How to Create Videos for Your Web Site - dummies

How to Create Videos for Your Web Site

By Bud E. Smith

You can capture your own videos to post on your Web site. There used to be a lot of things to think about in doing this, but now YouTube offers tools to “launder” your videos into an acceptable format and size, store and serve them for you, and provide you with the HTML to embed them in your Web page.

YouTube accepts .WMV (Windows movies), .AVI (a common Windows format), .MOV (QuickTime video), MPEG (the cross-platform standard), and .MP4 formats.

Here are some tips for capturing good-quality video for use on your Web site via YouTube:

  • Set up the shot with strong lighting: LCD monitors are a step back in terms of image quality and clarity from CRT screens. Also, your video may be viewed on a mobile phone or in poor lighting conditions Light is one of the secrets of making video.

  • Get light onto the faces of people (and animals) and onto the front of objects of interest: If you have the background lit but not the foreground, the camera will compensate to make the bright background acceptably dimmer, which will make the dim foreground nearly invisible. Although it can be uncomfortable, your subjects should face toward the light (if indoors) or the sun (if outdoors).

  • Try to capture several seconds of the scene before and after the main action occurs: Having a few seconds of “intro” and “outro” allows the viewer to get used to the scene before anything happens, and to relax afterward before it ends.

  • Try to keep motion slow and within small part of the frame: Fast motion, or motion across the majority of the frame, can cause visible distortion on playback.

  • Spend extra time and effort on sound: If you’re going to use sound picked up during filming, consider using an external microphone.

  • Try a rehearsal before you shoot the real thing: Have your kids run around on the grass and film them a few days before the big soccer match. Have someone stand onstage behind the podium and try filming her for five minutes a few days before the big speech.

  • Think twice before using a Web camera: Most of the videos on YouTube are the head of some young person tilting down to talk into the Web camera on a PC; YouTube makes this very easy with their Quick Capture feature. But most of us don’t look so good from a shooting angle that points halfway up one’s nose.

  • Don’t spend too much time in production: You can’t add quality to a video after it’s captured; you can only clean it up a bit. (Okay, if you’re a pro or a talented amateur, you can clean it up a lot, time and budget permitting.)

  • Enjoy yourself: It’s easy to forget, after worrying about legal, technical, and creative concerns, but video is the most natural of media types, and putting video on the Web and playing it back should be fun. Spend some time worrying about the “hygiene” issues described here, but then just relax and enjoy yourself. Any sense of joy and playfulness you bring to your efforts will come through in the result.