As recently as five years ago, producers with an eye towards Web distribution faced more hurdles than a track star. They had to figure out how to squeeze multi-gigabyte video files down to Web-friendly sizes, how to set up their own Web servers and, finally, how to make their videos available for the world to see.
It was a nightmare. A real, honest-to-goodness, mice-pooping-in-your-morning-cereal mess. Now with free video sharing websites those days are gone forever.
The World Is Your Playground
Web-based video hosting services have exploded in the past two years. Better technology, higher bandwidth and easy-to-use conversion tools have removed the barriers that kept video producers from using the Web as a distribution medium.
Through Web-based services like Google Video, YouTube or Revver, viewers can watch your work online, download it to their PCs and iPods or even share it with the world. You can even make real money, depending on the hosting service. Best of all, none of this requires that the producer know anything about streaming and hosting media across the Internet. It’s about time.
Six Degrees of Separation
Getting a video online has never been simpler than now:
- Register with the free video sharing online service. This is usually not different from registering for an email account.
- Render out your video in the format accepted by the service. (As a general rule, the .mpg format is almost always a winner.)
- Create the title and keyword entry for your video on the hosting service, using its Web-based forms.
- Upload the video. You can do this either by Web interface or free upload client.
- Wait for the service to process your video. This can take as long as a couple days.
- Once online, spread the word.
That’s it. Six short steps separate your videos from the world. So, where should you start?
Top Free Video Sharing Sites
Google Video. YouTube. Revver. Vimeo. The names sound like throwbacks to the days of the Internet boom. They also don’t tell you a thing about what they can do for you. Put simply, all of these services make your videos available to Internet users. With your permission, they stream your video to Web browsers, make it available for download or even allow it to be embedded in other sites across the Web. Though each site performs essentially the same function, we’ll focus on Google Video, YouTube and Revver to illuminate the range of available services.
- Google Video
Google Video is a robust free video sharing service.
Videos stream in real time on broadband connections and require no download. Unfortunately, the quality of videos is generally poor. This loss of quality is offset by the lack of length restrictions on hosted videos. Uploading requires the use of a small client, which is robust and easy to use.
Google Video accepts many popular video file types, except Flash files. Once it is processed, the video will be both online and available for download in Google Video’s proprietary .gvi format. Unfortunately, Google Video does not offer users the option to sell their videos. All user-created content is free.
When you think of videos on the Web, chances are you think of YouTube. With everything from copyright scandals to its recent purchase by Google, YouTube is by far the most recognizable Web-based free video sharing service.
YouTube accepts nearly all video formats (.mov, .avi, .mpg), although they specifically recommend MPEG-4 at 320×240 resolution with MP3 audio.Video quality is generally very good. Unfortunately, YouTube does not accept works longer than 10 minutes. Additionally, though they can link videos or embed them to other sites, viewers cannot download them. As with Google Video, user videos on YouTube are free.
Revver’s claim to fame is its ad-sharing technology. The service matches your video to an appropriate ad and makes it available on the Web. Whenever a viewer clicks on the ad, Revver splits the ad revenue with you 50/50. Revver accepts almost all video formats. Unfortunately, they limit video size to 100MB. This means that some heavy compression may have to be done to make longer videos fit.
Spread the Word
Now that you’ve uploaded your video, you can focus on getting the word out to the world. Since your work is on the Web, it’s best to focus your efforts online as well. Options include:
- Custom Web site focused on your video
- Banner ads
- Links to blogs and message boards
- Focused keyword entries
Keywords are often overlooked as a method of driving traffic. Just remember to boil the key points of your video down to one- or two-word blurbs.
Example: You’ve just created a video demonstrating how to safely cut a piece of laminate flooring with dental floss and a lawn gnome. To drive traffic, you add the following keywords to your video description:
- Laminate flooring
- Dental floss
- Lawn gnome
This should drive the right audience to your work.
Because of free video sharing getting your videos seen online has never been simpler. Whether you just want to get your work out to the world (Google Video, YouTube) or make some money for your time (Revver), your options have never been better.
Consider this: The distance from the PC to the TV shrinks more every year. Home theaters, high Internet bandwidth and built-in monetization are set to change the way we purchase and watch videos. Who knows? Before you know it, you might be selling tickets to your next movie online and streaming it directly to the viewer’s home theater. Far-fetched? So was easy-to-use streaming video across the Web, not five years ago. Time to embrace the change.
Tony Bruno has been making independent films for four years, is an occasional actor and makes his living as a professional technical writer.
Side Bar: 3 Rules for Internet Videos
Here are three rules of thumb for successful
- Keep It Short
People don’t like to sit through long videos on their PCs. Your running time should be four minutes or less.
- Make ’em Laugh
A short, funny video is more likely to be seen by a corporate worker during the lunch break than a long, angst-ridden drama.
- Get Moving
Make your video accessible to mobile video players, like the iPod or Zen Vision:M. People who can download your work are going to provide you with the best kind of marketing, word of mouth.