Video Sharing for Parents
Don't have a fancy camcorder? No worries. Price points aside, a camcorder can only take awesome movies if you take it out of the drawer. Yet all too often, we find ourselves unarmed when those video-worthy milestones are occurring. The truth is, all we really want to do is capture 40 or so seconds of the kid unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper. And then show it to everyone who’ll watch. The problem is, how to get it out of the camera or phone and onto that website?
Phone It In The majority of cell phones with cameras also have a video option. Shoot some test footage to see what your device is capable of. I was surprised by what my not very snazzy and decidedly not-smart phone could do after I played with it for five minutes.
Most midrange multimedia phones give you the option to upload your footage (stills and video) directly to photosharing websites, or at least to send a "video mail." If you can mail your video clip to yourself, you can upload it onto your computer, and from there post to a video editing or sharing site. My beat-up Sanyo Katana is neither iPhone nor Droid, but it does let me “send media” to other cell phones; upload to the carrier’s propriety website; and, most importantly, “post to services,” which means uploading to sites like Shutterfly, YouTube, Flickr and MySpace. If your phone is Bluetooth-enabled, you can also send your footage directly to the hard drive of a Bluetooth-enabled laptop and post from there.
Bring Your Still-Life To Life Many point-and-shoot digital cameras can also record videos, and you can transfer these to your computer as you would still photos (via a connector cable, docking station, or memory card).
The problem here is that I've lost the connector cable and docking station; and I tend to forget the memory card in my computer, so I go to the playground, take out the camera, and – sorry, not today. Obviously, I don’t advocate upgrading if you already own something that works (no matter how outdated it is). But if you’re like me, there are a few new-and-improved options that could be worth your money:
WiFi-Capable Digital Cameras
Like an advanced version of the options on your camera phone, these let you share your playground movies from the playground itself, no computer required. Nikon, Panasonic, Cannon and Kodak all have options.
Wireless Memory Cards
A company called Eye-Fi has released the first ever digital camera wireless memory cards, which allow you to upload videos and photo directly from the camera to online sharing sites like Picasa, YouTube, Photobucket, and Flickr. The best part is, the cards work with the camera you already own, so it’s not really an upgrade anyway.
Now that you know how to get your footage into cyberspace, you need to decide where on the web you actually want it to go—and how to get rid of those 5 seconds of video where the camera was inadvertently shooting your knee before you get it there.
Clean it up Picasa 3, the latest version of the super cool imaging software, lets you edit videos; convert single frames into photos; organize footage by tagging; add multimedia components like sound and text; and even adjust video resolution quality. Windows Movie Maker is another option—not only is it free, but the Windows 7 version lets you add things like for transition effects and subtitles, and it can be exported in several different formats.
Put it up Flickr is what many people swear by for photos, but it’s also great for videos. The hosting is free for a few images and cheap for unlimited, plus it’s fast, reliable, and maintains the quality of your original footage. Similar options include Vimeo, Viddler, and Videoegg. Photobucket is probably the most popular online photo and video sharing service, and it also allows for easy integration of your videos with other social media sites like Facebook (to which you can also upload directly). And since there’s always a chance that the “adorable baby unraveling all the toilet paper” video will go viral, grow into a web phenom, and land you a spot on “Ellen,” consider posting to YouTube.
MAKING VIDEO STUFF FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDSSharing’s one thing – but how about gifts? Sure, you could wrap up a DVD. But there are cooler options.
Digital photo frames can show video and often play music: Smartparts and Coby have options for under $30; and depending on how much more you can spend, try a WiFi, cordless, remote-controlled, or motion-activated version.
Video flip books If the idea video itself is too new-fangled (or you’d simply prefer retro to hi-tech), the folks at FlipClips convert your updloaded digital footage into an old-fashioned paper flipbook and send it to you via snail mail. (We’re not sure if they offer a Pony Express option, but it never hurts ask.)
Video e-cards Video sharing and editing site Motionbox lets you upload, organize and share your videos and then turn them into e-cards as well as flip books. If you’re not uploading hours and hours of your baby’s life, the service is free.