Tech Post #12: Uploading Video

So I usually loaf over to the Kiwi‘s desk at work and stare at his poster of a Maori rugby team- he offers some Kiwiisms– or we “get a cuppa” meaning the same conversation but standing next to the coffee maker. Yesterday, all of that random hanging-out time was justified. He asked me offhand what was involved with making a training video and getting it up on Youtube. He asked about capture software- I pinged a friend at Adobe who I used to work with doing training docs, and he suggested Adobe Capture. Using that, Kiwi made a video in about 5 minutes (no reading of the manual of course). Àpres moi, le déluge: over the next few hours everyone in the company (it seemed) was in his cube oohing and ahhing over the Flash version of the training video.

But this is actually a tech post. Because what ensued, after the initial happy 5 minutes of making a great looking Flash instructional thing, we were in the quagmire of competing codecs, compressions, formats, sites, etc. Because I didn’t know- not having done this in ages- that Shockwave-Flash and Quicktime are competitors. So YouTube is quicktime/MOV/AVI formats, and lovely vector-based technology like Flash- so clear and easily compressed, so instructive- is not supported. All of those funny animations I’d seen shared around YouTube were converted from flash to movie format.

My Simple Understanding of Video/Animation File Formats
Flash is “vector-based” meaning, it takes an object, like Cartman in SouthPark, and puts him on one side of the screen, then moves him to the other part of the screen, and saves the path he moved, and his object, the picture of him as an icon. Quicktime, AVI, MPEG- those formats are all traditional video formats where they save the frames per second and – while they do have fancy compression formulas- still are basically like a movie projector. Cartman is on the left side of hte screen (snap) then he moves a few pixels over (snap2), etc. All of the snaps are compiled like a flipbook and that makes animation.

We experimented with getting our beautiful Flash presentation (that had wow’d everyone) converted to AVI but the quality was awful, and even the best tools kept failing on us. We ended up just doing it twice- once in a ‘native’ AVI capture application, that we uploaded to YouTube, and then again in the Flash, which we will host on our company site.

I made a “china” version of the video, and Kiwi made another. This is also a cool Martha Stewart video (from TV, which is OK in my mind to port to video and thus YouTube).

On Video Fileservers
I am a huge proponent of Vidavee as a video fileserver, plug-in, and overall easy way to tag videos in your blogs. I was an early tester for the WordPress plug-in and devotedly follow all of its developments. I like the easy interface, and for tagging in a blog post, it’s soooo simple: { vidavee id=333 }, for example. Those YouTube embedded videos above are 10 lines of code, all difficult weird stuff that’s hard to remember, and usually rich text editors maul it to pieces, as well.

{vidavee id=”304″ }

But the reason that YouTube is a darling isn’t because of the technical reasons really- as I had to explain to a friend at Adobe yesterday.

Him: It’s really stupid to convert Flash to AVI and upload to YouTube. Flash is a better format, and you can host on your own site!
Me: Yes, I know. But marketers like YouTube.

He didn’t know that the marketer in question was standing right behind me (ah, the joys of chat). I have to say that my friends sit around at parties (we’re an entertaining lot) and watch funny videos on YouTube. It’s that it’s embraced by so many people that makes it a great site/tool. Similar to god-awful MySpace. But as a marketer – you don’t think of the technology- but the audience.