Viewfinder: Sharing Video Clips

We are considering the addition of a new service for our readers that I’d like to tell you about. It is a video sharing service. This new service would aim to help solve a problem that many Videomaker readers have: getting new footage to use in their work. There are a few Web sites on the Internet that allow people to share their videos. However, the quality of the streaming video is far lower than the evasive "broadcast quality," even lower than VHS quality. The quality may be OK for simply viewing the clip, but it is too low for videographers making a production to consider including it in their projects. Let’s say a Videomaker reader living in Kansas was making a video that included a scene that was supposed to take place in New York City. He could not use a clip of the New York City skyline that he had retrieved as a streaming video file because the image quality is simply too poor.

As you may know, however, digitized, broadcast-quality video is essentially a very large computer file. MPEG-2 (Motion Picture Experts Group) is the leading standard. For the average modem-based Internet user, a 30-minute, full-screen, full-motion MPEG-2 file would take many, many hours to download from a Web site. Even a short 5-minute video at this quality can take hours to download with a slow Internet connection.

The video sharing service that we are considering resembles the services that stock footage suppliers provide. Participants would send and receive actual videotape with high-quality, editable footage or upload and download MPEG-2 files to our server. The key to making the upload-download service work would be to keep the clips very brief. The shorter the clip, the quicker the download. In addition to short video footage, there are other short video elements that people may want to share. Someone that is handy with an animated graphics program could produce a brief 3D-animated title, like THE END. Dozens of video producers could use this shared title to close their video programs. This would save time for people and increase the quality of their productions too.

Besides stock footage and titles, producers could share sound effects. Examples of this could be a police-car siren, a pistol shot, an explosion, a rooster crowing or a train whistle. There are many professional video services that provide solutions like the examples that we mentioned. The cost for these services can be quite high. There is yet another relatively unknown service called "clip brokering". There are so many camcorder/reality-based TV shows, and just not enough video clips to go around. Many "funniest videos" and reality-based TV shows do not procure video clips themselves. They use video clip brokers. Each week these brokers provide video clips of groin injuries, police chases, dog tricks and shoplifters caught in the act to the highest bidder. Professional TV producers use stock footage, sound effects, animated titles and brokered clips routinely. They can afford to since they generate
millions of dollars of income and their budgets are high. Our clip-sharing service could be the low-budget place to get these types of materials.

We feel that our "clip share" service would be popular for a number of reasons. First, it will help increase the quality of the videos that you are producing. It will reduce the time required to create certain scenes. It will inspire people to share clips that they are proud of and – with a limit set on the length of clips allowed – it would provide realistic upload/download time for users.

Let us know what you think of the idea. How likely would you be to participate? Let us know if you would prefer the tape exchange version or the upload-download version of this service? Write a letter addressed to "clip share", at PO Box 4591, Chico, CA 95928 or e-mail your comments to We look forward to hearing from you.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.