Secret Dubai

Intrigue and Adventure in the United Arab Emirates


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Video blogging FAQ

Some general questions that haven't actually been asked yet, but just in case, here are some preemptive answers.

1. What are the elements needed to make a video blog?
2. What sort of video camera do I need?
3. What kind of software do I need?
4. What kind of compression settings do I need?
5. Where do I put my files?
6. How do I put the videos on my blog?
7. What exactly do you use at Secret Dubai video diary?
8. Who are the people whose voices are heard in your videos?


1. What are the elements needed to make a video blog?
You need four things to make a video blog:

(a) A video camera
(b) A computer with editing and compression software
(c) A blog
(d) Somewhere to host the files

You can also moblog with some mobile phones.

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2. What sort of video camera do I need?
The better quality the camera, the better results you will get. Even for very highly compressed video, such as is published on the web, the difference between files made from excellent footage and poor footage is very noticeable.

But quality may be not your priority: affordability or portability may be more important instead. You're less likely to have a bigger, heavier, pro-end videocamera with you 24/7, meaning you miss that sunset, or that celebrity, or something unexpectedly funny. Steve's DigiCams forums has a lot of recommendations.

At this stage in the technology era, you probably want to consider using solid state media (ie not tape) as let's face it, the Era of Tape is drawing to a close. You can get 2gb or 4gb SD cards now, enough for a couple of hours of footage.

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3. What kind of software do I need?
QuickTime Pro is competitively priced and has all you need for basic editing and reasonably advanced exporting, including the magic H.264 codec.

Most videocameras should come with free video editing software. Apple users can also try iMovie; PC users MovieMaker. There is as well a host of affordable third-party consumer-end video editing software around. For a powerful, full-featured professional editing solution, try Final Cut Pro (Mac) or if you have a PC, Adobe Premiere (Mac and PC).

Sorensen Squeeze (available for Mac and PC)

Secret Dubai video diary is using QuickTime Pro on a Mac for video editing and exporting. We had hoped to use Final Cut Pro for editing, but currently it's screwing up the files. Audio is either stuck straight on in QuickTime, or assembled with Final Cut Pro. Most

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4. What kind of compression settings do I need?
This is something you'll need to experiment with yourself. Secret Dubai video diary is using QuickTime with the H.264 codec because it's currently the most advanced, bringing the best quality for the smallest file size. H.264 is also an industry-standard video technology, unlike Windows Media 10.

Other good file formats include Flash (.swf), MPEG4 (.mp4/.mpg/.mpeg), and QuickTime (.mov). Windows Media (.wmv) is another, but inferior at high compressions (low file size). Flash gets "choppier" but keeps colours vivid, Windows Media is smoother, but often smooths out actual detail, and colour-wise can become a very dull, insipid sludge. It's also a nightmare (even impossible) to embed - display on a web page - in a way that is cross-platform compatible.

Very important point: keep your audio quality as high as possible. Highly compressed, "tinny" sound is a horrible experience whether your video is high quality or low and blurry. Audio "costs" hardly any bandwidth compared to video, so never try and squash down your sound to give your video a higher bitrate (eg if you are trying to compress to a fixed total bitrate): the difference in the video will be imperceptible but the audio will be unlistenable.

Incidentally this is the number one error made my most video webcasters and also the presets in most video compression software. As soon as you choose: "Compress for low-bandwidth" they sound is squashed to tinny hell. It shouldn't be, it doesn't need to be. Always adapt presets to your own custom settings.

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5. Where do I put my files?
You can either pay for your own server space, which can be as little as a couple of dollars a month, or you can try a free media hosting place, such as Internet Archive or OurMedia. Try Wikipedia's Vlog page for more info.

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6. How do I put the videos on my blog?
The most amazing tutorial on videoblogging with Blogger.com can be found here. Once you've set up your template as they explain, the only thing you have to do for each new post is enter your filename as the title. The rest then happens automatically.

If you don't use Blogger, the embedding code in the above tutorial is still useful.

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7. What exactly do you use at Secret Dubai video diary?

(a) Video camera: a Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6

(b) Software:

QuickTime 7 Pro for editing and exporting.
Soundtrack for creating music loops.
Final Cut Pro for more complicated audio editing (currently it makes the video part jerky).
Orator for the voice samples.
H.264 codec in a QuickTime .mov for the file format.

(c) Blog: Blogger.com, with the template settings linked to above.

(d) Hosting: GoDaddy Economy Plan, which cost US$74 for 24 months (5gb space, 250gb transfer).

Typical compression settings used by Secret Dubai video diary:



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8. Who are the people whose voices are heard in your videos?

They are a host of talented voice-over artists who live inside my computer.

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