Online video

Facebook confidently predicts that digital video will become the next major carrier of content, and is revising the way it manages and presents video content. Whether that is a chicken-first or egg-first scenario remains to be foreseen, but it is inevitable that video content will become far more common.

The phenomenon of online video is backed up by numerous other phenomena, not least being Youtube and video news clips on major news and sports sites. Showmax, an SA enterprise, is beginning to emulate Amazon in streaming series.
There is a high likelihood that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Apple TV will begin to formally penetrate the Southern African market in the next few years. It makes sense. Southern Africa is a potential profit centre. The upshot of this will be yet another upward increment in bandwidth products, with faster bandwidth and higher usage caps, making online video the next standard.
If video becomes the consumer standard it has to transfer to the field of communication, locally. In the past, video has been seen as a difficult and expensive medium, but actually it is not. The days of complex operations that involved bulky cameras, huge crews and lighting gear are a thing of the past.
The baseline is that a smartphone camera and a smallish piece of video editing software with an easy, intuitive interface can do the trick. By intuitive interface, I mean drag video clip here, put sound file there, put logo at the end. It’s as easy as that, and the number of young teens doing it shows the way ahead.
So, in order to fulfil the demand for this form of communication, the basic requirement is a quiet, well-lit area to film the video and a piece of video compositing software.
If filming someone doing something or announcing something seems daunting, there is also the possibility of making something in Flash, or an animated gif, both of which can be rendered for video output using the video compositing software. If something more sophisticated is needed, consider buying a commercial clip from one of the stock libraries. Many of the photographic stock libraries are beginning to offer clips.
As this is is for online purposes, high definition formats are not yet an absolute prerequisite. In fact, relatively low definition is advisable as the local bandwidth environment is not yet suitable for high definition, and people are fickle about waiting for videos to load.
They are also fickle about the amount of time that they are prepared to watch, so the first rule of thumb is to keep it short. Youtube points to the length of time that people are prepared to watch a commercial message before they get frustrated. They give five seconds before the viewer can skip the ad.
Although a longer ad may be tempting, keep Youtube video ads to five seconds, preferably four, to get the message across. If it is longer, expect people to ignore the bulk of the message. You might have a chance at a slightly longer ad with a Facebook boost, but don’t bank on it.
Structure the content well. You may have a clip or a type message with a duration of three seconds, followed by a logo and slogan. Make sure that the sound works to draw attention back to the ad in case people look away. If you can find something humorous, odd or engaging, all the better, though obviously within the bounds of copyright. If the message is provided through copy, that will work easily, but if you want a full motion clip, then the most likely route is to source something from one of the stock libraries.
The next question is where to put the video? The obvious answer is to put it on Youtube, which is free. It’s simplicity itself. Open a Youtube channel, place the visual brand on the channel and upload the video. From there you can link it to Facebook and / or embed a player in your own website.
Online video is far easier than people give it credit for. The only barrier is the learning curve which might actually be a fun project for an afternoon.


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