Viewfinder: Video Questions to Ponder

Deciding the subject matter for our videos is something that we all regularly face. How do we want to exercise our freedom of expression? What do we want to say? Answering these questions requires answering another set of questions: Are we primarily interested in making money, reaching the largest number of people, evoking change in the way people think, even if the number of viewers is small?

Many of us do not have the luxury of doing anything but seeking the greatest financial reward. Small video production companies and event videographers are under pressure to keep the cash flowing, so they tend to choose video projects that make money. However, on occasion, they do indeed dream about making videos that satisfy on another level.

Some of you are retired and not under any pressure to generate income from video production. You may currently be interested in making videos of your family, which can profoundly evoke emotions from your viewers.

Some of you are independent producers, with a primary interest in self-expression. You tend to seek larger audiences, preferring to reach the largest possible number of people and hoping your production turns into a Hollywood blockbuster. I must confess that when I first became interested in video production, this was my orientation.

The way in which you answer these questions will directly effect the video medium in which you choose to deliver your final product. VHS and DVD are costly in high numbers, but they are perfect for reaching a small number of highly targeted viewers. Videos delivered over the Internet (streaming, download and play, QuickTime, MP4, RealPlayer, Windows Media, etc.) are quite inexpensive and can reach a lot of people.

To reach a medium-to-large audience, you can have your video transferred to film and attempt to have an independent film distributor pick it up. Film festivals utilize many forms of video media. Preliminary submissions may have originally been viewed on VHS tape. The festival, however, possibly screened it on the big screen, from a film projector or a high-resolution video projector. Once distributed, it was certainly shown on film in theaters, sold on VHS and/or DVD and perhaps streamed over the Internet.

Of all of the new video mediums, I am most impressed with MPEG-4. Lots of Web sites offer MPEG-4 videos that you can download or simultaneously stream and download. One site,, was one of the first to offer this service. In fact, you can purchase all of Videomaker magazines’ videos from this site.

Over the next few years, MPEG-4 distribution will revolutionize the way people choose and watch TV programs and movies. The most exciting thing about this is that there is a chance for everybody to "get into the game." The idea that you can gain access to a large audience was unheard of, just five years ago.

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