Have you ever needed play a YouTube video offline for a presentation or meeting? Or extract the audio from a YouTube video for similar use? While illegally downloading copyrighted material is not endorsed by Online Video Publishing [dot] com, here are two free online tools that can help you download non-copyrighted material.
Guest Post by Neil Davidson, Mywebpresenters
While that’s all very well, we know that the majority of video ad views will belong to well known brands with deep enough pockets to have a punt at large scale online video without having to batter an eyelid should they not receive a direct return on their investment.
So how about the rest of us? Can a typical small business see verifiable (and direct) results from using video?
What are your aims?
Video is no different to any other marketing channel; it needs to be a working cog that plays its part in achieving the company’s broader goals. For example you may have too slow a process for closing leads due to your product being a high cost product or perhaps there are trust issues in your market so it may be helpful to add customer testimonial videos onto your product pages to help improve your performance in these areas.
Marketo is an example of a business doing customer testimonial videos well.
Alternatively you may have issues with people understanding exactly what your product does and how it can help them.
A good example of a small business doing this well is Harvey Water Softeners they have a number of videos throughout the site that explain how water softeners work and the health benefits of using them.
There are also plenty of businesses who have used video to achieve their goals more effectively. Take the Khan academy for instance: they have revolutionized education meaning that children all around the world can learn at their own pace, support others who need help and get help from others who are already clear on certain subjects: Here is an overview video from TED’s YouTube channel.
Our specialty is using video Web Presenters and we find that these are possibly the type of video that carry the lowest costs in production and are the easiest to get up and running quickly.
To give you an example with figures: The National IT Learning Centre increased the website bookings for their courses by 35% through the use of the web presenter video which you can see on their homepage above.
So, initially you must define where you are as a business and what your current short to mid term goals are, then once clear determine if video can or cannot play a part in helping you to achieve those goals. I am of course biased but I would be happy to take the challenge of finding a practical way for any business owner to use video effectively to achieve their business goals.
Video is simply a medium for communication and because it helps to visually rather than textually convey your message it is generally effective as many people respond well to visual explanations.
Once you are clear on your aims for video production and marketing you should set yourself some clear targets that will measure how close you come to achieving your aims.
In the first example above where I talked about video testimonials there may be 2 measurements that you could use:
- lead to sale conversion time lag shortening
- increase in the number of leads
Whereas for the second example it is more likely to be a clear-cut matter of the number of additional leads gained versus costs of the video production. It is worth taking into account that the videos will probably be good for a few years use in both cases. An additional measurement in both cases could be site conversion rate.
Keep it Real
Whatever type of video that you are producing it is important that you speak from the heart, insincerity (bullshit) is easier to spot on a persons face or in the tone of their voice than it is in text.
Your pride in your business needs to come across, of course not in an arrogant way but in a passionate way. If you are excited about the things that your business is doing and are obviously keen to share it with others then the response you will receive is likely to be positive.
If you are producing customer testimonial type videos then give your customers a short list of possible points to cover that will really get them talking, e.g.
What advise would you give to other potential users of this product in hindsight?
Use natural language that suits you, do not try to be the person you think your customers want to see, just be confident in yourself that you have something worthwhile to share and be yourself.
What results can be expected?
We have produced video for a wide range of different businesses and have seen many positive results and some not so great results.
The difference between success and failure usually comes down to the strategy behind the video production and use. If there is a clear aim and this is being fulfilled by the videos well then they usually work.
Obviously not a small business but Virgin Holidays managed to increase the upsell of their upper class seats by 30% due to a single web presenter video. This resulted in an additional £4 million in revenue for Virgin.
As mentioned above The National IT Learning Centre increased the website bookings for their courses by 35% and many more small businesses have had similar results.
Bespoke (personalized or tailored) web presenter videos vary in price depending on the complexity but start at £597. Many companies offer cheaper, off the shelf options for less. Sitepal for example offer avatar style videos for less than £50. In fact we have also trialled generic web presenter type videos but found that the response rates to the generic rather than bespoke videos were disappointing so are now focusing solely on improving the efficiency of our bespoke video services.
About the author
This post was written by Neil Davidson, CEO of Mywebpresenters who are a video production company specializing in corporate video for the web. They are also the pioneers of video web presenters technology. If you would like to have a conversation about how to tell your corporate story then please email Neil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You don’t need expensive video editing software to tell your story, as Jonathan Wylie of PC World, points out in his recent article, How to Edit Video on the Cheap | PCWorld. Wylie says, “Buying the latest, greatest high-def camcorder or Digital SLR camera can be expensive, but the software you use to edit your footage doesn’t have to be. A number of free or low-cost video editors do a very respectable job of prepping your home movies for sharing with friends, family, or the rest of the world.”
- Windows Live Movie Maker – “Microsoft’s Movie Maker has been available at no charge for years, but the latest Windows Live version is a very respectable video editor. In addition to the usual basic editing tools, Microsoft Movie Maker lets you add video themes, music, titles, and credits–and apply a few transitions, some pan and zoom effects, and various visual-effect filters. You can publish finished projects to Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube, or export them to your hard drive in 1080p HD or any of a range of other resolutions. If you’ve invested in a great HD camcorder and you’re editing on a budget, Windows Live Movie Maker is a great tool to start with.”
- Video Spin – “Pinnacle’s Video Spin is another smart choice if you’re on a tight budget. You can download it for free and take advantage of Video Spin’s straightforward interface to edit video quickly and efficiently. You can split, trim, or combine movies, and add transitions, text, and even a soundtrack. Not all features are free forever, though. After 15 days, you’ll have to buy different codec packs (for around $15 each) to continue editing certain video formats.”
- Serif MoviePlus Starter – “Serif launched MoviePlus Starter as a free version of one of its more advanced video editors. The Starter edition is far from the most full-featured video-editing software you can buy, but it’ll do the job unless you’re looking to edit a blockbuster movie. You can use MoviePlus Starter to insert fades, wipes, and transitions, as well as to fiddle with captions, titles, and credits. You can experiment with a “picture in picture” effect, add three (or fewer) video or audio tracks at once, and edit your video content quickly and easily. Beginners will love the built-in help system and the simple drag-and-drop interface.”
- YouTube – “Editing video online might not be an ideal scenario, but if you’re already in the habit of uploading lots of clips to YouTube, you may find it easier to do your editing with YouTube’s own online video editor. The new YouTube editor lets you trim the beginnings and ends of videos, and adjust the brightness, contrast, and color to your taste. The editor includes a video stabilization feature to help reduce the shakiness of handheld footage, and it has 14 style effects like black-and-white and sepia. Once you’ve finished editing, the YouTube editor’s software makes posting your projects to your YouTube account and sharing them with others very easy.”
This video comes by way of tech geek extraordinaire Chris Pirillo, as part of his mobile Q&A sessions which he recorded with his iPhone that was mounted on the dashboard of his Prius. He answers the question, “How to decrease video file size” and offers the following advise:
- Keep in mind that anytime you decrease the file size of you video, you are also decreasing the quality.
- Look at originating profile as a frame of reference (resolution, bit rate, codec, frame rate, audio settings, etc.)
- His favorite video encoder of all time is MPEG Streamclip, a free open source video conversion tool for Mac or Windows. While it’s not perfect it is easy to use.
- Frame Size: 720 x 480 (1280 x 720 if you have a Pro account and would like an HD version as well)
- Video Codec: H.264
- Audio Codec: AAC
- Video Bitrate: 3.5Mbps – 5.0Mbps
- Audio Bitrate: 128 Kbps
- Fast Start Enabled: Yes
This post comes by way of the YouTube Blog, and features a humorous approach to an often confusing subject – video compression. This video, Uploading 101 with Professor Compressor, is presented as part of Howcast’s ‘Modern 101 for emerging digital filmmakers’ published every Friday on the YouTube blog since October 1, 2010.
If you can see past the silliness and length of the video, Professor Compressor (played by Nardeep Khurmi, Howcast’s Post Production Specialist) does share helpful information on how to choose the right codec, aspect ratio and data rate when uploading a video to the web.
Reprinted from the YouTube Blog:
“What is a codec?
A codec is the format in which you compress your video. It could be a variety of different formats, but the most modern, powerful, and commonly used codecs are H.264 and MPEG-4.
Why H.264 and MP4 (MPEG-4)?
H.264 and MP4 are wunderful codecs! They allow you to have a tremendous quality video at a fraction of the file size. Lets look at a theoretical example:
You’ve finished editing and have made a beautiful 1920×1080 master file. But it is in the Apple Pro Res format, and is over 2GB. This file won’t work for the web. The video codec is too large and the file size is too big. Inevitably you will end up with a low quality video, because the master file is not designed and optimized for the web.
Take that file and transcode it into an H.264. Since web players are designed to work seamlessly with H.264, you won’t have to worry about choppy or corrupted playback. And H.264 encodes your video in such a way that you won’t see a noticeable drop in image quality. What you will see is your 2GB master file shrink to less than 500MB — perfect for the web!
Help, my footage looks stretched or squished and there are black bars bordering the footage!
This is a common problem that results from uploading an incorrect frame size. When uploading, you need to make sure the video is in the correct frame size for the player. This could be a variety of different frame sizes, varying from SD to HD, so check your website’s FAQ on uploading for instructions. The most common frame sizes are: 640×360, 640×480, 720×480, 1280×720, and 1920×1080.
This problem could also result from an incorrect Pixel Aspect Ratio. Pixel Aspect Ratio (or PAR) can be a little confusing, but the simple way to think of it is that this setting tells your program what aspect ratio to encode your video, at the pixel level. It determines how the digital information is presented and viewed onscreen. I recommend square pixels for HD, PAL for PAL, and NTSC for NTSC, though this can vary.. The best option is to play around with this setting when exporting until you get your video looking pristine.
Help, my video looks muddy and detail is lost. My text looks almost pixelated and the video is generally very low quality.
Low image quality is usually due to a low data rate when exporting your video. When exporting your video, you’re given many options; one of these is data rate. Setting the data rate to automatic will usually result in the best image. It is also highly recommended to do a multi-pass encode. It will take longer than a single-pass encode, but it will result in a much smoother video with higher image quality.
Well, that was a lot of information! Digest it, experiment, and start uploading those WUNDERFUL videos!”
Correction: Professor Compressor calls H.264 and MP4 or MPEG-4 both codecs and actually that’s not true. MP4 is a file container and H.264 is the codec or compression type used to encode MP4 file, and part of the MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) video compression standard. See this post for more clarification on codecs, containers, formats: Encoding Video for the Web – Slides from ReelSEO.com Webinar