Video Content to Your Website
Television has to be
the major promotional tool for any company, because it is much easier
to get a message across visually than by any other means. As the
internet has expanded as a form of entertainment and information
gathering, technologies have developed to combine these two media
forms, and allow people to add video content to their websites which
can either be viewed online (streamed) or downloaded to a customer's
hard disk for later playback. Even internet advertisers, like Phorm, are
starting to see the benefits, providing video playback instead of
Many websites have evolved around
the ability to offer video content and video clips - perhaps the widest
use on the internet has been by the porn industry (out of which have
been born many millionaires). Television and media companies are
just beginning to join on the bandwagon and starting to offer their
programmes over the internet and to mobile phones as well.
still remains fairly small scale and has only just been marked by the
release of specific options in Google and Yahoo search engines to look
for video content as well as the evolving PODcast industry - which
provides video for download onto Apple's Video iPod.
The phenomenal growth of
the Youtube website has helped to show how popular
internet video can be, although apart from 'How To'
videos, many companies
still do not make the most of the facilities available and tend to only
offer video clips with an option to purchase the full video on DVD or
VHS video. The main reasons affecting this are the perceived
limitations placed upon offering streaming video.
A video downloaded
direct to a visitors hard disk offers the best possible quality for
playback. However, there are various video formats out there and
you cannot be certain which type of format a customer can support, or
the player a customer is going to prefer. Remember that there is
a sizeable number of people who surf the internet using systems other
than Windows, such as Linux. As a result, most sites seem to
offer download options for each of the three main players in the field,
each of which offer varying degrees of quality as well as user
friendliness (namely Microsoft
You also have to balance the quality of the video with
the time taken to download the video over a dial-up connection or a
broadband connection and at the standard 512Kb broadband, it is still
going to take a long time to download a 20 minute video, let alone
anything longer. However, as more and more providers offer 1Mb
broadband services as standard (and much faster services), then
this will not be a problem, apart from the fact that some ISPs place
caps on the maximum downloads available to their users and other "fair
When designing websites you always have to bear in mind
that not everyone will be using fast broadband for access and some may
have older computers which cannot support the latest media player
software. You also have to consider how easy it is to upload your
video content in the first instance and the speed at which your web
site hosting provider will be able to serve the content to your
From your website point
of view, if you want to add video content to your website, you have to balance the
amount of storage space and bandwidth required for
such large files.
You will generally need a dedicated server. If you only intend to
offer one or two videos on your website, a cheaper option might be to
as your web site hosting provider, as they offer low cost bandwidth of
up to 300GB per month and 10GB of storage.
One thing which you may wish to do if you offer video
for download, is to allow the ability for your visitors to convert
video to play on mobile devices. Companies such as PQ DVD offer software
specifically designed to convert DVD movies onto various mobile
devices, such as the Sony PSP, Pocket PC, Palm devices and Apple's
video iPod. This software allows users to convert DVDs, or
standard video files (wmv, avi, mpg, mpeg, rm, rmvb, Tivo2go, etc)
format on their PC and the software provided by PQ DVD is easy to use and low
cost. At least this does tackle one of the potential pitfalls, in
that your visitors may not have the right codec to play your video
The other option for providing video content is to
offer video streaming. This solution sends video to your
customer's computer in small packets, which allows the customer to
start watching the video almost immediately - whilst they are watching
the first few seconds of video, the next packet is buffered in the
background, which should help to provide a seamless video experience,
although on slow internet connections, they can often be left waiting
for the next packet to buffer.
Because the video is transmitted in this way, there is
no long delay whilst the customer waits for whole of the video content
to download before they can watch any of it. It also has the
added benefit that the visitor will need to return to your website to
watch the video more than once.
However, there does have to be a trade off in
quality. We have found that many streaming videos are also
difficult to watch over a 56K dialup connection, with the sound and
pictures often getting out of sync - presumably as the video has not
been fine tuned to work on either broadband or dial up internet
solution which has been used by HIT Entertainment plc (who
make children's television programs, such as the infamous Thomas the
Tank Engine and Bob the Builder), is to create movies with Macromedia
Flash which can then be played over their website. This works really
well for short animated movies and we have even seen
this method used for streaming small presentations with
real people. However, we have found that the Flash PlugIn (v9) does not appear to
install correctly on some setups running Microsoft's Internet Explorer
v7 (IE7) - this can be rectified by downloading and installing the Macromedia
Flash Active X control instead. However, this highlights one
of the problems with relying on a separate video player to show
your content in that if the user does not have the rights to install an
updated or different version of the player, then they will be blocked
from accessing your content.
Again you generally have to take account of the various
forms of internet connection and media players, which are available to
your customers and provide different versions of the video stream
for the varying speeds. You will also need to bear in mind the
high bandwidth and storage space requirements for this type of service,
and will undoubtedly need to use a dedicated server
Choice of Player and Video
Codecs / Plug-Ins
As well as deciding on the
type of video content to supply and how to provide it, you will have to
consider which media player the majority of your customers are likely
to have installed on their computer - the most popular are Microsoft
well as the Macromedia Flash player. However, even these come
with their own problems in that the user may not have the relevant
codec installed (this is the software which converts the video to
images on screen) or even the latest version of the Media Player.
Firewalls and browsing control software,
which is now commonly used within companies to restrict the sites and
types of content which their employees can access may also block video
content served in this method.
case, your customer may have to download more software from the
internet before they can even begin to view your video content which is
frustrating, particularly if they do not have rights to install new
software (remembering that parental controls and firewalls may also
If your visitors have to go to these
extremes in order to access your video content, many will decide to use
another web site - no matter what quality of content you promise, if
they are unable to view it immediately, people are unlikely to stay
around to find out.
One way around all of these problems is to look at
using a Java based video player.
A Java based video player is a small piece of software
which is actually embedded within your video content. This means
that whenever a customer wishes to view your video content, they are
always ensured of having the correct version of the player for use with
your video, without having to download or install any software.
The video displays from within any java enabled web browser, whatever
operating system it is running on. In fact this leads to seamless
This can have some huge advantages, as has been shown
by GMTV who have adopted Forbidden Technologies java video streaming
solution to allow their foreign correspondents to watch the television
show from anywhere in the World, without needing to pay for expensive
satellite links, in order to enable them to find out what is happening
within the programme.
There are various companies who provide Java
players (and the facility to convert your video to this format),
the top of this page, was created using Forbidden
Technologies software, which we prefer for the quality of sound and
video, as well as a consistent frame rate.
The advantages of using the Forbidden Technologies
- Video and audio can
be sent on a tape to Forbidden Technologies for conversion, or you can
convert it direct from a DV tape machine or mini-DV camera connected to
a PC via Firewire, or from a Quicktime movie file, using the free
FORUpload Windows (or MAC) program.
Professional users are also able to purchase a dedicated FORScene
compressor which works much more quickly and can handle larger volumes
of video. The latest version of FORUpload has a much improved user
interface and is now easier to use by novice users.
Professional use of this product is now starting to be seen, with
FORScene being used to edit
Super Vets on BBC1 and "Trust Me - I'm a Holiday Rep", which was
broadcast on Channel 5.
As well as
being able to use FORUpload to upload Quicktime video files, and to
capture output from DV video cameras, you can now use record CIF
resolution video (approximately VHS), with high quality audio, on your
mobile phone, and then upload it over the air for editing.
- Once it has been converted, you can then edit it online
using the low cost Java FORScene program which has features comparable
to those expected in television editing suites. FORscene makes it
easy to work collaboratively, since more than one person can have
access to the same file and again all you need is a Java enabled web
browser to use the software. Prices for editing start from only
£1 per hour.
- There is no need to convert your video
content into more than one format, because your customers do not need
any special plug-in or player to view your content - 9 out of 10
customers will have all the software they need already, namely a Java
enabled web browser. What is more, you do not have to worry as to
whether viewers will have rights to install a player (for example, if
they are behind a corporate firewall or have parental controls set),
which ensures the widest possible audience for your video content.
- Video and audio clips can be published
from within FORScene to either a web page (FORWeb), a PDA or mobile
phone (FORMobile), included within emails (FORMail) or within
advertising banners and even uploaded to iTunes for download and
viewing on one of the new video Ipods from Apple (PODcasts). It
can also be streamed live if you purchase a FORScene compressor.
- The video content is highly adaptable,
with the ability to add slides, subtitles, splash screens, company
logos, chapters and links to websites to the actual video.
- The FORweb solution (providing video for
use within a web page) can sense the datarate of a connection and
adjust the size of the video picture to suit the visitor's internet
- The video loads as soon as the user
clicks on your website - a picture can be displayed within the video
whilst the player downloads and initialise.
- FORMobile works over GPRS networks as
well as 3G networks and has been developed to work on
the Nokia N-Gage, Nokia N70, N90, 3230, 3650,
6600, 6670, 7610 and 7650, Sony Ericsson P800, P900 and P910i as well
as Symbian based phones. Videos can be charged using either a Bango
micropayment facility or through an SMS billing system, ensuring that
mobile users can easily pay to watch new video content. With the
advent of Viewtooth, mobile users can also share videos and the player
between themselves, and this has been successfully used to broadcast
video to tradeshow visitors for example, to provide them with free
details of what is happening at the show. With the opening up of
the 3G network by Orange, videos created with FORMobile can now be
watched on Orange Nokia 6630 mobile phones.
- The video content can be served from your
own server or stored on the Forbidden Technologies' web server at
fairly low cost. Live video content can also be served direct
from a FORLive compressor based on location, which, if you have an SDSL
(Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) can be uploaded to the internet
at modem, midband and broadband datarates simultaneously.
Obtaining Video / Sharing
All of this ability
to create and store video has lead to the need for Forbidden
Technologies to look at creating a website which can form a central
source of video content for download and sharing.
Forbidden Technologies have now
released a new website (www.clesh.com) which provides a
website for uploading, sharing and downloading video content, including
the use of this for private adverts. This will enable you to use
FORScene to edit video clips and upload them from a computer or a
mobile phone to a central server where they can be shared with other
users, who can access the clips using a PC (or MAC), or mobile.
When you create an account to allow you to store your videos, then you
are able to specify who can access the videos or place them in public
folders (for example you may wish to open a group account to allow your
family to upload and share videos).
This type of video sharing website is becoming more
popular and Clesh looks to take off with some quality videos having
been submitted in response to a competition run in conjunction with
Tiscali. Alas, with the massive surge in traffic towards Google's
YouTube video sharing website, Clesh appears to have taken a back
seat, allowing Forbidden Technologies to concentrate on the online
video editing capabilities of their solution.
How Do I Protect my Rights in Video?
the increasing use of search engines to look for videos on the
internet, it is essential that you take some action so that if a video
is viewed out of context from your own website, any copyright notices
are embedded within the video itself and it attracts people to come to
your own site to look for more video content.
One of the great benefits
of video streaming is that you can control your copyright in the video
- without a file to download and store on their computer, people cannot
copy your video to DVD or share it as a bit torrent or using any other
sharing software. If they add the video to their own website, you
can keep track of which sites are calling for your video and then take
action if required.
However, beware that there
is software which can capture video as it is viewed on someone's PC -
this could then allow the video to be redistributed by others.
The solution provided by Forbidden Technologies has the advantage that
you can include a link back to your own website as part of the java
controls as well as a watermark in the video itself, thus making it
more difficult to remove details of where the video was originally from.
How Do I Use this To Make Money?
Video streaming allows you
to make access to video content cheap. Instead of a user paying
for each video which they download, you can introduce a members section
on your website where fully paid-up members can watch the videos
available as often as they like, provided that they maintain their
membership. Our programming team would be happy to assist with
implementing this if you require.
If you wish to offer video
streaming to mobile telephones, then this can be implemented using
FORMobile and a Bango micro-payment facility or SMS billing
system which are both implemented by Forbidden Technologies.
We cannot assist
with implementing the actual videos on your website, and would
recommend that you use one of Forbidden Technologies' partners, such as