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A Video Explosion, Sparked by the Camcorder

19 Jan 2016 by Teresa Meek

Our national obsession with producing and watching videos began with the first camcorders back in the 1980s, an event celebrated January 20 as Camcorder Day.

Despite their bulkiness — early models were heavy, requiring users to balance them on one shoulder — and their hefty price tags, camcorders captivated the consumer market, which grew exponentially larger as film gave way to flash memory and Secure Digital (SD) cards, and devices became smaller and much more portable.

Today, consumers can create high-quality videos with a small, handheld camcorder — or can simply use their smartphones.

Increasingly, they are also watching videos on smartphones, laptops and tablets, and businesses that want to reach them are taking note.

Explosion in popularity

Streaming audio and video now account for 70% of U.S. broadband use, with Netflix accounting for 37% of that traffic. By 2019, 80% of Internet traffic will be video, according to a Cisco Virtual Networking Index report, and it will reach 24 billion connected devices.

Forty percent of today’s video traffic is going to mobile devices using a cellular connection — and that doesn’t even take into account the multitudes who access video content through Wi-Fi to keep it from burning through their data plans. YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are the top providers of mobile video content.

The principal danger, though others exist, is with video’s burgeoning popularity is that the content may soon outrun the infrastructure needed to support it.

How soon? Cat videos and other popular fare could clog the Internet within five years, as the fiber optic cables that serve as its backbone reach maximum capacity. Scientists are looking at solutions, including reducing signal interference and developing new kinds of fibers.

In the meantime, video providers are creating innovations of their own to attract even more customers.

Mobile video on demand

To satisfy the thirst for mobile video on demand, Israeli satellite TV company "yes" partnered with Cisco to become the country’s first provider of video on demand for mobile devices, setting it apart from its competitors.

Instead of trying to upgrade all of its 100,000 customer devices, the company built new capabilities into its existing system, while making sure quality remained high. Business improved dramatically after the company was able to give customers what they wanted, wherever they wanted it.

Customized ads

Technology is also changing the economic model of TV. Sky, Europe’s largest pay-TV company, is an example.

Instead of showing the same ads to its entire audience at the same time, Sky worked with partners to create an AdSmart platform, which uses big data to create detailed profiles of viewer households, evaluating 90 attributes — including region, gender, age, family composition, income level and lifestyle. Advertisers can choose the sectors of viewers they wish to target, rather than wasting their ad money on people unlikely to become customers.

Within two months, more than 100 advertisers started using Sky’s targeted platform. Some had never advertised on television before but were willing to give it a try if they knew they could reach the right demographic.

Taking it a step further, Viewbix makes it quick and easy to create interactive videos. With five minutes, and your YouTube or Vimeo video, you can customize your video in terms of colors, size and call to action. The interactive features include music, additional videos, and photos from services such as Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. You can even add a Twitter feed, eBay auctions, coupons, and Skype integration. Then all that is left to do is embed and share your video everywhere, including on Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs and mobile devices.

Video for business

Outside the video industry, companies of all stripes are wooing customers with videos posted on their websites and on social media.

They’re also using video internally to enliven meetings, provide face-to-face communication for remote workers and collaborate with distant partners.

Videos for amateurs

Today’s technology even gives aspiring video producers professional filming skills — as there’s an app for that — from mimicking a full production studio, to turning one-way online videos to two-way social conversations.

Video used to be a cumbersome process, but over the years the technology has become vastly simplified. And availability of the cloud enables high-quality services to be accessed on any network, and on any device by anyone anytime. What started as an industry that documented motion using large cameras and small reels of film, has evolved into a world of micro-cameras capable of 4k resolution.