Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best Video Presentation?

Which media Websites offer the best video presentation?

We don't necessarily mean the best video. We mean the best way of packaging and presenting the video.

So we're thinking in terms of a videoplayer that's big and easy to use, and has intuitive controls and sensible features (including information on how to embed and/or link to the video from your own site).

But we're also thinking in terms of how the video correlates to the rest of the feature package -- which can include a text story, a slideshow, and other graphic elements such as charts, graphs, maps, illustrations, and so on. Can you navigate easily from the video to the other components -- and back again? It drives us crazy when we see videos that clearly rely on an accompanying text story for context and crucial details -- and yet that text story is nowhere in sight. Worse, it goes by a completely different title, which makes it invisible to the site's search engine.

Even if it's a stand-alone video, how easy is it to find among all the other offerings in the video section? Is there even a video section? And, if so, how easy is it to use? Many we've encountered just stack video links in reverse chronological order -- hardly an inviting scheme.

Most importantly, how easy is it to find the video in the first place? Are there sufficient links to it from elsewhere on the Website? Does it show up in the search engine? Is it paired with thematically compatible content? Most Websites bury their video content so well that even the videojournalists themselves have trouble finding their own work.

And speaking of those videojournalists -- are they properly and prominently credited? We find it amusing that crediting styles are so divergent and inconsistent from one site to another. We've seen everything from "Video by" to "Camera and Editing by" to "Story by" to just, well, "By." Often there are multiple credits, making it impossible to figure out who is actually doing the (uncredited) VO narration. Sometimes the credits are at the beginning of the video, sometimes at the end, and sometimes just in a popup box on the videoplayer or in the area surrounding the video. Sometimes there are no credits whatsoever -- an unfortunate oversight, to say the least.

Here's a pet peeve: Why is it increasingly common that the video's title on the video is substantially different from the video's title next to the video? Very confusing!

We have to mention advertising, which is creeping into the video equation in ever more intrusive ways . Sometimes it's adjacent to the videoplayer, sometimes it's embedded into the videoplayer, sometimes it takes the form of 15- to 30-second "pre-roll" that you're forced to endure (without benefit of skipping or even fast-forwarding) before you can enjoy the main event. Often, it's all three. Because it pays the bills (or monetizes the venture, in industry parlance), putting up with the distraction is a price we have to pay ... until someone comes up with a better financial scheme.

So far, nobody has devised a single perfect way to present video, but lots of Websites are making inroads into improving the experience for viewers -- and making the video itself more accessible and inviting. Please share with us what you would like to see improved in this arena -- and, more importantly, please tell us who you think is doing it right, and why.

No comments: