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Web Video Creation and Optimization Forum

    
Length of Video for Web Site
long enough to appreciate but not bore
old_expat




msg:3550264
 3:40 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have a content rich travel website to which I'm thinking of adding some video clips that I take myself. They would be of the "this is how the place/thing looks" variety.

While I realize that this could be considered a "how long is a piece of string" question ..

I'm wondering what would be an optimum length that would not "shortchange" a subject, but not burn excessive bandwidth. I realize that attention spans on the web tend to be short.

I have just started circling the water deciding where is the best place to stick a toe in.

Any constructive advice on editing, format, presentation, resolution, etc will be well recieved as well.

The camera I will be using will likely be a Panasonic NV-GS85 PAL version (has optical image stabilization), tripod or vehicle mounted where possible.

 

Samizdata




msg:3551410
 6:12 am on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

"how long is a piece of string"

As long as it is short...

My personal preference would be to use Flash video (FLV) at 320x240 pixels (assuming 4:3 aspect ratio).

You can generally get pretty good results at 15 fps using the high quality setting.

With good editing and voiceover you can pack a lot of information into a one minute video clip.

The resulting file size would be a fairly bandwidth-friendly 4 Mb or so.

---

Only use WMV video if you don't want any of those high-spending Mac customers.

old_expat




msg:3551426
 6:44 am on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

As long as it is short...

My personal preference would be to use Flash video (FLV) at 320x240 pixels (assuming 4:3 aspect ratio).

You can generally get pretty good results at 15 fps using the high quality setting.

With good editing and voiceover you can pack a lot of information into a one minute video clip.

The resulting file size would be a fairly bandwidth-friendly 4 Mb or so.

Hello Samizdata,

Thanks for the comments. Pretty much what I was hoping to hear, especially the length. I was actually thinking in terms of some very serious editing and 30 seconds unless it was a really interesting street scene or something like that.

I will have to learn how to do quite a few things, especially Flash video .. and that scares me a bit.

Thanks again. :)

Robert Charlton




msg:3551519
 9:35 am on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

One of the first lessons my editing mentors taught me is to "always leave the audience wanting more."

30-seconds is the length of most U.S. TV spots, and it's a good length... one that people are used to, at any rate... but it's hard to do a good 30-sec spot, because that short a length requires a fair amount of precision in visual story-telling. It's a very compressed form. I wouldn't hold myself to a particular length so much as I'd hold myself to keeping my presentation interesting, whatever the length.

An important principle in visual composition is that you should fill your frame. An important principle in temporal composition is to fill the time, whatever length it is.

A story-telling structure of some sort helps hold audience interest, and by that I don't necessarily mean a dramatization. I'm talking about a structure with a beginning, middle, and end. This kind of structure applies as much for a technical presentation as it does for a fictional feature film.

Durham_e




msg:3552166
 10:57 pm on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

awhile back I produced many commercial videos.

A useful guide to length is more the length of a popular song. Say 2.5 to 3.5 Minutes.

The tempo of delivery is important. Lots of quick cuts and it can feel like forever. Maintaining the interest and tempo .... now thats the art.

old_expat




msg:3552412
 10:20 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

An important principle in visual composition is that you should fill your frame

I think there is a lot to this .. that I may not understand. And I believe it is very important. Could you expand on it a bit more?

I do understand about "beginning, middle and end" as I have done some fiction writing. I never thought of it as applying to very short cuts though. Longer pieces .. for sure.

My website is a travel guide for Thailand .. with lots of editorial and informational content. I was thinking of at least 1 video for each destination. Is that too many? Would 1 longer one be better?

old_expat




msg:3552414
 10:23 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

The tempo of delivery is important. Lots of quick cuts and it can feel like forever.

Because of a lack of talent, I doubt very seriously if I can achieve my target .. but that would be a video that looked like a trailer of a good movie.

thecoalman




msg:3552540
 4:28 pm on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

optimum length that would not "shortchange" a subject, but not burn excessive bandwidth

The file size is determined by the bitrate and length of video. To cut down on size you'll want to use an optimal bitrate... This varies according to the following.

1. Resolution, higher resolutions need more bitrate and lower resolutions do not need as much but it's little more complicated than that. I'll use DVD compliant MPEG2 as example, the highest resolution you can use is 720x480(576 for pal). The bitrate can be from 4000kbps to 8000kbps, this is not set in stone you can go above or below those two figures. However once you go below 4000 the quality rapidly deteriorates producing larger macroblocks the further you go down. If you use a bitrate above 8000 you've pretty much hit the max you're going to get out of it and the only thing you are doing is creating a larger file.

2. Codecs, each codec has it own unique characteristics. WMV for example will produce comparable quality to MPEG2 at 1/4 the bitrate. In other words the 720x480 video I use in my first example can now be encoded at about 2000kbps and you'll get about the same quality.

3. Content of the video, action requires more bitrate. If on the other hand you just have video with slow and pretty much objects without a lot of movement you can use a lot less. You should also use a tripod at all times, you may get a fairly stable video visually without one but those little hand movements that are not that perceptible while watching will require more bitrate.

4. Noise, encoders like the cleanest video possible. Noisy video and poor source material will also require more bitrate. Always use the best source you have to encode from, if your source is from a mini-DV cam, encode your final video once and only once. If you need to make edits go back to the source. Don't re-encode a previously created video.

old_expat




msg:3552824
 7:08 am on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Coalman, thanks .. these are the kinds of things that I needed to know, so I really appreciate your bringing them up. I will definately do some reading on codecs and bitrate.

I do plan on using a tripod in as many instances as possible. I've read on at least 1 forum that it is "better" to turn off OIS when shooting from a tripod. Does OIS add to the "noise" in some respects?

Regards,

old_expat

thecoalman




msg:3553030
 6:37 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes it will to some extent because you're reducing the effective resolution of the cam. Image stabilization creates a safe area so it can pan around a little within the frame. Similar in some respects to cropping an image.

Robert Charlton




msg:3553116
 9:57 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

An important principle in visual composition is that you should fill your frame

I think there is a lot to this .. that I may not understand. And I believe it is very important. Could you expand on it a bit more?

This is hard to describe without images as examples, but here's an attempt...

You need to understand what you want your image to convey, and then eliminate the superfluous.

In documentary photography or cinematography, after years of practice this all might happen instinctively in a moment, but it's helpful to think about your intention while you're photographing.

Say, you have a boat (or boats) on a river. If you're trying to convey pastoral tranquility, it would be appropriate to use a wide shot, with the boat tiny in the frame and with a lot of surrounding countryside.

If you want to convey the feeling that there's lots of traffic on the river, you'd frame a group of boats tighter, without much space around them, but you might still show the whole boats.

(If you have a really wide shot with the entire river filled with traffic, of course, then that's an extremely busy river, and the wide shot helps make that point).

If you were doing a whole sequence on boats, you might have an intermediate shot, say taken from the bow, of the boatsman standing or sitting in the boat. To keep context, you'd show part of the boat as well as the boatsman, so the shot would be full with some but not a huge amount of space around the person. As the sequence gets more energetic or more specific, you would tend to go in tighter.

For punctuation or energy or transition, you might show the bow of a boat cutting through the water, or a close shot of a paddle dipping in or out. For some sequences, the energetic shot of the bow or the paddle might work as the introductory shot.

If the boat were at a wharf or near shore and the subject were the boatsman handing off some cargo, a very wide shot probably would be inappropriate, as you wouldn't really see what the person was doing. You'd want a medium shot at least... or a tighter shot panning with what's being handed off to the person receiving it... or a static tight shot that cuts to a reverse tight shot of the other person receiving the goods.

There are a million different ways to handle framing and shot composition, and what you do within a sequence would affect this.

Beware of slow pans. If you're going to pan on static subjects, get a solid tripod with a good fluid head. They're expensive. Make sure a pan has a purpose, with a beginning and end point. On pans with moving subjects, try to hold composition.

Though zooms can be used to great effect, particularly in combination with pans, I'd recommend to a beginner, or to anyone using a camera without an extremely good zoom control to keep your finger off the zoom button.

In editing a sequence, you also should pay attention to what you're trying to convey and, again, eliminate the superfluous.

In general, wider shots (which have a lot of information and therefore take time to see) are cut slower than tight shots, which are simpler to assimilate. I too would be wary of a lot of quick cuts. I tend to use quick cuts only as punctuation or at the climaxes of sequences. An entire sequence of quick cuts, I feel, is not exciting, because it lacks pace and contrast.

Rules of course can be broken if you understand what's behind them.

Editing is key. The interweaving of music, sound, and narration with edited images is an art in itself.

Robert Charlton




msg:3553118
 10:03 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Re image stabilization....

Whether the image is cropped depends on the type of stabilization.

Optical stabilization doesn't cut into the image, and it's the kind you should look for if you buy a camera.

Most low-end digital stabilization does crop the image. (It's possible to build a camera with oversize sensors, to eliminate this loss of resolution, but... in this price competitive market... it's unlikely that a manufacturer will do that).

thecoalman




msg:3553254
 2:22 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

I want to add something that I didn't include in my first post about my MPEG2 example of not going below 4000. Once you reach the stage where macroblocks start to become an issue simply drop the resolution. You'll lose detail but you'll eliminate the macroblocks. A smaller resolution video with adequate bitrate will look a lot better than a larger resolution video with inadequate bitrate.

This is pretty common mistake I frequently see, a lot of the videos you see online with lot of macroblocking are a result of this.

Robert Charlton




msg:3553814
 6:56 pm on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

old_expat - To clarify something, I think we're using the term "cuts," as in "quick cuts" or "short cuts" differently, and it may confuse the sense of my reply. You say...

I do understand about "beginning, middle and end" as I have done some fiction writing. I never thought of it as applying to very short cuts though. Longer pieces .. for sure.

I'm applying "cuts" to the length of a shot, and I believe Durham_e is doing the same when he says "lots of quick cuts and it can feel like forever."

It sounds like you're talking about "short cuts" as short pieces. The term "cut" is ambiguous in that it describes the transition between two shots (a cut), the type of editing (quick cuts), or the edit version of a project (I like the second cut better than the first one).

"Quick cut" generally refers to the length of a shot... not to the length of a piece.

old_expat




msg:3554169
 1:59 am on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hello Robert .. thanks for the clarification. Now I understand. :)

Durham_e




msg:3555213
 1:09 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

What I'm exciting about video on the net is that it doesn't have to be linear so the question of length is not the same as it was.

That is when you produced a video the information had to be placed in meaningful sequence, in a line, edited together. The viewer had no option but to watch the lot sequentially so length was highly relevant. They could spool around of course looking for what they wanted but that was certainly not ideal.

Now with Internet digital presentation you could have say a Hotel page with all the branding you can throw on it and with teaser links to say video of swimming pool or local town shots. Of course those sequences have to be a of an engaging length, but you don't run the risk of boring viewers with preambles about the wonderful grounds or classy foyer etc. before they get to see what they really wanted to view.

Some very interesting other information in this thread.

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