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What Are The Tools Needed In Web Video Production


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This transcript is the seventh session in the Lights Camera Profit Workshop. This discussion focuses on the additional tools needed in a web video production. Samples of these are Animoto, Visual Hub, and iSkySoft.

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What Are The Tools Needed In Web Video Production

  1. 1. TOOLS AND EXTRAS Everything you need to stay ten steps ahead. Ben: Ok guys now we’re going to run you through all about some tools and some extras and things like that which you can use to help maximize your video creation either to help you make them more interesting or unique, get them out there faster, all these kind of tools. Judging from the think tank that we have in this room, I’m sure you will all some interesting material to add. We’ll also be talking to you, GuruBob, about encoding as well, so be prepared. Conversion Software The first thing is conversion software. So what I showed you before lunch with iMovie is to just use the inbuilt conversion and encoding engine that comes with part of iMovie. But there are ones out there that will encode your video into many, many different formats, which can be effective in different areas, different things you need to do. The reason we do it, I call it techno chaos. It’s the Tower of Babel story where there are so many different ways to have video out there, whether it’s appearing on an iPad or a desktop or even on a DVD or whatever, there are all these different iterations of it. Having a piece of software that can convert things into many different formats is very helpful. As I said, it prepares you for anything and you have greater control as well. When I do jobs for clients I often convert into many different forms: I’ll make a DVD, I’ll make material for the web, I’ll make material for iPhone. The demand for that type of thing is growing, you need a small file size, you need a big file size. I did a job for the Athlete’s Foot, where I made sixty-four videos in a very short time. They wanted them one way and then they wanted them another way because it was going into an e learning module. So we had to compress them one way and then they were converted in a bunch of different ways. So that kind of thing is out there and it will happen for you guys as well. As I said earlier, you might make something at one point and then later on say, oh, I want this to appear on my magic pen, Livescribe, that plays video. You never know what’s going to happen.
  2. 2. VisualHub These are the ones that we use and, again, I’ll get Rob to talk about what he uses because he uses a whole other area which is an online CloudFront which is a very useful thing. We use a thing called VisualHub. It’s one of the best ones I’ve ever used. It’s a very simple piece of software. What you do is you drag your video file in here. So, the one we prepared earlier, Branded versus Viral Content, drag it in and then you can choose your output, what you want it to become. So you say, ok it’s come in as an MP4, I want to make a DVD out of it or I want to make a WMV file, something that is going to play on a Windows machine, something like that. You can just put it in, you can just do the automated settings you’ve got here, so ‘standard high’ or ‘go nuts.’ The guy who made this has got a bit of a sense of humour, which is good. Then basically you click go. If you know a little bit more about how to encode, then you can go into the advanced settings. He says at the top, don’t you’ll screw it all up. You can change size on it, you can change the rates at which it streams when it’s online, you can change the audio settings, you can limit the size of the file. So I might have a file that is 500Meg or a Gig or something like that and I say, I need to get this onto YouTube, so I want it to be 100 Meg so it’s easily accessed by a lot of people. I might have a fast broadband connection but someone else doesn’t, so we need to allow for that incongruity. So that’s what we use for VisualHub. Unfortunately VisualHub is not being supported anymore. The guy, I think he’s turned into the Unabomber and he’s just gone to live in a hut somewhere and work on his next project. If you can hold of a copy, if you go onto this website you can actually get the source code. Then get vWorker to get someone to decipher it and build it. David: Or just look on a torrent site, torrent sites are a good place. Question:, I actually just did a search on VisualHub and found it. It’s the one on and it’s a download. You need a password that they give you there. Rob: There’s actually a companion product to VisualHub called AudialHub which does the same thing for audio files which is worth getting. Look it is hard to get and it’s not supported and it’s now three years since it’s had any development at all, so eventually it’s going to go away.
  3. 3. You might want to have a look at a product called HandBrake. Earlier in the day Dave was talking about DVD ripping software. HandBrake is actually designed as a ripping product so you can rip DVDs onto your hard drive but it also has some fantastic conversion technology built into it as well and that’s a free tool. I’m not sure if there’s a PC version but it’s a product I use a lot on the Mac, it’s fantastic. Ben: I think it just uses MP4, I think it encodes into H.264, which is fine. David: Now might be a good time since we are talking about encoding, perhaps you can tell us what you guys do for, in a nutshell. Rob: We take the view in the Challenge that it’s best to provide people with more than one way to access your content. So we offer the streaming version of our content which we generally do via YouTube, largely because we can get Google to pay for the bandwidth. We offer three versions of a downloadable version of the video, an HD version, an SD version and an iPhone version. Really they’re all MP4 files, those downloadable versions. The only real difference between them is the pixel ratio of the product. So our standard HD is a 1280 x 720 HD video which is known as a 720p video. If you want to have an HD button on YouTube for your content, you must upload a minimum of 720p as your HD upload. If you upload less than that, YouTube does not give you an HD option on your channel. Our SD version is 960 x 540 and the iPhone version is 540 x 272. The only other thing that we change between those various versions is the video bit rate. Earlier in the day, Ben talked about bit rate and indeed our HD product, I generally have it about 1000k per second, the SD version 500k per second and the iPhone version 250k per second. That pretty much gives us a pretty good version for each of those platforms. In the past, we used VisualHub to do all those conversions and it performed absolutely magnificently. This year we’ve decided to go to an online service called It’s a paid service but I think it’s fairly inexpensive. There are two different pricing platforms. You can either sign up for a monthly fee and they’ve got various different plans or you can buy credit and pay at the rate of about $2 per Gigabyte in terms of the conversion.
  4. 4. Encoding has a number of different ways of interfacing, so you can either have an API access to the service. They have an AIR client, an Adobe AIR client which works ok, it’s not the option I prefer to use. Or they have a web interface and they have what’s known as a watch folder. It’s the watch folder service that we use. What the watch folder does, it allows you to set up an FTP location somewhere on one of your domains where you can upload a file into that location and I’m generally uploading our HD version, our best quality version. Then will recognize that file is there. It scans that location every five minutes, it does the various encodings and we do those three encodings and then uploads the file back to another location. We’re uploading it to an S3 location. The thing that really benefits with encoding is their server farm is so powerful that it does the encodings way faster than you could ever do on your desktop platforms even if you’ve got Mac Pros. The other thing is their pipe, their online connection between the encoding service and S3 is a massive pipe. I don’t know if any of you have tried to upload to S3, but it’s usually very slow from your desktop. I’m probably only getting, 50, 60, 70k per second. With, virtually as soon as the file is finished encoding, it’s on S3. For every video, I’m saving anywhere from an hour to two hours a time by using that service. If you need any scale, if you’re doing lots of videos, lots of encoding, I highly recommend it. Ben: That’s fantastic. David: Thanks for that, and I know that the way that Rob went through that, some of them, when he was talking about bit rates and fie sizes and all that type of thing, it felt like these two were having a conversation between themselves that they could understand. But the good thing to know about encoding is they make it really simple, You go there and you don’t have to worry about any of that. You select what file formats you want it to do and it does the rest. So it’s a really good solution to get started and you don’t have to get bogged down in all of the intricacies of what’s going on behind the scenes. Ben: Yes, and especially if you’re not putting out a video every five minutes, if it’s once a week or whatever, it sounds like it’s very cost effective as well. Question: I’ll try and summarize this to see if I’ve understood the best way. So for videos that we want to put out as getting people back to our websites, it’s YouTube, it’s Viddler, Vimeo. For video content where it’s locked away, educational content, our SEO Method courses, then we would run those through and have them, it automatically turns them into all the different formats we need. Can it also strip out the mp3s and just give the audio? No, ok, just a thought. AudialHub will do that, awesome.
  5. 5. David: So that gives a way of creating all the content ready and then we would just go and upload to AmazonS3 automatically to S3 and then you would use something like eZs3 to create the player and embed it into your website. What happens when a video gets on Amazon? All it is is like an online FTP service. So you can either access the file or you can repurpose that file and have it embedded into a player. Whatever you want to do, if you just imagine Amazon as like an FTP server you get access to. Question: One quick question, in I can say this is for streaming, versus this is for download? I know the video puts the size at the start or the end to say it’s for streaming. Rob: When I export out of either ScreenFlow or iMovie I’m always setting the optimized for streaming option on the MP4option. Always do that. Then I push them into encoding to get the various versions. I put the best quality version up to YouTube and because we’re generally offering free content we’re using that for streaming so we don’t have to pay for the bandwidth. Because I’ve optimized for streaming anyway if I had put it on Amazon, I had my own private player, it would still be optimized for streaming. Ben: Ok. Thank you. So that’s VisualHub. So if you can get it, definitely use it. I’ve tried lots of different encoding software and I’ve found VisualHub is the best. It’s the most consistent. iSkysoft I was given some footage from a client in a format that my editing system didn’t recognize because they hadn’t given me everything that I needed. I struggled to convert the footage and I ended up getting this material, it’s called iSkySoft. It’s quite good but it is limited in terms of what it will put out. This should be a second tier after VisualHub.
  6. 6. MPEG Streamclip The other one is MPEG Streamclip. MPEG Streamclip is free, is a free piece of software. It’s got a player on it but it’s not very good, but it’s really good for converting footage. I take footage out of my DSLR there which is a compressed footage, which has been compressed and then I turn it into really high level, high quality footage, through this, it’s an Apple codec that I use. So this is something you can use as well that’s quite effective. If all this material doesn’t make sense, look in the Help, look up tutorials, it becomes quite straightforward after a while. I’m not going to go into it now because everyone will just glaze over. Animoto Now Animoto. Has anyone used Animoto? Animoto rocks your world. Their tag line is called the end of slide shows. What it does, it’s got the most beautiful, easy to use interface. You just upload images, whatever you want, photos, logos, whatever you want. You put them in the order you want them to appear, you can add little titles with each one and then you hit ‘submit’ and it turns it into a slide show. What it does, it uses templates, getting cool effects and so on are built on motion graphics programs. What this does is create things that would take you hours and hours and days to create. I think I’ve got an example. It is free, it’s free to do a thirty second clip or you can pay per clip. You can do a minute or longer and I think you pay $3 per thing or you can buy a subscription of I think it’s about $30 a year and make Animotos. It’s a really effective thing to just do something exciting, very hypey if you just want to get it out there. It’s also a really good tool because where you put in text, and once you guys go in you can see, you can put in a title and a little bit of description, but it’s very limited, like twenty characters and then maybe sixty or something like that.
  7. 7. So it forces you to be really concise. If you’re trying to get a message across it’s, here’s the title, here’s what you’ve got to know and then you back it up with images. Then you can select a soundtrack, you can upload one from your own library or select one of theirs, you can buy them, you can get free ones. I love it. David: There’s a time and a place to use this particular one. We’ve tried using it for some promotion and it hasn’t worked so well. This is a good example of Planet 13, the rock and roll clothing music store. We created a video that we used and put on the top of a sales letter to sell the concept of Planet 13. So this is selling a franchise. [Planet 13 Animoto video] That’s a creative way of thinking outside of the box using some of these services in real world businesses as opposed to just a little internet marketing bubble. Ben: The other thing is you can upload little bits of video footage as well, so you can play your own videos in there. They also have little images of the Eiffel Tower, of New York, of heart, there are themes you can put in there as well. It’s a great thing, I really like it. Xtranormal Next one, Xtranormal. Has anyone heard of Xtranormal? No? This is amazing. They’re tag line is, if you can type, you can make a movie, I think it’s something like that. All you need to do, you write a script, coming back to the scripting, you write a script, you type it into Xtranormal. You can choose characters and then it animates it for you. It’s quite in depth actually. Ryan basically built this video. All of us, Dave wrote the script, we all tweaked it, Ryan built it, I had a little go with some camera angles because you can actually put in some camera angles in there. David: Can I jump in there? This is one of those really fun things that we were doing in the office and we all go involved and we thought it was really cool. I watched this little video, it was the iPhone4 versus the Evo. It’s a viral video that went completely crazy using Xtranormal. It’s quite funny, it’s worth looking up.
  8. 8. I got that idea and then that helped and inspired me to write a rough script, Ben fleshed it out, Ryan loaded it into Xtranormal and it went back to Ben and he put the final tweaks and then we exported it out. I’m a big fan of this one, we only just launched it a few days ago so make sure you retweet this one. We’re not really selling anything but it’s good fun. Ben: No, it’s just a bit of fun. The thing is you can choose different characters. These aren’t the only ones. I think you can pay for those but I think this one is free. [ Xtranormal video] So that was a bit of fun we had with that. It’s so impressive though. That’s amazing automated voice, it’s incredible. It’s branded content so it might not go viral. But it’s fun. You can do that for yourself, it’s really good. iStock iStock is something we use quite extensively. Has anyone used iStock? Yes, it’s a really good resource to get stock footage, like stock photos, stock videos, stock flash intros, audio if you need a sound track, royalty free soundtracks, things like that. We started utilizing it at the intros for videos, it’s a really effective thing. Another one is a thing Pete uses, it’s called VideoHive and it’s higher end as well. iStock we use all the time. What we did here was we bought a piece of animation for, that website that ranks number one for trading systems. It’s just a flash intro and then we incorporated our own logo on top of it so it looks like it’s ours. Yes. So it looks like it’s built in with a bit of music. I think I might have it embedded so we’ll see. [ video] Really simple. Something like that, it doesn’t cost a lot and it adds that little bit of extra professionalism. So check out iStock. What you do there, you buy credits and then you put it towards whatever you’re downloading. You can get different levels too, you can get an HD version, you can get one that’s specific for the web. The same with audio, you can get different levels as well.
  9. 9. Audacity Audacity, this is a free piece of software which is obviously for audio. What you can do with Audacity is you can cut and paste audio, you can snip up material, you can get rid of people saying um. You can change the pitch and tone within files, what else can you do? You can basically clean up any audio that you have and it’s open source, it’s free, it’s really easy to use as well, three drag and drop. At the end of last year, I did some voice overs for Seek, They were making some e cards for their staff to give out to their clients and whatever. I needed to do some Christmas material, and I don’t have the deepest voice in the world, so I made a Santa Claus one, I think I’ve got it on here. Just listen closely. [Video] That’s me, I just deepened my voice in Audacity, just exported it. It doesn’t export into MP3 but then you can just pull it into iTunes and convert it in there. David: Yes, you can get a LAME encoder you can add in. That’s another easy way to do it as Ben said, you can export it and then you can use it in the other software. There are plenty of ways to do it. Ben: It’s quite a versatile thing and it’s free, it’s fantastic. Now it’s over to Dave. Posterous David: Posterous is another service that I use lots. I record things on my iPhone, I’ll do it in my car, just little ideas as they pop into my head. Then I’ll email it to my Posterous account and it automatically gets posted on my Posterous account. Then we can take those audios and we do that thing where an assistant will then take that and create a slide show and match it to the audio and we create a video out of those little audios that I record using and posting to Posterous. If you have a look at my Posterous account you can find a little bit more about that.
  10. 10. You can also do video through it as well, there’s an iPhone app, a Posterous iPhone app that you get. I tried to do without the app, you try and email video anything over about a minute long and you can’t add the video as an attachment. That’s why you have to use the Posterous app. Then you can also record a video. Then on your iPhone upload it using this Posterous app, you just press a button, it’ll appear on your Posterous account embedded in a player and everything. It’s just about the speed at which you can get content out. Maybe as a small business owner, one of your next clients you get them to do a quick on the fly testimonial, you record it, the best camera you have is the one that you’ve got. You can just ask them, can I take a quick recording, email it and within five minutes it’s up there. Maybe you have a blog that is just full of testimonials. That’s a great start. So that’s Posterous. Ustream Then we’ve got Ustream, and I don’t know if you wanted to talk about this. I know we handball a few to you. I have used a little bit of Ustream. Ustream is just a service that enables you to broadcast yourself live. Ed Dale uses it for He’s probably the one that gets in there. It’s pretty simple though, but I don’t know if you had anything you wanted to add. Rob: Yes, if you’ve got a community of people and you want to have more of an event, an event communication exercise where you’ve got something coming up or part of a product launch sequence or something, these live streaming TV services are fantastic. Ustream is one, there is another one called Livestream and Justin TV is another one. One of the things we’re always looking to do is multi purpose content because we’ve only got so much time, we want things that we can use for multiple times. The nice thing about Ustream is that you can hold the event live and Ustream has a really nice recording functionality which will record the video. They used to have a direct push to YouTube, that doesn’t happen any more. You can download the video off Ustream and then push it up to YouTube and then of course embed that recorded event onto a blog or onto your website or whatever.
  11. 11. David: So if you imagine Ustream, the way that it can be used really well in a business is, it’s like having your own TV station, it’s for live recordings. YouTube is all about prescripted material that you record and edit and then you upload. This work is more for live Q and A. Maybe if you have a group of people and you’re an expert in your niche, you tell them, we’re holding a Ustream event, here’s the time. You can log on, you can send in emails to me live and I’ll answer them on the fly and then that can get recorded as Rob was talking about. That can get created into a product or content. Question: This is my little expertise in the marketplace. This is what I do Ustream also have another paid product which takes all their advertising and their branding and allows you to brand it yourself called Watershed. A lot of people don’t know about Watershed. There’s a product called Wirecast. I don’t know if people know about Wirecast. Wirecast is a Mac and PC based product that allows you to encode live as well. Ustream has their own encoder called Producer, so does Livestream as well. David: There are a few more options to look at there. It really depends where you’re at in your particular marketplace. The lucky last one that we’re going to hand over to Pete to talk about is VideoHive. VideoHive Pete: VideoHive is a website that I’ve only recently come across and have absolutely fallen in love with. Go to and it’s a great resource for Adobe Effect templates for video intros. If you’re doing a YouTube channel and want to have a consistency through that channel so all your videos start with a nice little intro in the same way a lot of pod casts do, if you’re going to make like a TV show, this is awesome. There are two ways you can use this. If you go up to the top and Google Blueprint, to give us an idea of some of the material and just click the Blueprint here. $22 for this template by the way, and then we can load the preview. You might want to give it a bit of time to cue up. There are hundreds on here and they’re all about $17 or $22 each. What you can do is, you can drop in the text or some videos or some images in various templates and then you can export it out as a little MOV movie and drop it into the start of every one of you iMovie movies. So it becomes like the intro like every TV show.
  12. 12. David: So similar to Ben talked about using iStock, pre done clips, this is the next level because you get to edit that flash intro and it really becomes yours. [Video] Question: So you can change the audio on that too? Pete: Absolutely. I just want to show you a couple of other ones to give you an idea of what is possible. I’ll just go to popular files, motion profiles is a great one. I’ve got this in my catalogue at home. $17 for this one and if you pre pay and put some money in your VideoHive account, you get a $2 discount on every one you buy in the future. So I put $100 in there and it saved me $2, I used it straight away. [Video] I’ll show you one more that will hopefully have some video in it which will show you how cool it is when you actually load some video in. I’ll try live presentations. You guys can go through here again and get an idea of what is possible. There are two ways to get this material turned out into a final MOV movie. The first way is to do it yourself which I’ll show you how to do in a second. The second way is to pay the people who make these clips to do it for you. The clip cost $22 and it would have taken them three or four hours at least to create the template. So when you see how quick it is to edit it, you’ll get an idea of how cheap you can get people to edit it, $20 and they’ll customize it for you. So under $50, you’ll have an HD, 1280 x 720p quality intro video that you can use for whatever you want. [Video] If you’ve got a pod cast or a vod cast or something like that. These are the sorts of intros you can do. Question: It puts a bit of pressure on your content. Pete: It actually takes the pressure off because if you can wow them upfront with a really good intro, it sets the context completely differently. So your content doesn’t necessarily have to be as good in certain circumstances. Question: It’s the $30,000 Panama hat.
  13. 13. Pete: It’s the $30,000 Panama hat. This is me. I was playing a couple of hours ago in the back room, just doing this and producing something really quickly. So this is how easy it is. It’s an Adobe Effects video, so to edit yourself you have to have Adobe Effects which isn’t cheap. This is why I recommend paying someone $20 to do it, but you’ll see how easy it is. Jump onto Elance or oDesk, there are plenty of people who have Adobe Effects accounts and you can find someone who can do this regularly for you. So I’m going to commentate on this as we go through. So you open up the file and this is your template. You drag your images that you want to use. It’s seven minutes including encoding. You drag the photos you want to use into your workbench on the left hand side here. So I’m just dragging these off my desktop. Go into comps. Hit on folder is the first option on this one. I then drag the video I want on the left hand side, that’s going to be one video. You’ll show the output in a second. Another Polaroid, this particular template has a Polaroid in it. Drag another image again. The green box is where the image is meant to sit. So I’m just going to drag this down. These are some photos from yesterday. Here I am just playing around with the dimensions and so on. Obviously you do this a little bit closer and neater when you’re doing a final version of it. Going through here and then from there that’s putting in a couple of videos into this template you’ll see at the end. Then I can go into the title, I’ll change the title of this particular video. Down here, here are the three texts, so you replace that word with ‘outsource’. I can go over here, just change the font, size to make it work so it fits in the space. I did this again really roughly. This whole thing took me seven minutes. Change some font again really quickly, so just ‘Outsource Profits Machine’, changing the font size again, obviously you can refine this in terms of colours and all that type of thing yourself if you want to. Then I can go onto the next bit here and here are all the other words that are going to be part of this template really quickly. So this is a slow version of the output. This is the rendering stage, I’ve already skipped the video and I’m now at the rendering and it’s rendering it live. Obviously once the output is there, it will be a fast version of the video. David: Do you have that video? Did you render it out?
  14. 14. Pete: Yes, but I didn’t put it on the USB stick, which wasn’t smart. This is in terms of the video coming down. That’s an idea of how quickly to edit it. I don’t know why it’s going so slowly. David: What we can do, we can grab the USB if you like, then load it, then jump straight back. Pete: That’s basically VideoHive. At the end of the day, you saw what the quality of the work can be, $25, $30. You’re getting a pretty powerful intro video done for $30 to use at the start of every one of your YouTube channel videos, if you’ve got a high end product being done. $30 or $40 can really make some serious impressions. VideoCue Pro The other thing I want to go over really quickly, because I know you guys are running out of time, is this VideoCue Pro. This is a tool we use quite a bit in our office, in the telco company as a tool for a prompter, a teleprompter. So for those of you from this morning who are a little bit scared about being able to sit there and come up with a coherent, nice, flowing presentation to record for three or four minutes, you can write your script up as the boys said earlier. You copy your text in and it uses in this case the I-camera. You drag your inbuilt camera up to the right hand side here. If you’ve got chroma key, if you’ve got a green screen behind you, I can turn on chroma key right now. Obviously you can see it’s tried to do the chroma key at the back up there. But if you have a proper green screen behind, bang, chroma key straight in. Hit play and there’s your prompter. You can slow it down, you can speed it up, hit stop, hit record and it actually records it as you go and it’s using the iSight camera as the camera. You can drop in other video and things like that. So it’s a really easy tool to use. That can be a quick tool some of you can use who are scared about talking to a camera. Just use your iSight camera. The other option is you sit your laptop here, the camera might be here. So you do the Apple style looking away from the camera really cool kind of videos. So you’re sitting here looking at your teleprompter reading it, the camera is shooting you from here. So it’s one of those looking deep off the camera type of interview style videos that you see a lot on the web. You don’t have to look directly at the camera and see your eyes moving like you’re reading. It’s the side on shot that can look really cool.
  15. 15. Those are some quick tools you can use there. It exports it as an MOV file that you can dump into iMovie. Put in you nice little video intro slide from VideoHive for $30 or $40, throw in this video with a nice cued read script and bang, you’re done. They’re two tools that I use quite a bit that I’ve found very effective. Ben: Thank you, Pete. In just the two seconds that I have, when it comes to doing something like using autocue software or something like that, we don’t want to sound like an infomercial. At first when you’re reading something, reading something as opposed to saying something is quite different. So you don’t want to get into that thing of being, ‘and this is how it can help you.’ It’s a little bit stunted, how you’re reading it off the screen. It needs to have that certain fluidity and that will only come with practice and writing a simple script as well.