it is totally doable.

Would you like to build a Subscription Video on Demand website like VintageFilmChannel? – it’s not really that easy, but, it is totally doable. You will need some expertise in a number of fields. Let’s go over the skill sets that you will need. You may be in one of several categories of SVOD hopeful.

  • Individual Producer
  • Small Production Company
  • Motion Picture Film Distributor
  • Film Television or Video Archive
  • Television Station
  • and probably more categories

Your individual situation is unique but the skill set you will need is similar in all cases.

Let’s start with video skills

You have probably already started to make videos. You may have built up a library. You are producing watchable content, and in many cases you may already have an audience for your content. You are posting on Youtube. You may be earning some advertising income. Good for you! It’s a great start. How many followers do you need before the ad revenue becomes significant? 10000? 20000? 30000? I would love to know.

Are you making great videos? How is your technical skill? These are the basic video skills:

  • Video– focus, exposure, framing.
  • Audio– Mic choice, mic placement, levels, eq, controlling noise
  • Editing– storytelling, flow, drama
  • Lighting– basic three point lighting, one-shot, two-shot, foreground, background, and a lot more
  • Set design, props, designing the look

How good is your content?

Getting the tech done well is a basic requirement, but it doesn’t help unless your content is compelling. If you are doing Long-Tail content, you will be able to build content that appeals to your chosen niche. For VFC, our content is classic B-movies and television, with assorted other vintage films thrown in for variety. We believe that in our niche, this content will be appealing to our chosen audience.

Define Your Audience

VintageFilmChannel has a very niche audience. It follows the classic Long-Tail concept. If you know who your audience is, it will be slightly easier to find them. Not easy, but easier. The skill-set is Marketing and Social Marketing expertise. If you are younger than I am, you probably have grown up with a lot of Social Web skills. It’s a good start.

Build your website

Use a CMS- a content management system. the two major choices you have are Joomla and WordPress. These are the leaders in the CMS space. Joomla is a wonderful bit of software, and can easily handle your needs. In fact, early versions of VintageFilmChannel were built with Joomla. I use Joomla on several other sites I built and maintain. But, for VFC I have chosen WordPress. I write about why in another post. So the skill-set you need here is WordPress expertise.

Compressing and Serving Your Content

Now we are getting down into the technical weeds. You have many choices for streaming providers and they usually are ready to take the complexity out of this phase of the process. What are the skill sets involved with doing it your self?

  • video compression. I recommend the book by Jan Ozer at Streaming Video Magazine. It’s available on Amazon for $49.95 here, and in PDF format for $39.95 here. if you want to learn how to do correct compression for today’s streaming environment. It’s over 400 pages of deep technical stuff that makes even the hardiest engineers crazy. But it is the real stuff, all of the tech details you will need to do it correctly. You can skip all of this if you are going to use a provider like JWPLAYER to store and serve your videos on-line. They are my first choice from a cost-benefit approach if you have a modest library.
  • Amazon Web Services. This is our choice for the videos we serve at VintageFilmChannel. But using AWS requires some expertise that you will need to learn if you go this route. There are benefits for going this route. AWS provides on-line storage and cloud-based streaming capabilities. AWS can transcode your videos into the correct formats like Jan Ozer’s book describes. And as near as I can tell using AWS will be the least expensive way to serve your videos, especially if you have a lot of videos, like we do.
  • S3Bubble. I will write in more detail about this, but S3Bubble.com is a web service that takes much of the complexity out of using AWS. We use it here. If you choose to go the AWS route, you should have a hard look at using S3Bubble.com to help you manage AWS.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud    For us, the CC products work great. You will choose the editing platform that works for you. One of the Creative Cloud applications is Adobe Media Encoder   This is an essential piece of the video compression puzzle. You will need a way to make your “Mezzanine” files. These are the files that you upload to AWS. The bit rate will be somewhat larger than your final bit-rate, as produced using S3Bubble or directly with AWS Elastic Transcoder. You never want to upload your master high quality file- it’s is just too big and uploads take way too long. The Mezz file is the intermediate quality file- less than your master, more than the final web streaming file set. so you need a way to make this file. For us Adobe Media Encoder works. A good open source free choice is Handbrake  So, make the mezz file, upload it to AWS or your platform, and let the platform do the final transcode.
  • Now, back to your WordPress website. You have started a post and you want to embed a video in your post. Grab the embed code from S3Bubble (or JWPlayer, or insert your provider) and drop it into your post and the video should show up. You are ready to go! It’s really a bit more complex but this is the idea.
  • WPZOOM  We needed a Worpress theme that displayed video at the top of the post page. Believe it or not, this is difficult to find. There are several available, and if you find one you like, let me know. My obsessive searching turned up these guys and I am very happy with them. We are using a customized version. Thank you, Pavel at wpzoom!
  • PAYWALLS  This is how you set up your subscription services. Within WordPress ecosystem there are a lot of choices for paywalls. The system we chose is called MemberPress  It works for us because we were able to integrate the custom template mods that Pavel at WPZOOM made. You needs may vary, but this is a good place to start.

And that is about all I have to say on this right now. I am happy to get into the details if anyone is interested. And if you would like to explore the site beyond the public-facing content, sign up for the FREE tier on our Membership page.