The purpose of this post is to document some best practices for web video because… These days video is everywhere… if you’re expecting people to consume, digest, and share information easily; it’d better be a video. With the explosion of video hosting platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Liveleak, Livestream, UStream, Viddler, etc.)
anyone can put a video on the web for others to watch—and they are. 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute
to YouTube alone—that’s a TON of content. So, you’d better make sure your videos are up-to-par with what’s out there otherwise viewers won’t watch. Below are some tips (in order of importance)
that will help you in creating watchable web video! It only takes a little bit of effort to make your videos “1000+%” better. Below that are some links!
- Keep it short
- There’s no denying that the attention span for a web video is not very long. Keeping it short and avoiding fluff will make sure that viewers watch the entire video and don’t skip around.
- When things can be sped up in post-production, do it. No one wants to watch a screen of a program launching, or a progress bar inching along.
- Script out what you want to say. I always start with an ‘outline’ approach by creating a bulleted list and then filling in what I want to say. If it’s a long video, I’ll script out everything word-for-word. If it’s short and I think I can wing it, I’ll just use the outline to make sure I cover everything.
- Use editing software
- There are plenty of free applications that you can edit video with. These days, there’s no excuse for not doing some kind of editing with your video before you share it. I’ll put a list of software at the end of this post.
- Using editing software allows you to do multiple takes and then choose the best for your video. Many times the video doesn’t come together (I usually think my original footage is no good) until the editing process is complete.
- Record good sound
- Make sure the audio sounds ok. A low-quality video with good audio is way better than a high-quality video that you can’t hear what’s being said or there is noise in the background.
- If possible, use a microphone that’s not built-in to the camera. (links to some inexpensive mics are below)
- Be in a quite setting where the microphone is only picking up what you want.
- Record good video
- Lighting is the most important factor, and often times can be the simplest to improve.
- Use multiple sources of light to avoid harsh shadows. If possible, use natural light.
- Don’t let the camera move around. Use a tripod or find a way to prop the camera pointing in the correct direction. A steady camera will do wonders to the quality of your video.
- Shoot high-to-low, people look better.
- Don’t be afraid to use your cell-phone. Newer cellphones (iPhone 4/4s , Newer Androids & Windows Phones) have great quality cameras. Just make sure to keep them steady, use good lighting, and capture good sound.
- Keep in interesting
- Avoid a “talking head”. If you’re talking about something on a computer, show a screenshot or a screen capture or even a power-point.
Once you've created your video getting in online is very easy. I usually suggest uploading to YouTube because often times it’s the easiest from both perspectives—the viewer and the creator. Admit it, you’ve already been to YouTube once today, and you’ll surely be back there soon :-P.
YouTube has some easy to follow guidelines and tips for making sure your videos are compatible.
Luckily YouTube is pretty flexible with what they're able to accept, so most likely you won’t have any trouble. Most editing software packages these days even have some sort of YouTube export function! For the technical folk out there, my standard encode for a YouTube video is H.264 MP4, NTSC, 1280x720, 24fps, Progressive AAC, 64kbps, 44.1 kHz Stereo, VBR, 2 Pass, Target 8.00 Max 9.00 Mbps.
Video Editing Software Links
Audio Editing Software Links
Inexpensive Microphone Links (You want a “Condenser” type microphone)
Screen Capture Links
- Adobe Premier (PC/Mac. My personal preference. It’s not free, and it has quite a learning curve)
- Apple Final Cut (Mac only. Considered by some as the Industry Standard. Expensive and not the most intuitive software)
- Microsoft MovieMaker (PC Only. Free, and good for your basic stuff)
- Apple iMovie (Mac only. Might be free, depending on when you got your Mac—it’s part of iLife)
- Screenr (Web-based. Max of 5 min. Best solution for something quick and easy)
- Camtasia Studio (PC/Mac. The best, but also not free. There is a 30-day trial)
- CamStudio (PC Only. Free and open source)
- Capture Me (Mac Only. Free)
There are many more things I could say here but I hope this offers a start to improve your web videos. Let me know if you have any of your own tips, I missed something, or I'm wrong about something (it's happened once). There will probably be follow-up posts to this to go into some more detail about a few things!