The final session of the day was concerning Online Video Production. This session was facilitated by Dave Barger and Bob Hazlett. By this time, I think most people’s brains were on overload, between the Red Bull (awesome sponsor btw) and the excellent content. I know I was at the point of saturation but this session was just enough to fill me up with out making my brain explode. it was also great as many of the people I had been Tweet.., er Zanneling(?), for most of the day was in the room as well. The last hour of posts on Zannel almost looked like we were racing to get the first post of a topic or idea. It was extremely fun to use these last minutes to zip messages back and forth and compare notes, but I digress.
The session started with a short discussion on Streaming vs. Recording. Both are excellent methods for providing video content and some streaming sites will record your stream and make it available for viewing later. The real key is determining your audience or niche (I think I’ve heard that once or twice, so it’s probably important.) If your audience is connected or uses the streaming sites, then that may be the method that is best for you. If being on camera LIVE makes you break out in hives, or if you know your audience would prefer the convenience of watching on their schedule, then recording would be better suited for you.
The conversation then moved on to equipment. Bob showed us the Flip Mino he had been using throughout the day. It was a small camera with built in memory and rechargeable batteries. It is a good base digital video camera and has built in editing tools for Windows. (I’m not sure about the Mac) The price on the Mino runs from around $140 on some discounts sites to $229 for the Mino HD which is relatively new. Dave showed us several devices and reminded us we don’t necessarily need an expensive device to record video. Everything from a cell phone to a jail broken iPhone using Cycorder. Also there are several inexpensive digital only cameras such as the Aiptech which shoots in HD at 720p and can be found at Walmart for under $150. I personally bought one of these for my son and he loves it. It is relatively simple to use and can have memory added in the form of SD cards. Of course, you need to remember you really DO get what you pay for, so don’t expect the level of quality you’d get with one of the new Red HD camera systems a a hundredth or less of the cost. Personally, I invested in both the Aptech for my son and a JVC MiniDV camera with a USB and FireWire connection for family/personal video projects.
Editing was the next topic we covered. if you are on a Mac, it came with a pretty handy program out of the box: iMovie. I have used iMovie quite a bit and find it pretty handy for most editing needs. If I need to get a bit “fancier” (like add a second or third audio track or special effects) I use Final Cut Express. On the PC side of the great OS divide, there are Several Programs, such as Vegas from Sony as well as the Windows version of Quicktime Pro for minor edits. Adobe Premier is available for both OS X and Windows and is an excellent tool. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you can go with the professional Final Cut Studio package for about $1300 and there are packages that are higher still.
Displaying your video was next up for discussion. Just as there are a huge number of cameras to use and just as many editing packages, you guessed it, there are many places and ways you can host your video. The Grand Daddy of all sites is YouTube.com. With its huge built in audience and format which can be seen on almost any device, it is a good central spot for your videos. Other sites include Blip.tv, Viddler, Kyte.tv, Vimeo, uStream, Mogulus, and a cast of hundreds more. These sites all have their advantages, so you need to look at each and decide which is best for you.
Some questions from the group included “Why would you use video?” Bob responded with How-tos, Product demos, explanations, FAQs, Testimonials, Interview, almost anything. People prefer to hear and see the information they are seeking rather than reading a document. Watching someone setup a home theater system is much easer to follow than reading a manual. Video is the best way to communicate information in today’s world. Another question was “How do you measure success?” There are a number of tools to use from simple view counts, to comments, and p to full analytics which can track browsers, IP addresses, referrers, and other demographics about your viewers. Youtube uses Analytics to even show the region of the country your viewers call home.
This session was very informative for me and I think we could have gone on for hours discussing the tools and logistics, but unfortunately it was time for BarCamp Memphis to come to a close. My next post will sum up my views, feelings, what I thought went great, and the areas where I think there can be some improvement.