The Agency Record Blog

Catching Up with Carter Harkins, Part 2

I’m back with part 2 of my conversation with Carter Harkins. Here we talk more about what a client should think about with their video, and how the different video formats work both online and with mobile technologies.

Jonathan Sanders: What are considerations potential clients must take into account when thinking about adding a/v to their website?

Carter Harkins: Audio and video are sometimes viewed as being expensive, but the initial costs will provide many years of continued value for the business that uses them. In order to make the most of an online video strategy, I like to help my clients think about offline ways the same content could be used, or to see if there is a strategy that makes sense for purposing the same content across multiple marketing channels and projects.  This way of thinking helps to unify the brand message, and keeps costs considerably lower while increasing opportunities for exposure across many additional mediums.  It’s a large commitment to deploy video on a web site, but the returns have been huge for several of our clients.

More than just offering video production services, we are content strategists.  It’s about the process of evaluating the core activities of a business, and devising a plan to put video to work in roles such as making more sales, answering more customer questions, and telling powerfully motivating stories, among other things.

JS: Are there any formats you prefer to work with (.mov, .wmv, .flv, etc.)? What formats do you find to be more reliable?

CH: I think I let the answer to that slip out in a previous question, but yes, .flv is still my format of choice for web-browser-destined video. I use .mov and .wmv for other purposes, but usually more as an intermediate format for client approval or personal offline use.

This is probably getting a bit geeky now, but since it taps into your previous question about the future of Flash, I must say I am thrilled that Adobe has baked in the H.264 codec for HD quality video at super-low file sizes. I have been amazed at how good some of these large-format videos appear at full resolution, and it really does show that Adobe gets it, and is responding to the changes in its marketplace.

JS: To enable web video we’ve tried faster connections and more compressed video. Now that more services (Hulu, Netflix,, etc.) are streaming long format video, what do you think needs to be done to improve the experience? Do you think we need an upgrade in network infrastructure or more innovative compression techniques?

CH: Perhaps a little of both.  Streaming technologies become much more important for long-format video, so that viewers can jump around quickly to different sections of the linear timeline without having to download the entire file first.  Again, Flash excels here, in my opinion.

There are certainly a lot of companies, both established and startups alike, that are putting their best minds to work on the issues of content delivery.  As “out of the box” TV moves more and more into the mainstream of viewing habits, I anticipate that we’ll start to see motherboards with dedicated HD video chipsets. This would keep the decode/encode load off the main processor, and provide a better viewing experience for most users without sophisticated and expensive after-market video cards. It would also mean that smaller, highly compressed HD video files would be possible for real-time viewing at full resolution without the typical “hiccups” encountered on playback of certain compression schemas, including Flash in the browser.

JS: How have mobile technologies affected audio/video development for the web?

CH: It’s been a pretty profound shift.  We now sometimes maintain several file versions of the same video content, in order to deliver the best experience to each viewer, depending on their device (Android, iOS, WindowsMobile, etc.).  Social video sites are also doing this automatically with uploaded videos now.  The mobile revolution we see unfolding is making it easier to watch video anywhere, anytime, but for content producers, it has made publishing for all these new devices a lot more strategic and labor-intensive. Safeguarding a unified viewing experience across so many devices, screen sizes and resolutions is a myth.  We just stay with industry best practices for each device right now.

Having said that, I am hopeful about the future of mobile internet devices.  When I put my entrepreneur/innovator hat on, I see a lot of opportunity right now.  Seriously, this is a good time to be building apps in the mobile video space.  Know any investors that I should be friends with?

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