The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Can Video Make You a Blog “Star”?

Crossposted from my EchoDitto blog.

Well, I don’t’ know if it can make you a “star.” But it’s getting easier, and a lot more fun, to create, remix, and experiment with video online. And with a presidential election gearing up, bloggers are asking both parties to make debate video accessible and editable on the web. The “remix” potential here is, to put it mildly, huge.

I don’t have a lot experience with video, but in the past month I’ve used video on my blog a few times, in a few different ways, and saw a leap in my traffic when people discovered my videos and linked to them. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t know much about video, which means if I can do it anyone can. You just have to know what to use.

Here’s what I did.

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It started when I read about the controversy over a chocolate statue of Jesus that was tobe displayed in a New York gallery. I wrote a blog post about it, because it brought to mind a bunch of links I’d intended to use in a blog post earlier, but never did. So I went back to those links, and grabbed the images I neede, and headed over to what’s probably my favorite video site right now: Jumpcut.

I’d used Jumpcut before to create videos that were basically slideshows, so it was easy enough to use again. I uploaded my images, and some music that I wanted to use. I even grabbed a few pictures that other users had uploaded — another feature Jumpcut offers — after searching tags to find them. And after arranging the pictures and fiddling around with transitions, timing, etc., I had this.I posted it to my blog, and didn’t expect much of a response, but quite a few people linked to my post. Now the video’s been viewed over 3000 times. Best of all, I was able to go back and tweak it even after I published and posted it. Another video I posted later on, based on a something I saw in someone else’s blog drew a lot of traffic (probably because I linked to the original post when I posted my video).

Now bloggers are asking both parties to make sure debate contracts stipulate that:

…video footage will be put into the public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons license – so that after the debate, the video will be free for anyone to access, edit, and share, with others with proper attribution.

That’s interesting, but before you can remix anything, you have to get the video into Jumpcut, and the site doesn’t let you “grab” video from other sites like YouTube or Google Video without leaving Jumpcut, and use it in your creations.

There are sites that will do that, and I’ll get to them later. There are also sites that will let you download videos from almost any site, to use any way you want. KeepVid is one. is another. But I used Zamzar to download this popular YouTube video, because it also converts the file to any number of formats.

But suppose I don’t want to use the entire video? Suppose I only need a few seconds of it? This week I was writing a post and just needed a short video clip to make a point. I remembered that I’d heard of The Scenemaker, which would let me grab a clip of any length, and use it on my blog. So, I could just grab a little bit the video.

That might come in handy in an number of way. You could use it to clip a candidate’s answers from a single debate video. Better yet, you could even clip a candidate’s statements from other videos or other debates, and compare them.

Maybe you want to show a series of videos, for thematic purposes or to make a point. You could use YouTube’s playlist feature, but there are much more elegant and versatile solutions. If you find them in Jumpcut, you can grab them all there. But the web video motherlode is still YouTube. Sites like Lycos Mix, Feedbeat and SplashCast.

The latter was my choice because of it’s versatility. You can grab video from YouTube and photos from Flickr, and upload them via URL or from your computer. You can upload documents, like PDFs or PowerPoint presentations, or create one right in SplashCast. Plus you can search for and use anything that’s already on SplashCast. I used it to make this short compilation.But, lets go back to Jumpcut where — after uploading my own media, grabbing media from others, and doing a bit of editing — I put together this little video.And it’s nothing fancy, compared with what’s already out there. Someone with a steadier hand and better editing skills could certainly come up with something much better. (I’ve made it available for remixing on Jumpcut, just to see what others’ might do with it. Jumpcut shows the “remix history” of its videos, so I can check back later.) After a campaign season that gave us Macaca and a new one that’s already given us “bomb Iran” along with the possibility of presidential debate video online, anybody with the right skills and inclination could make the 2008 election very interesting.

I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to online video. There are lots more sites and resources out there, like Yahoo Video, DropShots, Metacafe, Motionbox, Revver, Dailymotio, Grouper, blip.tv, iFilm, Photobucket (with a new remix feature) and Ourmedia, just to name a few. With all the video resources out there, the amount of video available on the web, and little creativity, The possibilities are almost endless.

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