Interacting with YouTube? That's easy: Type a brief description of what you want to watch into the site's search box, pick from one of hundreds of selections, and sit back to enjoy yet another brief glimpse into the musical life of Tay Zonday -- or whatever suits your online video fancy. But watching a YouTube video has always been just that, watching. Until now.
YouTube has bundled a new set of tools into its video authoring system that gives you the ability to hack a small degree of interactivity into videos. The additions won't be interactive in the style of a traditional Flash game or application, which let you do whatever you'd like within a single content window, but they will give you the power to do more with YouTube than you ever thought possible. And in our case, it helped us create a choose-your-own-adventure guide for building a PC.
You'll want to come into your YouTube interactive video experience with a game plan. Resist the urge to film your movie off-the-cuff as you do any other YouTube video; treat the project too casually, and you'll be creating extra work for yourself in the long run. Your interactive video can take many forms, but our directions assume that you'll be creating a "click here to do something" kind of movie.
Creating an outline for your interactive movie is the surest way to avoid unnecessary work. Think of the plan for your film as a giant flowchart: Clip A can lead to any number of outcomes -- B, C, or D, for example. Regardless of how you decide to organize your video, make sure that you've given yourself the ability to reuse as many clips as possible in your interactive chain.
Although our video is interactive in that it allows users to select their path through the overall narrative, we're still guiding the way using a single batch of videos. The power of YouTube's annotation function is that it allows you to create various pathways through the same batch of videos--basically reusing what you've shot in a bunch of different combinations.
The actual process of filming your YouTube video is no different from how you would normally shoot a piece of footage for the site. If you're aiming for high-quality videos, you'll want to make sure that your camera of choice can shoot at a resolution of at least 1280 by 720 pixels. And if you want to avoid unpleasant resizing farther down the line, shoot your videos in either 16:9 or 4:3 native format. The former will fill YouTube's widescreen video player perfectly, whereas the latter will force YouTube to introduce black letterbox bars to the sides of your videos.
Finally, be sure that you've thought out the location for the annotations that you'll be adding later to your videos. Shoot your videos with enough room so that the clickable rectangular annotations can appear without overlapping key video elements.