Best Sources (Websites and Blogs) About Online Video Industry

Nalts on old fashioned televisionI’ve been adding to my list of blogs related to online-video. It’s up to almost 30 now, but I’m going to eventually rank the top 10. Surprisingly, few of these came from people who posted their blogs in the comments (yet I encourage that). I’ve found many of them by tracking inbound links or based on the coverage of my recent AdAge story.

Thanks to those of you who have provided blogs and websites. As I’ve said, they’re hard to find good sites covering this emerging industry because the words “online video” are used almost as frequently as “web 2.0.”

  1. Inside Online Video by Mike Abundo: Often the first to report on new trends and site features.
  2. OnlineVideoWatch (sorry I missed that site, which is now in my RSS).
  3. ReelPop by Steve Bryant, a columnist and editor living in New York, NY.
  4. Cinematech by Scott Kirsner, who wrote “The Future of Online Video.” CinemaTech focuses on how new technologies are changing cinema – the way movies get made, discovered, marketed, distributed, shown, and seen.
  5. Usertainment Blog, written by Lester Craft Jr., a veteran technology-business journalist.
  6. NewTeeVee– a few of you suggested adding that one.
  7. The Daily Reel has good coverage on the space and is developing a community.
  8. Fred Graver Blog, written by the guy that once helped ABC/Disney to explore “Telefusion.”
  9. Mashable, a site for social networking news.
  10. Web Video Doctor, for tips and tricks to help make better web videos.
  11. ViralBlog, collaborative team of bloggers haunt the globe for great virals.
  12. System Video Blog by Ken McCarthy
  13. StreamingMedia Blog is a bit “techie” for me, but has some nice info. Written by Dan Rayburn.
  14. Xlntads is a website that connects marketers, advertisers and amateurs, and has a nice relatively new blog written by Mark Schoneveld.
  15. WebVideoZone is a terrific resource by Joe Chapuis. Parts are “members only.”
  16. Less of a blog, but this “Online Video Industry Index” has a nice link of online video sites.
  17. WillVideoForFood (how can I not list myself? Note that I’m not here anymore.
  18. NewsVideographer for journalists looking to leverage online video.
  19. ReelSEO– how to optimize your videos for SEO.
  20. Gadget News: Lots of topics, including online video.
  21. Ronamok, by Ron the New Media Evangalist
  22. Hot Air, a new media conservative something or another that is really interesting. Founded by Michelle Malkin.
  23. Web Video Report: The bizzzness of online video
  24. MathewWingram: The intersection between web and media.
  25. Not just about online video, but mentions it a lot.
  26. PandemicLabs
  27. Camcorder Info: More than you’d expect from a blog attached to a camcorder site.
  28. Viral Video Wannabe: FallofAutumnDistro is one of YouTube’s more clever self marketers. I fear this name may soon be obsolete.
  29. Web Jungle: Advertising, digital marketing & web culture.

16th Letter Post: Another good source for online-video blog fav’s.

Canon Service Gets Poor Rating…Buy a Canon HV20 But Don’t Bruise It.

I’ve advocated buying the Canon HV20, and I remain a fan of the camrea. In fact when mine broke last month (and I needed a functioning camera immediately) I researched the marketplace for an alternative $800-$1200 HD camera I could buy right away. Guess what? I decided to buy a second Canon HV20. (Sony had models of similar quality/price, but alleged software issues that create problems with iMovie- a deal breaker). If you can overlook mild low-light issues and a weak internal microphone then the Canon HV20 is a great camera for about $800 (see Canon HV20 at B&H photo). But

But just like you don’t know your spouse until the honeymoon is over, you don’t know your manufacturer until you break your camera. Canon gets a D minus on repair, based on these problems ranked according to severity.

  1. Difficult to do business with. Website wasn’t functioning correctly and poor user-interface, phone hangs up on me after suffering long hold cue, invoice comes via snail mail without easy way to transact via web.
  2. Voicemail and representatives lack any humanity. Call the Factory Service Center in NJ yourself for the smarmiest IVR, including the awkwardly phoney: “oh, and by the way. We may record this call to serve you better.” 732-521-7007.
  3. When I finally got a human, she was impersonal and robotic. When I asked for clarifications about why they rejected my warantee and required me to repair external damage, she said “like I said before…” which is almost as annoying as hearing “you need to…” Even when she offered to knock 25% off the repair it didn’t feel good because it was delivered with all the love of a department-of-motor-vehicle clerk screaming: “sit until your number is called.”
  4. They rejected my warrantee because there was physical damage to the unit — but I can accept that. It’s just annoying that they need to repair the shell of the camera. I’d just assume they fix the problem with the image output and give me back my bruised camera shell. It’s like worn shoes- my camera feels more “mine” with all the bumps, scratches and bruises (each of which is attached to a fond memory) and would reduce the repair cost.
  5. The repair does not extend my warrantee at all. Just gives me a 90-day period, and the camera is already under warantee through April 2008.
  6. So I got ‘tude, lost time, convoluded process, and ultimately paid ~$150 to save a camera that cost $800 new. Could be worse- the repair could have been so expensive that I’d have abandoned the camera like a 1980 Geo with a blown engine.

And what good is a warantee if it expires when you drop, scratch and bruise your camera a bit? Show me a videographer that keeps his camera protected in a soft bag, and I’ll show you a lame videographer (who probably wraps his wires in perfect circles with little velcro cords).

Will this stop me from buying Canon? No. Will this compel me to buy Sony? Nope- I had a worse experience with them due to a crappy digital still camera about 5 years ago. But I hope it will make others expect bad service. And if I’m on the fence between equipment by Canon, Sony or a third brand… I’m taking my chance with the third brand.

I write this post in keeping with the great unwritten rules of blogging. Complete transparency (about smarmy Canon and, of course, why my personal debt continues to grow). And providing you, dear reader, the service of accountability… to companies that haven’t realized we live in an age where product excellence can substitute for weak customer service. Hmmm…. Time for my campaign like I warned Canon in this November 7 YouTube video seen by 11,000?

9 Tips for Videos and Hard Drives

big ass computerI just counted. Nine hard drives. If you create videos, you probably have at least one or two backup drives.

So keeping with Number 9, here are 9 tips about hard drives that I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. Don’t trust them. I had a Seagate crash and burn on me once, and lost some of my favorite videos. Fortunately I have some of the videos in lower resolution on other drives. Three stores couldn’t recover it and I was too mad at Seagate to get a refund or ever buy another one again. Then I broke my rule and bought another one because it was so cheap. Neither my PC nor my Mac recognize it. Desk weight. Dear Seagate: eat me.
  2. Buy only what you need now. The prices drop frequently, so if you rush to buy the terabyte drive you’ll find out it’s 30% less expensive by the time you actually need the space.
  3. Stay slightly behind what’s “hot” for the best deals. The real hard drive bargains now are on the 500 gig external drives. I like the Western Digital “My Book” drives (Amazon has a 500 gig one for $150). Call me crazy but I’d rather have too many drives because if one of them Seagates I know I won’t lose more than a few weeks of videos.
  4. Never pay more than 50 cents per gig, and shoot for 25 cents. So if it’s a 500 gig drive you want to shoot for between $150 and $250.
  5. Shop around. Last night I bought a SADA drive at BestBuy for $120, and while searching for installation instructions I found it for $75 at one of those “can I trust or not” online stores. So don’t be impulsive like me.
  6. Export best quality video. I try to save the original files of most of my videos in iMovie, but those can be 3 gigs per video (even if they’re short). So I’ve been saving the CD-ROM quality versions I upload as a backup. BIG mistake. Save a version that’s the highest quality your editing software can export. For the Mac, the difference between “full quality” and CD-ROM quality is day and night when played on a DVD player.
  7. Save editor file for your favorite videos. If you ever think you’ll need to change the music or condense your video for other mediums, then you absolutely have to save the master version. When I get a request from a network for one of my videos, I sometimes need to tighten them up or remove certain audio (not to mention export them in the highest quality I can). Note that iMovie may hide your footage and let you delete the clips you don’t use. But it secretly maintains the full version of each clip so that you can “return to original.” There’s a complex workaround, but it plays havoc on your file sizes. It’s worth ensuring your input settings break video into chunks no longer than 5 minutes.
  8. Keep your software and footage on separate drives. An editing pro told me that I can get faster performance by running my software from the main hard drive, and saving my projects on a separate internal drive. I haven’t noticed if that works, but I’ll take his word for it.
  9. Keep your main drive free of lots of space. My editing software runs radically slower if there’s not plenty of room on the drive.

Hope this helps, and look forward to your tips. Especially from Windows users since some of this applies just to Mac folks.

Video Production Tips With a Humorous Flair: The Shirtless Apprentice

This blog has been too consumed with YouTube and Nalts lately, and I want to get back to WillVideoForFood’s roots. Finding ways to improve the production of online video, marketing via online video, and learning tips to promote amateur and promotional content.

shirtless.jpgYesterday I spoke with Paul Kontonis of For Your Imagination. I thought I was an expert in online-video marketing, but I was humbled by Paul’s knowledge of how to get views beyond YouTube. “For Your Imagination” produces a series of fairly high-quality serialized content (some of which has developed into television series). So it doesn’t all apply to us amateurs. But he’s partnered with sites like and identified ways to distribute via iTunes and other outlets and still retain advertising revenue. I’m planning on doing a more indepth interview with him soon.

Paul has business partners and funding, and employees a team of production people as well as viral junkees (some freelance) that help promote and distribute the programs they produce. If there’s another business model like it, I haven’t seen it.

Check out this show to learn production while getting bits of humor. It’s “The Shirtless Apprentice.” The poor guy wears a lav stuck to his chest with gaffer tape, and there’s some comedy mixed with solid video-production tips. Personally, I’d love even more humor, but it certainly beats the majority of talking heads out there. I’m adding it to my RSS, and there are already more than 2-dozen episodes on these important topics:

  • Audio for Sit Down Interviews
  • Continuity
  • Sun Guns
  • White Balance
  • Shooting Tips – B-Roll
  • Keying in Final Cut Pro
  • Capturing Video
  • Post Production Equipment
  • Frame Rates for Online Video
  • Three Point Lighting
  • Basic Battery Info and Tips
  • Audio for Internet Video
  • Lighting a Green Screen
  • Selecting a Video Camera

WillVideoForFood Forum

forum-image.jpgThanks to the most excellent Jan and TrippleHelix, we now have a WillVideoForFood forum. It’s completely dark right now, but I hope you’ll step in and make comments. I want to grant admin rights to any of you that are regulars and want to help.

The ideas we’ve discussed for the forum:

  • Great new sites
  • Hot viral video news
  • New ways to monetize videos
  • Tips (and links) to making better videos

What else makes sense as a forum topic?

Best Video Cameras

Every few days someone asks me what video camera to buy. Unless I happen to be “in the market” I don’t track closely. But I do trust Consumer Reports, and just received an issue ranking the top camcorders.

Note: My guide to buying a video camera can be found here.

What Format: Mini DV, DVD, Hard Drive, Combination?

The Consumer Reports “best buy” is a Panasonic SDR-H18 but it’s $430 and is a hard-drive model. I prefer the MiniDV for two reasons — first you’re always near a store that sells those little digital 8 mm tapes if you run out of space. Second, if my computer and camera blows up, at least I have the tapes. That said, most equipment malfunctions are related to moving parts. I suppose a tape recorder has more than a hard drive. Still, I’ve been burned too many times by crashed hard drives and few tapes have let me down.

Sorry. Not sold on these models that burn DVDs. I suppose it’s easier, but some models (the Hitachi DZ-GX5020A) gets 18 minutes of the best quality. 18 minutes per DVD? Puleez.

Bottom Line

canon ZR800So for the typical amateur, I’d recommend sticking with a simple Mini-DV model. The three Consumer Reports winners are the Canon ZR800, the Panasonic PV-GS80 and the Sony DCR-HC28.

I like Canon. I use the Digital Rebel for still photos and the Canon HV20 for my videos. No problems with either of them. The Canon HV20 takes longer than I’d like to “boot up” and the audio is poor. But the images are quite nice for its $1,000 price. For most amateurs, however, a prosumer $1000 camera is total overkill (unless you want high definition and have plenty of money). Buttefly.

So I’d go with the Canon ZR800. It’s listed at for $209 even though Consumer Reports lists it as $255. I get a lot of my impulse buys from BestBuy, but they’re listing it at $254 (but watch the circulars if you don’t want to wait for shipping).

It’s not perfect. Read the C-Net report so you know of some limitations, and the Amazon user reviews are mixed. It got a mediocre review, but so did the Panasonic. I also use PCMag to compare cameras, but the Canon ZR800 wasn’t listed.