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Online Video: So Now What?

  |  April 11, 2008   |  Comments

A few technological advances could enhance online video.

I can never seem to understand some things about the state of online these days. For the most part, it seems like we spend too much time wondering what will come next and see only dribs and drabs of change.

Online video, a relatively stoic, one-way medium as we know it, is creeping along into the land of interactivity. Technologies from VideoEgg and others are doing what they can to make watching a video a little more of a search or suggestion-based experience.

But is that really it? Do we have it all locked up in incremental functionality enhancements?

I wish there was a good answer to that. All we really know is that the changes that have transformed video are really enhancements to other rich media technologies.

Though somewhat unnoticed, Adobe Flash has transformed video more profoundly than any form of video delivery or compression to date.

Today, most online videos don't need a player or a plug-in. Technologies that allow interaction are embedded, rather than coded, into the video experience. Browser-based acceptance was a tremendous change -- a change that happened so silently we didn't notice it.

These things are good, but the iPhone isn't built on good. Nor is it what social network technologies are composed for either.

So let's think about a few things that could make the technological jump even more profound.


Most of us know this in one of two ways: the TV model of screen-on-screen, or the computer model of keeping multiple video windows open at the same time. People guilty of the latter know the dangerous precipice you tread upon when, after several minutes of this behavior, you hear the laptop fan kick on and all applications slow to a crawl.

Most of us don't know this isn't the optimal solution until the computer shuts down. Only then do we get that pang of worry.

When we think about what multi-screen will be, it may have more to do with processing power in other parts of your computer than a better browser.

Currently, we look at MHz and CPU processing power as the little gerbil running in the wheel and pushing all the video pixels out to our screen. That's what pushes it all out, but it's also the cause of a lot of overload problems.

Next time you buy a computer, look at the Graphics Processor, or GPU, and see if it's a highly rated chip that can process at a high FPS (frames per second) rate.

If there's any planning for the near future of your multi-screen experience you can do, that would be most of it.


Integrated video is something I've mentioned many times in the past. Adobe Flash has allowed you to virtually embed just about anything you can do in Flash into video.

Time consuming? Yes. Interesting? Yes? Cheap to update? Well, not as much, unless you plan well.

I've been highly involved in the site, Meals Together. It's a decent example of what you can to with good theatrical timing and experiential Web site modeling. But believe me, there are many more examples out there.

The Future?

Ah yes, where are we going with all this? I'm glad to say I don't think we can say. So many technologies are being developed. Whatever we can dream up today may actually come to be true in a year or so.

Video chat, though commonly a separate window experience, will be refined into a one-window form of communication. Yes, maybe typing over your friend's face will be a bit annoying, but there are elegant ways to make that work.

Self-production of video will probably take a more sophisticated leap forward and help the emerging talent of visual storytelling do a better job. Storyboard modeling and edit wizards could make your home movies or home produced video spots more professional.

All in all, we're going to see a lot of changes, but most of these changes will have to wait for our mass ability to adjust to interaction improvements.

Video technology will undoubtedly seem more like a Web site (or was that the other way around?) and in the end we'll see the next few years change the game of how the chocolate of TV is mixed with the peanut butter of online.

OK, now I'm hungry.

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Dorian Sweet

Dorian Sweet is the vice president and executive creative director of GSI Interactive who leads strategic development and innovation in online advertising, Web development, e-commerce, and customer relationship management programs. His work has brought award-winning online solutions to such clients as Clorox, Miller Brewing Company, GE, Visa, eBay, British Airways, Wells Fargo, Discovery Networks, Motorola, Kodak, Sears, 20th Century Fox, and others.

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