Great HD Video for the Web

CORHIO Shoot for the Web Back in the Mesozoic Era of the internet (three years ago), production value was rare for videos produced for the web. A frequently heard phrase was “Don’t worry, it’s just for the internet.” This was often used to rationalize using lower-end cameras, crews, talent, bad editing and clunky compression. This was the domain of Mini DV and one-man bands.

My, how times have changed!

Now some of the highest-end commercial / corporate productions that we work on are destined primarily for the web. Companies are realizing that in today’s marketplace the internet is one of their primary faces to the public, and they don’t want to hurt their brands with bad video.

“Bottom line - garbage in, garbage out.” Says Editor and Final Cut Guru Jerry Hofmann. “Everybody’s beginning to realize you can make very high quality web streams, so it matters what you shoot. If you start with high quality, you end up with high quality on the web. I’ve seen that over and over.

“The crew still makes all the difference. If you light flat, use lower end HDV cameras, you end up with something that looks like a home movie. Fine for You Tubers, but not good enough for your company’s video anymore.”

The full size HD cameras - like the Panasonic HDX900, the Sony F900, and the Red One - give you more pixels, broader latitude, better color space, and all the benefits of real lenses - including a more filmic depth of field. And you already know how we feel about great crews and great lighting!

“It’s like the difference between a Xerox copy and a professionally printed, 4-color brochure. Both can say the same thing, but what does each really say subliminally about your company?”

Jerry sees the trend to the internet as a win-win for businesses and production companies alike.

“It’s so much cheaper to display video on the web. I remember budgets where $20,000 went to the production, and $70,000 went to VHS distribution. Now that we’re on the web it’s down to practically zero for distribution. That’s more money that can go into production value, and more companies that can afford videos.

“I see more production happening because of the internet. It’s generating more business for all of us.”

Photo: Big Pictures crew, Zumi Hidalgo and Trevor Nordeen, shooting HD footage in the emergency room of Children's Hospital for an informational video destined for the web. © 2009 Teri K Miller



I recently heard a great story on NPR about the trends and challenges of editing music videos for the web - including an interview with Grammy-winning music video director Joseph Kahn. He says the cutting is actually faster now than in the eighties because fast cuts work better on small screens where many of these videos are getting viewed - like iPhones. Read the whole aricle here: NPR Story on Editing

Here's a great New York Times article about HD for the web: NYTimes HD Article 

Take a sneak peek at this amazing demo reel that Jerry cut for the HD stock footage company Mammoth HD, run by my friend and fellow Evergreen dude Clark Dunbar It appears on their website and will be shown in the 2009 NAB theater. This is an excellent example of the potential for displaying HD video on the web. It was encoded with H264. Mammoth HD Demo

Contributors -

Jerry Hofmann is one of the most respected Final Cut Pro experts in the world, author, editor, and instructor. For more information about Jerry, including a link to his book on Final Cut, see his bio in the Creative Cow forum: Jerry's Bio. Jerry can be reached at (303) 680-2062, or Email Jerry

Tom Miller has been shooting great looking footage for over twenty years, and remembers when "High Resolution" mean't shooting with lower ASA film stock or 3/4 inch video with SP rather than oxide tapes. Tom can be reached at (303) 670-0625, or Email Tom    Tom's Bio    Tom's Credits


This Article first appeared in the January 2009 issue of Big Pictures News.

Written by Tom Miller, Copyright 2009, Big Pictures Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved