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Planning Digital Video for CDs, DVDs and Web Distribution

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Convergence is upon us, like it or not. Today, there are more requests to distribute video as a major communications source through whichever channels possible. Dennis Chominsky discusses some of the aspects you need to know and understand before you can start sending video files everywhere.
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Television hasn't even been around for 100 years, but it has had one of the greatest impacts on people's lives. Despite the computer, television has become an important cultural aspect in the lives of most Americans. People spend great deals of money on televisions. They arrange their family rooms so that viewers can be centrally located around the screen. Most people I know have many televisions throughout their house. And various industries have struggled to improve the quality of the signal; from black-and-white to color; from 9-inch screen to 60-inch screen; from static-ridden images with rabbit ears to high-definition television (HDTV). People continuously want more. But with all the advancements made, the integration of new platforms, and new ways to transfer these images forced us to take a step back. Back to the days of smaller images with less quality.

As computer technology advanced, we figured out a way to use this platform to be capable of reproducing video imagery. And with every day that passes, someone develops a new piece of the puzzle to push the envelope of how to improve the quality of the video image that we have come to expect on our televisions. We've learned to accept less than broadcast-quality imagery on our computers, with the hopes that someday soon we will be able to have HDTV-quality video playing on our PDAs. But until that day comes, what are the best ways today to capture and distribute video for CD-ROMs, DVDs, and the Web?

Keep in mind that like every technology, there are 19 different ways to do things. There is no one right way to achieve the results you are looking for, but there are some aspects that you should understand if you want to distribute your video content on various platforms. This article is intended for those readers who have dabbled in video distribution on a serious level and are looking for ways to improve the quality image of their video. I will touch on a few concepts that may make a huge difference in the way you distribute video content on various platforms.

Capturing Your Material

Let's start right at the beginning. The quality of the video source is the most crucial. Granted, it's possible to make good footage look like garbage if you don't know how to compress your video correctly, but it is impossible to achieve good quality video from source material that starts off looking like crap. You should always try to take whatever efforts you can to start with the best-quality video source. Depending on your subject matter, this may mean working with a better camera, using some additional light sources (if the image is too dark), or taking advantage of a multitude of professional video practices. This means choosing a DV camera over a VHS camera. Be aware of how bright your subject matter is, compared with the rest of the objects within the framing of the shot. Is the subject too bright or too dark? Is the subject matter in focus? All of these elements add up to whether you'll have a good end product or not.

Sometimes, you may be given the source materials already recorded. This doesn't mean that it's too late and there's nothing you can do to improve it. To a certain extent, you can always clean images up in an editing system. Whatever the case, take the necessary steps to improve your source materials in order to get the best image quality possible.

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