Things have changed quite a bit from when I started in the film & video business in 1988. Back then, many corporate programs were shot and edited film. Video shooting was on “plain Jane”, non-SP, analogue Betacam. Video editing was on Low Band U-Matic – a process that required copious notes to be taken and a day or two of writing all the timecode numbers down for the (linear) on-line edit. Mastering was on bulky one-inch reel to reel video, that was so sensitive to magnetic fields, it could not be obtained on a London tube train. Distribution was either on Low Band U-Matic, Betamax (remember that?) , or VHS.
Now, almost twenty years later, the much heralded digital era is upon us. You are able to shoot on DV, edit Avid, and burn the result onto film alta definizione without a moment’s thought or any reduction of quality. The single point of the process that has stayed more or less the same is the last one: delivery of this program into the viewer. Can it be by article, Fed-Ex, or motorcycle courier, somebody must take a replica of your completed program, transfer it to where your viewer will see it, then play it on specialized equipment. If your program has to cross boundaries into a different country, chances are you’ll have to have special copies made to conform to this country’s TV regular, and the customer will need to pay a hefty customs fee also.
The Internet provides a solution to this issue and is, in my view, the perfect medium for the supply of corporate movies, for companies big and small. Broadband/ ADSL Internet access is rapidly becoming the norm. Approximately 80 percent of the UK now has the capacity to access Broadband (source: The Guardian) and the figure is significantly greater for a few other countries. Listed below are a Couple of examples of ways this technology could be used:
Let’s say you run a small or medium sized firm and have made a promotional video to show to prospective customers. You can easily stream this by the website. If you don’t want your competitors to see your movie (and you cannot guarantee that a DVD won’t fall into the”wrong” hands), you can password protect that part of the site and make access by invitation only. You could also stream a commercial from the website for the entire world to see – not just people on your local TV area. You could even tie it into your print advertisements, so people would like to visit your site and see your own commercial. That certainly beats them getting up to go to the bathroom when your business is showing on TV, or fast forwarding it if they have videoed the program its being shown in! There is so much video articles of this nature being shown on the web now, Yahoo! has devoted a large area of their search engine to it. Visit Yahoo!, click on the”video” tab and type in”commercial” to see exactly what I mean.
If you run a huge company or have staff in more than one place, then movie streaming becomes a real blessing. In addition to the choices available to small businesses, you can use it to get corporate communications. You are able to demonstrate the same video to employees in various places, cities, time zones, as well as countries. Aside from converting your video to the correct format (more on that subject later), and having your webmaster upload it to your webspace, the real costs are practically nothing – and there’s definitely nothing to get the tax guy to get his teeth into! Your movie may cross boarders without having to incur customs charges, and criteria conversion becomes something of the past.
Getting your coaching message across also becomes a lot simpler. Employees can watch the video from their computer screens. Add some”interactivity” into the mix, and you are able to build a training session tailored to each worker. If you are on a network, you can do this via your business intranet as well as over the web.
With live streaming, one trainer can train several people at precisely the same time, even if they’re in different areas of the world. This is particularly useful for medical practice. A surgeon can demonstrate a specific technique in the sterile surroundings, with no operating theatre having to be filled with students. The whole procedure may also be recorded on video for viewing afterwards.
There are many formats available for digital video, and careful study is necessary to pick the most appropriate . The most popular formats are:
Macromedia Flash (swf)
Microsoft Video (avi)
Motion Picture Experts Group (mpeg)
Quick Time (mov)
Real Media (rm)
Windows Media (wmv)
Streaming video does not compare to what audiences are utilized to viewing on broadcast TV or DVD. The most apparent difference being the optimum screen size is a lot smaller. Under ideal conditions, streaming video can be clear and continuous, but the latest technology has to be employed to create, send and get the video or the outcomes can be disappointing; however, that said, the type of picture one would observe when seated right in front of the monitor isn’t reminiscent of that observed to a 14″ portable TV viewed from 10 feet or so away.
Because of the smaller screen size, it’s best to avoid any complicated graphics or DVE moves in a streamed video, although still frame graphics can always be shown on the website alongside the video.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about streaming video. Some of the most common questions I get asked are:
“Don’t I need a special website for streaming movie?” No, you don’t. Because the files are large, most free sites won’t host them, but ordinary sites will. I have over five hours of streaming video on my website, and it’s just an ordinary one. Some web hosting companies do charge you extra if you have live streaming video on a continuous basis, but this is usually to cover the extra bandwidth.
“Ah, bandwidth. I’ll wager it uses a good deal. Won’t that cost a fortune?” This is sort of true. Video files are large, but they are just binary files. Downloading large files – be they video or software – does use up a lot of bandwidth. However, video streaming formats are especially designed to keep file sizes as small as possible. Bandwidth isn’t all that expensive these days anyway, and many web hosting packages come with a monthly allocation of 50 – 100 gigabytes, which is more than adequate for most applications.
“Some men and women who wish to see my movies have Windows PCs, while others have Macs. Won’t this be an issue?” No. Most streaming formats are compatible with multiple operating systems, and even specific manufacturer’s formats like Microsoft’s Windows Media, and Apple’s Quick Time, have versions that can be used by”the competition”.
“Is streaming movie any great on a dial-up connection?” It’s true that streaming video works best via Broadband. The best choice is to offer the alternative of downloading the video file in addition to streaming itthat way, someone on a dial-up can download the file and watch it out of their hard disk.