One of the toughest decisions you need to make about shooting video for online distribution is picking a format in which to shoot the video. My answer to this burning question: just get started with what you have access to. Sure, the online video platform providers (OVPs) will support both formats, but in all honesty at this point shooting in Standard Definition (SD) is just fine and probably the lowest cost to entry. This is because SD video cameras are much cheaper to purchase, the files are smaller than High Definition (HD) files so you don’t need a ton of extra storage space, and they can be seen on just about any device (computer, TV, cell phone, iPad, etc).
You also should think about where people will be watching your video. If it’s online, the quality of SD is perfectly acceptable. If it’s on a mobile device, SD quality might actually be preferred since it will take less bandwidth to stream those videos. Plus, until the Sprint EVO comes out, cell phones don’t really support HD anyway. That said, if you’re planning for people to watch your videos streamed on an HDTV initially, then you probably want to get started with HD. Chances are that’s not the case. However, as you get better at shooting video, going HD just may be the next step on your online video path. Like I said, the online video providers all support it. Even YouTube has rolled out HD support, so it’s clearly not going away. If you do decide to go HD here are a few things to keep in mind:
- HD files are big; a four-minute video can easily take up 1GB of storage space. You’ll need a place to store those files and if you plan on storing them on a computer, chances are you’ll quickly run through hard drive space. You’ll likely have raw video files and a completed video for uploading online both stored on a computer’s hard drive. An IT person will tell you that’s not the best idea you’ve ever had. Plus, that’s easily more than 1GB of space for producing probably one video. You don’t want to run your computer with a hard drive almost filled to capacity. It’s just not a good idea, plus the computer will run slow. If you’re anything like me, that’s just not acceptable.
- An external hard drive is a must-have. There are a few reasons you’ll want an external hard drive. Did I mention that HD files are big? So, you’ll need a place to store them off of your computer’s hard drive. An external hard drive is a great place to save un-edited video and final video. Also, if you’re going to be using a program like Final Cut to edit the videos, this is the way to go, plus working with the video won’t tax your computer too much. The good news is that an external hard drive is not very expensive. You can get a quality external hard drive for under $200.
- If you’re using an online video provider to store, host, and stream your video files you may need to pay more for that service since as I’ve mentioned HD video files are large. This means it takes up more space on an OVP’s server and someone is going to have to pay for that. Also, if you’re thinking of trying a service for free, you’ll probably have a data cap. So if you upload HD videos, you’ll be uploading fewer of them and that might not give you enough time to real test an OVP’s service.
In short, HD video is going to cost more on multiple levels. SD is simply the more affordable way to get started shooting video to post online. Besides if you’re new to the world of online video, SD is much more forgiving of any mistakes you may make when shooting. Oh, and did I mention HD video files are big!
Read all previous parts to this ongoing series, Shooting Online Video:
Part 1 – Just Do It!