The shaky cam is now seem as the most trusted form of media.
— John Kerr (Director, Edelman Asia)
Despite what so many people think, the barriers to entering the world of video blogging is nearly non-existent. In fact, there are fewer barriers to video blogging than there are to podcasting, if only because you don’t have to worry about bandwidth.
The barriers that video blogging does share in common with podcasting, however, pertain to (1) hardware, and (2) editing software. You see, at the end of the day, you still have to capture the moment on film and, then, because video blogs should be between 1-2 minutes, you have to edit out some of the superfluous footage or redundant ranting.
Plenty of folks subscribe to the ethos that something has to be perfect before it launches. Consequently, they never get their video blogging off of the ground because they assume it requires an expensive camcorder. However, what counts as perfect in the blogsphere is often not only different from the spic and span, polished image of the mainstream media, but at odds with it.
What I’m getting at, here, is that if you any kind of digital camera, you have everything you need to video blog. Personally, I oscillate between an old-school Kodak EasyShare DX7630 and a Canon PowerShot A560. I’m not sure of the model, but Loren Feldman uses $200 Casios when he’s not using the web cam built into his laptop.
The point is that you don’t have to go through the same problems that Vlad did with expensive camcorders. All you really need is a digital camera, camera phone, or web cam, and you’re all set.
So once you’ve shot your piece, you have to bring it down to 1-2 minutes, and that takes some editing. In general, digital cameras record in one of two format: MOV and AVI. The software you’re going to use, however, is going to depend on two things: (1) your operating system, and (2) the file format in which you camera records.
If you’re running Windows, then chances are that you have Windows Movie Maker (WMM). This is an extremely user friendly software. As with all things Bill Gates, however, there are drawbacks. First, when WMM “exports” a file (i.e. when it saves an edited version of your clip), it does so in only in AVI or WMV format. This is not ideal because you want to be picked up by iTunes, and that requires that you provide a video enclosure that links to an MP4.
The second drawback of using WMM is that it cannot open the MOV file format. So if your camera records in this format, you’ll have to worry about getting software to convert the file format. Not only does this create an extra step, but it also tends to erode the quality of the video clip.
If you use a Mac, then you think that you’re better than everyone who uses a PC. Well, you’re right, but that’s not the point. The point is that you probably have iMovie. If for some reason you don’t, iMovie is only available as part of the iLIfe bundle which comes with five other applications and will set you back about $80 USD. Now, that’s not expensive as far as video editing software goes, but it’s a lot if you’re only interested in 1/6 of the software bundle.
Whether you’re stuck with WMM or have a Mac that didn’t come with iMovie, then, your next best choice is QuickTime Pro. This program will allow you to both open and “export” any kind of file format except for WMV. So as far as being able to create file formats to upload to a file host and offer to iTunes respectively, QuickTime Pro will cover all your bases.
However, Vimeo thinks it’s a rip-off, and it kind of is. It will run you $30 USD, so it doesn’t compare to the value of iLife. Even though you’re probably paying too much for what you get, at least you’re not paying for what you don’t need/want (as with the iLife bundle).
Another set back with QuickTime Pro is that it is not very user friendly. Figuring out how to create certain effects can be both time-consuming and difficult to figure out. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and I’m still stumbling on functionality that I think should be more readily accessible. Furthermore, although it can do a few things that WMM cannot do, there are a couple of things that WMM can do that QuickTime Pro cannot.
At the end of the day, however, whether you’re stuck with Windows or have a Mac that didn’t come with iMovie, QuickTime Pro is a perfectly reasonable compromise for routine video blogging, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Provided you already have some kind of digital camera or web cam, then, the only barrier to becoming a video blogger is about $30 USD.