It had to happen. First blogging – weblogging – catches on like wildfire, and everyone is posting their thoughts, tirades, or just minutiae online in their own blogs. Then podcasting came around – the equivalent of blogging in audio form. Today, the hottest new thing is video blogging (also called vblogging or vlogging).
What Is a Video Blog?
In its simplest form, a video blog (vblog or vlog) is the posting of serial videos to a website, with an audience response encouraged. Even though this new form of web communication is in its infancy, videobloggers have already started making regular postings online.
Many vbloggers are using video blogging to create their own miniprograms, using an RSS feed to deliver new episodes automatically. Others are experimenting with the new technology. Like any new community technology, there is no telling where vblogging is going to go in the future.
Why Use Video Blogs?
You may already express yourself in a regular blog. Think about all the communication you’re not delivering by writing everything down: the smug little facial expressions, the tone of your voice, and the clever repartee between you and a partner.
Besides this, they are a fantastic tool to deliver indescribable content. Being in the right place at the right time can make your vblog take off. Or if you like to blog about sporting events, a vblog can enable you to capture the action and deliver it to your fans, not just describe it in too-pale words.
If you’re a long way from home, this can also be a great way to keep up with friends and family. Think of it as a great new way to share the baby’s first steps with his or her grandparents.
And then, you may have harbored a secret dream to be the next great television newscaster or reporter. This can be your perfect chance.
How To Make a VBlog
Creating a video blog isn’t as straightforward as regular blogging. With an ordinary blog, you just have to be able to type in a regular post. But with vblogging, you’ll need to have access to a good computer that can work with movie programs as well as a camera that can take video as well as snapping shots.
The first part is the easiest: create your digital video on your camera or camcorder. There are an infinite number of ways you can put your vblog together; you’re not tied to a studio and you don’t have to adhere to any rules you haven’t made up yourself. Once your video has been created, you should download it to your computer in preparation for formatting and compressing it.
You can use a variety of different movie programs to work with your video blog, but the most commonly used are iMovie (for Mac, comes as part of the OS) or Movie Maker (for PC, comes as part of Windows). Others widely used are Final Cut Pro and Avid Free DV. If your camera or videocam create movies in Quicktime format, Avid Free DV is a great idea.
Once your movie is downloaded, you can use your movie program to make any video clip changes, insert new film, create titles and/or subtitles, and even add music to your video.
After you’ve finished editing your movie, you’ll need to compress it in preparation for uploading to your vblog. But here’s the catch. You want the movie compressed as far as possible so your audience will be able to download it and view it quickly; but the smaller you compress your movie, the less sharp your video quality will be. The idea is to find a happy medium, with your movie as small as possible, but with enough resolution left that your audience isn’t squinting to turn your grainy square-pixellated image into something vaguely human.
As you work with changing the compression of your movie, you should be able to monitor the predicted file size at the bottom of the dialog window (in any of the above programs). Ideally, you want to compress your movie into no more than 5 megabytes (5000 K, roughly). If possible, you should compress it down to a single megabyte. Video blogs filmed with minimal movement and with a solid-colored screen behind the vblogger’s head will compress the most, but they’re the least fun type of video blog to create.
After you’ve compressed your video blog, you’re ready to post it online. As a compressed Quicktime movie, you can just place it on your website with a link directly to it, just as you would with a regular web page. Or you may want to get involved in a video blogging community; if you do this, each community will have its own rules for putting your new vblog up and arranging introductory information around it, and you should read this carefully.
You should also read the users agreement carefully. Some video blogging sites may not accept vblogs with certain types of content; others may help promote certain types of content. You definitely need to know what your chosen video blogging community will help with and what they frown upon.
After posting your video blog, download it once and look at it carefully. Does it download quickly? How is the video quality? Anything you need to change?
Once you’re happy with your new vblog, promote it. Set up a link in your email signature line, or post links to it on bulletin boards you frequent. Creating the vblog is only half the work; someone has to view it now!
To help ensure your vblog is not lost in the shuffle, create some text around it, too. The major search engines only search text, not video. You must give them text to categorize your vblog, or they will ignore it.
What Else Should I Know About Video Blogging?
A great additional tool you can use for your video blog is an RSS feed. This is a technology that allows people to subscribe to your video blog and have it download to their electronic device automatically, (it can download to a computer, a PDA, a phone, and doubtless by now other devices.)
Congratulations! You have become a video broadcaster now, the star of your own tiny network.