Saturday, March 18, 2006

Comparing Budget Video Editing Software (Pinnacle, Adobe, Ulead, Microsoft)

Trying to figure out the best software with which to edit your videos? Here's a handy list of some of the best products out there, in my rank order. All hyperlinks take you to PCMag's thorough review of the tools. PCMag.com sums up video editing software here. And here's a PCMag buyer's guide if want to read more about the paths you can take.

Ever since I got my Mac, I've been using iLife to edit my videos. But before I "switched," I was using a few different PC Based Video applications (mostly Pinnacle and Microsoft Movie Maker). iLife's iMovie works pretty well for me, and is well integrated with the other applications like GarageBand, iTunes, iPhoto and the CD Burning tools. But iMovie's transitions and titles are extremely limited. I have a pet peeve for cheesy transitions (nothing screams amateur like a canned transition- the movie equivalent of clip art). And the title options are so limited, I usually create my own in Adobe Photoshop and import them to iLife as JPEGs.

I'm curious what Revver users are finding the best. Please comment.

So here are my picks for good video editing:

Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0
This is the one I'd pick if I hadn't moved to iLife (partially because it got PCMag's "editor's choice" award. What I love about Adobe is that they're generous to basic users in their low-priced versions. For example, Adobe's basic photo editing software gives many of the features of advanced versions at an accessible price.

Pinnacle Studio Plus 10
This would be the second-best pick after Adobe Premiere. Pinnacle is focused on digital editing, so you can't ignore it as an option. I've used Pinnacle before because it was bundled with some hardware I needed (analog-to-video converter) to get my arcane non-digital video camera footage into my computer.

Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.0
If you're brand spanking new to video editing, start with this one. It's free, and it's extremely simple. You might outgrow it quickly, but it will serve basic editing needs.

Ulead VideoStudio 9
Ulead comes bundled with other analog-to-video converters. Pretty decent tool I hear from others, but I haven't used it.

Now here are the fancier ones...

Adobe Production Studio
If your Paypal account is overflowing with Revver payments (or your day job is lucrative) you can afford this one. But it's out of the reach of most of us amateurs.

Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition
I'm not sure why this one would be worth the price. Fancy features, but Premier is good enough for most of us.

Again- please post your thoughts (what you use and what you like/don't).

Friday, March 17, 2006

Microsoft Announcement from Steve Balmer: From Developers to Advertisers

Revverberation readers, I am happy to announce that I may soon post one of the most high-potential viral videos Revver could have.

I just left a presentation by Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer at an Avenue-A Razorfish client summit. Steve took questions, and I eagerly approached the mike with two requests.

First, I asked him to give us a sample of his notorious "Developers, Developers, Developers" soundbyte. He obliged. But more importantly, he gave us a new soundbyte on his latest mantra (in part to pay homage to this audience of some top-name advertisers and media properties). The quote: "Advertisers, advertisers, advertisers!" I can't do the clip justice in words, but it's funny and enlightening. And he gave me permission to post it when I get a copy (I also need Avenue-A Razorfish's okay, but they seem receptive and I'm begging them to FedEx me a copy this week). Regrettably, Balmer wasn't sweating and screaming with the same passion of the original. I think he's lost some weight since then too. Still, it's an amusing and an insightful view into how Microsoft is thinking about its future.

Second, I asked him about how individual content creators can benefit from advertising on their work (I resisted the urge to drop Revver.com as an example). Surprisingly, his answer played down the need of individual creators to profit from their contributions. But to be honest, I didn't really listen to the rest of his answer because I was too busy thinking about how quickly I can get the clip of him and post it on Revver. I'm going to watermark it with the Revver and Revverberation logos so that we can ride this together even if it gets stripped of the Revtag and gets posted somewhere else.

So stay tuned, folks. I really hope Microsoft and Avenue-A Razorfish will enable this. And to help grease the wheels with Microsoft, I'd like to give them a brief commercial on what looks like one of the coolest new tools we'll all be using in 6 months. Check out the beta of a new Microsoft tool for creating a custom homepage that integrates with everything you want online: www.live.com.

Live is a sexy drag/drop custom portal that (through AJAX) lets you easily create a homepage that syndicates RSS, other digital content, and whatever else you check on a regular basis. In my humble opinion, it pushes Yahoo and Google homepage into the dark ages.

Lastly, someone asked about how he plans to increase MSN's tiny share of the search market. His answer was intriguing. He wants his search solution to be woven into the fabric of how we interact with our vast collection of digital media- from the desktop to the media center.

Now common, Microsoft and Avenue-A. Give me the clip.

Enough about Revver, already

The post title is what I've heard over and over again as I've met with large advertisers and media buyers in the past 2 days. I keep telling them how cool I think Revver is. A few people expressed interst-- the buyer for Pokemon and Disney.

We heard a presentation from many large buyers, and I sent my Verizon video (below) to the head of Verizon marketing. We'll see if she passes it along to her colleagues at Verizon...



Here's the funny thing about this video... the guy who works for Verizon is about 8 feet tall. He used to be on the team that loses to the Harlem Globetrotters. But he had an ankle injury and moved to installing Verizon. He was quite patient with me as I harassed him on video. Don't think he fully appreciated that I was posting him for all the world.

Steve Balmer

So Steve is at the hotel I'm at in Florida. I tried calling the Weston and asking for him, but he must have checked in using a psuedonym. Tomorrow I'll make $15 if I yell "developer, developer, developer" when he speaks. I might just do it.

But I degress. I wanted to tell you that Revver is consider new models of advertising. If you think about it, the click model is nice but the impressions are also worth something. Right now creators (and presumably Revver) aren't garnering profit from the incredible amount of impressions delivered at the end of the ads. Currently I pay (in my day job) a good amount for impressions. So I feel like Revver has a right to charge for that even if the advertiser doesn't get a click.

Got a message today that Revver is considering new models- which is encouraging.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Revverberation likes MSN

You know, I'm a Google nut and I barely ever go beyond it. But I checked out Yahoo and MSN to see how this blog was placing on the search engines.

MSN ranks Revverberation.com high (in the top 5). So we like MSN.

How did you find Revverberation?

Something unusual is happening with this blog. My StatCounter (see link at bottom of blog) is showing a rapid growth of traffic, and I can't figure out where it's coming from! More importantly, I'm seeing an increase in returning visitors.

Thanks for coming and, more importantly, for contributing posts. Would greatly appreciate it if you left an anonymous post below on how you found this blog. Despite the fact that I'm currently attending a world class even on search-engine optimization in Florida, I'm still a neophyte to attracting traffic to this blog. BTW- Steve Balmer is presenting shortly, but I used our lunch break for a quick swim in the ocean and a fast post to Revverberation. Anyway, I'm very curious at how people are making their way here, since I don't think I have any Revverberation.com ads running on Revver currently.

For my day job (pharmaceutical sites) I can track visits via Webtrends... I know where people came from, what keywords they used, how long they stayed, what pages they viewed and where they dropped off. But I haven't found an "off the shelf" solution to give me that type of intelligence on a Blogger site.

Thanks!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Art & Science of Digital Marketing

I'm posting tonight from Hollywood, Florida, where I'm attending a client summit hosted by Avenue A Razorfish. Tomorrow we're hearing from folks from CondeNet, CBS Digital Media, CNN, NASA, Verizon, JupiterResearch, WebMD, CNET, and Dow Jones.

The Friday keynote speaker is Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft). I truly hope he sweats and chants "developers" like this famous video. I also hope to pick up and post select ideas that Revver and Revver fans can deploy to increase the visibility of our videos. My employer uses Avenue-A Razorfish to do paid and organic search for our large brands. I introduced them to Revver, but Revver is trying to build this skill inhouse. I've told these media cats about Revver, and urged a few of the more traditional clients (like some lady in charge of Pokemon.com) to buy on Revver. And you can count on me bringing up Revver in part of the Q&A tomorrow (I think my friend from Wyeth has a videocamera so we'll capture it if we can).

Over drinks tonight, I had an interesting conversation about creating a Revver portal and driving traffic to it. Fuzzy did it with www.Revverberate.com and I'm working on one called CubeBreak.com (it's not done, so don't look yet). The founder of AARF's Philadelphia office told me it's not usually good business to buy ads to sell ads. Few have made money doing that. He says the best chance Revver has to gain traffic is: a) Good word of mouth, b) Paid search, and c) PR. The best thing that can happen is that someone makes a video that becomes extremely viral, and viewers see it exclusively on Revver. That will take this small site and grow it fast.

More poses as I learn new ideas tomorrow. It's 2:00 a.m... better get to sleep.

Where's All my Revver Money? And Why's My Lip All Busted Up?

I created Revverberation.com as a place in which people new to Revver can learn about how to optimize their earnings from Revver. But today's posts gave Revver posters a chance to discuss how they have (or haven't) been making money on their work.

Here's the thread that is worth reading if you're a regular Revver poster: Click here.

To summarize the posts, here are the 6 big things we learned today:
1) Your paypal earnings are based on hitting $20 of ad revenue PER VIDEO. That means that it's not the quantity it's the quality. 50 low performing videos won't help you as much as one that does well. This is disappointing because many of us thought the payments are based on the total account balance per user.
2) Some people have been paid, and others are still waiting for payments. Revver is still in Beta so I'm not worried that I haven't yet seen a Paypal payment despite the fact that my account balance is growing. That said, I'm investing my time with Revver in the hopes that my income will grow as Revver becomes more popular.
3) Click fraud hurts creators and Revver. To be fair to advertisers, Revver adjusted payments to creators (and, presumably, itself). To understand click fraud, I recommend this Wikipedia posting on the subject: ClickFraud.
4) Revver's policy on copyrighted material is unrelated to click fraud. Revver is more vigilante than other video posting sites about ensuring that it rewards original creators as opposed to those people trying to profit on other people's videos (OPV). I'm annoyed that I can't score my videos with public music, but I understand why. Some of us have had videos pulled down by accident, but Revver's Rob is pretty good about fixing these.
5) Nalts' wife isn't the only one wondering why her husband is obsessed with Revver, and when it will payoff. Maybe the Revverite wives need a blog -- as therapy.
6) Some of us believe that Revver should fly us all out to California to learn about this stuff first hand. I couldn't agree more. Let's hope they let us bring our wives before they shut us all down.

Thanks for your postings- glad this can be a forum for clarity here.

P.S. This post's title is paying tribute to a famous line from a certain comedian. Anyone pick up the reference?

The Fake "How-To Video" for Revver Uploading

So here's the video that took 3 minutes to make, and 4 hours to figure out how to convert to a file I could add audio and upload (see previous post).

It's a spoof of those educational promotional videos we see (some are on Revver). But this was really inspired by a cheesy self-promotional piece (click to see) on how to make money via Google's Adsense. It's like roadkill on the highway- so horrific but you can't help but look.



Look carefully...

Converting computer screen video images (AVI) to Mac (Quicktime/MOV)

I just spent about 4 hours figuring something simple out, and I want to save you faithful Revverberation readers the trouble. Suppose you want to basically videotape your screen activity so you can demonstrate software or a websearch and post it on Revver. You could shoot the screen with your videocamera, but you'd prefer to have clean video output that you can edit and upload.

So this morning I wanted to do just that: convert my computer screen activity (every movement that appears on my laptop screen-- even my mouse moving and my keys typing) into a movie file that I could edit in iLife (Mac). After a bit of Googling, I found a freeware/shareware application called "Replay Screencast" by Applian Technologies. Unfortunately, the free trial limits you to 1 minute, and I needed about 2. So I reluctantly paid $30 to buy the program... knowing I'd probably never use it again.

It worked like a charm- easy to use and the output was perfect. BUT its output was restricted to a stupid WMV file. My Arrogant Mac looked at the WMV file like one might view a drunk crack whore at a hospice bingo game. Fortunately, Mac offers Flip4Mac, a free tool that converts video files. Of course I learned that the free version of Flip4Mac was for viewing only -- not converting. So I shelled out another $30 to get the Flip4FrigginMac pro version. The result of $60 and 4 hours? My wmv files was a white screen with no sound!

Next, I find a freeware app called VideoZilla that converts WMV to AVI. But that turns the little MMV video into a monsterous 4 GB file that I can't seem to get off my IBM laptop despite ample room on my two Maxtor hard drives. So I converted the AVI to a MPEG on VideoZilla and imported it to iLife. It looked like a UHF signal during an electric storm.

So I'm now out 4 hours and $60 with nothing to show for it. I do another Google and find the Xilisoft Video Converter, and try transfering my Replay AVI to a Quicktime MOV file. It worked.


Lessons learned:

Read Specs: Read output specificationss carefully on these. Video file types are like highschool cliques.
Research Options: To downlaod free applications or purchase advanced ones, check out: All-Streaming-Media.com.
SnagIt? I wish I had purhased a SnagIt version instead of Replay, since Replay's output is limited to WMV. SnagIt for image grabbing is one of the best applications I have (for grabbing web impages and quickly cropping them and dropping them to a website, word, Powerpoint, etc.). I'm pretty sure SnagIt has a version that does what Replay does. But I'm not throwing good money after bad.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Revver with a fresh coat of paint

Hmmm...

www.onlinevideoz.net
www.rockloops.com
www.sitemovie.com

What do these sites have in common? They're front ends to Revver. Interesting.

Technorati Tag for Revverberation

Adword manipulation: Web Hosting

Pardon me, dear Revverberation reader, with an experiment. I've been reading that certain words on Blogs create significantly higher revenue on Adwords (the Google bar you see above). Since I've made all of about 20 cents on Adwords, I thought I'd do an experiment. This post is a blatant attempt to cram high-price keywords into this copy. It's against Adsense policy, but I'm willing to risk my 20 cents to see if these words change the ad above.

So I was looking at web hosting providers and found web site hosting that has domain name for registration. Not just any kind of web hosting, but low cost web hosting. Domain names are good for web hosting. And I mean cheap web hosting. Web page hosting services, after all, are quite profitable for domain name marketing.

Revver's First Competitor? Motion.TV.

I've just learned about another model of "revenue sharing" for videos. Motion.TV- Revver's first competitor?

I received a message posted on YouTube from Shawn McCoy (Content Manager) inviting me to post my videos on Motion.TV. The site focuses on extreme sports and crashes, but there are broader categories available. I set up account, and posted a Revverized video. Needless to say, the tag dropped. A University of Phoneix ad appeared next to my first clip. Will I ever see a percentage of that income? Doubt it. I did complete a form, in which I needed to provide a paypal e-mail address and social security number. Half of me is wondering if I just signed off on a scam- a few Nigerian's will be moving into my house next week.

My favorite part of the Motion.TV enrollment was this quote: "You have the opportunity to make money from your video by simply posting it to our site. We will give you a percentage of all the ad revenue generated from your video clips. While it is impossible to determeine how much revenue that you will receive; your revenue share is tied directly to the popularity of your video(s) as well as to the overall dollars earned by Motion.TV(tm) in any given month."

Bold promise. A percentage. Revverberation's closing thought: There's .5 percent of alcohol in O'Douls beer.

This blog is more interesting than listening to...

This blog may not always be terribly interesting, but it's fascinating compared to what I'm listening to right now. An interview between a moderator and a customer looking at one of our website designs (for my day job). You haven't met the word dull into you've listened to a Boston lady critique a website about infections.

I just started laughing and realized I wasn't on mute. This is the web equivalent of accidentally falling through the 2-way mirror during a focus group.

Keyword Crunch

Wow. Just tried uploading a video, and couldn't find the upload button. So I tried the upload client, and it made me upgrade to the Revver client 1.0. The surprising limitation? THREE KEYWORDS. That's it. No more bloating our videos with dozens of description tags.

Given that I always want to tag my video with "Nalts," that leaves me with only two more words. Can this be right? How will I ever decide what to use?

I would make the following unsolicited suggestion to Revver on this one... If you want to organize the videos, I would recommend the YouTube approach. Make submitters select from a group of about 12 categories. Then Revver (and its syndicating) can be able to organize the videos accordingly. Further, this would result in easier syndication. If wanted to scrape the humor videos, I'd RSS the tag "humor" (instead of having to try every synonym like comedy, funny, fun, etc.

Sex, sex, sex on Revver


Got your attention on that post, did I? Just wanted to point out something I've only noticed recently... there's a toggle switch on the bottom of Revver that hides the adult content. Something to point out to your pervert friends, or your inlaws when you send them a video of your kids.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Does a Revver's video impressions/ratings mean it's good?

Does a video's rating and total views mean it's any good? Nope. I've had some of my worst videos get good ratings & impressions, while some of my better ones die a quiet death in the obscure sea of legacy Revver videos.

So how can you improve your ratings and views (and ultimately the ad clicks)?

1) Give your video life beyond Revver:
Since Revver is still in beta, traffic to the site is relatively low compared to other video sites. Revver's leaders confirmed to me that most of the views and ad revenue comes not from Revver.com's portal but via other sites posting Revver videos. So the way you get traffic to your Revver video is by placing them on higher-traffic video sites. My most popular video is "Scary Santa" with more than 3,000 views. That traffic is clearly coming from somewhere else- not Revver.com. The weird thing is that I didn't place it anywhere! Someone must have lifted the HTML and posted it, and I'm happy they're making 20% on each ad click- slightly less profit per ad click for me & Revver, but way greater volume than I'd ever get on Revver.com. So everyone wins.
2) Time your posts carefully
The most recently posted video gets a lot of impressions since people are automatically redirected to it when they rate any video. The longer your video sits as the most recent video, the more impressions you get. This is really a factor dictated by luck. If you post it at 3:00 a.m., you'll probably stay as the "most recent" for a few hours because few people post at odd hours. Then again, traffic is low during that time. I can't confirm this yet, but I think that the view/ad click ratios are higher for the video that sits as the "most recent," because newbies to Revver are more prone to rating and more prone to clicking ads.
3) Get high ratings
Ultimately good content is the most sustainable way to get good ratings. And high ratings increase views (and ad clicks). That said, very few people rate videos on Revver (or YouTube), so it's easy to manipulate. Have your friends and family give it high ratings. Since the ratings function has been buggy for weeks, I've gotten lucky with "Revver interns," which had a good rating before the rating functionality went on vacation. It's held a nice run on the Top Ratings list. Critical: If you sustain in the Top Ratings list, you'll get much better views (and ad clicks) over time.

The bottom line is what I've stressed all along: you can't yet count on Revver.com's portal to deliver your videos big volume. You have to tag your videos and market them elsewhere. Revver won't disclose the third-party sites that give them most of their traffic to videos (believe me, I've been begging them for weeks). So it's a mystery for now. If you figure out how to back-track your ad clicks to source location, let me know!

The other option is you can create your own affiliate site like Fuzzy did with www.Revverberate.com. But then you've got to figure out how to get it traffic, which is not an inexpensive feat. For this blog, I get cheap traffic by buying Google keywords, but I was paying more than $1 a visit when I ran an Adwords campaign (those text ads that appear on certain sites like the ones at the top of Revverberation.com. In this model, you pay a certain amount per thousand impressions and pick the sites that take your ads. I was getting loads of impressions but the click-thru is VERY low).

Coming soon: I'm working on a Revver affiliate site designed for bored cube workers. I'm packing it with Revver videos and trying to figure out the most efficient way to drive traffic to it. More on that in the next week.