Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Rise of Social Video

According to the social media network 2011 is going to be the rise of video blogs, webinars etc. But what effect will this really have of us design engineers? Are we now going to have to look good on camera to make it, or should we all start finding stunt doubles? The other question are, is this really new and what makes a good video post!

Personally I not certain that video blogs and webinars are totally new. Video has been a powerfully tool used by lots of people for some time now and they have made a big impact. From a totally geeky point of view I watched and learned a massive amount about computer science and programming techniques by watching the thirty plus videos posted by UNSW on iTunes U entitled COMP1917. What made these video really good it that the host, Richard Buckland is excited and enthusiastic about his subject. This makes watching them really fun because he would sometimes go off topic to explain things. The videos centered around him giving lectures at UNSW however they are far from technically well constructed videos, lighting is poor in places and it even drops sound at one point. Having said this they are compelling to watch.

Possible the biggest name in electronics that is using video to its max is eevblog. Here we see the same passion for electronics that we know we all have inside us – well us geeks anyway! His approach may never make him a Hollywood actor and nor would his videos get a golden globe. But it’s all about that little something that again makes Dave compelling to watch. I also have three other videos that I think are a must to watch. These use an new approach that you may not have seen before or expect as a method for posting a video. Passing information with massive visual effect is what they do best. Again these are not from a video point of view well lit or have good sound but they do what’s important and that’s get a message across.

Hopefully by now you will see that making videos is not about generating a well polished HD video that could appear as a prime time BBC documentary. As engineers we know the world is far from perfect and we are all familiar will a little bit of shaky video skills for filming our kids at Disneyland or filming your mates at the pub on a mobile phone. So making videos for other geeks do not have to be that good!

The other importnat think in making a video is the equipment. Keep it simple. You could go and get yourself a expencive camcorder but you can get away with a Flip which is really very low cost and comes with basic editing software. There are a lot or big names posting with nothing more. But I would not suggest you video with your mobile! You can't keep it still, but a small cheap camera can be stood on a table or fitted to a tripod that will make your videos look really good. Lighting is also important and a good suggestion is to place you camera in a window looking in at you. You will use natural light and from the right direction. Run some test runs and see what you look like, A clear image or are you all in shadow. Just some basic lighting is all you need.

Editing can be hard, there are free tools and some to pay for by you will not be breaking the balance as some tools are less than the cost of filling yout car up with petrol. As I have already said, the Flip camera and editing tools are very good so would recommend starting here. When filming always allow a few seconds for the camera to run before talking and the same at the end - makes it easier to edit after. And lastly please dont use fancy wipes and fades and spinning images. Your views will switch off very quick - just clean cuts is all you need.

So how do you move forward and get more information or know how to get people to see my video? Well there are a number of social media people that are promoting Video at this time. I would recommend getting a twitter account if you do not already have one and following these people: @imsweetie @jododds and especially @barefoot_exec. Now I know there are a number of engineers that are a bit shy and can feel a little over powered by social media types but these guys know what they are talking about and can help point you in the right direction.

So the key things are when making your video. Keep it interesting, don’t try anything too flash! Use a good camera like a FLIP. Stick to the information you need to get across and remember to post it were everyone can see it – YouTube.!

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