match your expectations, rather than discovering half-way through that you have run out.
  4. Complex Human Dialog. Avoid Complex character interactions unless necessary to tell your story. One of the most expensive and difficult things to shoot is realistic character dialog. Even Hollywood directors struggle to arrive at this lofty goal, and if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, it was a waste.
  5. Keep it simple. Simple and direct is almost always cheaper and more ideal. If you can get away with 2 sets, rather than 5, you have 3 less set-ups that need to be crafted, and less waste of human time in preparation for shooting. If you can change a camera angle to avoid a cluttered background, great. If your shot is short, start after lunch to avoid catering. Each production element that you simplify will make the overall project that much smoother.
  6. Use of Clip Media. While clip media is often over-used, good design can mix clip media with original footage to arrive at a creative, unique result. Some clip is so generic that there really is little reason to hunt down the footage on your own. Common examples include freeway traffic, people on sidewalks, sunsets, generic time lapses, a ticking clock, etc.
  7. Things to avoid, or setting Realistic goals. Set goals that your budget will allow for. Avoid sexy, expensive shots unless necessary to your story. Helicopters, explosions, car chases… these are for Hollywood productions and best left there. While doable, unless you have a premium budget, it’s best to avoid: Character Animation, Explosions, Extensive use of children, On or Under water, Aerial photography, Raining or Wet Environments, Busy Sets or Public Places, Complex hair or makeup, etc.

Web Specific strategies
If web delivery is your primary goal, it is good to keep in the mind the following tips:

  1. Most people will view your video at a smaller size than their living room TV. This means that details can be lost, text is harder to read, and most often, the audio is not ideal. Keeping it simple will help, and reviewing your project at a small size will help you catch problem areas earlier.
  2. There are many formats and playback challenges for the personal computer video viewer. Make your video available in multiple formats (Flash AND Quicktime), sizes ( High Definition AND Standard Definition) and host your video at multiple sources (on your website, AND on YouTube)
  3. Remember that the same rules apply to web video as they do to normal video. People want interesting, riveting and entertaining content. Give you video spice, make it unique and do the out-of-ordinary and you will have far better viewer ship and response.
  4. Use copyright cleared materials. With web exposure being world-wide, you are very likely to be shut-down if you use other peoples copyrighted content, especially music. In fact, many video sites will strip your audio if they cannot determine valid copyrights.
  5. Shorter is better. Attention spans on the web can often be even shorter than on TV. Get your message delivered early, keep them interested and let them go as soon as is appropriate to your message.
  6. Exposure. Clearly, your website is the first place to deliver video from, however, this is just the beginning. Video posting sites, such as YouTube and Hulu, provide free or low cost places to get exposure. You can also benefit from the variety of contests and awards that can generate quite a buzz. Lastly, keeping your search engine registration current will makes sure that the video aids in raising your website up the search engine ranking.

In Conclusion
Video is a powerful medium for expression no matter what the delivery method. As the average web consumer is 6 times more likely to remain on your website if there is video to be viewed, the benefit is clear. With all of the other ways you can use video once it is created, there is no reason not to examine video as a cost beneficial marketing, promotion or support tool.

To learn more about the video production process...
MOTION GRAPHICS AND VIDEO:
A primer for the first Time producer

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