Decades ago, when people wanted to share with others the images from their latest family vacations, they would hand around stacks of photographs, which would soon get out of chronological order, covered with greasy thumb prints, and accidentally smeared with guacamole and bean dip. More precious photographs, such as from weddings or post-divorce trips, would be protected in lap-crushing photo albums, which required everyone to crowd together.
No wonder that home slideshows were fashionable for quite some time, as they allowed everyone in the room — aside from the slide projector engineer ("Dad") — to kick back, relax, and offer unsolicited advice on how to get the slide projector working again. During the 1970s and 1980s, the widespread adoption of VCRs ensured the demise of slides, partly because it allowed the family engineer to torture his guests with seemingly endless videos of the dullest family vacation — retribution for earlier engineering advice.
Yet all of these various forms of sharing personal images with others, suffered from the drawback of limited broadcast. The only spectators who could enjoy the video or photo goodness were those who had been roped into the family den or cornered in the corporate kitchen. In addition, duplication of the media was time-consuming and degraded the quality of the images.
As they have done in so many other areas of our lives, digital technology and its ultimate platform, the Internet, revolutionized the sharing of videos. They have made possible worldwide and instantaneous distribution, preservation of image quality regardless of duplication, and even sophisticated image editing (for excising the ex).
It's Good to Share
Putting one's digital videos on the Internet can serve all kinds of purposes. You can prove once and for all to the world that your old dog really can learn new tricks, even if that only consists of him taking out the garbage before halftime. You can create your own funniest home video series, thereby providing your children's schoolmates with a rich source of embarrassing nickname ideas.
But posting digital videos online can also be utilized for more serious and lucrative purposes, such as featuring your business's offerings. This can be done at both the pre- and post-sales stage: Your company website could host videos demonstrating the features and benefits of your various products or services. It could also host tutorials that explain step-by-step how to use those products once they have been purchased. This can be especially effective for computer programs and Web-based applications.
Admittedly, such video presentations could instead be placed on DVDs with custom labels, and mailed to prospective and confirmed customers. Yet this involves greater production costs, regardless of how much those costs have declined since first offered to the public. It also involves greater distribution costs, since postal expenses from the USPS or private shippers are much higher than bandwidth charges from your Web hosting company.
Furthermore, in our age of instant gratification, shoppers and clients would much rather wait a few minutes for the full video to download to their computer, or a few seconds for the streaming video to begin, as opposed to waiting days for a DVD to appear in their mailbox. Witness the preparations of Netflix to supplement their postal-based movie rental service with future movie downloading.
Once you have decided to take the online video plunge, and you have selected some appropriate videos to offer to the world (or some inappropriate ones!), then you will need to decide where on the Web those videos will be located. You could use one of those big video sharing websites, or you could put them on your own site.
There are many factors in such a decision. First of all, you need to have your own website to do your own hosting. Also, you will need some technical expertise for creating some Web pages that will allow visitors to your site to easily find and launch your video presentations. There are site building tools that make this fairly easy, or you could bribe the neighborhood whiz kid to help out (just be sure to do backups first).
For corporate videos, particularly those that would help in your marketing efforts, they should naturally be made available on your company's site, but also posted on the popular video sharing sites, if possible — especially as those sites draw far more traffic than your corporate site, in most cases. This is certainly not a case of either/or. In the struggle for online eyeballs, leave no worthwhile option unexplored.
Sharing Super Sites
There is a seemingly ever-growing list of websites devoted to making online video sharing possible. They range from relative unknowns, such as Eyespot and vSocial, to some heavyweights, such as Google Video and YouTube.
As one might expect, each of these video services has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, you might like to edit your videos on the Web, especially if you lack video editing software on your computer, or you simply lack your own computer and plan on uploading your videos using someone else's computer. In that case, try Jumpcut, which for the longest time (well, in Internet terms) has been the best service in regards to online editing.
If you are a video pro and want to put up as many presentations as possible with the least amount of hassle, then you may be better served by Videoegg or Vimeo, which are regarded by many enthusiasts as having the most streamlined process for getting registered and uploading your video masterpieces.
If you want to put your videos in front of as many potential viewers as possible, then go with one — or several — of the services that get the most viewership. At this point, the 800 pound gorilla is YouTube. As of the end of August 2006, YouTube provided more than 9300 years of video viewing, of more than 6 million videos!
As always, do not count out any of the other major players, such as Google Video and AOL UnCut.
Now the only dangers of sharing your captured images with others, is the possibility of getting guacamole or bean dip on your keyboard or mouse.