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October 5, 2009

How to Make a Transparent “Walk-on” Video, Part 2

Website marketing is extremely competitive. If you use videos on your website, you will do much better against the competition. The slickest type of video to use now is the transparent video.

People like to watch short, to-the-point videos. Statistics prove that using video on your site helps greatly.

A transparent video lives in a dynamic html layer. As you can see, you can scroll up and down and the transparent video stays in its position.

Making transparent videos is becoming easier to do. The tools you will use to accomplish this task are becoming more user-friendly.

As a quick overview of how you make this type of video: First, you need to record the video against a green background. Next, you need to key out the background which makes it transparent, or invisible. The process of keying out the background is covered in another one of my videos. The Keylight Keyer(1,2) is simple to use and very effective.

The settings to use when your render your video are very important. Your intent should be to make the file size of the video very small so that it will load quickly.

Most beginners don’t know the secret about how to make the correct settings. They render their video at a high resolution with stereo sound.

Consequently their video is bloated and it won’t load quickly. More importantly, when it does load, it is likely to stop and go. It will need to buffer repeatedly to transfer all those bytes.

Consider the settings you will make in video editing software. It uses the a special codec. What is a codec? This is a compression / decompression type of software product.

In non-technical language, it removes the unessential information from the video file. In a sense, it compresses the video by taking out information that doesn’t show in the video — it isn’t unusual to see a reduction ratio in the range of 100 to 1.

As an example, a walk-on video was saved as an uncompressed AVI file. It was 251,081 kilobytes in size. After this was run through the On2 codec, it was compressed down to 1,567 kilobytes. That reduction was in the range of 160 to 1…quite incredible.

Here is a review of what it takes to make a transparent walk-on video:

We encode the alpha channel that includes the actor but doesn’t include the background. Remember, we don’t want the background.

The frame rate can be reduced to one-half the source’s frames per second without much reduction in quality. By the way, a screen capture video can be shown at 8 or 10 frames per second without noticeable change in quality. The source’s fps was 29.97, which is typical. If we divide that in half, we get 14.987, not 15. If you use 15, you will lose lip synch if the video is long enough.

Don’t concern yourself with the default settings in your software…choose the maximum data rate of about 220 KBS. Consider the audio settings next. We don’t need stereo and we don’t need any more than 32 kilobits per second. If you add the video’s kbps to the audio’s kbps, we get only 252 kbps.

The vast majority of internet users, about 85%, can show a video properly without starting and stopping if you make your video small.

Making these type videos is fun and rewarding. Everybody should be able to make a walk-on video with a little study and work.

Transparent videos are being implemented more frequently. What are the secrets to making a transparent video? Learn about how to make transparent videos and more at