Publish video

Once you've made your video you need to get it out there and make sure it's seen. This section will take you through how to prepare your video for both online and offline distribution, how to license it, where you
can publish it and how to distribute your video online and offline.

Introduction to Video Publishing

Production and distribution need to work hand-in-hand. The type of film you make (eg. length, subject, style) will influence how you distribute it, in return the type of distribution you are planning can effect the film you make.

Even if you are just deciding what to do with a shocking, short piece of footage shot last night that you want people to see in a hurry, a little thought into planning will help you make the most of Message in-a-Box – and massively increase the positive change you can influence.

Who’s watching?

This question will have the biggest impact on your methods of distribution. Will your target audience have access to a DVD player or the Internet? Or will it be more important to screen your video – perhaps taking a tour of your film out to communities?

You may choose to target specific audiences who are most likely to take action on the issues you are dealing with, in addition to reaching a broader audience by uploading your video to the Internet. Both online (eg. via YouTube or your own website) and Offline (eg. via public screenings or TV) can complement other aspects of your distribution strategy such as direct advocacy and campaign work, community TV and festivals.

Publicise your Video

It’s also important to remember you will need to promote it after you have decided how to distribute it. From email campaigns to posters, you can work your way around Message in-a-Box to make your promotional plan. Think of it as a mini-campaign and do a simple promotional plan to decide what to do. Start here for an introduction to Publicising your Video.

Bigger is not necessarily better

When your distribution strategy is linked to grassroots campaigns and communities it may have a greater potential to make an impact than a program on television an audience has casually flicked over to.

As in all communications, it is about quality not always quantity. Getting your messages seen and heard by the right people is more important than communicating with everyone.

What’s the plan?

Pre-production is the time to define your audience and the best mediums to use to reach them. Advocacy video can only be really useful when used strategically as part of your campaign – you should never be producing your film and then left wondering what to do with it.

To create an effective plan for distributing video, make sure you have read the Strategy section, and especially the sections on Audience and Online vs Offline. The more clearly you have defined your audience, messages and campaign goals, the more effective your video will be.

Then take a look at our introduction to video distribution.

All of these issues are important to think about in the planning stages of making your film.

Video via Internet

The opportunity to share your videos has never been greater. Because millions of videos are uploaded online each day, with content ranging from dog tricks to documentation of human rights abuses, your video will be a drop in an ocean of media – unless you have a strategic distribution plan.

To use Internet distribution strategies, which can be extremely effective, you will also need to get some technical understanding of how to create videos that stream or download easily. Find out more about how to do that in our Tools for Video Publishing here, where we walk you through, step-by-step, how to compress and embed videos in a range of situations.

Even if you think your audience might not have enough Internet access to watch video online, think again. Africa, for example, has had a 1000% improvement in Internet access in the last eight years, and is predicted to become an increasingly powerful tool for people communicating in developing countries, including rural areas.

The decision of where you chose to upload your video and how you promote it will impact all aspects of your work – from your rights with regards to your video and the audiences and communities you can reach online, to their ability to download and distribute your media offline. Ensure that your video is on a site that meets your needs and will help you reach your short and long-term goals.

Video via DVD

Due to censorship restrictions and security issues, Internet access or other reasons, you may still choose to distribute your short or longer videos via DVD and hand them over in a physical form, or organise a screening event. One key benefit of screening is they are face-to-face, and can be a very effective way to build strong relationships and support each other if you are viewing difficult or sensitive material. You can also use the event for fundraising, volunteer recruitment and other campaign goals. More about DVD/VCD distribution here.

Hybrid Distribution – a bet both ways

Often, the best way forward is a combination of both online (Internet) and offline (physical) distribution, which we call Hybrid, ensuring all your key audiences get your key messages. Find out more about that approach here.


Let’s take a look now at a distribution plan in a little more detail, then move on to publicising your video so people actually get to see it.

Note: You should be keenly aware of privacy and security issues when publishing, be sure to read over the Safety and Security section. Also check out WITNESS’ Things to Keep in Mind When Uploading Videos.


This section is a based upon the Guide to Digital Video Distribution.

Making a strategic distribution plan

Strategic distribution of the video is the key element in achieving positive change. It is often less important how many people have seen the video, but whether the video has reached key audiences with a power to make a difference. Videos can be distributed in all kinds of ways including:

Many successful campaigns use different video strategies in connection, so the impact of one action builds one upon another.

For example, you might release the same or different edits to:

You can consider the possibilities for these hybrid online/offline strategies while analysing who your audience is, what action you are seeking from them and what tactic is best to reach them (e.g. in-person screenings, online through your website or social networking site?).

Some key questions

Have you read our Introduction to Video Publishing and Strategy Overview sections yet?


Publishing checklist

Once your video is online it will take on a life of it's own. Ensure that your video is on a site where you can put the information you want your audience to know - what the video is about, why it is important, who made it, how can they learn more and if it is calling for an action, what actions can they take. If your video will be seen elsewhere - embedded on another site or downloaded for offline distribution - make sure the essential information is still available in the video itself.

Information you need to include

What to look for when publishing video online

Here are some major features to look for when choosing an online distribution platform for your video. Not all sites are the same, some sites offer different features, others offer different audiences. You are not going to be able to publish to every site, so you need think strategically about where you do publish. The list of considerations below should help.

For a broader introduction to video distribution please see the Introduction to Video Publishing.

Commercial video sharing sites

There are hundreds of commercial sites where you can publish your video online. Below is an overview of five of the more popular sites and some sites in other languages . You should be particularly aware of security issues when publishing to commercial platforms. One of the key disadvantages of many commercial platforms is that ads are placed next to your video.


YouTube is the biggest video sharing site in the world so its fantastic way of reaching a large audience but in order to get your video viewed ensure that you have a promotion campaign to direct people to watch your video. Additionally as there are so many videos on YouTube ensuring you engage people and encourage them take action may be a little harder than in other spaces.

How to upload a video to YouTube gives the most flexibility and the fewest limitations about how and where your videos are presented of all the commercial platforms. It also presents your video at a much higher quality than YouTube.


Vimeo has a slick user interface and does a great job of streaming higher quality video; however, it falls severely short in how the videos can be exported and displayed on external sites aggregators, and search engines.


If you are already running a campaign using Facebook then sharing video on the site can be very powerful.The videos you post on Facebook are however largely limited to the groups or campaigns you're connected with on the site. 


The limitations on MySpace are similar to those on Facebook. When you publish a video to your profile, it is viewable only by people who directly visit your page.

Video sharing sites in other languages.




Tu TV:
Dale Al Play:


Lebanese Videos:
D1G video:



Non-profit video sharing sites

There are a number of non-profit video sharing spaces focussed on social justice, environmental or human rights issues. contains thousands of digital movies which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to videos of every genre uploaded by users. All of these movies are available for download, often in very high resolution, and are freely licensed, as such it's also a great place to find footage for use in production. doesn't focus specifically on social change issues but it is a key space used by many advocates and free culture enthusiasts.


EngageMedia is a non-profit collective providing media tools to activists, campaigners, communities and citizen journalists. You can upload and view video about social justice and environmental issues The primary focus is on the Asia-Pacific but video from other places is also welcome. EngageMedia aims to create an online archive of independent video productions using open content licenses and form a peer network of video makers, educators and screening organisations. Materials are mostly English with some Asian languages. 

The Hub, WITNESS Human Rights Video

The WITNESS Hub is an online video community for human rights where you can upload, watch and share videos and take action to help end human rights abuses. It is a free service designed to serve, connect and mobilize individuals, groups and organizations working to protect and promote human rights worldwide. WITNESS also offers trainings, support and resources, RSS feeds and a large and growing archive. WITNESS is a nonprofit that uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. It empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change. In English, French and Spanish.


Estúdio Livre is a collaborative environment focused on the production and distribution of media created independently with free software. Estudio Livre allows any user to create a live audio or video streaming channel.


Politube is a video and audio sharing website that distributes media from independent media outlets and activists on politics, society and the environment. In English. 

World Social Forum TV

World Social Forum TV offers hosting for material relevant to global social movements.

Other Video Related Sites

Witness hub

The WITNESS Hub is an online video community for human rights where you can upload, watch and share videos and take action to help end human rights abuses. WITNESS is a nonprofit that uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. It empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.

The Hub, which is in English, French and Spanish, allows you to upload human rights-related videos, images and audio files in a variety of formats. With each media item you upload, you can provide detailed context and link informational resources, events and actions that users can take to protect and promote human rights. Additionally, the Hub has a toolkit section that features video animations on how to incorporate video into your campaign work and best practices when filming and distributing your video.

Steps to Uploading Your Video to the Hub

Step 1: Login to the Hub or create an account

Step 2: Fill-in the upload form and attach or embed your video, image or audio file

Step 3: You will receive a confirmation email once your media is on the Hub through your My Account page where you can manage your media.

Five Suggestions to Make Your Media Easily Findable
Through the Hub, you can classify your media by country, region and human rights issue, add detailed context to each media item and tag each media with keywords to help other Hub users find your media easily. The more context you provide, the easier your content will be to locate, and the better the quality of information on the site as a whole.

1. Provide a descriptive title. Example: "Rights On The Line: Immigration on the Mexico/US Border".
2. Provide detailed context to describe your media and what viewers can do to learn more. See this video for an example.
3. Provide links to informational resources, events and actions viewers can take to learn more and support your work.
4. Add tags to your media. For example: Mexico, USA, immigration, human rights, border, discrimination
5. Upload a thumbnail image that draws attention and interest to your video.

Feature Your Group or Organization's Videos and Work on the Hub
The WITNESS Hub has individual and group channels where you can feature your videos and calls to action in one place. See Amazon Watch's group page as an example or get started and set up a group page.

Additional Links

This page is taken partly from

Preparing video for the web

Once you've finished editing your video you'll need to compress it – or reduce its file site – and encode it into a format that is viewable online. File from your editing application are far too large for transport on the web or place on a DVD. It is necessary to compress these video files to make them smaller so they can easily be uploaded and downloaded.

Video shot on mobile phones or digital stills cameras will be much smaller than video shot on a DV camcorder however depending on the camera settings you may still need to compress the footage for distribution online.

In this section we look at applications you can use to prepare your video for online distribution, specifically looking at Avidemux for Windows and Linux and iSquint for Mac. If you are using Windows Movie Maker or iMovie you can also do simple web exports using those applications.

Features to look for in these application include "batch encoding" so you can line up many files to encode at once, settings you can save and re-use, and the more support for various codecs and formats the better. A great resource containing guides for encoding is

How you compress your video is really a question of who your audience is, how you intend them to watch it or what you hope they might do with it. If your audience has a good internet connection you might choose to make a large, high quality version available for download. If your audience has a more limited net connection you should probably consider making a lower quality version that is easier to access.

Compression is always a compromise between the size of the file and the quality of the video. High quality = large file size and vice versa.

If you have multiple audiences you should consider a variety of types of delivery, this again will entail compressing your video in different ways: a large version for screenings, a Flash version for distributing online, another version of distribution of DVD etc.

The page is based on the Guide to Digital Video Distribution.


DVD/VCD Distribution

DVD is a must in thinking about how to distribute your video work, particularly if your key audiences don't have good, or any, internet access. Additionally if your film is long it will be difficult for many people even with broadband to download, especially if you want to distribute it in high resolution.

DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disc and can be burned in many different formats and used to store any kind of data. DVD discs can have a single layer of information burned on one side (single-layer), two layers of information on one side (dual-layer) or have information on both sides (double-sided). Each layer or side can contain up to 4.7 Gigabytes of video or other data. DVD-Video discs contain video encoded in the MPEG2 format.

DVD-Video discs are designed to play back in DVD players or using DVD playback software on computers with DVD drives installed. The video is compiled along with graphics and sound for interactive menus into the DVD-Video format during the DVD authoring process.

VCD stands for Video Compact Disc and is basically a CD containing up to 74 minutes of video, in a format both hardware VCD players and most DVD players can play back. The video on a VCD is encoded as a standardised form of MPEG1 - an old video compression standard that requires less computing power to play back than many of the newer and more sophisticated codecs that are available. MPEG1-VCD is comparable to viewing a VHS in terms of perceptible image quality.

DVD and VCD - Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of distributing your video on DVD over VCD are:

The advantages of distributing your video on VCD over DVD are:

Distribution Options

There are a few different options for distributing your video on DVD or VCD.

Tips for Making a DVD

Tips for Making VCDs


In the realm of Free and Open Source software there are some adequate but not brilliant tools for creating DVDs and VCDs. If you want to make a professional quality DVD with advanced menus and
graphics we suggest you look at proprietary software like DVD Studio Pro (Mac) or Adobe Encore (Windows).

If you can't get access to the these tools or have more modest requirements you might like to have a look at


This content is build upon the Guide to Digital Video Distribution



Screenings can be a great tool in campaigning work. By getting people face to face they can be used as an organising tool to get people to take action. Additionally you can use screenings to raise money for your cause and also to sell copies of your video.

Advance planning

Venues and schedules

Check out what is available at potential venues in terms of

It may take months to get a slot and to be included on the venue's calendar, advertising, website and other outreach. Or you might not care so much about that (although good advertising greatly improves attendance) and can negotiate for a show on an off-night when a cinema, community centre or club have nothing else scheduled.

Find out by when the venue will need the final description of the show for use in their calendar, publicity etc. Include at least one compelling graphic (often a still from the video itself) that describes the show and the issues involved.

Consider serving refreshments, if there are none going to be available at the venue. Make contact with a local and supportive caterer, this can be another way to raise money if you charge for drinks or snacks. Start discussion how any arrangement will work - financially, logistically etc.

Publicising the Screening

Design a flyer, using the description and graphic as a minimum. Se the guide to Making an information leaflet for information on how to use Scribus  to do this. Be sure to include the admission price, if you have one, or suggested donation.

Write a Press Release explaining who, what, where, when and why of the show, and suggesting how your screening is connected with recent or upcoming political actions or events, thus helping them to find an 'angle' to cover it. Send the press release plus flyer to your local media.

Some other tips for publicising your secreening;

Planning your screening

Adapted with thanks from How to do a Screening by Bay Area Indymedia


Video syndication

Video Syndication is a great way to share and find content. Syndicating your videos will help you widely distribute your video, reliably reach your target audience, and present your videos in a quality manner. The key to syndication is having a media RSS feed, which is basically an always up-to date list of all of your latest videos. These feeds are also often referred to as video podcasts or vodcasts.

Viewers can subscribe to these feeds and automatically receive your new videos, as soon as they're published. Search engines and websites love RSS feeds, because they're in a standard computer language. The RSS feed allows your viewers to subscribe to your feed and immediately receive your latest videos as soon as you upload them — it's like TV over the internet.

The simplest way to get an RSS feed is to sign up to a site that produces RSS feeds for you or to start a video blog. See the commercial and non-profit video sharing sites chapters for more on this.

Some web TV shows have managed to use these technologies to reach massive audiences, shows like Rocketboom for example, daily receive hundreds of thousands of viewers.

RSS for Viewers
Individuals can subscribe to your RSS feed using an internet TV application, like Miro. When a user is subscribed to your feed, you know they're always getting the latest from your videos.

RSS for your websites
RSS is also important for getting your feed published in aggregation sites, guides and search engines. If you have described your videos well using keywords etc, people will be able to find it when searching for something on that subject. Furthermore, when other people publish video with RSS, you can subscribe to feeds of video selected by author or search term, and pull their videos into your website automatically see finding videos.

How do I get my RSS?
Many video publishing services have an RSS feed associated with your username - here is a tool for finding your RSS feed. If you're not using one of these services, you can check the FAQ for your video host.

Further Resources