Prioritise. Anybody successful will admit it’s the only way to get anywhere. Bumping to the top of this week’s list then – finally making a music video and publishing it online. After all, doesn’t the world deserve to see as well as hear the BlackSmiths – a reggae band who drown Morrisey songs in too much reverb?
Prepare Your Movie
Before the shrinking process even begins to get your movie online, it’s worth considering what sort of movies work best in an online environment. Googling will reveal a range of pages, most of whom agree on a number of things which will help your clip be web-friendly, before you even begin compressing the little bugger to a fraction of it’s size. Of course, these are just general priniciples to keep a video looking as good as possible on say a 56k modem – which is always going to be a stretch, and tis sometimes handy to know some of the rules before breaking them.
*Generally webclips are 320×240 or smaller – so the first thing to remember with web audiences is that your clip can’t rely on subtleties, nuances and details. Remember this as you storyboard your clip ( www.storyboardschool.com ).
*Given your small viewing area, close ups and mid shots can deliver more detail than wide and long shots.
*Keeping camera and subject movement to a minimum will help compression work better ( ie zooms, pans, tilts and on-screen action etc – providing smaller file size and better image quality. (Less ‘different’ image frames to ‘compare’.) For this reason tripods and steady images are preferred to shaky handicam footage.
*Fine backgrounds as they can cause file sizes to bloom. Medium-fast pans typically become blocky blurs.
More Rasta Cut Fasta
Choppin & splicin, choppin & splicin. Fun to be sure, but even after such rigorous planning and meticulous shooting, the beast still has to be captured onto a hard drive. Firewire is generally the best option here, although given it’ll be on the web – plenty of USB devices are suitable too. Tis best to capture at full resolution if have the space, and shrink the resolution at the last step – maximising the amount of image data the compression program has to play with for optimising your clip. Full size captured video is generally around 100mb a minute, so a 3minute wailing morrisey reggae clip can take up to 2 gigs of space when you consider edits and rendering space needed. Mixed & chopped? Time to kompress.
Aight. Most video editing software can output your clip in a variety of ways. The key things for optimal online file size and quality are image size ( 320×240 or 240 x180 ), frame rate ( instead of 25, reduce to 15 frames per second, and where given an option for keyframes – one keyframe every 80 is seen as sufficient for webmovies ) and the choice of codec. Common (kompression) codecs are Cinepak, Indeo, photojpeg and Sorenson and they each have their merits for encoding clips. Many prefer the tiny filesizes that Sorenson produces, but they also take a long time to encode and are processor intensive. Mp4 video files are becoming popular for online delivery, and a relative newcomer to the codec ballpark is DivX, which is doing for video what mp3 has done for audio – make large files much smaller with as little quality reduction as possible. To encode as a divx you will need to download and install their codec first ( see www.divx.com ) and this should then hopefully appear as an encoding option within your editing software.
Aside from editing software, apps such as Media Cleaner (www.discreet.com/products/cleaner), Sorenson Squeeze (www.sorenson.com), Wildform Flix, Real Player ( www.real.com ) and ffmpeg (ffmpeg.sourceforge.net) all provide dedicated kompression tools which give more export adjusting detail and provide many batch processing options ( for those with many rasta clips to make ). Flix & Squeeze are notable here for their use of Flash software to shrink filesizes.
*Embedded movies on webpages? You’ll need to use a quicktime codec to embed within a webpage. Most web authoring apps make this process kinda easy, or you can always ‘view the source’ of a webpage with an interestingly embedded movie and adapt to suit your own needs.
*Streaming? This basically means that the viewer can start watching your clip as it is downloading, rather than having to wait until the entire thing has downloaded. Quicktime has options for this, that you will have to tweak – as does the Real Producer companion app to the real player.