RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Although video is easier to produce than audio, video causes all sorts of problems for companies. If your company is thinking of adopting video as a communications medium, here are some technical things to consider.

Fie size. Video files are big. It’s common to have a 320×240 pixel 5 minute MP4-encoded video that is 20MB in size. And I bet that your IT department really hasn’t thought through the infrastructure required for employees to start stuffing 20-100M files into the system.

It is highly likely that your corporate infrastructure is build for text-based databases and email, thus has no capacity to be sending large video files around the company. You have two options:

1) Don’t tell your corporate IT folks; post the video, and see what happens

2) Call your IT department and have them tell you “No.”

Although dealing with the “accommodating” and “pleasant” nature of the traditional IT department, I recommend option #2 for the following reason: You are making a request to an internal service provider. If they say “No,” then you have every right to ask “when” they’ll be able to service your request. In the mean time, you can use an external hosting provider.

But even an external hosting provider won’t help you with another problem…moving large video files behind your company’s firewall.

One of the first problems that you’ll have with video is figuring how to get rendered files from Point-A to Point-B. For example, lets say that your colleague in another office has created a video for you to post externally. They aren’t video-savvy, so they have an uncompressed AVI file for you..which is about 1GB in size — too big to even fit on a CD-ROM.

By their very nature, video files are large, but they don’t need to be unnecessarily large. Therefore, I recommend creating a set of corporate guidelines for rendered video. If video content is produced using these guidelines, you’ll at least have the best quality video at the smallest file size.

Of all the options, let’s just focus on three…which will produce the smallest file with the best video quality: Video Encoding Format, Video Bitrate, and Audio Encoding Parameters.

  • Video Encoding Format
    • MP4, MPEG4 (DivX, Xvid, etc).
  • Bitrate:
    • Choose a “bitrate” of somewhere between 700kbps and 1000kbps. The lower the number, the lower the quality and the file size. The higher the number, the higher the quality and file size. There is no magic bullet here…you may have to experiment.
  • Audio: The goal of audio is to think about where the video is going to be viewed. It is likely that it will be on a screen, with teeny tiny loudspeakers, or less likely, on a portable device with ear buds. Either one does not need theatrical-quality sound, and therefore, we can trade-off quality (that would essentially be wasted) for a reduction in file size.
    • Use the MP3 or AAC audio codec (Continuous bit rate…aka: CBR)
    • Sample Rate 22KHz
    • Bit Rate: 22Kbps
    • Mode: Mono

But even with proper encoding on the producer’s end, the file size will still be too big to attach to an email. Here is where an IT department can help. See if they can setup a a centralized area where people can drag and drop files. The benefit to the IT folks is twofold: you are helping them keep the email servers from being overwhelmed, and they’ll also have an opportunity to monitor how much video is being produced. Such information is valueable as they put together their future hardware/software/service-provider plans.

Video is a very powerful way for the new Marketing Department to present information. But it comes with some technical issues that must be dealt with. My next posting will give you some things to think about when choosing an external hosting company.

Filed under: Content Development

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