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Video

As the vast majority of the customers that will visit your online business will have a broadband connection, it is feasible to use a range of multimedia content including full-motion video to make your website more engaging.

Video can deliver compelling content to your business customers, but you have a number of technical considerations to resolve to ensure you can not only place the video on your website, but more importantly that the customers to your online business can actually see the video file.

Today online video usually means Flash. As Flash can be automatically played with the leading Internet browsers your online business can be pretty sure the video files on its web pages can be seen. YouTube and Google Video both use Flash, as their video format. There, are though a number of preparatory video formats you can also use.

Website Design
How sophisticated your video will be depends on your web design skills. One of the easiest ways of embedding video into your web pages is to use YouTube. Once your video is uploaded, you can then simply cut and past the HTML code to embed the video file into the web pages of your online business.

Other video players you could consider for your business include Flowplayer, JW Player and Wimpy. All these players will require a level of coding to get them working properly on your businesses web pages. Video hosting services are also now very popular as they enable a site owner to hand all the video hosting and delivery to a third party. Examples to test for your online business include: Video Addon and Freevlog. If you need to convert video files MPEG Streamclip is a good utility. If you are a Mac user, VisualHub is a superb video format conversion program.

Windows and Mac
One of the most important aspects of getting high quality video onto your business web pages is deciding which format to use. Each video type uses a different codec or format for the video file. The video format in effect compresses the video file for transmission from your business’s website to your customer’s Internet browser. The customers of your online business must have a computer that can understand the codec or the video file won’t play when they open your web page.

The Windows Media Player and the QuickTime player used on the Macintosh are now available for each operating system. You still have to make a choice about which format and therefore player you want to encode your video for. The main video formats you have to choose from include:

Windows Media Video (WMV)
As one of the most widely installed video players, WMV files can be viewed on any PC with the player installed. The player has gone through many changes over the years to arrive at its current Windows Vista incarnation with High Definition support. Editing software including Premiere Elements and of course Microsoft’s own Movie Maker can output these files.

QuickTime
As the proprietary video format for the Mac platform, QuickTime is available to all Mac users. If you decide to use this format you can be confident that iMovie will export rock solid files. Premiere Elements can also export video in this format.

RealMedia
This format is showing its age somewhat, but can still hold its own because of its longevity and therefore, its installed user base. The player was Microsoft’s main rivals for years, and still has many aficionados. Editing programs like Pinnacle Studio can export in this format, but the current market leaders can’t.

Flash Video
As a proprietary format of the Adobe Flash Player, this format can display standalone video. As Flash is just about ubiquitous across all browsers the major video sharing sites like YouTube and MySpace use this format.

VC-1
Developed by Microsoft, this is a new codec that forms part of WMA 9 and the Expression suite of content creation applications. VC-1 is significant, as the hi-def hardware manufacturers have adopted it. Online it’s more versatile than traditional Flash files.

DRM and Video Delivery
One of the technical areas your online business may have to consider when using full-motion video is copyright protection. Some video footage will have Digital Rights Management (DRM) built into the file that means it will only playback on certain computers running particular video software. Windows Media Player is a good example of a player that uses DRM. If you intend to use video from a third party, ensure you are fully aware of any DRM that the files may contain.