Guest Author - Jennifer L. Thompson
Online video contests are becoming more and more popular, with many offering large cash prizes. These contests are powered utilizing the creative talents of technology savvy contestants. With the talents of many of today's contestants growing from their roots in the home arts, this doesn't have to leave out the everyday Joe. Video contests can be a fun and rewarding form of creative expression for anyone who knows how to use, and has access to the necessary equipment. Sometimes this can amount to a home video camera and a computer with an internet connection.
Though each contest has its own set of rules, there are a few general guidelines that will apply in most cases. Some have to do with the legalities, still others with the technicalities, and yet others with the formalities.
Your video must be an all-original work, a creation of your own mind in conjunction with the contest guidelines. Basically, the contest originators set the scene, then contestants must build the plot through personal artistic interpretation, and presentation, of what the scene is.
For legal purposes, as well as formality purposes, using logos or other copyrighted pictures, other than your own, is usually a no-no. Copyright laws protect these things and it is illegal to use them without written permission from the entity that owns them. Even with written permission, most contests are in some way meant to promote the sponsor, so putting another logo in the video would take attention away from this and, in essence, defeat the purpose. Artwork of any type, used in your video, must be expressly created by you, the video owner, unless otherwise specified in the contest rules. This also includes artwork such as music, and other creative venues.
Anyone, besides yourself, who has a role in your video where they can be recognized by sight (if you can see their face), must be willing to sign a model release form. This serves as a protection of sorts for everybody involved, and is required from reputable contests, so be sure any "stars" are willing to do this or your video may be disqualified.
For all purposes, keep it modest in its entirety.
The most common formats used for uploading videos to a contest site include wmv, mpeg, avi, and mov, so having one or more of these in your reportiore will qualify your video, and offer an expanded profile of available choices for entry.
Lighting is another important element that can help you win online video contests. Judges don't want to have to strain to view your entry. Be sure it isn't too light or too dark to view with ease.