YouTube 102: Broadcast Yourself Globally

This is a more philosophical follow-up post to “7 Steps to Getting the Most Out of YouTube.” While the former gave you some practical steps, this one looks at how advances in video equipment and the Web make it possible for anyone to be a worldwide broadcaster

Let’s take a minute to reflect on how the world of video has changed in just a quarter century (or to fit my personal example below, it’s more like 27 years.)

In 1981, most local television markets had three commercial network affiliates, and in some major metro markets there would be a PBS affiliate and occasionally an independent station. Station owners paid millions of dollars for FCC licenses, cameras, studios, transmitters and staff to create programming and pass it along to local viewers. Sometimes they had to pay fees for the exclusive right to broadcast events. Then they had to hire commercial sales staff to sell ads to car dealers, furniture stores and other local merchants, so they could interrupt your viewing pleasure with messages hawking their wares.

Today, by contrast, you can

  • buy a Flip video camera for $150 or less,
  • use a computer you already have (there are a few hundred million computers in the U.S. today) and free video editing software, and
  • create and upload programming that can be seen not just locally but worldwide, for free.

And frankly, a lot of what is being produced by amateurs today is of better quality than the professional grade of the 70s and 80s. For example, here’s some video from the 1981 Minnesota High School Boys Basketball Tournament:


The vintage video has degraded somewhat over the decades (as has your Chancellor’s physical condition), but if you compare the professional-grade graphical titles from ’81 with what comes free in iMovie today, and the clarity of picture from today’s $400 camera with what we used to see from cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars, it’s amazing to see how far technology has come. Also, the fact that I even have this historical footage is due to a friend who recorded the action with his $1,000 VHS VCR (which would be about $25 today!)

Here as a more recent example is your Chancellor’s daughter, jumping center at Target Center in this year’s Minnesota Girls Class AAA Tournament:


Of course, the even better thing is that you don’t need to get to a state tournament in order to see yourself “on TV.” In fact, here’s the Facebook group I set up for my daughter’s team, where I uploaded videos from almost every one of their games from this past year.

And thanks to Facebook and YouTube, the members of the team (and their parents) will be able to share highlights of their special season with family, friends and descendants for decades to come.

Can YouTube Beat Facebook Video Quality?

I recently had an interesting experience with a video I posted both to our Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel and to the official Mayo Clinic Facebook “fan” page. The video was created to provide a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. I uploaded the same file to both YouTube and Facebook, and the quality difference is striking.

Here’s the YouTube version:


It looks fine, but my friend Hoyt, the star of the video, was struck by the superior clarity of the same video on the Mayo Clinic Facebook page. I had noticed this previously with some other videos I had uploaded.

Obviously YouTube has the volume and critical mass for video sharing (and the advantage that you can embed it within blogs, while with Facebook you can only offer a link), but I wonder why YouTube’s quality is so much lower.

Is it because of the sheer volume of videos, that because YouTube is processing so many new uploads every day so it can’t afford to devote the processing power that would render the videos more clearly in Flash? Does the fact that Facebook has a video application for its platform contribute to the quality difference? Or are there some settings that would make YouTube videos look better? The one I uploaded was 137 megs for about a 6-minute video in mpeg format.

What settings would you recommend for export to get maximum quality in videos uploaded to YouTube, while keeping file sizes reasonable?

And do you have to be a fan of Mayo Clinic to see the Facebook version? I’m assuming you have to be at least a Facebook member, although you can at least see the basic fan page without being a member.

What do you think? What’s your experience with maximizing video quality in YouTube? Can it be as good as what you see in Facebook?

Updated: I tried clicking the video link without being logged in to Facebook, and I could see the video, so it seems it isn’t necessary to be a Facebook member to see Facebook video.

Blogging 131: How NOT to Shoot Web Video

The Flip video camera, which I reviewed and demonstrated in Blogging 130, enables you to easily shoot and quickly edit video to be uploaded to YouTube and embedded on a blog.

But as my friend Jane likes to say, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

Or, at least you should get training and follow some basic principles so you can produce better-looking content.

Here’s an example of the wrong way to shoot web video:


The main problem (aside from needing a better spokesmodel), is the brightly lit window behind me at the Seattle airport. It makes me all shadowy. Even so, you can still distinguish some of my features and it’s not completely intolerable (although you can weigh in on that in the comments), but it’s definitely not high quality shooting.

Here’s a better example, which comes from just turning the camera the other way:


The subject matter isn’t any better looking, but at least you get a more accurate map of the creases created by four-and-a-half decades of smiling and laughing (and squinting in the sun).

I’m also temporarily password-protecting this post, and making the videos on YouTube only visible to me, to see how that works. I’ll remove the password protection later.

Updated: Here’s what I learned. By setting the videos as “Private” in YouTube, that overrides the other setting I had done to allow embedding within this blog post. So if you have video you only want to share through a password-protected post, you can’t use YouTube embedding to display it. It has to be public on YouTube to be embedded in a post. I’ve now removed both the password protection on this post and the privacy on the YouTube videos so you can learn from these stellar examples.


Blogging 130: Video Blogging with Flip and iSight

Note: Every required course in the Social Media University, Global curriculum is free. In this one, I’m reviewing a product for video blogging that isn’t free, but it’s certainly inexpensive. Because of the cost, however, this course is an elective, not part of the core curriculum. But please at least do the course reading below, even if you’re not able to complete the homework assignment.

For the last several years I’ve been using my miniDV camera for producing amateur movies, whether for fun work projects or family videos. In fact, I have a huge drawer full of miniDV tapes that have captured many of my family memories, and which I have used to create high school graduation retrospectives for my two oldest kids, and for some wedding videos. And although I’m a self-taught producer, I’m pretty pleased at what I’ve been able to create with relatively simple tools.

One thing that makes producing these videos, well…a production is the need to digitize the footage, connecting the camera to the computer via Firewire, and playing the whole tape to import files that can be edited in iMovie (or one of the Final Cut versions.)

But thanks to recommendations from Steve Lubetkin and Monty Flinsch, I’ve recently (this weekend) begun exploring the Flip camera as a video blogging alternative. My one-word review:


I’ve seen Scoble do his Qik gig, and it’s pretty cool to have “a TV station in your pocket,” which you can use to stream video live to the web. But while I personally find my life really interesting, I think most of my readers would prefer the edited version. And besides, the quality of the live video stream (even from a 3G phone) still needs some work.

That’s what’s so compelling about the Flip: for a ridiculously low price ($119 for 30 minutes, $149 for 60 minutes), you can get a camera that records 640 x 480 video with decent sound into files that you can edit instantly and upload to YouTube or another video blogging platform, or to Facebook.

In fact, I started shooting the segment you see below at 7:15 p.m. CDT Tuesday, using a Flip Ultra and a cheap tripod. It took a couple of tries to say something close to what I wanted. So I was done recording by 7:20. Then I plugged the camera’s built-in USB extension that flips out (Get it? Flip?) into my computer’s USB port, and completed the editing by 7:25 using QuickTime Pro. I exported at 30 frames per second and best quality, which took about four minutes for this 75-second clip. By 7:32 I was uploading to YouTube. Total time from shooting to uploading: 17 minutes.

Then my youngest son asked me to go out for a run (with him on his scooter), so I took a blogging break. I’m not sure how long the upload took because I was away while it finished, but that will vary for you anyway, based on your Internet connection speed.

One hour later…

Continue reading “Blogging 130: Video Blogging with Flip and iSight”

Express Health Care on YouTube

My employer has opened its first Mayo Express Care facility in Rochester, Minn. It’s intended to serve patients with conditions that need prompt attention but that don’t need emergency department care. You can read a bit more about the service here, but thanks to YouTube you can take a tour of the new facility.


The business blogger for the Rochester Post-Bulletin, Jeff Kiger, posted this video on his blog last Friday. That’s really the only promotion of the video we’ve done, and it has had about 600 views so far on YouTube. (It got a lot more views on our intranet.) So the YouTube experiment has been interesting.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn had written about this new service on her Health Populi blog when the story first ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in November. She’s been a health care consultant for 20 years and has some interesting perspectives.