The evolution of dance. Hundreds of Filipino inmates showing off a perfect performance of Michael Jackson's choreography for the "Thriller" video. An anguished defense of Britney Spears. What do all of these have in common? Although each is directly or indirectly related to dancing, the main thread that holds them together is the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube.com.
Since its beginnings in 2005, YouTube has undergone an immense rise in popularity. More than 100 million videos stream into office cubicles, coffee shops and college dorm rooms every day [source: Wired].
People aren't just watching the videos like crazy -- they're uploading like crazy, too. Whether it's personal video blogs (vlogs), do-it-yourself covers of popular songs or 30 seconds of a sleeping cat, YouTube has tapped into our desires to be seen and heard.
And some people are seen and heard to a huge degree. The video Judson Laipply posted called "The Evolution of Dance" has received more than 81 million views as of April 2008 and is the most viewed video on YouTube. A baby giggling for more than a minute and a half has received more than 44 million views. Lital Mizel and Adi Frimmerman, two 22-year-olds from Israel, recorded themselves lip-syncing to a Pixies song and posted the video on YouTube. The three-minute clip received more than 10 million views. But how did these people get on the site in the first place?
Compared to all the bits, bytes and fussy code that make up the Internet, sharing videos on YouTube is a walk in the park. If the numbers say anything, adding a video onto the site should be fairly easy -- users upload more than 65,000 videos onto the site each day. Think about that: According to the digital monitoring firm comScore, the average YouTube video is about three minutes long [source: Financial Post]. That means there are nearly 2,200 hours, or 90 entire days, worth of video popping up each day.
So how do you broadcast yourself, as YouTube's slogan suggests? Read on to find out.
Broadcasting Yourself on YouTube
Let's say you want to make a music video for your band. After coming up with a great concept, shooting all the angles with a digital camcorder, "logging and capturing," or importing, the footage onto a computer and painstakingly editing the video, you're ready to share your vision with the YouTube community. Where do you begin?
You'll want to keep in mind the type of file. YouTube accepts many different types of video files, including .avi, .mov, .wmv and .mpg formats, so remember that when you're editing and saving clips. YouTube recommends the .mpg format MPEG-4 with MP3 audio. You'll also have to think about the size of the file and the length of the video. If your band really likes to kick out the jams with 15-minute drum solos, you're out of luck with YouTube -- videos longer than 10 minutes won't upload. If you're using the standard Single File Uploader, files can be no larger than 2 GB. (There's a way to upload larger, better-quality files, which we'll talk about later.)
Anyone who wants to add a video to YouTube needs to sign up for an account and create a profile. Fortunately, it's free and fairly simple to do. You have to provide the typical account information: e-mail address, username and password, country and postal code, gender and date of birth. There are also five different types of accounts from which to choose: Standard, Director, Musician, Comedian and Guru. A standard account is for people who share their footage for fun, and it lets you upload videos, share them with other members and post comments. The other four types are geared toward users with special interests and allow for more customization. You can even choose a logo or create your own.
A Director account is for serious filmmakers, such as someone with a production company or a young, aspiring director who wants to get noticed. Musician and Comedian accounts are for, of course, musicians and comedians who want to post their original material and share it with other YouTubers. These accounts also allow users to access genre, style and tour information, along with links that lead to artist CDs. A Guru account is for any other kind of specialist -- everyone including professional chefs, jugglers and wine experts can create their own accounts and sound off their views and show off their expertise.
Once your account is set up, all you have to do is click on the yellow "Upload" button that's on the top right-hand corner of every YouTube page. On the Video Upload page, you enter as much information as you can about your file -- the title, a description, the category and any tags (keywords to help people find your video in a search) are required fields. You can also choose to make the video public or private, record the date and location of the recording and customize how the video is shared (whether or not people can leave comments, voting and embedding options and so forth).
After you fill everything out, click on "Upload a video" on the bottom, and you'll go to a second page. Click "Browse …" and select the appropriate file, then upload your video. Depending on the file size, it could take a couple of minutes to an hour for the file to successfully upload.
Do you have to have a camcorder and computer to upload a video, or are there other ways? And is there a way to get around the file size restrictions? To find out, read the next page.
Other Ways to Post Video on YouTube
Many people use a simple digital camera to get video. Though they're generally meant to take still photographs, most models today are capable of taking a few minutes of video, depending on how much memory is available. Have you ever seen shaky, slightly grainy clips from concerts? These are usually taken by concertgoers' digital cameras, with or without the permission from the artist. Once the video is shot on a digital camera, it's transferred to a computer over a USB or FireWire cable and can be edited and uploaded onto YouTube, much like a video from a digital camcorder.
For an even faster upload process, it's possible to shoot a video and post it almost instantly with a cell phone. In May 2006, YouTube began offering a mobile upload service for users with cell phones with video capabilities. Here's how it works: Members with a working profile can create a separate mobile profile, which creates a specific e-mail address for the user. Once the YouTuber shoots a video from a phone, he can instantly send the footage to the e-mail address, which will automatically post the video onto the site.
People who have analog camcorders instead of digital camcorders -- ones that use VHS, VHS-C, SVHS-C, 8mm or Hi8 tapes for recording and playback -- needn't despair, because they can still join the digital revolution. After shooting video, analog camcorder owners need to digitize the tape using a converter box, which transfers images from the analog recording into a digital one. Once it's on the computer, you just follow the usual steps for editing and uploading.
Although you can't add videos longer than 10 minutes, there is a way to add several videos at once or one really large video. If you simply create a profile and start sharing videos, you'd be using the Single File Uploader. Again, files uploaded in this manner can be no bigger than 100 MB and no longer than 10 minutes. The YouTube Uploader, on the other hand, lets you do two things -- you can upload several videos in one sitting, or file sizes can be up to 1GB (the latter of which improves the quality of the video). It needs to be installed onto your computer before it works, but once it's up and running, you can use the Multi-Video Upload page on the site to select the number of videos you want to post.
To learn lots more about YouTube and other things on the digital screen, see the next page.
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More Great Links
- Garfield, Bob. "YouTube vs. boob tube." Wired Magazine. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.12/youtube_pr.html
- Ratner, Jonathon. "YouTube continues to dominate online video, average video 2.9 minutes long." Financial Post. March 14, 2008. http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpposted/archive/2008/03/14/youtube-continues-to-dominate-online-video-average-video-2-9-minutes-long.aspx
- Sandoval, Greg. "YouTube offers mobile upload service." CNET News.com. May 10, 2006. http://www.news.com/2100-1025_3-6070527.html
- "Uploading Videos to YouTube." http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/topic.py?topic=10524