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Web How-To For Small Businesses

In this interview we talk to Colin Smith, an engineer from Adobe's video team, about trends and tips for producing HD videos online.

Web How-To For Small Businesses Transcript


My name is Colin Smith and I work for Adobe Systems. I am an application engineer for the video team. The cost of really good looking productions have come way down. Not just for small productions – even feature films now are being shot on relatively inexpensive HD cameras. It is definitely there, it is definitely affordable for a small business to move into HD to buy this gear that is shooting high quality full HD and edit it on the run.

One of the biggest influences of HD is just a bigger, better quality picture. It is more of an immersive experience. Even online we are seeing on sites like YouTube, if you have that little HD button, if you’ve got the throughput, you click on that button and all of a sudden you are not looking at a little postage stamp anymore, we are looking at a very high quality video.

When it comes to hardware selection – the bigger the better but keeping in your budget. 1080p is really the gold standard that people go for. I don’t really think there is a big difference between 720p and 1080p. That means 1080 pixels in height and progressive means instead of an interlaced frame it is one full frame so it is more like a film. Every single frame is a full picture in a full picture. Canon HF10s are probably one of the most common videos for people to use inexpensively for HD. Flip videos are really inexpensive too.

Some simple investments to add to a video production are lights. LED lights are really inexpensive now. They are small, they are not hot, they are light, they are easy to set up and tear down. Lighting is really one of the most important things. You can grab some great lights even at your hardware store. Diffuse them a bit with some vellum and make sure the lights aren’t too hot and before you know it, you are getting great quality video. A good microphone wouldn’t hurt. A Lavalier microphone – wired or wireless is fine. That will give you much better production right out of the box.

The big consideration with audio is how you are going to capture the audio. So you have a microphone, where does that go? If you want to be capturing the audio into the camera, you need to make sure there is an input for that camera and not all of them have that. If you don’t have that like I do with my Canon 5D – I have to actually record audio on a completely separate device and that is a whole can of worms so you have to put that back together. So make sure you have the integrated audio in the camera. Those are the two things – lighting and sound – you can never spend enough on lighting and sound but you can start relatively inexpensive. A good tripod doesn’t hurt, especially if you have purchased a larger, heavier camera. Lastly, if you want to go out on a limb, there are devices out there where you can move a camera from one side to another. One that I am thinking of is from a company called Sinovade – they have a great little slider. It looks like you have a very expensive shot on a Hollywood dolly. And it is just a small slider – you put the same camera on and you move it. If you only have one camera, you can actually do that after the fact. So you see me talking here, but you could ask me to continue talking, take the camera, have me talk this way, put the camera behind me and then do the nice little pan behind me. And it looks like you own two cameras and you are doing a much better shot. And yet I am yammering here to nobody but it really looks like I’m talking to somebody.

So production premium is the grand daddy of video production. It has everything you need in it and it is relatively easy to use. If you are a small budget and you are just going to do small cuts, some titles including layering and graphics and web output to YouTube, we have another product called Premier Elements and it does accept a number of formats that are out there, these HD cameras, drop it in the timeline, edit it, and output.

Bandwidth can definitely be a consideration when you start to stick HD video on your site – so don’t do it on your site! Do it on YouTube or Vimeo. Those are the sites that serve up millions and millions of video views a day. You simply put a link on your site including embedding it so when you create it, companies like YouTube will allow you to take a link and put it in your page so you are not leaving your page. That is the tutorial or the introduction by the CEO, you can leave it within the site. You don’t want to start sharing giants amount of bandwidth on your site – let the big guys do that. Websites like YouTube are definitely great marketing tools, and some will only find that video online and it will help them bring it back to the website. So it always makes sense, if this is your business video, you close with a nice title or a URL, wherever you want to go, so if things get separated out for whatever reason, that video can stand on its own.

The perfect thing to get started is to realize it is digital. You are not paying to develop film, you are not using up a whole bunch of tapes. It doesn’t hurt to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. So when things start to look right, you will know when you are doing a good job. It is a great idea to watch other interviews and professionally shot stuff – they are showing you how to do a good job.

If it is an interview kind of thing that you are doing, then lighting and audio are always the number one. A way to tell if an interview is good is to turn the video off and just listen. If you can understand what the speaker is talking about with just the audio then you have done your job and the video is almost like gravy on top of that.

If it is an instructional video where maybe I have bought a bicycle rack and I am finding out how to attach it to a car, then the videos are just as important. Whenever I am trying to put something together, and we have all been to Ikea, and you are trying to look at those horrible instructions and they couldn’t get any worse. Imagine if they came with a little link to a video somewhere, and you would watch that video and you would be set up in twenty minutes instead of two hours and losing parts and things like that. 

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