Category Archives: You Tube

Social Skills Are Lacking In Social Media

Screaming Social Media

Screaming Social Media

Some months ago, I made a short Camtasia video about YouTube’s Audio Swap feature.

Now, I must admit that I am not all that emotionally invested in the background audio for my videos.  In fact, it’s been awhile since I thought of any music as more than background noise.

I don’t define myself by my taste in music, and music doesn’t define the people I know.

But I didn’t give any of that any thought when I made the You Tube tutorial. I just wanted to point out a new feature that some folks might find useful.

Well GOLLLLL-EEEE! as Gomer Pyle would say. What a response!

Teenage boys and young men are very attached to their music. There has been an avalanche of illiterate, obscene, sexist, ageist, anti-gay and just plain stupid comments. Most denounce YouTube and announce that it sucks… various things.

These comments aren’t directed at me or my video. They are, rather, the cry of children deprived of a beloved toy. Their music is a defining element of their identity. In some way, it made their video meaningful. And You Tube took it away.

(Of course, the recording artists and record labels demanded that You Tube remove copyrighted music, but that’s too fine a distinction for these lads.)

Every so often, I wander over to YouTube and look at the latest sewage that has washed up in the Comments section. And I wonder, “Is this what the Social Web has come to? Will everything be dragged to to the Beavis and Butthead level?”

Foul mouthed kids on the web, screaming morons on cable TV, talk radio… it’s enough to make you want to read a book.

Photo by Andrew Mason Released under Creative Commons License

You Tube Goes Hi Def

The Hi Definition Future Starts Now

The Hi Definition Future Starts Now

Today You Tube changed the size of their default player to a wide screen, 16:9 aspect ratio.

This comes after a steady demand that You Tube increase the quality of their videos. Although You Tube still has more than twice as many users as any of its competitors, it hasn’t been wiling to stand pat and lose the quality wars.

The switch to widescreen and the promise of better quality also comes as You Tube begins to display ads across the bottom of most videos. Hollywood is about to embrace – or be embraced by – You Tube. You Tube has been displaying movie trailers in wide screen for a month or more, so this move to wide screen probably presages a deal to show feature films on You Tube. It looks like Google may have found a way for their very expensive acquisition to start paying the rent.

A couple of quick observations:

  • If you want to force a movie to display in Hi Def (assuming it is capable of Hi Def), you can add “&fmt=22” to the end of the URL
  • For now, embedded videos are still displayed in the old 4:3 aspect ratio player, even if they were shot in 16:9
  • Adding “&fmt=18” to the URL of a 4:3video still produces far better quality on site, although embedded videos continue to look mediocre.
  • If you can shoot your videos in widescreen, do it. It’s the future of web video.

Mind Your You Tube Manners

New Words for Old Habits

New Words - Same Old Rules

New bloggers – or people who are new to You Tube – frequently ask if it’s OK to “steal” You Tube videos to post on their own blog.

Of course!

If it were really stealing, it wouldn’t be OK. But it isn’t stealing; it is sharing.

That’s what social media is about. That’s the way You Tube was designed to work. That’s why the embed links are included with every video.

DON’T GO TO BED SMART AND WAKE UP INTERNET STUPID

Today we use all sorts of new buzzwords to describe social interaction on the internet: Social Media, Web 2.0, Networking, Tribes…

But really, it’s just old wine in new bottles. We all know how to behave in public. Good manners work online just like they do offline.

You wouldn’t wander into a pot luck dinner with a bunch of Zip Lock bags in your pockets, go from dish to dish filling the bags to bursting, and then leave without talking to anyone or thanking the host. You might eat like a king for the next week, but you’d never be invited to another party.

When I borrow someone else’s You Tube video (assuming it is original content and not just a clip taken from TV), I try to follow a few simple rules. None of them will shock you if you mother taught you to say, “Please,” “Thank You,” and “May I?”

SAY THANK YOU

Folks put thought, effort, and time into creating original videos for You Tube. Then they give the videos away for free.

What do you say when someone gives you a gift in real life? You say, “Thank you.” The rules don’t have to change just because you are online. If you like a video enough to add it to your blog or web site, thank the creator.

The easiest – and best  – way to thank someone on You Tube is:

  • Leave a comment saying how much you liked the video
  • Rate the video

Lots of comments and high ratings will help raise the video in You Tube’s rankings, making it more likely to be seen by others. That’s what social media is all about. Always recommend work you like.

DON’T SPAM

When you leave a comment, don’t use it just to promote yourself. Add something useful, either for other viewers or for the video’s creator. “I put this on my site at xyz.com” is not a useful contribution to the comments section, unless the creator is being flamed and you are defending him or her by saying something like, “I like this video so much that I put it on my web site.”

SAY MAY I

If you want to pitch your own blog and get more traffic from the videographer, try contacting the creator. Ask for permission to use the video. Invite the creator to your blog. Highlight your shared interests. This is just common sense networking.

Photo by Ann Douglass Released under Creative Commons License

How To Force You Tube To Show Higher Quality

Objective observers pretty much agree – You Tube quality stinks.

When quality is critical – or even minimally important – an embedded You Tube video has been the very last choice. Lately, however, You Tube has been experimenting on site with higher quality video. You may see a small link underneath a video saying “Watch in High Quality.” Or you can add “&fmt=18” to the end of a video’s You Tube URL to force it to display in high quality. The difference is marked – especially for screencasts.

Take  look at these two screen caps. They are both taken from approximately the same opening sequence in a Ghost Leg screencast called “Using You Tube’s Audio Swap.” The first is the normal You Tube display:


You Tube - Normal Quality

You Tube - Normal Quality


The second picture is the same video forced to High Quality mode by adding &fmt=18 to the URL.

You Tube High Quality Mode

You Tube High Quality Mode


Wow! What a difference! Unfortunately, at this point, you cannot just add the “&fmt-18” snippet to the embed code. The videos You Tube displays on other sites continue to have poor quality.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a way to force high quality and embed it? Well, there is a free tool, called VTubeTools, that seems to accomplishes just that. I have experimented a bit with it. It really seems to work. Of course, all the usual caveats apply – the program is a beta, I can’t vouch for its quality or safety and security, use at your own risk.

(You may have difficulty adding the embed code to a WordPress blog if you currently use plugins (as I do) to display You Tube. Whether it is worthwhile to re-embed all you old videos without the plugin is a question for another day.)

You Tube Is The #2 Search Engine

Video Conquers The Internet

Video Conquers All

When you think “search,” you probably think of Google. Then maybe Yahoo or MSN or… what?

Well, according to what I read in Bill Myers’ Tip of the Week today, the Number 2 search engine in the world is … You Tube.

Bill writes:

According to ComScore’s August 2008 search engine rankings, YouTube is now the number two search engine in the world, used by more people to search the web than all other search engines except Google.

This means if information about your site, your product, and your services can’t be found with a YouTube search, you are invisible to the 2.6 billion people who search YouTube each month.

And that’s a lot of people to be missing.

2.6 billiion searches on YouTube each month!

It’s time to get serious about using video to promote yourself and your products. You don’t need a great camcorder or expensive software to get started. Most digital cameras – and even cell phones – have a movie mode. The quality won’t be super-great, but it will certainly be better than having nothing at all on You Tube. And the simple-to-use Flip Camcorder costs only around $150.00, sometimes less, depending on the size and model.


You Tube Offers Free Soundtrack Music

Finding the right music for your You Tube video just got a little easier. You Tube has introduced a new feature called Audio Swap. They have licensed music in a variety of genres, which you can overlay on your videos audio track.

The new You Tube music will replace any exisitng audio – so this feature is only for videos with no spoken narration. The selection is limited, but it is certainly an improvement over having your work yanked because of a copyright violation claim.

I made a short (under 3 minutes) video demonstration how it works. Click on the play button below:

[flashvideo width=”640″ height=”493″ filename=”videos/audioswap.flv” /]

Must You Take The Bad With The Good?

Once you achieve Viral Nirvana on You Tube (or even the lesser popularity of appearing fleetingly on the front page), your comments will be filled with SPAM. It is inevitable – and there is almost nothing you can do about it.

Look at today’s statistics for the Christian the Lion video:

Ratings and Comments

Ratings and Comments

 

Almost 16,000 people took the time to rate the video (and it appears that they all loved it) and almost 11,5000 took the time to comment. But if you take a few seconds to scroll through the responses, you’ll notice a trend: the more popular the video becomes, the dumber the comments are.

At first, the comments actually spoke to the story. Then small skirmishes broke out between commenters. Finally, riding the coattails of the video’s popularity, the scammers, spammers, and porn distibutors moved in.

What Can You Do?

It is impossible to moderate over 10,000 comments. Of course, you can refuse to allow comments at all – but the price will be a drastic loss of viewers. You Tube promotes videos in part based on ratings and comments. Community participation is part of the Web 2.0 ethos. If you won’t allow the community to be engaged with your work, it will never be recommended, embedded, or blogged.

If you are truly trying to run a viral campaign, hoping to achieve over 100,000 hits – you must accept comments, allow ratings, live with the back and forth of viewers bickering with each other, and even accept the negative, nasty, and naughty behavior of some viewers.

Maybe You Don’t Need To Be So Popular

But if you are hoping to use the video to promote your business to a smaller audience, you don’t have to allow anomymous, foul mouthed spammers to damage your reputaion.

When you upload a video to You Tube, you have several options under “Broadcasting and Sharing.”

Broadcast & Sharing Options on You Tube

Broadcast & Sharing Options

It is a good practice to monitor the comments and ratings on your videos. After all, you want to know how your work is being received. As long as you are taking the time to check in on your You Tube channel, make time to also review and approve individual comments.

You set this option by clicking on the “Allow all comments with approval only” radio button in the Comments section of the Broadcast & Sharing Options.

If the options are hidden, click on the small arrow icon next to “Comments” to expand the options.

Under Video Responses, choose “Yes allow responses after I approve them

Finally, select “Yes, allow this video to be rated by others.”

These changes to You Tube’s default settings should keep the scammers away while still respecting the mores of the You Tube community.

You Tube and Vimeo Quality Comparison

When video first burst on the scene, the quality of the video wasn’t as important as the watchability of the video. You Tube’s genius was to stream flash videos with a smooth, uninterrupted playback that almost anyone could watch, without downloading new software or waiting for long periods for the files to be buffered. The combination of faster connections and flash made the video revolution possible.

A year or so later, and viewers and producers are both restless. You Tube’s quality never matches the original – and “compression” is no longer a good enough excuse. Rival services like Vimeo offer better quality, while remaining broadly accessible. In fact, Vimeo will stream High Definition videos from its own site (although you cannot embed HD yet)

You Tube is not standing still. They have begun to offer different versions of individual videos depending on the viewer’s connection speed. (all embedded videos remain standard quality).

Look at these three pictures for a quick comparison. The original video was shot with a Canon HV20 in High Definition, then downsampled to SD and produced as WMV for viewing on the internet. The clips are all taken from the same video, in roughly the same spot. Because the talent is moving and talking, the person in the screen cap is slightly blurred. Look at the still portions of the video – the bag or the caption, for instance – for a quick video clarity reference point. (If you click on the pictures, you will be taken to You Tube or Vimeo, where you can view and compare the actual videos.) The first picture is from Standard You Tube quality:

You Tube Standard Quality

Standard You Tube Quality

Notice the option, directly below the Views counter, to switch to High Quality. If you click on that link, You Tube will start the video over. The high quality version will have been rendered with a newer, better codec that may require a more recent version of the flash player and a higher connection speed. The difference, however, is immediately apparent. Here’s a screencap of the High Quality version:

You Tube High Quality

You Tube High Quality

Notice that the link under the Views counter now offers you the choice to switch back to Standard quality.

Finally, here is the same video, in Standard Quality, on Vimeo:

Standard Quality on Vimeo

Standard Quality on Vimeo

I didn’t produce the video in a High Def version, so there is no way to show the truy superior results available in that format. But the lesson is clear: standard quality on Vimeo matches or exceeds high quality on You Tube.

You Tube still has twice as many visitors as all other video sites combined. You must upload your videos to You Tube if you want them to be seen by the widest possible audience. But if you are embedding the videos in your own site or blog or auction listing – upload the video to Vimeo as well, and embed the video from there.

Video Quality, although it may be hard for the average internet user to define, can be seen by the naked eye. You don’t need benchmarks to know what looks better. And better looking will almost always translate into better selling.