Case Study Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some techniques that should be avoided.

If You're Going to Go, Go Big

While Panasonic was the smallest video at a non-resizable 220x164, Fujitsu was next at 295x163. However, where Panasonic displayed their video at its native resolution, Fujitsu displayed their's at a scaled 565x316, which made all the videos look pixelated. In the figure below, you can see the video at its native resolution on the lower left, with the larger image obviously the displayed resolution (click the figure to visit the Fujitsu page).

Interestingly, Fujitsu produced the video at 400 kbps. At that data rate, encoding and presenting at 565x316 probably would have looked better than encoding at the smaller size and zooming for display.  

cases5a.jpg

By way of comparison, in the states, ESPN.com produces at 576x324 at a video data rate of 712 kbps, with CNN closely behind at the same resolution and a data rate of 508 kbps. Obviously, these two sites have a much better grasp of what their target viewers can successfully retrieve and play in real time, and that capability is likely even higher in the corporate world. Most of the videos here are far more conservative in resolution and data rate than they need to be.

Have a Clear Call to Action

Not only is the video tiny, it's lonely, without even a back button to take it back to the launch page. Don't create any video until you know exactly what you're trying to convince the viewer to do, and don't post the video to a web site without making that desired option clearly available to the viewer. 

cases6.jpg

You Can't Create a Good Impression with Bad Video

This video has so many obvious problems that you have to seriously question whether it's worth using. The background is fuzzy, the text aliased, and the subject haloed by the residue of a chroma key effect gone bad. While I don't necessarily think that you have to assume that Roger Ebert will watch your video, most viewers know the difference between good and bad video, and if you present the latter, it likely will create a negative impression. It's a shame, here, because the case study tells a great story. Click the figure to visit the launching page, which also has no call to action, though there are several on the launching page.

cases7.jpg

Be Careful When Scaling Your Videos

The best way to preserve video quality is to display the video at the encoded resolution. In this video, Blackberry displays a native 480x270 video in 480x306, which distorts all the text and any sharp edges in the video. Again, it's a shame, because otherwise the video itself is very well done.

In addition, though it's tough to tell in the figure (which you can click to visit the Blackberry web site), there are also no player controls in the video, so you can't pause or stop it (unless I totally missed something). Finally, though Blackberry has a "Where to Buy" link on the upper right, a more obvious call to action definitely wouldn't hurt.

cases8.jpg

Monitor Your Quality (and Use the Appropriate Codec)

This video from Comcast is short and sweet, but it's tough to present the benefits of high speed internet when your video looks awful. This video is far short of Comcastic because the transitions are too long, the video data rate a bit too low (300 kbps), the audio data rate way too high (256 kbps), but mostly because Comcast used the H.263 codec when VP6 or even H.264 would have delivered much better quality.

cases9a.jpg

You know what I'm going to say about the player and call to action, so I'll spare you that. Notice that this video doesn't even have a link back to the launching page. Even worse, if you click to watch this video from the launch page, the video opens in the same window as the launch page, not a new window, so it replaces the launch page in the viewer's browser. If the viewer accidentally closes the page after watching the video (instead of clicking the back button), they have no easy way to return to the launch page. Bottom line is that if you're going to play the video in a separate window, make sure it's a new window that doesn't replace the browser.


Comments (4)

Said this on 4-5-2010 At 02:15 pm

I followed the link from Streamingmedia  to have a look at some of the examples worth looking at.

James Wood

HD Productions

http://www.hd-productions.biz

Said this on 4-7-2010 At 05:17 am

This is a really interesting piece. I would have preferred to have it all on one page and scrolable rather than split over 5 pages.

Much of your advice runs counter to other articles which recommend the point and shoot approach to corporate video. One notable omission from the article is some discussion of how much these videos may have cost. Without such basic information it's impossible to determine whether companies can expect a return on their investment in video.

Thanks for a fascinating review.

Said this on 4-7-2010 At 06:40 am
Hey Daniel:

Thanks for your note - lots of good input. Would love to see the other articles on point and shoot - can you share some links?

I was surprised at the general high quality of these videos, though they were from big companies. I only tried to contact one who didn't favor me with a return email (sigh) but if I had to guess, I'd say most of these were easily in the $10,000 range or higher range, some very much higher.

I think you can produce them for much less cost, but these are the type of videos that marketing folks/budding videographers need to emulate in terms of style, brevity, composition and the like.

I'll try to minimize the pages going forward - it's a good organization tool for me and does improve those page counts and advertising views.

:-)

Thanks again for taking the time to write such a thoughtful note.

Jan
Steve
Said this on 4-8-2010 At 06:11 pm

This is a really nice analysis, thanks.

You'd be surprised about cost, Turnhere one of the larger online video producers quotes $600 for a "small business video". I think you're right about the big name companies producing their videos in the $10,000 range using a multicrew shoot, professional graphics and high-end post production, but there are online video producers out there doing their thing for much less. 

Another decision would be how to deliver videos, ie. which Content Delivery Network to use. I'd be interested if you ran into any performance issues (i.e. buffering)

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