How to use YouTube effectively
Sometimes new technologies make life more difficult. Take Youtube, for example. In the old days, one would never consider using video clips for everyday purposes. Increasingly, however, more and more folks are looking for ways to take advantage of a seemingly endless supply of video clips.
The scenario is all too familiar: You're working on an important presentation and have found the perfect video on YouTube that will bring all your points together. You embed the link into your Powerpoint, rehearse the presentation and are good to go.
But are you? After all, with an embedded link, you are assuming your Internet connection will be reliable. Technical difficulties, however, arise at the worst possible time. Presentations often take place in unfamiliar locations, such as a client office or hotel. What if the firewall at the presentation site doesn't allow connection to YouTube (a common occurrence)? Are you depending on a wireless connection? Hotels are notorious for having poor wireless connections, especially in their ballrooms.
A prudent person would save the video to their hard drive to avoid having to rely upon the Internet. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be an easy way to download YouTube videos. Seasoned users probably expect to be able to right-click on the video, save it, and voila! This doesn't work, and folks are left scrambling for a solution.
There is, however, a relatively simple process to download YouTube videos and use them with other software applications, such as presentation software or word processors.
You will need two functions.
First, you need a way to download and save the file to your hard drive. Second, because youtube videos are in "flash video" format, you typically need to convert the downloaded file into a common format, such as AVI or MP3.
There are several Web sites that allow folks to download YouTube videos. These include keepvid.com, savevideodownload.com, or savetube.com. These are all straightforward and simple to use, and best of all, free.
Converting the saved file is also fairly simple and there are a number of free programs available. We've used Pazera (www.pazera-software.com), Freez (www.smallvideosoft.com/flv-to-mp3), Prism (http://www.nbxsoft.com/flv-converter.php), all of which are free and straightforward to use. They all have optional settings for bitrate, framerat and size, but we've found that for most folks, the default settings provide the best combination of ease and quality.
Beware of copyright issues when using downloaded material in your presentations. Copyright violations have been an issue with Youtube since its inception.
Youtube provides some information about copyright on their Web site here: http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright, but it's pretty vague, we believe intentionally.