Helping your guests with a quick video project is something that Web-based video services have make easy and accessible today. With a low-budget camera — even an iPhone or an iPad — video can be a service you can offer to you guests for little to no cost.
Ten years ago, streaming video was low-quality, hard to produce, and expensive to deliver. Today it’s easy to produce with inexpensive equipment and can be delivered to your online viewers by free or low-cost Web video distribution services. Or you can deliver broadcast-quality, high-definition live productions if you have a substantial budget. And even a “substantial” live production budget is a lot less today than it was in 2002.
Live streaming is real time, and needs one connection from the streaming server to the Internet for each viewer. Progressive delivery shoots data packets out over the Internet that are reassembled by the client — or viewing — computer back into a coherent video. Hardly anyone does true “live streaming” any more. If you have a webcam and two computers, you can set up a chat between your two computers using Skype, Yahoo Messenger or Google Hangout and see for yourself that there’s a noticeable lag between your “live” self and your “chat” self. The lag is caused by your image and voice getting broken down into data packets, sent through the various wires and fiber optic lines and routers and other equipment between the send and receiving ends, and getting assembled back into a viewable video. In real life, though, this lag is no problem because hardly anybody looks at the live event and watches the streaming video rendition of it at the same time.
There’s one last question about video chat: “Will it scale?” The answer is, “President Obama did a Google Hangout chat without any technical problems even though 228,100 people submitted 133,158 questions and cast 1,630,112 votes for which questions he should answer, and over 540,000 people watched the video after the fact.
Google Hangout isn’t only for Presidents. You can easily set up your own Google+ Brand Page and host your own Google Hangouts. In fact, here are five hangout ideas meant for retailers, that are also useful for everyone from kindergarten teachers to college instructors to choir leaders.
Skype is great for bring services to people who can’t make it to meetings, good for corporate training — it will even let you share a view of your monitor — and is passable for sharing music, although Skype sound quality is not spectacular. Even better, if you add a $99 program called VodBurner or $60 Debut (which is often available for as low as $29.99) you can record your chat conversation and share it later with people whose schedules kept them away from your live presentation. And this is when you can get into some serious viewer numbers, because people are getting in the habit of watching TV and video when they want to, rather than on your schedule.
Unless you plan to do at least several online videos every month, it’s probably best to hire an independent producer to make your videos. You can always choose to buy equipment, software, and possibly training for in-house production later, while if you make that front-end investment first, and later turn to an outside production house, you have just wasted the money you spent gearing up to make your own videos.
There are three ways to find a qualified video producer. The easiest is to contact TurnHere or another experienced national production house. They have pre-screened videographers all over the country and will assign one to you. They also have a large collection of royalty-free background music that is legal to use in your video. (Unless you pay a huge fee, you cannot