3 Points to Consider When Planning Custom Media Players By Gary Kahn

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It is surprising to me that more people do not consider the effect a media player has on their audience. A media player should complement the video and advance the company’s media strategy. A custom media player is a fantastic way to engage your audience and set the ground for deeper interaction.
Here are some points to consider when planning your next custom media player:

· Frame or Chromeless – Some people feel that the strongest presentation is to put the video up front with no frame and a control bar that disappears after a few seconds. This can allow the user to focus solely on the video and not get caught up in the features of the player. A frame though can give the player meaning. It can connect the playback area to a playlist and make a user aware of social networking features or chat features built into the player.

· Full Screen – If you want your users to sit back and enjoy a full-screen viewing of your video, make sure you include a button that can stretch the video across the whole monitor. There are some nuances here that may not be apparent at first, but suffice it to say there are issues when the aspect ratio of the video does not exactly match the aspect ratio of your user’s monitor. Flash has done some very good work on this, but it is something you should be aware of when you are testing.

· Playlists – Your video player should be able to play single videos or playlists of videos. As you create more and more media you will probably find that you will want to start grouping your media into logical buckets. Make sure that your player can handle both situations. It is important to ask about how deep your playlist can be and how your buckets will be displayed. Look at how the information about each video is presented and how flexible the layout is. Can you control how long the title is? What happens if your title is too long? Can you include thumbnails? What about a description? You may have specific needs like ratings, run times and other bits of metadata that you want to display to your audience. It is very important to consider how your playlist is constructed. Has your provider created a tool for you to use or do you have to rely on editing XML files by hand? Playlists are very interesting creatures and it is worth thinking long and hard about how a playlist reflects your organization. 

Gary Kahn is the president of Zeitbyte (zeitbyte.com) a digital media services company that provides media, online and video services, including live event webcasting, video production services, custom media players, media encoding, and media management and streaming.


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