The computer helper: Getting your videos on YouTube (Feature)
By Jay Dougherty Apr 16, 2010, 3:06 GMT
Washington - If you want to participate on YouTube these days, you have to know a thing or two about working with video files.
Unfortunately, they can be quite a bit more difficult to handle than, say, word processor or even digital image files.
Video files are big, for one thing, and the number of formats available means you'll have to keep an eye on compatibility and conversion issues. Read on for some tips.
Q: I'd like to upload videos to YouTube. How do I get started? Which video format do I need to use?
A: First, you must have an account on YouTube. If you don't already, sign up. It's free and easy to do.
Once you have your account, you'll find an Upload link to the right of the main Search box. Just click that link and you'll be taken to the Video File Upload page. From there, click the Upload Video button and you'll get a standard file selection dialog box.
If you upload videos this way, YouTube expects you to have your video in a format and length acceptable to the site, and that's where you need to know what you're doing.
The preferred file formats for videos uploaded to YouTube are FLV or MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. Most video editing programs can export to either flavour of MPEG. You'll also need to make sure your video is no larger than 2 GB in size or longer than 10 minutes. Exceeding either restriction will result in YouTube rejecting the video file.
So let's say you have a long, 30-minute video and you'd like to upload it in three segments to YouTube. You can either 'split' the video into three segments in your favourite video editing package, or you can use a utility such as Xilisoft Video Converter (http://www.xilisoft.com/video-converter.html), which will take your large file and split it up into whatever size or length you specify.
A growing number of video editing software include an automatic 'upload to YouTube' feature to make this process even easier. Microsoft's free Windows Live Movie Maker (http://bit.ly/bJuGji) is one of these. Corel's Video Studio is another.
Q: Some basic video editing software came with my camcorder. Before I upgrade to the 'full' version of the software I received, though, I'd like to know which packages are considered the best?
A: The video editing software market is roughly divided into two segments: packages that are geared toward professionals and packages that are geared toward the camcorder/enthusiast market.
The two high-end packages that are most often referenced are Sony's Vegas Pro (http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegassoftware) and Adobe's Premiere Pro (http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere). Both packages are fairly expensive, retailing at around 500 dollars.
Sony offers no scaled-down version of Vegas for non-professionals, but Adobe does with Premiere Elements (http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereel), which you can find for a much more palatable 70 dollars or so.
You would probably be wise to start off with a consumer-level video editing package, unless you know you need something in the pro version. Typically, the less expensive packages are in fact better suited to quick and fun video jobs, as they offer more templates, effects, pan and zoom features, and wizards that make throwing together a movie from a camcorder a click, cut and drag affair.
In addition to Premiere Elements, consider Corel's VideoStudio (http://bit.ly/Yw9zY), which tends to get high marks for its ease of use.
Also, don't forget the free options. Microsoft's Movie Maker is part of the Windows Live package of free add-on programs, available to any registered Windows user. Movie Maker is arguably the easiest of video editing packages to use. The latest version includes some nifty features, such as the ability to upload directly to YouTube.
Q: I have some video files on my hard drive in the FLV format. What is that and how can I convert the files to another format?
A: FLV, short for Flash Video Content, is a file format originally developed to deliver video over the internet using the popular flash standard, now controlled by Adobe.
FLV, however, is not as widely recognised by media players as are other formats, such as AVI, MOV, WMV and MPEG or MPEG4. Therefore, conversion does sometimes become necessary.
Windows Live Movie Maker will open FLV files, and from there you can save the movie to the WMV format or publish it directly to YouTube. To add an FLV to Movie Maker, click the 'Add videos and photos' button on the toolbar and navigate to the file on your hard drive.
Another free option is the popular open source program VLC Media Player (http://www.videolan.org/vlc), which can play and convert a great number of video formats.
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