Under review

General Video Discussion

Andrea 6 years ago in BLOX CMS updated 6 years ago 20


Video has been something that we have never done consistently, or well. It has been a tough culture change for our small newspaper (and I have not done a good job in leading the charge).

I am interested in hearing from those who think they do a good amount of video.

Please list your video page page below, and share how you ramped up your video efforts.

Also, it appears there are two video options in Blox: using a YouTube link or uploading a video file into Blox. With using a YouTube link, it sounds like there is no way to show a preroll ad. However, uploading a video file into Blox DOES show a preroll ad. Is that correct?

I am also interested in hearing about your video workflow. Do you prefer adding videos to YouTube or Blox, and why?

Thanks in advance for any insight!


I'm also curious what kind of camera, mic and editing software you use.

We have a dedicated video department for our paper. We recently acquired "Western TV" and merged it into our "Gazette Video" section. We're still in a transition period, but it will all eventually be under the "Gazette Video" banner. Previously, videos were of "okay" quality, but there was not much user interaction with them. When Western TV was on it's own, they did more lifestyle pieces and they were more amateur quality with a lack of overall vision. We brought that under the Gazette banner and now there is a more editorial focus with better production capabilities. Keep in mind, this is still a student-run paper and video section. There will be further integration of video in with the Gazette over the next few years, with hopes that a lot of articles will have a video attached to it in some form.

Western TV YouTube

Gazette Video YouTube

We haven't been using the built-in BLOX video, as all the old videos are still on YouTube and we find that has better integration with our social-media channels. I've set up syndication so that it will automatically add in the latest video to our site. Our site's video section needs to be overhauled though: Gazette Multimedia.

We currently use Canon digital SLRs for most video production; since they can shoot in HD, have access to a variaty of lenses and we can share between the photo department. For more serious production we use a BlackMagic Cinema camera with an EF mount so we can still use our Canon lenses.

We built a PC from scratch and moved editing workflow from our Mac to Windows. Especially with Apple dropping the ball big-time with the Mac Pro, we were able to create a PC much more powerful for the same cost as a current decked-out Mac. We're looking into options to upgrade our old Mac Pro with a better CPU and Nvidia just announced Mac drivers for all their new cards... so here's hoping that we can put a GTI 1080 or similar in it to keep it current.

Since they still use the Adobe suite for the majority of their process, there was no issue with re-learning the software. Divinci Resolve came with the BlackMagic camera and there has been a lot of use out of that, which I like. Eventually we want to get away from Adobe, but that's a whole other issue...

About 9 years ago, we had a part-timer who did video. She left, and we never replaced her. Recently, our publisher has mentioned hiring someone to do video. That would help tremendously, but I'm not holding my breath.

I had not thought about setting up syndication from our YouTube channel. That would make sense to do, but then could we have Blox preroll ads on those YouTube videos?

Thanks for responding!

We use video sporadically, tending to produce a few videos a month, mostly environmental-type videos, short interviews, or a few breaking news clips — not trying to tell full stories most of the time. I think our experience will provide a contrast to Robert's more professional setup:

I prefer to upload the videos to YouTube first and create the YT asset in Blox. Yes, this means we can't run Blox ads on it, but we can use YouTube ads, which already integrate with our Google ad system. We'll also post some video directly to Facebook to promo stories or get some immediate social engagement.

As far as equipment, we tend to rely on reporters' iPhones, which produce pretty good quality these days, though we do have an HD Canon camcorder (Vixia HFR21, not a big professional model or anything) that we'll use occasionally. I use Adobe Premiere and After Effects from the Creative Cloud suite for video editing. I keep a few other niche apps around in case they're needed, like Handbrake (ripping DVDs), MPEG Streamclip (general video converter) and QuickTime 7 (general video converter). I run those on a big, powerful iMac that can render video in the background without breaking a sweat. I used to use Final Cut Studio 7, but I haven't used it in years and can't vouch for it anymore.

We have a cheap shotgun mic leftover from 10 years ago that produces a bad hum and doesn't work well. So we dropped less than $100 on a little digital Rode lapel mic that works with iPhones, so you can record the audio onto your phone and sync it with the video from the camcorder in post production. It has great sound quality for the price, but it's not wireless.

You can see our work at https://www.youtube.com/c/bozemandailychronicle. It's admittedly of varying quality.

We have plans to improve the quality of the videos, and our photographer is working up a list of equipment we're hoping to put together that'll include better microphones and lighting and, I'm hoping, a counter-weighted steadying rig for more stable handheld shots.

Hope this helps.

Hi, Michael,

I don't think we have our YouTube account tied into Google Ads at all. You can't upload your own ads for your YouTube channel, can you?

We were thinking of going the iPhone route. 11 years ago, we were owned by Gannett and went through some serious video training and bought professional cameras. They were nice, but rather technically complicated and took forever to ingest video. I am the only person left who used one.

I was on your website, but could not find a video section. Do you have an actual section, or do you just link from stories to your YouTube videos?

Also, this is totally random, but how did you get your logo in the backfill on this vertical photo? http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/montana/tester-picks-up-republican-challenger-for-election/article_cc9ab358-1717-54e5-8e95-09f4df22d5fa.html


I think 10 or so years ago there was a big push to throw money into high end video equipment and webcasts but it never really saw good returns. We had a webcast here, which is how I got the photographer/videographer job. It looked great on paper but the viewers were never there. Today we do video from time to time but it's shot from iPhones and lightly edited.

I think you definitely want to have a Youtube channel set up for your publication if for no other reason than in the event of huge news that may happen. For instance last October when Hurricane Matthew hit it was right off our coast. We had our reporters and photographer out as long as they could safely work. The videos taken over the course of a few days were viewed 800,000+ times.

We have had the same experience. Video just doesn't get much traffic, unless it's surveillance video of a car diving into a pool (which we posted). And those videos just don't come around often.

We do have a YouTube channel set up. Right now, we post some things through YouTube and other things through Blox.

Our publisher is wanting to get video ramped up because the Operating Committee thinks we could sell video ads. But if that is the case, then Blox would be the way to go and not YouTube.

What software do you use to edit your iPhone videos?

Thanks for responding!

Adobe Premiere 2017. I used to adore Final Cut but the machines here won't run the version I used to use because the version is too outdated. But I've gotten used to Premiere. The hardest thing to do is get video from Windows and Android phones, especially since we use Macs.

We have a page under the "Get Out" menu. As things are, we don't produce video regularly enough to warrant the ad reps selling many video ads, so video doesn't get a lot of exposure on our site. We do add them as child assets often on stories, though.

I guess I'm not sure about the YouTube ads. I'm just assuming there's some way to get your own ads onto your own YT videos. I may be wrong, though.

As for the image background, that's good ol' Photoshop. I made a background layer once upon a time and then just laid the photo on top. I don't actually use it much anymore since it's time consuming. I prefer just to crop images inside Blox or TCMS to a horizontal orientation if possible.

We don't do enough videos to sell ads, either. That's why they want us to start doing more video.

RE my last response. Now that I think about it, you could make a background image that involves some sort of repeating pattern, like your logo, and set it as a repeating background image for the container that holds the image using custom CSS on your site. It wouldn't always look perfect, but it would be automated.

Such as:

.photo-carousel .item .photo-container {background: url('url of your image') repeat;}

I might have to do that.

Ah, I thought it was already automated. Coding like that is a bit above my knowledge base. :) Good luck!

Under review

This is an awesome conversation guys! Thanks so much for starting this! I love to see threads where community members are helping each other.

I hope you don't mind - but I may add a link to this in our weekly "Release Notes" highlights email. :)

Regarding video, I wanted to add a few notes and ask a few things.

Firstly, one thing to note is that our video capabilities have improved over the years. We can upload larger files, serve mobile friendly formats, upload video directly from your phone via our BLOX Go interface, have VAST pre-rolls using DFP, and any videos you add will automatically be added to your Live e-Edition product if you're doing "segmented" mode with web enhanced articles. Read more about the video asset here.

That being said, we have worked with a few vendors, trying to get a programmatic revenue for pre-roll videos. As you guys have already stated - the issue is low volume. Unfortunately, with many of these vendors, we can't "pool" our TownNews.com network to be one giant destination (which would improve our buy rates on the programmatic bidding marketplace). That means that - as we've found during our testing - the CPMs are low and the fill rate is very low.

However! The good news is that we think we have discovered a vendor who would allow us to be considered a "network" - which would allow us to leverage the TownNews.com customer base to improve our network CPMs at scale. We would rev-share your portion back to you each month on your invoice.

If that works, I feel like we should do this by default for all BLOX videos. That way, you will automatically monetize your videos, with no work on your part.

And, if someone in your newsroom uploads something and it goes viral - you're great because you've monetized all that traffic with a pre-roll video.

Then, we would allow you to opt-out if you didn't want to participate (for your entire site or on a per-URL basis), or override our network if you wanted to use your own VAST DFP call (again, for your entire site or on a per-URL basis).

Would you guys be interested in that? Let me know what you think!

Hi, Christine,

I am not familiar with VAST DFP at all. I know Blox has video ad capability. Is that the same thing? Or do we need a VAST DFP?

As we currently have NO video ads, I would not be opposed to joining a network. As part of that, though, we would like some control over what ads are shown (we have been bitten by local politicians bypassing us to buy Google ads that appear on our site).

We would also want the ability to ad our own ads in the future (and to have their priority higher than any network ads).

As I mentioned, we are just starting to think more about video and video ads.


A couple of thoughts in no particular order regarding how we're doing video, and what we're trying to do...

1) ATM we're getting about 25,000 video views a month. Yes, there's nothing like a good surveillance video to draw a ton of traffic, but that's not all that will draw traffic. We should be at three times that number.

2) Video is not worth the time and effort if you're selling it programatic. Video -- something your local audience actively decided to watch, has to sit through that preroll to do, in a lean forward medium -- should get the sort of CPM you usually see in TV advertising (think $20-$25), not the sort of pennies per view banner ads pay. Some of the cool kids in web video are getting $30+ CPM on video. This is not an editorially problem, this is sales problem. No ad network, not even the good folks at TN, can do this for you, and without addressing it you're wasting your time. Well, you might win an award, which will help you when you look for your next job because your newspaper went broke...

3) What I try and push on our reporters (and photogs) is to think beyond the nicely polished video story -- the kinds we've all seen that involves well edited, well composed shots over a combination of natsound and SOTs, runs 1:15-1:30 and takes a staff member a full day to shoot and cut. I tell (and tell, and tell...) people to think of video as an additive element that helps tell the story. 10 seconds of raw video from the crime scene helps tell the story. A quick pan across the packed city council chamber helps tell the story.

4) Getting surveillance video shouldn't be that rare. Anytime there's a pursuit, a stick up, or whatever, any reporter writing it up should ask the cops if there was a dashcam rolling. In our area, local PD have them, Sheriff and smaller departments don't. If someone has to so much as call or email the cops to write three inches of copy they should ask for video. There should be a public records request letter on your computer that just needs the date and incident description filled in before it's ready to send.

This mindset works really well -- even if you only get tape 10% of the time and only 10% of that is good tape, you're still a winner, and most important it doesn't add more than 10 seconds to the workload of your already over burdened staffers. And once local agencies know they're going to get asked, they tend to start producing without you even having to ask.

5) For our staff produced videos, we use a combination of reporter's phones, our photogs DSLRs, and a couple of Canon prosumer grade camcorders. We've still got one old iMac that runs Final Cut Pro X (which Apple destroyed, BTW. FCP 7 was great. X is crap), and a pair of newer iMacs running Adobe CC.

6) One of the best tips I can pass on is to pay attention to audio. People will cheerfully watch video with technical issues. But they'll turn off in a minute if the audio isn't clear. Spend the money on mics. Dumbest thing I've dumb was buying a $200 wireless mic. It works OK, but I borrow the photog's $500 wireless anytime I can.

As Mark Twain once wrote, I apologize for writing so much, but I didn't have the time to write less.

I REALLY wish our local PD would get with the 21st century and be able to provide dashcam and other video. It's great we have FOIA but it does absolutely no good if the PD gives us the run-around. I'm going to press harder for it the next time something happens. Our city is really backward when it comes to getting information to us.

Here's a question: What do you do with 911 audio? We get those from time to time. Do you put them in a video asset and upload it to Youtube or do you upload the audio straight into BLOX?

If it's good video, it'll still be good when you get it. What's the deadline for public records where you're at? If it takes months it'll have to be great tape, but if it's a week or something...

We haven't done much 911 audio...and we should...I used that a lot in TV and it's an awesome element. With audio I've put it in Blox and inline it...though if it's really dramatic you should put a slate over it and push it as video, cuz $.

I don't use youtube at all. Their ads pay peanuts and you're giving them too much control of your stuff, even just the presentation. YMMV


I was looking at your site (http://www.yakimaherald.com/photos_and_videos/videos/). You definitely do a good amount of video.

It's interesting that you don't use YouTube at all. Blox definitely has come a long way with video, so we might explore going Blox-only.

I also liked how you used photos and audio to build a promo video for a Sunday story (http://www.yakimaherald.com/photos_and_videos/videos/david-sohappy-years-after-the-salmon-scam-case/html_a0937dda-26c3-11e7-9887-3351a18080a2.html).

One video is of the passenger being dragged off of the United Airlines flight. I noticed that it a Blox video, not something you are bringing in from YouTube. What are your thoughts on that, as I have always thought it was a legal gray area to download and use videos without permission instead of embedding them?


We don't use BLOX video at all...everything is on Brightcove, but that's because of our parent company's decision. Blox video wasn't good enough when we switched, though I understand it's better now. We do embed Youtube video occasionally -- they usually jujst don't get saved on our video page. In fact, a lot of our stuff isn't getting tagged right to get put into our video page...grrrrr.

WRT the airline passenger I'm not sure how we got it.

IANAL, but I do know that downloading and posting is a legal grey area, but so is frankly embedding video in your site to begin with. If there's a copyright issue with the video, legally the fact that you iframed it won't make much difference.

Ah, my bad. I thought it looked like Blox video.