Customer Stories

Bart Buerman and Interactive Video

Bart Buerman is the owner of bart at work, a freelance video production and interactive video company that focuses on providing affordable and easy-to-use options. We were really excited to see how Bart utilizes the Wistia APIs, Javascript, and simple third-party apps to turn traditional videos into amazing, interactive works of art.

Bart has been using Wistia since the beginning of 2013 for his company’s website. His goal, in the long run, is to make this kind of programming and the features that are associated with it public and easy to use. Along with being a fantastic bringer-of-stroopwafel, as he showed us when he visited the office, we think that Bart is a great example of someone using some of the more advanced features of Wistia (like the API) to his advantage.

We interviewed Bart about some of the ways he's implemented this functionality on his site (and how you can, too!). Check out some of his sweet, sweet interactive content and find him on Twitter or LinkedIn!

In one sentence, what would you say that your business is?

Online and interactive video made easy.

How did you get started with video?

When I was young, my father was always taking pictures. He had a lot of cameras and lenses, and he used them all the time. One year, I got a small camera for my birthday, and I started taking pictures myself. Later, I bought another second-hand camera from my aunt to improve my hobby.

By the time I went to high school, I felt I wanted to do a bit more than take still images, and when I was 14 or 15, I finally managed to buy a video-8 camera. That was so cool! I made all kinds of videos at home and on vacation. After a while, I even used my camera to do assignments at school. Who said a "piece" must be written?!

By the end of high school, it was pretty clear to me that I wanted to continue making videos. I applied for art school and was accepted. And so I went from hobbyist to professional!

What are the benefits of using video?

Video is an amazingly strong medium, I think because it addresses both our two primary senses. But it is still rather passive for the viewer.

This is supposedly a Chinese proverb, but I really believe in it: "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand." It's just like education. The more you involve children or adults, the more quickly they understand (and thus remember) what you are saying. So it's time to combine those two things in video.

An example: if you do an in-depth review video of a smartphone, it might take 10 minutes to cover every detail. But one viewer might be interested only in the battery capacity, the next one only in the camera, etc. Do you want to force those people to watch the entire video? Of course not. If you chapterize your video, and make the chapters clickable in a menu, your viewer can navigate directly to the fragments they want to see. Then you have better viewer satisfaction, and a great opportunity to turn views into money. I believe interactivity in your video exponentially increases opportunities to connect with your customer.

Do you have any cool video goals in the future?

Yes! I like to watch films, and at film festivals I really enjoy experimental stuff. Some are great, some are not. But you always know the running time of a film, because it's mentioned in the brochure. That had me thinking one day: how cool would it be to make a film that has no predetermined length? Now that I know how to program video clips, it should be possible to make such a film. So, once I have a storyline that allows for randomization by a computer script, I might actually make such a film.

How did you accomplish the super cool interactive video that you’ve got on your website?

It's a combination of simple steps: putting a video into a player and Javascript programming. Having a video play in a player is easy, but to tell the player to take action at certain points in the video or when a viewer clicks a button is something else. It took me a while to learn the code to make it happen, and there is still a lot of trial and error before I have certain things working!

An example of the code that Bart is using to accomplish some of this is available in the Wistia Demobin under Wistia Chaptering. Instead of just text links, you can turn them into anything your heart desires!

Any advice for people looking to use video in a similar way?

Start small. If you want interactivity in your video, it's easy to get lost. There are so many options, but also so many limitations.

If you want everything, you'll have to write Javascript, so to start it might be a good idea to use solutions that are already out there. Wistia offers easy tools for basic interaction, for example, Chaptering in videos, or you can build things yourself on top of the API, if you are a bit more advanced. If you don't feel as comfortable with code, using HapYak offers prebuilt interactivity that works directly with Wistia, too.

Keeping in theme with our playlist post from the end of last year, what is your favorite song currently?

Anything from Justin Bieber! No, just kidding ;) Commercial charts don't really mean much to me. But on top of my own chart is "Anesthetize" by Porcupine Tree. All 17 minutes of it!

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