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Team Think Labs | Video for Noobs!
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Video for Noobs!

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We, here in the Advertising Industry, love video. Well… as long as it plays correctly. The fact is, every video we work on here at Seven2 is taken care of like a child. But, unfortunately, when they’re all grown up and we send them off to another walk of life they are subjected to new forms of treatment: i.e. exclusively being played in Powerpoint. Therefore, I’ve put together a few tips on how to take care of our videos right!

There are three sides to dealing with video in our industry and I will address some issues/solutions with each:

1: THE CLIENT SIDE

Ideally, clients need to be able to view videos mostly for reference. So, the best way to get them a video to review quickly and effectively is by staging a link. I recently put together a template for this on Staging. This template has a flash version and a version that should work on any devices not supported by flash. So, this would also be a great tool to share videos with Creative Directors or AEs while they are on the road.

If you have a video that you want to stage really quick, you can find the template here: staging.seven2.net/www/seven2/_Stage_Template. Here is the working link: Video Staging Template.

Copy and past the template folder to your desired destination on Staging and rename it. You’ll need to replace the videos in the “videos” folder with the ones you are trying to stage. Make sure you have an FLV encoded for flash. For tips on how to make that, check out Joel’s tutorial on encoding with Media Encoder. For mobile, you’ll need to provide two versions: One Mp4 and one OGG. In most cases, the MP4 file should work fine. The reason you need to give an OGG is because sometimes certain browsers will not support your first file and if you have a backup it will throw that in it’s place.

Once you have your videos in the right folder you just need to update the HTML files and you’re all set.

2: THE CREATIVE SIDE

As creatives we are very privy to working with and handling files before they are ready for client eyes. For video, this means we may be trying to watch files that don’t work well with Quicktime out of the box, and we all know how annoying it can be when a file won’t show in our hallowed “Quick Preview” in finder. So, here are some ways to troubleshoot those issues:

  • Watching all formats in Quicktime:

Step one is to download Perian. Perian extends Quicktime support for media types such as MKV, FLV, and AVI. So, for example, if you were to be handed an FLV for a tutorial video on a Nickelodeon game, you would now be able to review it right away in Quicktime. Unfortunately this is not available for PC. Some good alternatives would be the K-Lite Codec Pack or the Combined Community Codec Pack.

The only trouble now is that you still won’t have quicktime support for OGG. To do this, download the Xiph Quicktime Components binary package. There is also a link for windows users here.

  • Having a backup player:

I’ve never once had a proper video file that I couldn’t watch in VLC, but I’ve had quite a few that Quicktime couldn’t handle. So, if you don’t have VLC, KMPlayer, or a similar video player, do yourself a favor and get it now.

  • Feeling more self sufficient with compression and playback:

If you have VLC downloaded you will not only be able to watch any video file, but you can do some quick conversions if needed. VLC has an export wizard that works well if you quickly need your file in a different format for internal use.

Also, if the client needs an .OGG video file, VLC is one of the best ways to create one. The reason being is that .OGG is a free, open container format that is unrestricted by any software patents. You won’t find this capability in Adobe Media Encoder or Apple’s Compressor. However, you will find it in VLC since it is an open-source software.

The following is a tutorial on how to use the Export wizard to create an .OGG file:

  1. First, drag and drop your video file (.MOV or .MP4 preferred) into VLC.
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  2. Next select File > Streaming/Exporting Wizard… (Shift iconCommand key iconW).
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  3. Select “Existing Playlist Item”.
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  4. Select “Transcode/Save to File”.
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  5. Check the Transcode Video and Transcode Audio buttons if you want your file to have them both. Then, select the drop-downs and choose the Theora codec at the highest bitrate you can. Choose the Vorbis audio codec at a bitrate of 256 (FLAC, A-52, Speex, MPEG Audio and MP3 audio codecs are also acceptable depending on your needs).
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  6. With Theora and Vorbis selected, OGG should be your only option for your video container. Select “Next”.
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  7. Choose your save destination and name.
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  8. Select “Finish”.
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  9. Wait for it to transcode and then you’re done.
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  10. You’re finished icon may not look quite like a video file but it will open and play fine in VLC.
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3: THE ACCOUNT SIDE

To continue on with the glorification of VLC, I encourage any account manager that will be dealing with video (Whether on Windows or MAC) to download and install VLC pronto. Whether you are trying to view episodes from the client, watch FLVs that will be played in Flash, or the precious OGG files that AT&T has been asking so fervently for, you will never be left out of the loop with VLC. Here is the download link:

VLC