YouTube and Online Video – The Basics

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Enough with the screens and screens of static text and images. The first decade of the 21st century is much like the first decade of the 20th: still images have begun to move! They’ve also started to speak and sing and…well…

Meet Keepon, a robot designed to react to and engage with children with autism. He’s also an online video sensation, with nearly 3 million views on his first video.

What is It?

Online video hosting is exactly that: individuals sign up for accounts and then upload videos that they’ve recorded. Once uploaded, users can share their videos by email or linking to the URL, or by embedding the video in a blog, social network post or website. Unlike a video posted on an individual website, videos on sharing services can be searched for using tags, keywords or the username of the creator.

YouTube was the first and is the most well-known free video hosting site, but there are others: Google Video, Vimeo and many more.

How is It Useful?

YouTube started as a place for people to share personal home videos, from zombie marches to orchestral experiments and drum line performances. Christmas house light displays and the Hallelujah chorus.

Users quickly realized that any kind of video could be uploaded and shared, from commercials to instructional videos. Rock climbing techniques, juggling demonstrations, experimental filmmaking, movie trailers and knitting instructionlots of knitting instruction.

Soon, posting a video to a website became an important marketing strategy. Bands use online video for inexpensive and easily shared exposure. The pop group OK GO! posted an simple, homemade music video several years ago that gained 40 million views in the first two years it was online. The popularity of their innovative online videos (on both Vimeo and YouTube) skyrocketed them to stardom.

OK Go – Here It Goes Again from OK Go on Vimeo.

Famously, the Old Spice commerical was put up on YouTube shortly after it aired. It was already popular (more than 33 million views so far), then Old Spice invited Twitter users to send in ideas and comments and the company would make short video responses. More than a hundred videos were made over one night and one of the most successful ad campaigns in history reached millions of new people online. It wasn’t long before parodies and imitations started showing up, including a library ad for “New Spice” and a message from Grover.

As internet connections have gotten faster, longer and more serious video has made it to the smallest screen, often kept on an individual site rather than with a free service. The TED Talks, Google Tech Talks and Berkman Center lectures are three series of presentations given at institutions and conferences, put online to share ideas beyond the lecture hall.

More and more colleges and universities are videotaping professors and offering their lectures online, while others are offering distance learning with print, audio and video components. MIT has nearly 2,000 lectures online, free to watch.

Try It Out

Follow any of the links above or below, watch a few videos and then use the search bars to look for more on whatever topic interests you.

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Some more of my favorite videos, just for fun:

Mime Johann Lippovitz’s version of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn echoed across the web….and eventually got him onto to the stage with her.

Do you remember The Dot and the Line?

Dozens of answers to the question: Will It Blend?!?

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