Bringing your website to life with video

Appropriate use of video can transform a text heavy website that is difficult to digest, into a rich multimedia experience. A 90 second introductory film can give a visitor a more compelling and profound introduction to your business than a page of words and pictures. A video case study is more evocative than a written account.

When choosing how to incorporate video into your web strategy, you will need to consider many factors including budget, accessibility, and quality. Usually your decision will involve some kind of compromise between these.

Production considerations
In any video production it is crucial to remember your audience, but this can be even more important when you are distributing video via the Internet. Your typical viewer will be sat in front of their computer at their desk, having made a decision to come to your website. They have found you, but they have an almost infinite number of distractions a single click of the mouse away.
Keep it short: there is no strict rule about the maximum length of the video, but it is sensible to try and keep it under three minutes if possible.
Good sound: a viewer will forgive video that is not perfectly composed or camera work that is a bit shaky, but if the sound is bad, you will lose them instantly.
Music: the choice of music is critical to any video production. The right choice will evoke strong feelings of empathy and add meaning to the imagery.

You may find yourself in the position of wanting to use existing video footage on your website. Where possible, you should start from the original uncompressed editing ‘project’ and export the video to a file and format suitable for the web.

To avoid expensive reworking, additional editing, and litigation in the worst case, it is important that you have clearance for all elements in your film. This includes any individuals who are the subject of the film, anyone that is interviewed, or anyone in any other way important to the narrative of the film. These individuals will need to sign a ‘release form’,

Once you have a finished post-production of your film or made the appropriate adaptations to existing films for use on the web, it is time to think about your means of distribution.

Download from website
This is the simplest and quickest way to get video onto the Internet. Video is uploaded to the website, and is assigned a URL. A link to the video’s URL is provided from one of the website pages. When the user clicks on the link, they are directed to the page that contains the video. You may also want to offer different sized versions of the same film so that viewers can pick the appropriate one for their Internet connection.

Embedded video sharing for free
A great zero cost option is to take advantage of video sharing sites such as Google Video, YouTube, MetaCafé or Vimeo to embed video content in your website. They encode your video into their respective versions of the Flash format, before making it available within their online community. They also provide a piece of HTML code which you can add to your own website, allowing you to ‘embed’ the video. The portion of your web page that appears to contain your video, is essentially ‘pointing’ to hosts site. Apart from being free, the main benefit of using the video sharing sites, is that you do not have to worry about hosting the video yourself and there is no limit to how many people download your video. The size and power of the hosts servers means that the service works well, the video streams smoothly with a good connection with rarely any buffering. However, the quality can often be disappointing.  Also the hosts have complete control over the distribution of your video and they retain the right to remove your video without explanation.

Paid for embedded video
If you have a budget for the distribution of your video, then a good option is to pay a specialist company to host your video for you. This works in a very similar way to the free services outlined above, in the sense that you provide a copy of your film, which they upload onto their servers. You are then provided with some HTML code to include in your website. When you pay, you get far more control over the quality. We can give you expert advice on the optimum size of video to ensure that it streams properly at the highest possible resolution. You have control and as a paying customer you have a comeback if there are any technical problems.


27th January 2010

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