You've seen the infamous Mentos-and-Coke video, the treadmill dance, and the puppy versus robot — and maybe mashups like one of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acting as if he were in an iPod commercial.
Now it's time to make your own mark on mark on YouTube, to get behind (or in front of) the camera for your shot at viral-video stardom. Better yet, exercise your video editing muscles and create a YouTube mashup, something combining original material with existing audio and video. Whether you're looking for fun or fame, all you need is a video camera, an Internet connection, some editing software, and an idea. Something involving Mentos, perhaps?
Get Behind the Camera
After signing up for a YouTube account, it's time to pick up a camera and make like Spielberg. What kind of camera? Just about any device that can record video can shoot footage for YouTube. That includes camcorders, digital cameras, cell phones, and even webcams.
Not surprisingly, camcorders afford the best image quality and the most versatility when it comes to video editing. The latest high-definition models can capture video at resolutions up to 1080i, but even standard-def digital camcorders will produce sharp-looking images. Granted, all videos uploaded to YouTube wind up at the relatively low resolution of 640 by 480, but the better your original video looks, the better your finished YouTube product will be.
Any camcorder will do, as long as you can transfer the video to your PC for editing. Note that some high-def models record video in formats not yet supported by mainstream video editing software, while older analog camcorders may require extra hardware to make the PC connection.
As for digital cameras, most models can record video with sound. The resulting AVI or MPEG files can usually be uploaded directly to YouTube, no editing or file conversion required--though obviously some editing may be desirable. If you're in the market for a new camera, make sure that it can record video at 30 frames per second (fps), and that it doesn't limit you to fixed-length clips. Ideally, it should be able to record as long as space is available on the memory card, rather than limit your videos to just a minute or so apiece as many older models do.
Some manufacturers have added YouTube-specific features to their digital cameras. One of the latest models in Casio's Exilim series, for instance, includes a YouTube capture mode that records video based on YouTube's recommended resolution, file size and format, run time, and compression level. And when you connect the camera to your PC, Casio's software streamlines the upload process into a two-step affair.
Pure Digital's Flip Video pocket camcorders — which record YouTube-friendly 640-by-480-pixel video to built-in flash storage — take this simplified-uploading idea for videos a step further: Just plug the camera directly into any computer's USB port, and its preloaded software lets you edit and upload video.
If a UFO lands in your backyard and you need the world to see the footage before the men in black swoop in, whip out your cell phone. If your model can capture video, it's a simple matter to send clips straight to YouTube, no PC required (more on that in the Upload section). But don't be surprised if your viewers cry "hoax" — few cell phones can capture video at resolutions higher than grainy, fake-looking 320 by 240. If you want 640 by 480, you'll need a cutting-edge (and expensive) model like the Nokia N95.
Finally, to record the kind of close-up video confessionals or diaries made popular by LonelyGirl15, all you need is a Webcam. YouTube's Quick Capture feature can record up to 10 minutes of live footage, meaning you can sit down at your PC, start talking, and hit the YouTube airwaves (er, Webwaves?) in a matter of minutes. Of course, you can also record yourself with the Webcam's own software, edit the footage, and then upload it via conventional means.