Video production – my way (and a bit about YouTube)

One of the stories I caught last week was the fact that YouTube is moving to providing a widescreen, HD player.

It’s an interesting move and the speculation is that this will enable YouTube to start to host more movie content. Aside from that, it has also affected the way I’m capturing, editing and uploading video on my own machine. If you have non-widescreen videos on YouTube now, the main player will show the video with black bars on either side. Here’s one I made earlier.

YouTube widescreen
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

First of all, it’s probably worth noting that for the simple video projects I’ve been playing around with – I’m far from a prolific or professional video blogger – I’ve been going for the basic options. On the hardware side I’ve used the iSight (with iGlasses), video capture on my digital compact, or a cheap handheld camcorder – so I’m not capturing HD quality content by any means. On the software front, iMovie 08 is fine for my purposes. There have been one or two limitations: not the best range of effects and titling, not a lot of audio editing support, and it’s hard to add title cards. However, I’ve found one or two handy hacks / workarounds in the past few weeks, and learning tips, and so far it has been fine for my purposes.

So how am I adapting to the new world of widescreen, higher-quality videos on YouTube?

When I start a project in iMovie now, I tend to go for the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Unfortunately, most of my video sources are not widescreen themselves (unless I’ve captured from the screen, for example), so when I import the footage it gets cropped, although this can be changed if not suitable – bearing in mind that if you don’t let it be cropped, you’re likely to end up with the bars.

When I want to upload a project, I tend to export in Medium or High quality from the Share menu, and don’t typically upload straight from iMovie to YouTube. This means that when I do upload it, YouTube gets the full quality version and will create a reduced quality one for standard viewing… the user can select the new “watch in high quality” option to get a better picture, although it still will not be HD.

If you’re interested in the results, I have two main online sites for video – a YouTube channel, and a Viddler channel. I don’t claim to be an expert, but you might find this sort of thing interesting.

7 thoughts on “Video production – my way (and a bit about YouTube)”

  1. A couple of great blog posts Andy 🙂 I’ve been messing around with some of this myself, but on the Windows side, of course.

    I like the changes with the YouTube player, although I wish there was an option to always play my silly home movies in high quality. After I get done taking them off the camera, editing them in Windows Movie Maker, and then exporting them, they’ve already degraded from a not so great quality video, and the high quality version does make a difference.

    Where the widescreen options would really make a difference for me is with screencasts, since my computer screen resolution is widescreen.

    Some of the cool video tools make me itchy to buy a nice digital camcorder, but I think my silly home movies probably don’t need widescreen HD quality format either 🙂 It’s just fun to play.

  2. The high quality option is a great add on for those who are prepared to wait a little longer for a higher quality stream. If you’ve spent a long time making a video production, you want to be able to watch it in high quality.


    1. Just a thought in response to Video Production Florida:
      If you center your 4:3 video in the foreground while you have some kind of motion graphics on the 16:9 background layer, you can get rid of the black bars and make your video more appealing. I see this method used frequently by the TV news.

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