In my last article, I stressed the importance of producing professional-quality video content when optimizing videos for search visibility. This article tells you how to choose and work with a professional video production partner(s) and how to choose a video host for displaying your videos.
Choosing Your Videographer
You'll want to choose a videographer who can best integrate with your search marketing work, making your job and theirs easier and more productive. Even if you are multi-talented in possessing both professional-caliber video production and optimization skills, it's best to leave as much of the production and infrastructure work as possible to full-time professionals.
Establishing a partnership with a professional involved in the actual production and editing of the video material (aka a videographer), along with a specialized hosting plan for all your video media, will not only make you a more effective video optimizer, it will also provide your audience and clientele with better performance quality and a better user experience. Below are some tips for choosing and working with a videographer.
Pre-existing content. Point your preference toward a videographer who already has produced a decent amount of video content (clips) for your target market. This will enable you to readily optimize and promote existing video, rather than be delayed by a startup production schedule. Professional videographers will already have 1 to 3-minute sample clips readily available for clients, which is the ideal length for presenting as optimized online clips.
Video encoding. You want to make sure you have a videographer who can transcode (code from the original large file size video to a much smaller file size video) to any and all of the popular multiple video formats used for common online viewing, whether it be for a client Web site or video search engine. These formats should include:
- Windows Media Files (WMF)
- Flash (FLV)
- QuickTime (MOV)
Video files require separate audio transcoding. Your videographer should also know how to convert the audio format of your video files to multiple bit rates in both MP3 and AAC. (AAC can offer even better compression rates than MP3, along with more versatility.)
While there are some freeware and shareware software tools for transcoding (including the popular QuickTime Pro), they are rather limited in their format choices, and painfully slower in transcoding compared to professional-caliber software. Your own videographer should be equipped with, and skilled in using, a professional video transcoding software that can handle multiple file formats and codecs, plus do both progressive downloads (e.g., YouTube), and streaming media files (e.g., Google Video).
A few popular professional-level programs providing these features are Sorenson Suite and AutoDesk Cleaner (for Mac). One new program that just came out, which I personally use and recommend for videographers who work with Macs, is Flip4Mac’s Episode Pro, which has outstanding quality-to-filesize-to-speed ratio. (Albeit at the higher price scale.) For video that needs to be extracted from DVDs and CDs, your videographer should know how to use a special media extractor tool such as Miraizon’s Cinematize Pro.
Working With Your Videographer
Once you’ve selected your videographer, below are a few tips on how to work together for your online video promotion.
Clip selection. Select pieces that show the best transfer of quality of the videographer’s work to the online medium. Pieces with at least some close-ups are especially good for transcoding, as they can showcase better image quality without requiring higher data-transfer rates and download speeds. Be sure to have your videographer blend these pieces with animated (but not overwhelming) text graphics, and a soundtrack.
Dual watermarking. When working with the videographer’s own original and copyrighted content, have the videographer watermark the end of all the video clips with your company partnership info. This will clearly establish the partnership and dual branding, while respecting your videographer's copyrighted work. View example.
YouTube account. Set up a YouTube account for your videographer that features all of your dual-branded clips. Here’s an example of what I use with one of my own videographers.
Choosing a Video Host
If you are committed to showcasing and optimizing multiple media files that you expect to be crawled and indexed by the video search engines, then a streaming media server will work far better for hosting your video files than a Web hosting account.
“Multimedia streaming is very CPU intensive and tends to bog down the performance of the Web server,” says Eyal Menin, President of uValut and author of The Streaming Media Handbook. Hosting video files on a standard Web host account can put you at a severe disadvantage. It will eat up a considerable amount of bandwidth (and add unexpected charges to your Web hosting rates), not to mention significantly slower download speeds or even dropped clips when you're building up an audience that is trying to access the same video at the same time.
If you have a considerable amount of video content and are expecting a sizeable audience from your search marketing efforts, you should host all of your video files on a separate server. Ideally, this would be a streaming media server.
Hosting your video on a separate media server can provide multiple advantages:
- Higher performance network backbone to handle all your videos of any length and file size.
- Options for both streaming and progressive downloads.
- Ability to detect the browser’s bandwidth speed, delivering a video with the data rate that best matches its speed.
- Digital file protection for files you want indexed in video search results, but secure from copying onto third-party Web sites.
The advantage of having a separate streaming video hosting account is it has a higher performance network backbone to handle multiple views of your videos, and can best stream large file sizes and lengths. Streaming can be more user-friendly for your audience since it allows users to go directly to any point in a video without making them wait for the download to get to that point.
“Streaming video accounts allow you to stream your video in real time,” explains Streamhoster co-founder Michael Barsoumian. A streaming video account allows you to randomly seek any position in the video immediately. You have no progress bars, almost instant startup, and can jump to any point in the video at anytime. This is not possible if you use your Web hosting account to display the video.
Now, the tricky part: when running streaming media, you need a separate server for each media type. Streaming Windows Media files can only run off of a Windows server, streaming QuickTime video files can only run off of a QuickTime streaming media server, and Flash streaming media files can only run off of a Flash streaming media server – and all three are separate outfits. Fortunately, there are streaming media hosting companies that can handle multiple or specialized file formats. It's rare, however, to find a company that can effectively handle all three media formats.
My own experience when weighing performance, affordability, and customer service is to use Streamhoster for Windows Media and QuickTime video files (hosting accounts start at $15/month), and uValut for Flash video files (hosting starts at $50/month – expect higher rates when working with Flash media formats).
Remember these requirements when selecting video partners for your own video search marketing:
- Required: Pre-existing content, transcoding software.
- Recommended: Separate computer for transcoding video media files (allowing for faster project completion times).
Video media hosting criteria:
- Required: Streaming media capabilities, at least one of the following file formats: WMF, MOV, FLV, easy FTP or Web upload of video files.
- To Consider: Multiple file formats, usage statistic reports, copy protection.