Ever since working in the video post-production and motion design industry, it has struck me how complicated and inefficient our workflows are. The TV broadcast industry has a multitude of dedicated high end technologies for post processing live graphics and video feeds, yet web video doesn’t.
This state has been bothering me forever, and I just couldn’t – and wouldn’t – accept that there isn’t a technology on the web, that would allow post processing of video. As it turns out, current web technologies already do offer a wide array of post processing options, they just aren’t very known amongst video folks yet. This might be due to the lack of coding knowledge of most video professionals, but that is subject to change in the future.
But there’s another major flaw about web video: it is not efficient. As a matter of fact, most 2D typographic animations and infographics on the net, wouldn’t have required rasterization; Most typographic animations and overlays, wouldn’t have needed being hard encoded into video streams; Most outdated content and data (info, lower-thirds, credits, charts, stats, etc.) could have been maintained and updated over time, if just they had been created using the right technologies.
It’s time to set our priorities straight
The web isn’t the dump of all things video anymore, it has become the most important video platform of our times. Most devices we watch video content on, are far more capable than simple video decoding, yet it’s all they do. It is not only time to replace video with equally powerful web animations, but also to use web animation to enhance video content.
First off, let me reassure you: video isn’t dead. Web and mobile technologies are not able to replace complex shading, ray tracing operations and physics simulations yet; And once they will, the amount of required transferable data is going to surpass a video’s data weight by far, so there’s no need to bury the video medium yet. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t reconsider our production and delivery standards. As a matter of fact, there are many valid reasons to do so:
User Experience–modern web animation can enhance video content and render it interactive. Video has always been a linear medium, but we can render it interactive today. By using web technologies, videos can be tailored to match your audience’s interests and needs, on all platforms and devices.
Efficiency–You don’t take the plane to go to your local supermarket, so why spend your budget on hundreds of megabytes of data. Web animation can achieve the same visual and dynamics results at a fractions of a video’s data weight.
Flexibility–Content is subject to evolve over time and require revision. With the use of live web graphics, your content can be updated at any time, without the need of going through the process of re-rendering your video.
Green IT–Despite all the hardware acceleration features available on desktop and mobile devices, a lot of unnecessary computational power flows into the decoding process of video streams on the user’s end, but even more computational power, resources and energy go to waste on the server-side. This can be changed by reducing the amount of video material today.
Live web graphics require a slightly different approach than regular web design. In 2017/2018, I’ve invested months of my time, experimenting with modern web technologies, and testing them for their aptitude, to efficiently render complex animations in real time. While most of them were sounding promising at first, only a few managed to successfully pass the stress tests and fulfill all the requirements for cross platform compatibility, performance, maintainability, efficiency and ease of use.
As of now, the technology and code are production ready. Its use can vary from rendering industry standard overlays (i.e. lower-thirds, call to actions, content, etc.), but also can be combined with complex tracking and transformation operations, and/or used for complex interactive storytelling. If you would like to learn more about it, feel free to contact me.