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Q: This might seem a daft question, but what are the differences between a web video and a dvd?

Marketing Consultant
London SW1

A: Good question! What are the differences between a web video and a DVD apart from the obvious that a DVD is a shiny silver disk (or disc?) that you physically own, while a web video is a stream of compressed bytes that always lives on a server, and features on your website? (and to think that once it was simply just VHS!)

The differences fall in 3 main professional areas:

1 – Differences in Picture Quality

2 – Differences in Production Approach

3 – Differences in Price

Starting from the top, here’s a tour of the options:

1 – Differences in Picture Quality

Obviously a DVD version is better quality than a web stream, as the data rate is much higher (already we can begin see that standard video formats vary a lot too).

Even the best HQ web streams, newly developed in 2009, don’t come close to looking like DVD.

In addition, DVD is moving to HD (which has greatly increased in importance), which makes the differences all the more obvious.

HD video is 1440×1080 pixels in size, while the very best web video is around 900×480.

But in reality most web streams are converted down to 600×338 pixels, as they have to fit on a PC monitor as part of a web page, and there isn’t the screen real estate for a giant size property (like a video picture) on a busy portal page.

Indeed, many company web pages are already so overcrowded that when a streamed web video is offered, it’s often shown at 320×183 pixels (your web developer should sort out this facility for you).

It’s also suggested you include a button on the video console that allows the video to be expanded to full screen size, to watch at low quality, if the viewer prefers.

DVD by contrast, has the electronics to fill massive screens and look great. Look at any video wall, or 50 inch HD television.

DVD playback quality (especially with a bluray hardware system) is outstanding, and makes even the best HD HQ web quality video look mundane. But it takes additional (and expensive?) player tools and possibly complex mpeg2 codec instructions and settings to view it, while web streams are technology-free (just click to view on any Windows, Apple Mac or Linux compatible computer). Web video can also be displayed in powerpoint on a cd. And you can make comments about a video on a website, which is more www2 interactive, open and networking friendly.



2 – Differences in Production Approach

Consider this: A DVD screen has a huge open visible area. And this visible tv area has to be filled with interesting things or the video will look relatively dull or poor.

Comparing: A web video is relatively small. It only has the screen space to show 1 or 2 activities. Anything more and the imagery will be too tiny and intricate to be noticed.

So right from the get-go, a web video production plan will be many times simpler, while producing a DVD will be more like making a movie.

For example, a very clear obvious video image such as a speaker (talking head) with a caption, or maybe a demo of a process or product, plus caption, is about all a web video can handle. Provide any additional created imagery and it becomes pointless, as it won’t be seen.

On the other hand, a larger DVD picture will be filled with layers of composited images, both text, graphics and footage.

Taking this further, a DVD image can also be filled with colourising subtleties to further engage the viewer’s eye.

The equivalent in web video will be relatively plain, with overall visual clarity being the main objective.

Some web video production examples that demonstrate this point found here

Web video production is a simpler level of producing video, where the emphasis is on the quality of the delivered message (the script), rather than the quality of the picture (the shoot and edit).

DVD production obviously places much higher priority on what’s happening visually, with visual effects and multilayers having to be taken into consideration when planning. DVD will also include higher sound, audio, music and studio production values.

And DVDs are generally longer, having a captive audience than the shorter web video file which depends on the short attention spans of web visitors. Web video has to cut to the chase in seconds or it dies.

Also, web video is usually designed for a shorter life, with downloads and video blogs, as web sites change monthly or even weekly, while a corporate video can last years with suitable burning/replication/duplication and print.

Hopefully you can see that production plans that worked in 2007 certainly aren’t going to work today. Things are now made differently.

3 – Differences in Price

Already we can see that DVD company profile is going to be a lot more expensive than web video production, as so much more production value goes into it.

The different types are reflected in the prices. But you still have to select carefully.

Web video is half the price of DVD or less. And for this reduced payment, you can reach the world. And you can measure your video popularity from its number of views!

On one level, web video probably takes less skill and expertise in filming and post production. Grand designs go out the window, as there are only so many things you can do to control a talking head interview or video testimonials!

On the other hand, web video needs skillful scripting, as it has to do a lot of work in a short time, which only a skillful script that genuinely propels the business message can achieve (Great authors, writing talents, and producers please step forward!)

The marketing manager or director has to weigh up all these factors very carefully when considering their next marketing or corporate video. Just like software programs, projects that worked in 2008 won’t necessarily work this year.

If the great majority of viewings are going to be played online on the internet, then it may well pay to produce a web video at half the price.

This doesn’t stop the final video additionally being output in DVD format, encoding for big screen playback. But it obviously won’t look as impressive as a video run primarily for large screen playback.

The reverse also applies: A DVD production often looks too bitty or too busy when viewed on the web at small size.

Think carefully about your target audiences, your end consumers. To develop a complete solution, list and review their requirements, and what is most effective to influence them. See what is really applicable for the results you want your showcase to achieve. Make a few telephone calls – do a quick survey to share and learn, if you think it’s appropriate. You dont have to rush, and customers frequently like to be asked!

The large screen playback requirement might be better covered with a new presentation, and not need a video at all. This can depend on how visual, or how exceptional, your business presenting needs to be.

The differences between business web video and DVD are a lot wider than may people think.

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