Broadband distribution strategy
Methods that may form part of your online video distribution strategy include:
Uploading a copy of your video encoded at high enough quality to be screened.
Uploading smaller more compressed versions of your video for viewing within the browser or for faster download for people without broadband Internet connections.
Creating a Torrent of your video and sharing your video on peer-to-peer networks.
Creating a vodcast of your videos or adding your video to an existing vodcast channel that allows viewers to download video automatically to their computers.
1. Screening quality video
It is possible to encode your video using XviD at a reasonable file-size (around 350 to 500 megabytes per hour of video) to be downloaded by a user and screened on a television or video projector – either directly from a computer’s video output or after being transferred to another medium such as tape or DVD.
Once your video is encoded you can upload it along with related metadata to a free service such as the Internet Archive or Ourmedia. Uploading files of this size requires a decent broadband connection and some patience. The Internet Archive offers two ways to upload – either by using an FTP client or by using an uploading application called the CC Publisher.
The Internet Archive will generate a page about your video with metadata you have entered such as a description and the Creative Commons license you have attached to it. Visitors to this page have the option to download your video by clicking on a link in their browser or by using an FTP client, and may also review the video by filling out an online form. You can link to this page from your own website, and include the link in your emails during promotion.
If you choose to allow it, your Creative Commons license may grant others permission to use excerpts of your production in their own – if your video has been encoded at high enough quality to make this viable.
2. Video for viewing on computer or within the browser
It is a good idea, where possible, to offer your video in a format that has been highly compressed, in order that viewers with narrow Internet connections will be able to download your video in a reasonable amount of time. It may be best to encode this version of your video in a popular proprietary format such as Quicktime (.mov) or Flash Video (.flv) that many users will be able to play back easily. There are many FLOSS encoders that will allow you to compress to these formats (see “Digital Video Basics” above).
The Quicktime format allows the viewer to watch the video as it is being downloaded onto their machine without waiting for the whole file to download first. This is called progressive download or pseudo-streaming and makes it a good web-preview format. Flash also has this ability, and is a good option to choose as most Internet users already have the Flash plug-in. There is a list of open source tools available for Flash at http://osflash.org/.
Commercial services such as Google Video or YouTube offer free hosting of video that is automatically transcoded to the Flash Video format. You can then link to your video on any of these websites from your own. However, it will often be more desirable to upload your campaign or advocacy video to a project such as OneWorld or video.indymedia.org that is hosting similar content and is not directed by commercial interests. You can also upload your smaller video files to Ourmedia or the Internet Archive along with your larger files you have encoded for screening.
VideoBomb – is a useful place to promote your videos and other content you are interested in. It lists videos that have been recommended by its community, allowing users to tag them and create a collaborative categorisation system that makes content easier to find. It also provides an easy way for you to create a vodcast of your videos (see below).
3. Peer-to-Peer file sharing
Peer-to-peer (p2p) networks allow the sharing of bandwidth and data-transfer load across a community. Users downloading your video from a peer-to-peer network may be downloading from many other individuals' computers instead of from a central server. This has several advantages including faster download times as you can share the bandwidth of many Internet connections at once. This depends on how many people already have the file to share, which means the more popular your video is the faster it will be to download.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer application that allows users to download segments of a file from other users who may not have already downloaded the complete file. This means you can be sharing the video with other users before you have even finished downloading it. You can generate your own Torrent file using an application such as BitTorrent itself, or by using a website that will automatically generate a Torrent file from your video file – such as EngageMedia. You can also install the FLOSS Broadcast Machine on your website and allow users to automatically create Torrent files and list them in vodcast channels (see below).
You can list your Torrent in a tracker such as IndyTorrents that allows users to see how many people have copies of your video as a Torrent and therefore gauge how fast it will download. Other popular ways to find Torrents include The Pirate Bay and the BitTorrent search engine.
A vodcast (video podcast) is an RSS feed containing media enclosures
(pointers to media files within the RSS feed). These feeds enable users
to subscribe to a “channel” which will automatically download new video
content as it is added to the channel. You can install a vodcasting
client such as Miro to access video-on-demand that downloads or streams into the player, a bit like watching a TV channel. The popular iTunes application from Apple also has vodcasting functionality.
You can create your own vodcast using Broadcast Machine an application which you can install on your website. This allows you to either generate Torrents of your videos to share over peer-to-peer networks, or enter the URL of a video you have already uploaded to the Internet Archive or Ourmedia – and then add these videos to different channels on your site. You can also use videobomb.com to create a vodcast of videos you have published elsewhere by simply entering their url and some information about them.
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