There’s a lot of factors that go into how a video turns out. Even if you don’t make a conscious choice, using your video software default settings and export option still counts as making a decision.
Most people aren’t going to change up their video production game to get small changes in video production value, but it doesn’t hurt to understand what factors come into play when making a video.
Depending on what video creation software you are using, some video formatting choices are well within your control. Others might be too technical to be within reach, but either way, learning more about what goes into creating a finished video will be beneficial in the long run.
We’ve broken down the different decisions to go into video production below. Due to the comprehensive nature of the post, this article runs a little long, so feel free to jump to the section that you are most interested in learning more about.
Here’s the looming question that almost always comes up first: how long should my video be?
Running long or not long enough can present the wrong message. If your video is too long, people will begin to lose interest because it goes on too long and becomes monotonous. However, if your video is too short, you risk shortchanging your message or objective because you don’t take the time to develop it fully before the video is over.
When deciding on a video duration, you’ll need to take into account the platform your video is being viewed on:
- There’s a science behind Youtube videos. The shorter the better - research shows that 51% of people abandon online videos that are longer than three minutes. Your video shouldn’t run longer than the average YouTube video unless you are doing a deep dive into a technical subject or a step-by-step tutorial. Either way, cut to the chase and edit any filler time that doesn’t move the video forward.
- On Facebook and Twitter, videos are set to autoplay in the news feed by default, so you should make the same considerations as you would for a video on Youtube. There are also other posts and media surrounding your video, so a video that is too long will get lost in more consumable content.
- For blog posts and other types of content where users have to click ‘play’ or go into full-screen mode to watch the video, you will generally have more time than you would on YouTube or Facebook because your audience is already engaged in your content.
Try to keep your videos around two minutes in length max. A more general audience is going to feel overwhelmed by longer video content. A viewer should be able to sum up the takeaways from the video in one or two points.
Making the case for longer videos
After being accustomed to short, flashy videos in recent years, you may not have considered situations where you should make longer videos. One example is If you are providing detailed instructions for engaged clients. It may seem like a lot more work to make detailed step-by-step instructions but it doesn’t have to be with a good screen recording software.
Another example is creating in-depth product reviews for potential buyers. If an enterprise customer already understands the nuanced differences between your product and your competitors, before they “jump on a call “, your sales team will thank you.
More and more people are consuming video content via mobile devices. It seem counter-intuitive but video engagement on a mobile device is going to be longer than a more traditional device, like a desktop.
Think about it. You probably know someone who streams shows or movies over their phone for convenience’s sake. Mobile videos are easier to view on the go or when they have downtime, like waiting for their kid to get up to bat.
Online videos, whether created with an Abode product with high-production value or with a screen recorder with a window-in-window webcam, are all more convenient than descriptions written out in long form. That's why we created bullet point summaries like the one below—people want to be able to digest an article by spending as little effort as possible.
- Tutorial videos and product reviews are videos that teach viewers about something. Because of this, the video content will naturally need to be longer and more in-depth to effectively cover the subject and any crucial details.
- TV/web series are becoming more common on streaming-only platforms. Many companies are debuting online-only shows on YouTube or Facebook, and technology today allows for content creators of all sizes of fame and budget to gain viewership
- Live streaming videos are often recorded and reposted later for audiences who couldn’t watch the stream as it occurred. These videos will often be far longer as they are spontaneous and, while sometimes guided, will often go off on tangents or have unexpected interruptions
File size or digital bit rate
Another factor that goes into the production of a video that you should at least be aware of is its digital bit rate (or resolution). The digital bit rate is the number of bits per second used to transmit an image. Since almost all videos are in color, the bit rate determines how rich the color is.
Think of the bit rate like a car’s speed; the higher the number of bits per second (or resolution) used to represent each individual pixel in your picture on your screen, the “faster” the bits are traveling and the sharper and better looking your image will be.
A high digital bit rate creates larger files which isn’t ideal because larger files mean longer load times. Since Google’s new emphasis on website load times, video size can be the difference in where your website shows up in the rankings. If you really don’t want to shorten the length of your video, there are workarounds.
Larger files can be encoded using compression algorithms that shrink the file size of your video with no loss, or little loss (“lossy”) in video quality. These algorithms are run by programs called “codecs”. Video codecs are in charge of encoding and decoding bit streams from point A to point B.
Let’s consider four factors that go into the overall perceived quality of a video: resolution, video margin, sound quality, and file format.
Your video resolution is determined when you record your video. Most smartphones today will be able to record video at a minimum of 720p resolution, and many top-of-the-line models can record in ultra-high definition 4K resolution. Higher resolutions require more storage space because they have “faster” digital bit rates.
CloudApp’s default setting records at a 720p resolution because it’s a good compromise between file size and video quality. Unless you have a screen that can actually display high-resolution video, you end up with a bigger file size with no upside in video quality.
Video margin is the total amount of available space on the edges of a video frame, measured inward from the edge of the viewable area. Ideally your video was recorded using the same ratio, or dimensions, as your viewing screen. In that situation you won’t have any video margins.
If the video frame is larger than the viewable area, like in a widescreen display, those extra pixels are wasted and are left black. For example, if you have a 16:9 display with a resolution of 1920x1080 and decide to view 720p content (1280x720) at that resolution, you'll be left with a black border at the top and bottom edges of the screen.
This happens because the codec will have to resize the content from 1920x1080 to 1280x720, resulting in black bars around the edges of your display because the codec has no other way to fill in that space. However, if you decide to view 720p content in full screen mode, the codec will work backwards to fill all the available space. This will result in a lower-quality image but without the wasted space.
Video margin vs. low resolution, cropped videos is a tradeoff most people have experienced at some point. Using VLC Media Player as an example, your player may have an option to choose the aspect ratio (how the image fills the screen). This setting allows you to choose if you want to play all videos at 1:1 or scale them to match your computer's aspect ratio. VLC's default option is "Scale if offscreen", which means that if VLC detects that there isn't enough space to show a video without any margin, it will automatically scale down its resolution until there is enough space for all its pixels.
Video sound quality
A loud, clean audio track will maximize visual clarity. Nothing is worse than poor sound quality at higher volume levels. If you want to add backing music to fill some of the sound space, you can find great, free, royalty-free music online.
At the time of recording, make sure that background noise and echo noise (also known as reverb) is at a minimum. One way to do this is to use a directional microphone. Another option in clip-on microphones worn on the speaker’s shirt, dynamic microphones designed to pick up sound coming from directly in front of the microphone, or by narrating in a room using sound-dampening materials to deaden natural reverb.
Did you know that file format places a role in video quality? Most video processing programs will have the option to finish and compress your raw project files down to one of several different formats. The four most popular video formats are AVI, MP4, VOB, and MOV. Here are some pros and cons of each video file format:
- Very easy to use, you just have to drag the file over and it's done
- Most common video format used on DVD and Blu-ray discs.
- Widely supported by all modern operating systems and hardware, so you don't have to worry about compatibility issues. You can play your movie on any PC/laptop/smartphone without any problems!
- Files can contain audio, video or both
- You can also choose between different color depths such as 8 bits per channel (8bpc) or 16 bits per channel (16bpc)
- Loading speeds can be slow, especially on older computers or operating systems
- If you're using Windows XP or Vista, then some of your programs may not be able to access the video card (which is used by VLC). So if you're using an older version of Windows then I would suggest that you skip this format.
- Files can be larger, reducing loading speeds and impacting the quality in areas with slower internet connections
- Surround audio SRT, SUB (.ssa/.ass) subtitle support
- Can play all DivX, XviD and MPEG-1/2 video files.
- Can play all AVI, MPEG-1/2, DIVX and WMV files
- Supports playback of DVD discs containing MP3 audio tracks.
- Supports playback of DVD discs containing MPEG-1 audio tracks.
- Supports playback of DVD discs containing WMA audio tracks.
- Can play back CD tracks in MP3 format.
- Image and audio quality reduced compared to other formats
- Random glitch error alerts, often with no known cause
- No audio limit
- No video pixelation black level problem (when black areas in the image show up as slightly different, pixelated shades)
- No subtitle support - This probably won’t be an issue with this file format unless you are creating marketing or instructional videos for an international audience.
- Instances of playback errors, though this may be more due to the playback software than the file format
- Very fast, efficient file format
- High image quality
- Can be used to store videos of any length
- It supports the most formats
- Easy to use in different video processing programs, such as Photoshop, After Effects, etc.
- Has an excellent compression ratio (8:1)
- Only one MOV file can be created from a single source clip at a time.
- Doesn’t run on every version of QuickTime
- Windows Media Player can play MOV files, but you need to download and install the 3ivx codec software
MP4 and WEBM are browser compatible video formats. For home viewing recordings, a format with high-quality video with a good chance of being usable in the future is the best bet, such as AVI or VOB.
Open-source file formats are more future-proof than proprietary formats that are controlled by enterprises. For Windows applications, choose a format that is compatible with Windows; WMV is a good choice here, as it was developed specifically for Windows Media Player (WMV stands for Windows Media Video), and AVI music playback is supported as well.
Metadata in video can play a major role in how many people end up seeing a video that you publish on the web; metadata can include terms that are relevant to search engines and determines how related your video is to a web search. Content discovery allows users to find what they are looking for on the website without having to find the site itself first.
A few things to remember about metadata:
- It’s important to include clear titles, subtitles, and file descriptions along with a few short keywords describing what your video is about — be clear and concise while adding keywords no more than three times within those fields
- When producing a video, put some thought into the metadata (aka “tags”) as well to maximize SEO optimization of the video itself and improve website traffic. When choosing tags for your business videos, think about how they relate specifically to your target audience—their needs, their concerns, and their problems. If your product focuses on helping people with arthritis on their hands for example, it would make sense to use tags such as “arthritis”, “arthritic hand pain” or “arthritis pain relief”. By targeting relevant keywords in this way you will attract people looking for solutions specific to their condition—which is great news for you!
- Adding a strategically chosen thumbnail image or banner image will boost click through rates on YouTube. This will also drive contextual awareness for viewers who don’t view your video but would like to know more about your business or product just from a glance at your thumbnail image or description copy shown on YouTube search results page
- Plugins such as FeverBee allow you to create hyperlinks inside videos that are easily embedded into other online properties that you own (such as blogs and websites) so that people returning home can find their place again like things were before leaving!
So in review, here are some takeaways to consider the next time you make a video:
- Choose an appropriate length for the objective of your video template
- Pick a resolution that fits the platform/device on which your video will be viewed
- Optimize your video and audio quality so that neither is a distraction to the viewer
- Use a file format that best suits your video and how it will be played
- Utilize your metadata in a way that draws in potential viewers
- Focus on one aspect of your video to the detriment of others
- Forget to include metadata in your video
- Over-utilize graphics effects. Some effects can enhance transitions or points; too many or abuse of them are distracting and more likely to drive viewers away
- Focus too much on any one aspect (image quality, audio quality, etc) and sacrifice the others. A good video incorporates all elements