Ask The Pro: What do I need to know about online video?

This month’s Pro is Kate Hodgkinson, Video Developer at OnYourMark, LLC. Christian provides a primer on the exciting world of online video.

In order to understand Online Video technology, I believe that everyone needs to appreciate how the technology has arrived to this point. Let me give you a quick history of a topic that gets me really excited.

Motion pictures were born in 1891 when Thomas Edison in the United States and the Lumiere Brothers in Europe simultaneously invented the motion picture camera. Photography, which was in its infancy at the time, was taken to a whole new level. Film was being perfected in the early 20th century, and soon television brought film into every living room. Families eventually used this media as a way to capture their precious family moments; by the 1950s, many homes had a projector to show home movies on.

The movie projector and home movie reels served for nostalgic purposes, but film has never been a portable media. Film projectors were a bit of a hassle to set up, and they didn’t record sound. However, by the late 1960s, the first Video Tape was introduced; this new technology finally made motion pictures portable. By 1975 home entertainment had caught on and videos were being sold throughout the world. Anyone could record their home movies and watch them immediately without waiting for their film to be developed; nightly news channels could spread news to the world faster then ever before. It also became increasingly easy for aspiring filmmakers to experiment on their first films.

In response to consumer demands, technology continued to make video portable. Video tape replaced the cumbersome film reel; DVD replaced the tape. Now the iPod allows the consumer to store videos in their pockets! Many cellular telephones now come with video capabilities as well.

Adding video to your website makes this media not only portable, but instantaneous. A business owner can make a video and send it to all clients in a matter of seconds. Clients will be able to see your company in action, “meet” your employees and view your products. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks a million.

So how can anyone add video on their web site? The most basic method uses a camera and a computer. Most digital cameras come with the functionality to take videos. Some cameras will only allow you to take a short video, while some will allow you to take longer ones. After the video has been taken, just plug your camera into the computer and edit. Edit isn’t necessary for producing a video, but it sure helps to make your video look even better.

There are simple editing programs that can do a lot, such as fades, transitions, titles and other effects, to give your video a little extra spice. For PC users, there is a program called Windows Movie Makerwhich is easy and efficient to use. For Mac users, the equivalent isiMovie, which is a standard program included on a Mac.

In order to put these films on the web, it is necessary to prepare the files into a format known as “codec,” which stands for Compression/Decompression. A codec basically squeezes the file into a smaller size without losing video quality. A few examples of codecs are Sorenson, Cinepak, H.264, and MPEG. These are all just buzz words that describe what codec you are using to squeeze your file. Each codec has a different purpose and ability. The codec that is used for web sites is MPEG-4. This codec squeezes the video to half its original size while maintaining that high quality that is desired, making it faster to download and watch.

Once these videos are edited and squeezed, they can then be featured on the web for the world to view. Any internet user will be able to view your video online, without any special downloads. PCs and Macs come equipped with their own video player such as Windows Media Player or Quicktime. Many online videos are shown in Flash format, a plug-in most web browsers have. These programs are needed to display the video once it has been downloaded from a website.

At OnYourMark, LLC, we maintain all updated capabilities necessary for shooting a high quality digital video of your company and products. We edit with state of the art equipment and output it for the web. We have high end digital video cameras to give the best video quality possible. Our Macintosh Quad Core Duo and professional video editing equipment provide fast and reliable video editing. We also have the capabilities and expertise to compress any video into any number of different formats and codecs. We offer a wide variety of video services to meet all your needs, from Video, to Audio and even Photography. We also have the capabilities of transferring old Non-Digital – also known as Analog videos – to digital formats and output them to the web.

Digital technology is amazing. If Edison or the Lumiere brothers were witnessing today’s Online Videos, they wouldn’t believe the advances we have made, and hopefully they would applaud them. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the world of video!

Links Mentioned in This Article:

Phone/Text: 262-853-7900

Organizer, Wisconsin Business Owners

Founder & CEO, OnYourMark, LLC

Author, WebForging, A Practical Guide to the Art of Forging Your Web Presence

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