Using YouTube

It's all very well enjoying other people's videos on YouTube, but the real reason the site exists is so that you can share content. With that in mind, here's a starter guide to getting your footage up there for others to enjoy.
Using YouTube
By Matthew Wade
Tue 01 Apr 2008 04:00 AM

It's all very well enjoying other people's videos on YouTube, but the real reason the site exists is so that you can share content. With that in mind, here's a starter guide to getting your footage up there for others to enjoy.

We'll start by assuming that you know what type of footage you want to upload. If you have this content already, that's a great start. If not, understand that various types of device actually allow you to shoot good quality video, so you don't necessarily have to splash out on a video camera costing hundreds of dollars to get started.

Of course, such a handycam will give you the highest resolution footage, but the video captured by your digital still camera (most such devices now include a ‘video' setting) is perfectly useable, and besides that most new web cameras (webcams) too can also now capture content.

(Of course, home webcams are not very mobile, so the content will likely be you sat in front of your computer. For some users however - depending
on the type of video in question - that will do just fine.)

As far as shooting great vids is concerned, you'll find a useful advice page full of video tutorials, on YouTube itself. Just click your way to www.youtube.com/video_toolbox.

Your video content can, in truth, be as long or short as you like, but be aware that single long video files will take an age to upload. This is why most of the full-length TV programmes and concerts you see on YouTube are cut into separate part segments.

Should you have a long video, we suggest using one of the following programs to chop it into digestible chunks: Easy Video Editor 2.0 (www.honestech.com), or Ulead VideoStudio 11 Plus (www.ulead.com/vs/runme.htm).

This type of editing is important because you are, by default, limited to uploads of 100Mbytes and ten minutes in length. Your alternative is to use the YouTube Uploader software, of which more later.

Upload formats

Once you have your content, you'll be pleased to hear that YouTube is a flexible beast, as the site allows you to upload vids in any of the following formats: Windows Media Video (.wmv), Quicktime (.mov), Moving Pictures Expert Group (.mgp), and Audio Visual Interleave (.avi). YouTube then converts such videos into Adobe Flash Video (.flv) format, which the site uses for all its online videos. This is due to Flash's high compression ratios and its ability to be displayed within web pages (as an ‘applet').

Before you can upload your content however, you need to be a registered user. Follow these simple steps to sign-up: Log onto YouTube.com and click the Sign-Up link, which is situated at the top right of the page.

1. Fill in your basic details and your username (this is the name other YouTube users will see next to your vids).

2. Select the type of YouTube account you would like. The following types are available:

3. The Standard account, also known as the ‘YouTuber', allows you to upload videos, comment on and rate other vids, create a personal channel, subscribe to other members' vids and share videos.

A Director account also allows you to personalise your member channel and your channel might - just might - appear in the directors channel on the main YouTube channels page.

Comedian accounts are for users looking to upload funny material - either their own clips or other funny content.

Musician accounts are for audio creators.

Guru accounts are for experts, so would suit, say, a DIY expert who plans to offer videos on how to fix up your home.
Tailor your channel

Your personal YouTube channel is effectively a clickable section under which all your uploaded videos are shown. However this doesn't need to look like every other YouTube channel in terms of the content is shows, nor does it need to look bare and boring, because you can tailor it to your liking. Here's how...

1. Sign into YouTube, then click your username (at the top of the page) to access your Personal Channel homepage.

2. Next, click the large yellow 'Edit Channel' button.

3. You'll now see various tabs on the left. Starting with Channel Info, give your channel a description, then allow or deny user comments (below each video you post), configure who can comment (YouTube friends or everyone), and allow or deny YouTube bulletins (bulletins are your opportunity to broadcast messages to your YouTube friends when they visit your Channel or their own). When done, move onto tab 2 - Channel Design.

4. Here you can set a basic colour theme for your channel using the combinations shown first. Thereafter you can configure which page elements sit where; for instance, will you put details of your channel's subscribers on the left or right? What about your YouTube friends? In case you're confused, let's examine the key Channel elements:

• The ‘Featured Video' of your Channel page is played at full size and can be either a particular video or simply the last one you uploaded.

• Contests allow users like you to submit videos to contests, whereby other users can vote on them.

• Playlists are similar to those you would use in Media Player or iTunes, whereby you can link batches of YouTube videos (yours or from other users) to create themed selections.

• Videos Rated highlights those videos of yours that have been rated by other users, in addition to showing their ratings on their individual viewing pages.

• Recent Comments shows just that on your Channel page (in other words, the most recent thoughts from YouTube users on your uploads).

• The Videos Box simply shows all your videos - either in large square (grid) format, or via a scrollable ‘ribbon' view.

• Video Log (AKA vlog). You can set a playlist as your vlog, after which the videos on that playlist will appear on your channel along with any descriptions you might want to add to these.

• Favourites lets you highlight your own preferred YouTube vids.

Should you want to get really creative with the colour properties of your boxes and fonts, scroll down the page to the ‘Advanced Design Customization' section. Click the ‘Pick' link next to each option to choose the relevant colour.
5. When you click a colour, the preview of your Channel will instantly be shown. To revert back to the starting format at any time, hit the Reset Values button.

6. Under the Organize Videos tab, you can set the order in which your clips will appear.

7. The Personal Profile page meanwhile gives you the chance to tell other users about you - similar to the Profile pages on social networking sites. (Note: The next Location Info tab you can see is effectively an extension of this feature.)

8. Last but not least, you cannot change your ‘Channel URL' but you can send it to family and friends to check out and gain some channel traffic!

9. When your Channel looks exactly how you want it to, simply hit the Update Channel button.

Start Uploading

So you're now a bonafide YouTube user and your personal channel looks the business, it's now time to get busy uploading your content!

Click the Upload button (at the top right of the YouTube page)

1. Give your vid a title (which will appear above the viewing window), then a description (this will appear to the right of the video on its page), and next, choose a video Category.

2. You can also input keywords related to your video. Do think carefully about these - make them accurate and try to input several, as these will help drive user traffic to your video's page.

3. Work through the rest of the broadcast and sharing options shown on this screen.

If in doubt, stick to the defaults, because allowing users to view, comment on and rate your video increases the chances of it creating a buzz (and therefore takes it one step closer to being featured on a YouTube channel homepage, or even, in occasional cases, the homepage itself). This kind of coverage would, of course, massively boost the number of viewers your vids attract.

Be Prepared

Be aware that file upload times vary greatly, depending on the size of the file in question and, of course, the speed of your actual internet connection.
To give a quick example, we uploaded an Mpeg format file (3.37Mbytes in size and lasting 41 seconds when played), over an entry-speed 512Mbps broadband connection. The time this upload took in total was four minutes and forty three seconds.

If you want to upload videos larger than 100Mbytes in size, or you feel it might be helpful to be able to upload several of your videos at once, you'll need a piece of software called ‘YouTube Uploader'. Luckily this is free to download and use. To install it just click here: http://youtube.com/my_videos_multiupload.

Meanwhile, for full details on how to use this application, check out this site here: www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=79983 .

And that's it, you're away, potentially sharing your creations with hundreds of millions of users around the world!
When you've uploaded some great clips, feel free to share them with the Windows team, by simply mailing the URLs to windows@itp.com.

We might even publish the best ones in our next issue!

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