Lights! Camera! Vodcast!
How to make your own viral hit.
By Jim Feeley
Choose your weapon: For Internet video, use a miniDV cam that captures 720 x 480-pixel footage. Flash memory camcorders or digicams can transfer video to a computer more quickly, but picture quality is variable.
Record clear audio: The built-in mike on your videocam is too far from the action. If you can, use a $25 tie-clip model from RadioShack.
Keep it steady: Put your camera on a tripod or any flat surface. If you have to shoot handheld, lean against a wall or tree to stabilize yourself. Creative camera angles are OK, but too much shake will give your audience motion sickness.
Light your subjects: Fill in shadows on faces with light bounced off a sheet of white foamcore. Play with the angle of the board to leave enough shadow to give your subjects shape and depth.
Film multiple takes: Rehearse, rewrite, and redo. Shoot each scene several times and from different angles.
Edit edit edit: Use free programs like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to splice the best takes into a final video. Keep your show under 10 minutes. Those Gen X attention spans are unforgiving.
Your film is in the can; now pipe it onto the Net.
Shrink it down: Save your vid in a Net-friendly size and format. In iMovie, export clips with the Movie to MPEG-4 setting; in Windows Movie Maker, use the Video for Broadband preset. Try to keep it under 30 to 40 megabytes.
Upload it to a host: Some blogs or Web sites restrict bandwidth or storage space; upload your file to a video host like YouTube or Ourmedia instead. The YouTube interface is totally idiot-proof, but Ourmedia can automatically copyright your clip under a Creative Commons license.
Embed it online: Once your videos are uploaded, you can embed them in your Web site, blog, or MySpace profile. YouTube provides HTML code you can copy and paste.
Broadcast it: Use an RSS feed to let subscribers automatically receive your latest videos. The YouTube RSS feed is feed://www.youtube.com/rss/user/youtube/videos.rss (replace "user" in the URL with the name of your account).
Here's how to spread your video at a viral pace.
Pass it on: Submit your film to as many directory Web sites as possible (see "The New Networks," page 124). Some, like Video Bomb, require only a link to your hosted video, while others, like Google Video, make you upload your file again. Most let users vote on content, then they feature the most popular videos on the homepage. Tell friends to vote early and often!
Vodcast it: If you're producing a serial show, add your RSS feed to video podcast directories at the iTunes store, IdiotVox, PodNova, Yahoo! Podcasts, and others listed at popcasts.po-di-um.net.
Monitor your success: Use FeedBurner to track your subscription and download stats.
Sign your work: Stick an email and Web address in the last few frames of your video so people can learn more about you and your project.