Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We Can Make a Difference

At Infinite Video Productions, we have family and friends who have Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a disease that attacks the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms can range anywhere from numbness to paralysis and blindness. Each person is affected differently.

We have seen first hand the difficulties caused by MS. It's frustrating to watch your loved one suffer and feel like there's nothing you can do to help. The last few years different members of Infinite Video have put that frustration to good use by Walking for MS. This year, on May 1, one of our employees is walking for her aunt. The money raised will help people with MS right here in Illinois. The money goes toward research, programs, and services for people with MS.

To make a donation, form your own team, or learn more about Multiple Sclerosis, click the link below. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guide to DVD Region Codes, or Why Won't My DVD From eBay Play?

Region Codes. Every DVD has them. Numbered 0-8. They are also in every DVD player. Normally their existence is not worth considering – until you get a DVD that originated in another country.

But before we go any further, don't confuse region codes with the three television standards NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. The television standards describe the frame rate and scan rate used by different countries to display a picture on a TV. And yes, they are incompatible too!

Now back to region codes. Here's the back story. When DVDs were being developed the movie studios were nervous. Overseas film releases could overlap with the US video release. Here was a new digital higher quality format to play movies. Remember, at the time the next best option was fuzzy VHS. Who would pay the high movie ticket price when they could watch those high quality US DVDs instead?

Their solution? Region Codes embedded into every DVD and DVD player. A number is assigned to each country. ( The US is #1 – Go USA!) In order for a DVD to play, its region code has to match the code in the DVD player. This prevents the US DVDs from playing in non-US DVD players. Unfortunately, it also could prevent a DVD you purchased online or while on vacation abroad from playing in your player.

They did throw us a bone though. There is also a region 0, or ALL setting which means the DVD can play in any machine. Most DVDs made with your home DVD burners use region 0. DVDs made by production companies can also be set to region 0.

So before buying any DVD from another country remember to check for two things:

  1. Region code is either 0, ALL, or your country's code.
  2. Make sure it is the correct TV format (NTSC, PAL, SECAM) for your country.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oral History – Everyone Has A Story

The telling and recording of oral history has definitely improved over the years. No longer do we sit around a campfire with the family or tribe and tell of events from the past that are important enough to be passed on to the next generation. Now, with video, oral histories are easily collected and shared with others by the average person as well as by professionals. With the advent of YouTube and Facebook, we can see that recording history is not just for the elderly.

Preparation for recording an oral history involves two people: The videographer and the interviewee. If you are going to be the videographer you might want to review our 8 Tips for Shooting Better Video. A microphone is an absolute must since the audio is the most important element. Also use a tripod. Your arms and back will thank you.

There are several websites available to help you prepare your material. One such web site is This web site has tips on How to Interview a Relative and also a list of 50 questions you can use during the interview. Just remember, you don't have to use all the questions. Another web site with interview questions is

You also need to prepare your interviewee. When interviewing an older relative, be sure they are notified in advance of your visit so they can be thinking about what they may want to say. If this relative is not a close relative, you may want to have an introductory meeting with them to get to a better comfort level before you begin the interview process. You can give them your list of questions so they will have an idea of what you plan to discuss. Let them know that you will be recording your conversation together. Since this is supposed to be a fun interview, be sure they are comfortably seated, have a glass of water nearby, and don't interview more than an hour or two. Make another appointment for a future date if necessary. Additional tips on interviewing a relative can be found at

Tape is cheap. Always be recording. I guarantee some of your best stuff will be in between the “official” questions. When you are done make archival copies. Store one in your safety deposit box and another with a relative. Some local history centers and museums are interested in receiving copies too. If you need help in taping, editing or duplicating, you can always call the professionals. Now you have the basics, so make your appointment and enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Care For Your DVD and CD

VHS tapes had tracking problems, were easy to accidentally erase, frequently got jammed in VCRs and occasionally melted in hot cars. Compared with a flimsy tape, it's safe to say DVDs and CDs are indestructable and will last forever. Right? Well, not necessarily. Just one good scratch could render your disc unreadable.

DVDs and CDs are actually a lot more fragile than you would think. They are made up of multiple layers. The information is stored on the middle layer. Below the middle layer is a protective layer of plastic. Above the middle layer is a layer of metal used to reflect the laser of your CD or DVD play. Without the top layer of metal the disc could not be read. Most people worry about scratching the bottom of the disc, when it's the top that they should be more worried about. While you want to avoid scratches on either side, scratches through the label have the potential of damaging the disc more than a light scratch on the bottom since it destroys that top metal layer. The label on the top of the disc does not have as much protection as the bottom. Even writing on the top with a sharp pen could scratch the disc. It's best to use a soft tip, fast drying permanent marker.

I admit, having an iPod makes me a little more careless with my CDs. It's a lot easier and cheaper to replace songs nowadays. But when I make a backup of my photos and save it to a CD or when I have home movies saved on a DVD, I want them to last forever. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee. DVDs and CDs simply haven't been around long enough to prove their longevity. But there are things you can do to help keep them safe. The number one thing is to keep them clean. Even cleaning your disc has the potential to scratch it, so be aware of how you treat your discs. Hold a disc by the outside edges or one finger in the center hole and one on the outer edge. Do not eat and drink around your DVD or CD. The best rule of thumb is to return the disc to it's case once you are done using it. Don't let them sit on your table, waiting to be damaged. Even collecting dust could cause a CD to skip or a DVD to be unreadable if it interferes with the lasers ability to read the data.

I have seen people lose their home movies because food had spilled on the disc and when they cleaned it, they accidentally put a deep enough scratch that it rendered their disc unreadable. At least back when we had home movies on tape, we were able to cut out the bad part but save the remainder. Once a DVD or CD is unable to be read, everything is lost, not just a small part. If you find you have smudges on the disc, be gentle when cleaning it. Use a lint-free, nonabrasive cloth. Starting from the center, wipe in a straight line to the outer edge using light pressure. Never use a circular motion to wipe the disc. This can cause more damaging scratches.

You may need a little more for hard to remove smudges or gummy substances. There are many different suggestions out there. But what they all have in common is you should use something mild like lukewarm water and mild soap or isopropyl alcohol. Don't soak your cloth, use only enough liquid to make your cloth slightly damp.

There is a lot of common sense involved with the care of your DVD and CD. Avoid extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. Wipe off any liquid immediately. Don't bend the disc. This can happen when trying to remove it from it's case. The best way to keep your DVD or CD working is to avoid touching the shiny surface and always store the disc in a case. Make that your goal, and you have a very good chance of keeping your memories alive. But always have a back up!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Guide to SD and HD Video Formats

It seems every year brings a few more video formats.  It was so much easier to keep track of things when it was just BetaMax and VHS!  This is a short rundown on most of the formats you might run into.  For more detailed info check out our FAQ page at

Standard Definition Formats (SD)

VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS: These are the older analogue formats that used the full size half inch VHS tape.  VHS-C was that little fat casette that you had to put in an adapter to play in your VCR.

8mm, Hi-8, Digital8:  These are the narrow tapes (hence the name 8mm) used by Sony around the same time as VHS.  Digital8 was the last incarnation and was a, Surprise! digital format.

MiniDV:  MiniDV is the small digital tape format used in DV home camcorders and DV professional cameras.

DVCam and DVCPro:  These are the big brothers of MiniDV used more in the professional arena.  DVCPro is made exclusively by Panasonic equipment.

DVCPro 50:  A higher quality version of DVCPro.

Betacam SP:  Betacam SP is an analogue Broadcast Quality format that was the longtime standard for TV stations, news, and high-quality video.

Digital S, DVCPro 50, Digital Betacam:  These digital formats are the high end of the broadcast market. They achieve better video quality than all the previously listed formats.

High Definition Formats (HD)

HDV:  An HD format based on MiniDV.  It uses the same tape as MiniDV, but records in an MPEG format instead allowing it to record an HD image.

AVCHD:  A solid state format used by many cameras that record direct to a hard drive or flash card.  These cameras use an MPEG4 or H.264 format to record in.  AVCHD is used in home camcorders and professional cameras.

P2:  A solid state format used with some professional Panasonic cameras.

SxS:  A solid state format used with some professional Sony cameras.

DVCPro 100, XDCam, Varicam, HDCam, HDCam SR:  These are all high end formats used in broadcast and films.  Most are tape based, some are solid state, (the XDCam records onto disc) and have various types of compression formats.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Isn't Your Business Worth Quality Web Video? Quality Web Video Part 2

So let's talk Quality web video. Quality video is actually very easy to talk about. But it's not so easy to define. Mainly because “Quality” is subjective. My Ferrari may be your Ford. But I think that every quality video is composed of the same elements. And it's more than resolution and megapixels. It’s the story presented that keeps us interested, the artistic look of the video, the pacing of the editing, the creative lighting, the clear audio, and the scene composition. So I'm going to go out on a limb and set the definition of quality web video.

Quality Web Video – noun
Anything that looks professional, presents you and your
company in a positive light, captures the viewer's interest, and generates the desired
viewer response.

Then there is the “Wow” factor or “The Hollywood Effect.” If you are trendy you'll call it “sexy,” as in “that shot where the singer morphs into a robot is sooo sexy.” The intensity of the “Wow” factor will vary based on your product or service, your target markets, and your competition. The more upscale your product or market, the more "Wow" you'll need. Likewise, if your competition's web video looks great, well, time to step up or settle for seconds.

A well produced video can quickly get your potential customer's interest and help them along the sales cycle. Of course the opposite is also true, so why is there so much bad video invading cyberspace?

One word: Budget.

The main reason businesses breed bad video is to save costs. In my opinion that is not a very business-smart or professional answer to the problem. While quality video does cost more due to the extra TLC it receives, it doesn't have to be extremely expensive.

So how to get your cake and eat it too? Create a video that will allow you to have Quality within your budget. This will likely mean you'll have to scale back or be willing to take the video in a different direction than you first envisioned. Always keep in mind that your video is a marketing tool. It’s only purpose is to get people to do business with you. A simple, Quality video will do more for your business than an extravagent bad one.

Once you have rethought your video the question now is “Do I hire professionals or DIY?” Does DIY save you money? If you are already a video rock star then YES! If you are a video garage band, roadie, or a wannabe, first ask yourself “How much is my time worth?” With all the time you spend making your video (and yes, you will spend a lot more time than you expect) what else could you have accomplished for your business? Is that time and money invested worth what will probably be a mediocre result? Consider the difference in cost to produce a Quality video against the cost of lost sales due to a bad video.

And speaking of costs, the good news is it can be spread across multiple marketing avenues. The main cost is in the original production. Creating different formats of the final master is peanuts. So go ahead and put it on your website, all your favorite social media and video sites, show it at your trade show, make a DVD. Heck, make a Blu-ray! Use analytics to track how people view it to further refine your marketing.

You created this marketing tool, now it's time it paid you back.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stop! Your Web Video is Destroying Your Business! Quality Web Video Part 1

It's official. A vast convergence of occupations has taken place and now every marketer, web designer, advertiser, business professional, and home entrepreneur has fused into a Social Media and Web Video expert. I can't check an email or surf the net without being bombarded by some Social Media marketing type promoting the necessity of web video.

You'd think that being in the video production business I'd be ecstatic with all the experts telling you “You HAVE to make a video if you want to get ahead of your competition.” But then somewhere mixed in the mostly useful information is the advice: “Just buy a $200 flip cam, shoot some video and upload it to YouTube. It couldn't be easier!” Really? Your businesses image to the entire world is going to be a Friday afternoon romp with a web cam? I often wonder if these self proclaimed experts also advise handwriting your info on post its for business cards or spray painting poster board and duct taping it to your car for a sign.

I may sound bitter, but I think your business deserves better. Let's review why as a business you want video on your website. Peel away all the flashy effects and pulse-pounding music and you'll see video for what it is - a simple marketing tool. You have a website because you are selling something. It could be a product, a service, subscriptions, and so forth. Your goal is to get as many people as possible, at the time they are searching for what you have to offer, to go to your website. And once they get there you want your new potential customer to actually be interested enough to browse your site, bookmark it, contact you, or maybe even buy something!

And here is where video as a marketing tool can really stand out. Video is more interesting than pictures and way more interesting than text. It will quickly demonstrate your product in action. It will easily explain hard to grasp concepts or procedures. It will add that human element of emotion to your service. Oh, and by the way, it can help your search engine rankings too.

Yeah, that what all the experts already told me” you say. “That's why I bought the flip cam.” But this is where I split with the experts. Heavily contributing to interest is QUALITY. A simple little idea that has been lost in the present gold rush that is web video. Why worry about Quality? I've actually made a list.

1. First Impressions. You have 3 to 10 seconds to make one. According to a study by Carleton University in Canada people viewing websites make judgements in less than a second! And I quote “Unless the first impression is favourable, visitors will be out of your site before they even know that you might be offering more than your competitors," Gitte
Lindgaard - Lead Researcher, Carleton University. Ouch.

2. What Does Your Video Say About Your Company? Does it speak professional or scream amateur? Does it look like you care and take pride in your business? Everybody is comparison shopping. If your business has a poorly done video and your competitor doesn’t, the video makes your competitor perceived as more professional or business worthy than you. Bummer.

3. Does Your Video Value My Time? A Google search gives me thousands of sites. I only have ten minutes until my boss is back. I don't have time to suffer through poorly shot, shaky, out of focus, over exposed, inaudible video to try to scrape together a vague idea of what you have to offer. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Never forget - Your video is a marketing tool. It’s one and only purpose is to get people to do business with you. Is your video giving you your customers or is it giving your competition your customers?

But what Is Quality. And how can I get it? Great questions. I'll answer them in the next article.