I’m quite interested in the video recently because as you see and might experience by your self, we saw a lot of social media utilize video as content. The most explosive one I think is the story format and short format video like on Twitter that only allow a maximum of 2 minutes video.
Both Instagram and Twitter capped their video to a short duration. Instagram capped the video in their feed for 60 seconds, and Twitter capped the video in their timeline for 140 seconds. And this makes sense because people these days are not watching videos; they just scanned it. That’s why in social media, most engaging videos are mostly less than 2 minutes length.
Long format video won’t be gone here, but it has different needs. With a lot of noise of contents, especially in social media, it’s hard to drive people to watch a long-format video except they know what the content is and want to see it. And it’s a different content, long format video like movie, documentary, is something that people need to commit their time and space to watch.
But if we see other contents like news, product intro, music, or promotion that previously formatted as text article and static images, now turn into a short format video because people are getting lazy to explore content. If we see how people watch videos in social media, they scroll over the timeline and stop to let the video autoplay in their screen. Less interaction, no need to tap the play button, no need to swipe the carousel images, no need to scroll down and read the article. So the video consumption is faster, but also it’s critical to impress them in the first 5 seconds before they scroll and move away from the autoplay video.
For video creator, a limited duration means creativity because the creativity is to challenge the limit. We saw how Vine turn the video industry, especially in social media. Bloomberg has a specific video channel for the short format, and other media also explore how they can switch their content to a short form. And now everyone can become a video creator with their phone. It’s open a new space for everyone to create any videos they like, not only for people who have an expensive camera.
How do we see this as a developer? For me, social media has been forcing the video codec to be more bandwidth efficient. We saw how VP8 and H264 codec are become a standard video codec on the internet due one widely support of browsers and also good compression for a smaller size. The internet is starting to move from those codecs and trying to adapt VP9 and H265. But people learned from the WebRTC codec war before. So other companies, together with these the big 2, finally come with a universal codec that works better our bandwidth called AV1 codec that will become the future for internet video.
If you just like me, a developer that mostly develop a user-facing app, not like an industry app, the most important thing for us is how the video can play on all devices. Because the user doesn’t care about the codec, they care on how much data they used, and how smooth the video played on their screen. And generally, this means browser and hardware acceleration support. We need to develop more apps for videos so the platform can hear us and provide better support. Because what I learned so far work in a web developer relations role, it’s more about demands from developers, and this means more apps, more developer to play around video.