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WEB DEVELOPMENT

Put Sound and Video On Your Website
By: Developer Shed
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    2004-03-27

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    Put Sound and Video On Your Website
    by Kevin Nunley


    Sound and video are coming to the Internet in a big way. Now, with cheap new technology, anyone can turn their website into a TV or radio station without spending a dime.

    Given the huge audiences that radio and TV have (99 percent of American homes have a TV and most own five radios), putting audio and video on your site could be the most important thing you do. Some studies show audio and video can increase website sales by as much as 50 percent.

    Streaming media, as it is called, excites customers and keeps you ahead of your competition. The static printed web page will be around for a long time, but watch for most leading sites to start offering audio and video.

    Streaming media requires a lot more data than a simple printed page. Having DSL or a T line helps. Since most consumers still use dial-up modems on lines that support less than 40k, Internet audio and video rely on clever methods for compressing and reducing big files of data.

    The result is sometimes fuzzy audio and pictures that look faded and blurry. The level of quality might be annoying on regular TV, but it's nothing short of exhilarating coming from the Internet. One client who is using web video says he is getting a phenomenal rate of sales from it.

    Your web site visitors won't mind a bit if your presentation isn't network professional. They will appreciate the big jump from reading text to seeing a media presentation.

    Start with Audio.

    There is a huge difference between the amount of work it takes to produce video and what is needed to build an audio-only presentation. A single individual can produce an outstanding radio show while even a simple TV program requires a full staff.

    An audio presentation doesn't require location, lighting, or the inconspicuous microphone placement video demands.

    You can record your voice, add some music, drop in a sound effect and your audio program is ready to hit the Internet.

    There are a number of cheap or free programs that let you record your audio as a simple WAV file, a Real Audio file, or a an MP3. After trying several of them, I settled on a $20 program called Internet Audio Mix available from acoustica.com.

    It works with your PC's sound card to record up to four digital tracks. Operation and editing is completely intuitive.

    Most recent PCs have Real Audio bundled with windows. That means a large and growing number of your customers can click on your audio link, download your Real Audio file, and listen to it within a matter of seconds.

    Speak with energy when you record audio tracks. Because people can't see your face, your voice has to pack extra punch.

    Try to cut down on "uhs" and "uhms." Don't feel like you have to talk like an announcer. Customers respond better to a voice that sounds like a regular person.

    Several companies have created easy systems for producing and hosting your audio for free. GiveMeTalk.com provides a simple free program for recording your talk show, then lets you host it on their site where customers can hear you.

    I recorded my articles as MP3 files (the format Internet music uses) and loaded them up on Live365.com. The site rotates my talks, making them available non-stop 24 hours a day at no charge. I call it the DrNunley Radio Network and link to it from my site.

    Moving Up to Web Video.

    Video experts tell me we're years away from having quality streaming video on the Internet. Still, there are some easy ways to offer fairly good video from your site.

    Because the Real Video format is becoming so widely accepted, you can download and use several of RealNetwork.com's free video production applications.

    Real Slideshow (free) lets you combine images with talk, music, and sound effects. Real Presenter (also free) turns your PowerPoint presentations into Internet video.

    Several of the free web hosting sites now host your streaming media presentations at no charge. Tripod.com, one of the pioneers in free web sites, offers a program called ShowMotion. You can combine still photos with clips of video, scanned images, and backed with your narration. Tripod hosts it for free.

    If all this sounds a bit too technical, Tripod features several fine presentations produced by high school students. The format is drag and drop and impressed me as being vastly easier than designing a web site.

    Even though Internet audio and video is cutting-edge and exciting, it doesn't come near the quality we are used to with regular radio and television. That is good news for small web sites. You can turn out a homespun effort and still be right on the heels of professionals.

    For true professional level video, check wbcimaging.com.They are television engineers who have long taken an interest in the best ways to put video on the Internet.

    Radio is a billion dollar industry. Television is arguably the most influential media ever invented. Now that it has become so easy to produce your own Internet audio and video, it makes sense to add those powerful dimensions to your web site.

    Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at http://DrNunley.com/. Reach him at kevin@drnunley.com or (801)253-4536.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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