Written by: Mien Lor, Southeast Asia Content and Training Coordinator for EngageMedia
From February 7-8 2009, EngageMedia (with guest speaker Fahmi Reza) ran a workshop for local video makers in Malaysia on how to effectively distribute video online. Nova from our Indonesian office and Andrew from our Melbourne office joined me two days before the workshop to go over our game plan and make the final preparations.
Held in the ‘Annexe’ in Kuala Lumpur, the 2-day training kicked off on Saturday with 10 participants arriving, all eager to learn. We started out with an ice-breaking game as we knew that not all participants had met before. The participants consisted of media officers from Sisters In Islam – an Islamic feminist organisation, Suaram – a human rights watch group, the Centre for Independent Journalism, Public Media Agency – an organisation helping the Pesticide Action Network with their Rice Film Festival, and three independent filmmakers. Following the introduction, we went through the program schedule to see if the participants had any special learning requests. We also discussed their expectations and found that most participants are very keen to learn how to distribute their videos, but lacked the technological know-how.
We then got the participants to share what memorable videos they had seen online and identified what was memorable about those videos. The aim was to get some ideas about how videos can be viral or be interesting enough for folks to remember, talk about to friends and pass around. Getting into the main part of the training, we talked about putting together a distribution plan, including the objective of the video, the target audience and resources available. We discussed the different avenues of distribution, both offline (like screenings) and online (such as websites and blogs), and the distribution flow of: plan-compress-license-publish-promote. The talk of planning flowed onto a discussion about making an action plan, prior to shooting a video, that involves thinking about the message, the audience, what the audience would do with the information, how they will be moved to action and how they will be able to access and even distribute the video.
Our guest speaker, Fahmi Reza, shared his experience of distributing his film ’10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka’ (10 years before Independence) that has reached cult status among Malaysians. This definitely captured the participants’ attention as they could see a real case study where a well-distributed video had made such a big impact on the audience that they distributed it to their friends too.
Next came the technical stuff, with Nova making cardboard boxes to illustrate the container and codec concepts relating to compression and uploading video. We got participants to install the ‘Handbrake’ software program and begin to rip and compress a sample DVD. Since the sample video was short, it was very fast to see whether it worked. Everyone managed to compress successfully so we moved on to uploading, but we faced some difficulty with the unstable internet connection. We asked the participants to try compressing and uploading their own videos at home later and share the results with us the next day.
Day two of the training began with everyone sharing their compression and uploading experiences from home. The participants then requested to go through Creative Commons and open content licensing again, which Andrew had provided an overview of on day one, as they did not fully understand the concept. Fahmi Reza also brought in his newly bought device that rips and compresses video automatically. The device is connected by RCA cable from a TV, DVD or camera to an iPod, thumb drive or external hard disk, and converts video into mp4 or h264 format. It the conversion happened super fast and the device cost just RM400 (around AUD$170). Such a device would be useful for organisations that churn out a lot of videos and often need to get it out there fast.
We then taught people how to embed uploaded videos into blogs, social networking sites and video hosting sites like EngageMedia.org and more. We talk more about the importance of promotion and the differences in using proprietary sites like YouTube compared to sites like EngageMedia.org. After lunch, the participants split into interest groups of three and planned out a video distribution strategy around an actual video or campaign. They then presented them to the rest of the group and we provided feedback on each of the plans. This was followed by some free time for everyone to start their plan, install software or troubleshoot their concerns on a one-on-one basis.
To conclude the day we had an evaluation of the workshop, which discovered that participants found the knowledge useful and felt more confident in employing online technology to further their various causes. All in all, the workshop was a success and a great start to a series of video distribution workshops planned for South-East Asia.
EngageMedia will also be hosting this workshop in Penang in April. Contact mien[at]engagemedia.org for more info!