Home Videos in the Blog Age

November 8, 2007

Vista busy cursor There was a time that you’d go on holiday, shoot loads of DV footage and maybe watch it once with your family, unedited. To do that you’d plug the camcorder directly into your TV because anything cleverer was too much like hard work.

Some diehards, myself included, might have tried their hand at home video editing, mostly with cheap crappy tools. Some really hardy types might venture into Adobe Premiere territory to do some proper editing. Music, titles, cross-fades, fancy transitions, the lot. I did all this. It takes ages, and you then still have a big job on your hands to encode to MPEG2 format and burn a valid DVD that will actually play in your home DVD player.

And when you’ve done all that your family might condescend to stop whatever they’re doing and sit through it once, like they’re doing you a big favour. The DVD then sits on a shelf collecting dust.

All in all, really not worth the return for the effort put in.

Well, we are now in the era of blogs, social networks and youTube. I would like to suggest there is a new and better paradigm for how to “do home video”:

  • You tackle your video in neat little chunks of just a few minutes, each detailing a discrete episode in your holiday or party or whatever.
  • You process one such clip at a time, as a self-contained mini video for viewing in its own right.
  • Each clip just needs basic tidying up – no need to waste hours on titles, cute transitions, etc. Just cut out the dross.
  • The tidy clip of video is suitably compressed and uploaded to youTube, Vimeo or whatever you prefer.
  • You email your friends to tell them there’s a new clip to look at, or better still embed the clip in your blog. You can still email everyone, or advertise the new content on Facebook or whatever your favourite social networking site is.
  • You go onto the next 3 or 4 minute clip, remembering to cherry-pick ruthlessly. Unless there is something of genuine interest in the footage you discard it. Even so, it might take you a few weeks to get through all the footage worth sharing.

Why do it this way? Well …

  • It’s much less of a chore for you
  • Stuff starts to appear quicker. Family aren’t waiting for months for you to produce a complete DVD
  • Your friends and family can watch it at their leisure, at a time that suits them, without having to leave the comfort of their homes and can replay their favourite bits as often as they like. They don’t have to travel to your house in the rain or wait for a DVD in the post
  • They don’t get overfaced with having to smile politely through an hour of video in one sitting. If your clips are well chosen, your friends might actually find themselves looking forward to the next little instalment, and if they don’t well you need never know or worry about it
  • It gives people a reason to keep coming back to your blog/Facebook entry/youTube channel
  • If you embed your clips in a blog, your viewers can leave comments – which is nice
  • Most important of all, this approach sits well with the way people are tending to use the Internet and interact with each other in the Blog Age

There is still the issue of how to convert short sections of DV footage as quickly and painlessly as possible into decent quality compressed files, ready for uploading to an online video website. This is a subject I am tackling in the Vista’s Video Nasties series, which should result in a complete recipe for automated video processing bliss.

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