What Format Should You Use For Your Video Project?

This article was written by the team behind One Inch Punch Pro, a Toronto based video production company with experience creating corporate videos, music videos, short films, reality television and more. We are pleased to publish this exclusive article here, and thank them for sharing this useful information for people in video production to learn and benefit from.

film reel

At one time making movies was simple because there weren’t a lot of format choices beyond 8mm and Super 8. No longer are we in the age of one format fits all. There are now many video formats to choose from (.wmv, .asf, .mov, .mpeg). Despite confusion that might arise from so many formats, a major advantage to videographers is that now quality footage is possible even from pocket devices. The following information examines video format, video production, and other factors that affect a video presentation.

Factors for Deciding a Video Format, Video Production

  • intended audience
  • whether or not the video will be seen online
  • internet connection speed
  • type of available video playback
  • online video trends
  • whether or not the video is embedded in an application

Once you know what you would like to do with your video, you’ll need to pick an appropriate format. Here are some of the more common file formats and what they offer.

Containers vs. Codecs

One of the first things you need to be clear about when it comes to digital video formats is the difference between containers and codecs. The container is the file. The codec is what determines how the content of the file is displayed, which may include compression. Codecs also encode the video and turn it into a stream of bytes. A video’s file extension relates to the container. One of the confusing things about containers and codecs is that they go in and out of style in the tech world.

Before deciding on a video format, video production and how it will be delivered should be considerations that point to a certain codec. The MP4 container with an H.264 codec is widely supported by sites that allow the public to upload videos. If your video is meant to be viewed on a mobile device then choose a codec that works with the OS.

Video Compression

The advantage to compressing video is that more video can take up less storage space. Some video data gets lost when a video file is compressed. Video compression software is based on displaying redundancies within a frame. A lot of the compression work can be done with DVD burning software. Usually when saving video in a software program you will be given the option to save the video in a certain quality. The higher quality will always be the most uncompressed. It is necessary to compress files in order to share them, especially online. When deciding on video format, video production and video presentation, remember that compression will have a big affect on appearance.

Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio is the dimension of the image, which is commonly 16:9, meaning a width of 16 and a height of 9. This dimension has been the universal standard for video and computer screens since 2009. Super 16 mm film has a similar aspect ratio. Other aspect ratios are used but are not as common as 16:9.

Audio Video Interleave (.avi) Container

AVI files were developed by Microsoft, originally for Windows 3.1 back in the 1990s. In recent years Windows users have switched to Windows Media Video. One of the disadvantages of the AVI format is that it does not allow for specification of the aspect ratio.

Advanced Systems Format (.asf) Container

ASF is a proprietary container developed by Microsoft that usually ends with the extension .wmv. It can be used for integrating Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Advanced Video Coding, High Compression (AVCHD) Container

AVCHD is a popular container used with digital camcorders. It is a joint effort by Sony and Panasonic. The file format is meant for storage as well as playback. The format supports standard definition, high definition and 3D.

Flash Video (.flv, .swf) Container

Flash video is delivered across the Internet through the Adobe Flash Player, which is what displays YouTube videos. Newer Flash videos use the H.264 codec. One major drawback with Flash is that it is not supported by iOS devices. Steve Jobs believed in looking pass the streaming problems of Flash and rely on better HTML 5 development to resolve streaming issues. Flash is otherwise a very popular container for streaming online videos.

QuickTime (.mov, .qt) Container

QuickTime is the proprietary video software playback system developed by Apple. It supports a wide scope of codecs as determined by Apple. It’s a popular video player that comes with Mac OS systems. Higher quality features can be accessed through a license with Apple. The iMac desktop comes loaded with iMovie, which is a basic version of Final Cut Pro, issuing .MOV and .MP4 containers.

Windows Media Video (.wmv) Codec

The WMV format supports high definition 720 and 1080 video. The way the format conserves space is that it only downloads a part of the video at a time. This feature has eliminated the need to wait for a video to completely download to watch it. There is often confusion between Windows and Mac software and what nuances are involved to make the software work properly.

H.264 Codec

This codec is used to compress a lot of video on the web. It can be used at very low and very high bit rates. It is commonly used with camcorders with the AVCHD container. Other common codecs include MPEG 1, 2 and 4, HDTV and DVD.

Format Conversion

Video can be converted from one format to another by using a tool such as a Kigo format converter, which works for both Mac and Windows devices. When converting a video format, video production degradation may occur. It’s a good idea to preserve the originals in a DVD format.

Whatever format and technology you use for your video projects, make sure that they will empower you and your team to achieve the project’s core production goals.

A Discussion About “The Accidental President” Series

The Accidental President - Web Series

I recently had the opportunity to interview the fine folks behind the web series “The Accidental President.” About The Accidental President: Just before she loses her battle with cancer, Senator Pricsilla Adams Logan convinces Tennessee Governor Michael Malloy, to appoint her younger sister to fill her Senate Seat. Reluctantly, Abigail Adams, a single, non-political, ER doctor, flies to Washington to be sworn in. During lunch with the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, the newly appointed Senator is asked to resign as soon as her vote is cast in an upcoming vote and she readily agrees, looking forward to going home and resuming her duties at the hospital. But before she can resign, the President is tragically killed while skiing in Colorado and within minutes, the U.S. Government is thrown into a chaotic whirlwind of unlikely events.

You can watch the amazing trailer below, and read what Team Accidental President had to say in our interesting Q and A.

The Accidental President Trailer from Left Brain TV on Vimeo.

1. What’s the story behind your team wanting to develop “The Accidental President” into a web series?

I read The Accidental President Trilogy about 2 years ago. I was intrigued by the main character and thought with a little tweaking, it would make a really interesting series. It took almost a full year to adapt the source material. Dixie Swasnson, the author, really gave me a free hand to mold the story into a series. We did a lot of laughing and arguing over the course of that year, but the end result is something I think we’re both extremely happy with. The main character, Abby Adams is strong and smart and a definitely not political – she is perfect for the White House!

2. Who is involved with the project?

Like all our projects, Ed Lamberg, Raquel Thomas, Tom Heydweiller, Stacy Lockhart and Mike Psanos led our production departments. Our crew is the same on each of our projects, but we did add a few pieces for The Accidental President. Mike Psanos handled all our audio recording, but for 2 months before we started shooting, he spearheaded our set construction and assembled an exact replica of The Oval Office. It was an incredible set to shoot on – right down to the Resolute Desk, which we got from a Presidential Library.

3. With proven web series successes with “Johnny Dynamo” and “Mr.Frost” were those experiences integral to leverage to start this new series?

Integral and leverage? Big words and I’m no brainiac you understand, but I think working on Johnny Dynamo and Mr. Frost gave us a really good foundation to build on with TAP. We knew all the pitfalls and trouble spots before the cameras rolled and every member of our team stepped up their game. We were fortunate to have Eric Roberts, Terry Kiser and Tiny Lister as part of this project and they came in and worked really well with our crew. It was a total team effort all the way!

4. What are the core goals for the series?

Well, I go into each one of these with tempered expectations. The initial goal is always the same – build an audience. If we can get over that first hurdle, the goal becomes ‘more’ and ‘better’. It is a great feeling when you go to the web and see 5000 or 8000 views in a day and we’ve been blessed with a very loyal audience. They’ve really latched on to each of our shows and the audience continues to grow on a daily basis.

5. What have been the biggest project challenges and struggles to date?

We shoot in Nashville and honestly, one of the biggest challenges has been casting. There are hundreds of really talented actors in Nashville – but, a good number of them have southern accents – makes it just a wee bit difficult to cast an entire Government with only southern accents.

6. What are your thoughts on the politically charged “The Interview” which was pulled from theaters by Sony? And was this just a PR move?

Curveball. I wasn’t expecting this question, but I’ve never been accused at being at a loss for words, so here goes:

I think Sony was forced into a no win situation by theater owners and politics. And I think the effect of what’s happened is going to change the way a lot of movies are marketed moving forward. I haven’t seen the film, but from everything I’ve read, it’s not going to be an Oscar contender. I believe Sony is going to make more on this movie now than they would have if the hacking situation had not reared it’s head. PR stunt? I don’t really think it was. That would mean Sony would have to have planned the whole thing – but I do think they found a way to capitalize on it. I give it 3 months before somebody comes out with a web series about North Korea just to try and make a quick buck by poking the bear.

7. What are some good tips for building an audience before a series is released, and after?

Good tips? I don’t know if they’re good but I can give you 3:

a) You have to know who you’re audience is and where they are. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are just going to ‘find’ you on the web. There are too many good series out there and the competition for eyeballs is getting pretty intense.

b) Social media is important, but it’s not the only thing. Reviews are difficult to get but supremely important to getting people interested.

c) Other people! Other people talking about your series is going to help you build an audience.

8. Where can we watch and subscribe to this series?

The Accidental President can be seen for free at LeftBrainTV.

9. Are more digital shows now in development?

As a matter of fact, yes. We are now in development on a new show, ‘Justiss’. A definite departure for us. A courtroom drama that has quite a unique twist to it. As we get closer to shooting, I’ll fill you’s in on the story line.

10. Any parting shots?

Always! I appreciate you giving us the space to talk about our projects and I did want to reach out and thank everyone who has watched our shows and for all the emails and kind words. It’s great to put something out there and grow an audience, but it’s a whole other thing when fellow creators and production people take notice. We’ve learned a lot from all of you and hopefully, we can help make the path smoother for some of you just starting out. The web series community is a huge, small group and we’re happy and proud to be one of you!

We thank the TAP team for their time and insightful answers for web series creators to learn from! We also wish them and their team all the best with The Accidental President, Mr. Frost, their other amazing series, and their upcoming feature film too going forward.

Enjoy this interview?! Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, animators and producers from our members on Spidvid.

And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.

Tweet: A Discussion About “The Accidental President” Series http://ctt.ec/43Zfe+ with LeftBrainTV #WebSeries #Interview

These Classes Will Help You To Master Video Production

CreatorUp 2015 Live Classes in Los Angeles

In order to create remarkable videos you need to know exactly what you’re doing. You have to educate yourself on what is working in today’s digital video world, and what isn’t getting traction. CreatorUp is producing some amazing classes and courses for video creators to learn from, to meet potential partners, and to take their content offering to the next level.

CreatorUp have brought some incredibly talented, experienced, and accomplished teachers on board to instruct five 4-week classes that include: Crowdfunding, Story, Creating Branded Content, Web Series, and Filmmaking 101. Students can take in these courses live in Los Angeles, or live through virtual classes that are offered too. This journey for the teachers and students begins on February 2nd.

Click the banner image above, or click on this link to check out the courses, teachers, and content to see if the potentially life changing experience can add significant value with your efforts in fundraising for your projects, developing your stories, understanding how to profitably integrate brands into your content, how to tackle the fast emerging web series space, and succeeding in the filmmaking world!

Video creators are producing higher and higher quality content as the digital world presses on. If you want to compete against them for production value and viewer attention you have to learn what it really takes to get those results. So certainly check out the classes page RIGHT NOW to see how you and your videos can directly benefit in a short period of time. The cost is minimal and you can pick up new ideas, actions to take, and practical information in no time flat. You can also buy a Season Pass which will cost effectively grant you access to all the new empowering classes!

Bonus: Discounts are very limited to just the first few people who use the promo code SPIDVID at checkout to get $50 off! Get this deal now, go to the CreatorUp classes page and take advantage of this offer before it’s too late!

Tweet: These Classes By @creatorup Will Help You To Master #VideoProduction http://ctt.ec/l7979+

Additional resources:

Click on the banner image below to learn how to raise thousands of dollars for your Kickstarter campaign!

How to Crack the Kickstarter Code

Click on the banner image below to subscribe to CreatorUp and watch courses that are guaranteed to make you a much better video creator!

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An Inside Look Into Mr.Frost the Web Series

Mr Frost - Digital Series

I recently had the opportunity to interview the fine folks behind the web series “Mr.Frost.” About Mr.Frost: When WLBD Radio loses one of its most popular Talk Radio hosts, Dr. Martin Tinsdale, station manager Gary Brubaker is desperate to find a replacement. With no time to lose, and only after being turned down by every legitimate radio and TV personality he can find, Brubaker is forced to call in a favor from an old College buddy… LAZLO FROST (a.k.a Mr. Frost)

You can watch the amazing trailer below, and read what Team Frost had to say in our interesting Q and A.

1. What’s the story behind your team wanting to develop “Mr. Frost” into a web series?

I’m not sure if there’s a story or just two words – Greg Standifer! We had come up with the concept of the show even before Johnny Dynamo, but we couldn’t find a local actor we felt was colorful enough to be Lazlo Frost. Then, during an audition for another project, Greg Standifer walked in and he was Lazlo Frost 45 minutes later.

2. Who is involved with the project?

Our crew is the same on all our projects, which is a blessing. Ed Lamberg, Sam Baker, Hunter Dixon, Mike Psanos, Tommy Figlio, Adair Kaiser, Ben Dunn, Ender Bowen, Danielle Richardson, Kelsey Hughes, Issac Middleton, Clay Howard, there’s a long list. Needless to say, we are all very familiar with each other and our process so things move smoothly and fairly quickly.

3. With proven web series success with “Johnny Dynamo” was that experience integral to leverage to start this new series?

Oh 140% worth. From the writing, to shooting and to marketing, living the experience of Dynamo has allowed us to avoid a lot of pitfalls and setbacks and work a much more definite plan. Unfortunately, Dynamo has been quite successful so our own expectations for Mr.Frost are pretty high.

4. What are the core goals for the series?

Build an audience. That’s the only goal right now. It makes no sense to pretend that anything else matters at the beginning. The audience is the key to everything.

5. What have been the biggest project challenges and struggles to date?

Well, for Mr. Frost, the biggest challenge has been keeping up with Greg Standifer. He is as big a character in real life as he is in the series. As for struggles, the only real struggle we’ve had is scheduling. We were shooting Johnny Dynamo Season 2, The Accidental President pilot and prepping for a feature film while we were working on Mr. Frost. That’s been our biggest hurdle, but our crew is really on top of their game. They make it a lot easier.

6. How does your team collaboratively manage the project work flow?

Mr. Frost is the easiest of our projects to shoot. We built a dedicated set so there isn’t a whole lot of time spent in lighting or set decoration. We always do table reads with the cast so they can be as familiar with the material as possible. We shoot an episode of Frost in 3 days and we are fortunate to have someone on set to handle continuity, DIT and can immediately start rough-cutting. It’s a pretty smooth situation. The down side would be changing dialog, adding scenes and generally reworking an entire episode during the course of an episode shoot. Luckily, the cast and the crew are used to my methods by now.

7. Do you have any tips or insights for producing a web series?

Make sure you have enough time and money to do what you want to do and temper your expectations – reach for the stars but don’t expect to hit the moon. That’s pretty flowery, corny even, but it’s true. Oh, having a DP and a crew that understands your goals is paramount to getting a good product, and you have to have a solid idea of who your audience is – building an audience is the hardest and most important facet of a successful series.

8. Any parting shots?

Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done! You may have to jump through hoops to get there, but don’t let the hoops stand in your way. One other thing, we all love our own work, but not everyone is going to love what you’re doing. Don’t get all frosty over somebody knocking your product – everybody has an opinion.

We thank Team Frost for their insightful answers for web series creators to learn from! We also wish them and their team all the best with Mr. Frost, their other amazing series, and their feature film going forward.

Enjoy this interview?! Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, animators and producers from our members on Spidvid.

And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.

Tweet: An Inside Look Into Mr Frost the #WebSeries http://ctt.ec/897HZ+ Greatness from @LeftBrainTV #QandA #Interview

7 Bold/Not So Bold Predictions For Digital Video In 2015

2015 Sparkles

This is my 6th year for making predictions for the digital video space. I typically get 30-40% of the predictions I make correct, so I’ll put that relatively good track record on the line to offer my predictions for 2015’s edition of the digital video space.

1. Top YouTube creators get schmoozed and lured away from YouTube – We are now starting to see startups pop up to offer their own video network, thanks in part to snagging top YouTube creators to create original content for their site. Vessel is one, and other smaller ones are getting funded to pay off and compensate YouTube talent to join their journey. If you have a big subscriber and viewer base on YouTube then keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities to hit your desk this year.

2. Digital series will win more significant awards - With Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and other digital video streamers now producing their own content, it’s totally changing how and where we consume content. House of Cards has won Emmy’s, Orange Is the New Black has done well, and more are on the way in 2015 as big talent is leaving traditional TV studios for lucrative digital opportunities.

3. Twitter Video – A week ago I thought up a bunch of predictions and I predicted that Twitter would launch its own video player. Well apparently Twitter Video really is going to happen according to ReelSEO. With the success of videos being uploaded and viewed on Facebook, I think Twitter execs looked at those juicy viewer numbers and wanted to finally join the digital video explosion to get a piece of the action.

4. Mobile video will surge on – If you find yourself watching more and more videos on your iPad, iPhone, or Android devices you’re not alone as it’s happening with great regularity now. I think we will see mobile viewership flatten out eventually, but 2015 certainly won’t be the year for that. 20% of all digital video views now occur on mobile devices, and I think by the end of 2015 we will see that stat get a 5 point pop to reach 25%.

5. Apple releasing a physical TV – I predicted that an “iTV” would be available to purchase in 2013 with screens ranging from 40-60″. That did not happen obviously and with Apple Watch debuting in the next couple months, I don’t think we will see a big screen TV product from Apple until next year in 2016 at the absolute earliest. For now enjoy your small Apple TV digital box and be happy.

6. Brands invest more – With digital video content getting to be of higher quality over the years, it has caught the attention of big and small brand advertisers looking to reach big, targeted audiences. TV ad budgets continue to shrink year over year, and with good reason as a high percentage of those audiences skip their ads, and the TV networks continue to charge more and more while offering less and less. ROI has been proven to be more effective for advertisers on digital video platforms, and TV ad budgets will continue to migrate over to digital experiences where ad campaigns can be properly measured and therefore managed.

7. You choose ads, ads don’t choose you – For the most part now, we have to watch a 15 or 30 second pre-roll ad before we can watch certain “premium” videos as they are being monetized. Sometimes ads can be skipped, but many times they can’t be. I think we will see viewers get the opportunity to pick more of their own pre-roll ads. 3-5 brand or product images will be shown and 1 can be selected to view. No ad experience is ideal, but if they can become more targeted, entertaining, and tolerable over time then that’s a win for viewers.

If you have an 8th prediction to add then I invite you to add it below with a comment.

Cheers to 2015 which will be digital video’s biggest year yet!