Someone asked about the possibility of doing a post on videoblogging. This is that post. All innuendoes and double entendres are completely unintended.
Videoblogging, or vlogging, is the practice of communicating to your readers through video as well as (and sometimes, instead of) text within the framework of a blog. While there are relatively few vloggers, the numbers have increased rapidly this past year and continue to rise. Given this and the growing interest in rich media by the corporate world, it behooves bloggers to become familiar with the knowledge and tools necessary to make a decent videoblog.
For brevity’s sake, I’m going to assume that you already know how to shoot video (if not, go here to find sites that will teach you) and that you are ready to upload your creation and put it onto your site.
Getting It Up
Freevlog.org is the best site to teach you the steps you need to go through in getting your content online. You will find out how to compress your videos for optimal online playback and ideas on places to host (Testing Grounds has a list of 30+ sites for free video hosting, with reviews of them as well).
To Flash or Not to Flash?
There has been much discussion surrounding video formats in the vlogosphere. Flash is getting popular and most hosting sites offer free Flash players for embedding videos onto your site. It’s a good option for ease of use and ensures that most of your readers will be able to access your material.
There is one problem with Flash, however, and it’s a big one. Most RSS feeds can’t read it so your content will not be displayable in aggregators and can’t be picked up by portable devices such as ipods. If you want to be viewed via RSS, Flash is out.
Many videobloggers choose to use quicktime formatting for this reason (Windows media and Realplayer are also used but are less popular as many people prefer not to download these players)I, personally, use quicktime.
If you choose to go with a free hosting service, remember that not all hosting sites are created equal. Some services may want to put an advertisement on your videos. Others place their brand on the screen. There are several services available now, however, that have clean interfaces (I use blip.tv). I would highly recommend going with a clean interface.
Find out if they convert and play your content in Flash only or offer other alternatives. Some sites will transcode your content into Flash but keep your original files available as well. This way, your viewers will have viewing options.
Pay close attention to the terms of service (some services invoke mulitiple rights to use your content for any purpose in perpetuity, ie: they can sell it to other companies).
Another problem with hosting sites is that, should they go out of business (and most of these sites are very young), your vlog will be effected (This is not a worry with the Internet Archive but archive videos have been known to load very slowly).
Paying For It
If you have money to fund your project, Hipcast (Audioblog’s new name) offers generous hosting packages and is very easy to use. Brightcove has also been getting good press (I can’t vouch for it because I’ve never used it)
Do It Yourself
Self hosting your content is a great way to maintain control over it’s availability. The downside is finding the right players and/or plugins to present your videos effectively. You will have to decide whether you want the video embedded into the page, a small popup window, or to have the content open in a separate browser window.
Devlon Duthie has created a wordpress plugin for popups that can house your video and, with a little tweaking, you can even brand the window. The plugin works with any enclosure so it supports multiple formats. Another plus is that it’s free! (disclosure, he’s my boyfriend and business partner).
If plugins are not your cup of tea, I found a nice little Flash player that might fit the bill (if you don’t intend to utilize RSS) called Wimpy. Wimpy has several players, both audio and video, a playlist feature if you have more than one video to display at once, and the interface is smooth, sleek and brand free. Prices range from $20 to $90, depending on the package you get.
Bandwidth can be big issue in self hosting and is something that needs to be taken into consideration if your site is well visited (hosting sites take care of the bandwidth for you). Although prices have gone down, you will need to budget according to your projected viewership or you will have some nasty surprises when you get the bill.
That is a very brief look at videoblogging and I hope that it’s been helpful…or at least fun.