"Hey Al, how come it takes so long for me to download this video?" I hear this everyday. The response to that question is usually another question when I say "takes so long compared to what?"
Somewhere along the line, people have developed an expectation of how long it takes to download a digital asset, and when it takes longer, the first assumption is that there is something wrong with the Internet, or the DAM software. When it comes to video assets, the problem usually is that the person's expectations just need to be adjusted.
The amount of time it takes to download something depends on two variables: your connection speed, and the size of the file that you're downloading. To use arbitrary numbers, if the size of the file is 10, and the speed is 1 per second, it will take 10 seconds. If you download something that is twice the size, or your speed is half as fast, it will take twice as long. Simple math really.
With modern day broadband connections being relatively fast, the difference in time to download a hi-res image, or a lo-res image is relatively small. A lo-res 1 MB image image will download in less than a second in many cases ... and a 10 MB hi-res image will download in less than 10 seconds. Either way, you're only talking about "seconds" ... and boom, there's the problem. Your expectations are set on everything should only take seconds to download a file, regardless of the type of asset.
While video may technically be just a "file," the problem is, depending on length and resolution, a video file can be many, many times larger than images. Expectations need to be different for video asset management.
Let's take for example a TV commercial. Back in the day, an editor used to have to record the video onto tape (expensive) and ship it overnight to another location. From the time the editor was ready to send the video, it could be up to 24 hours before that person received the tape. Now lets look at sending that video through an Internet connection. A hi-res version of that video could end up being 750 MB. If someone wanted to download that file through a... oh let's say a 5 Mbps connection speed. I'll spare you the math and let you know that it would take roughly 20 minutes to transfer.
To a person whose expectations were set by downloading images and it only taking seconds, 20 minutes will seem very slow. But to the old school video editor that had their expectations set by overnighting tapes, 20 minutes is miraculously fast.
There are tricks of the trade to speed up transfers, but in the end, video is bigger and takes a little longer. The key is adjusting your expectations. I welcome you to continue the discussion with additional questions about online video and rich media management.
For related articles, see Video Clutter Has Bandwidth on the Run.