HTML5 Video is a powerful tool.  Done well, videos can draw attention, set a mood, or explain a topic.  Video banners are especially good at those first 2 points.

A good video banner requires more than just slapping a <video> tag on a page and calling it good.

In this article we’re going to explain everything you need to know to make great HTML5 Video banners.

Including:

  • HTML Code for adding the video
  • Auto-playing on mobile devices
  • What kinds of videos work best
  • Compressing videos (so they load super fast)
  • Advanced effects with java-script.
  • Adding Video Key frames with Handbrake.

Tip #1: Keep Files Small As Possible

Large video files are the enemy.

When making a video banner, don’t upload a 50 Megabyte file!  In fact, don’t even upload a 5 MegaByte file.

Why?

In a word… Slowdowns.  When you self host a video, every person that comes to your website has to download the file.  Hosting large video files on your website can slow down the entire website across the board.

What if I host it on an external server?

You can potentially host your video on a service like Cloudinary or other media hosting services, but even then, keeping the file small will insure people will see it in a timely manner.

Keep your videos tiny or many visitors will just see a black box…

How Small Should It Be?

Whenever possible, try to keep your video under 1 Megabyte.  If you can’t keep it under 1MB at least shoot for less than 2MB.

Does It Really Need To Be That Small?

I can hear some of you saying “It’s 2021. Everybody has broadband now and my 30MB file loads instantly for me.”

This is a classic rookie mistake.

Novice developers will see their video load instantly on their own computer and assume everything’s right as rain.

But this is an illusion. 

The reality is the video has been cached on your computer, so it appears to load instantly.  But that 30MB file will take 10-45 seconds for first-time visitors on an average broadband connection.

By then, most of your visitors will have already scrolled down the page, or clicked away, never noticing your amazing video.

Okay, Fair… but how can I make my video 1MB without it looking terrible?

 

Tip #2: Use “HandBrake” for Compression

HandBrake is a free video compression program and it’s amazing.

The example video above is 525kb and still looks good. 

Typical videos exported from Adobe Premiere (or other video editing software) look awful if you try to compress them too small.  Generally these programs export video ranging from 10MB to 10,000MB.   This if fine when you want to upload to YouTube, or use if for broadcast.  But it’s not going to work for self-hosted web banners.

First Step…

Export your video from Adobe Premiere (or whatever program you use to edit videos) at a nice high-quality.  Don’t try to compress it.  It’s okay if the initial file is large (in fact, the less compression you original video has, the better the results will be when you run it through Handbrake).

Second Step…

Download HandBrake (for free) and install it.

Third Step…

Open Your Video in Handbrake.  Click the Video Tab. Adjust the Quality to somewhere between 22 and 30.  Then press “Start Encode”.

screenshot of Handbrake highlighting some key UI elements.

Fourth Step…

Check your exported video.  How big it it? Is the quality acceptable?   

You may have to export the video several times before you find the best balance between quality and file size. 

If the video doesn’t play smoothly, check the “Fast Decode” checkbox.  This may make the video slightly bigger, but it will play smoothing on lower-end machines.

 

Still struggling to get the video small enough?  Here’s a few tricks to get the most from your video compression

 

Tip #3: Choose Videos with Subtle Movement


Videos with subtle movements compress much better than a videos where everything is constantly changing.
Note: If you don’t see any movement, refresh your browser.

Quick Intermission Poem:

If upon a smartphone
this article you’ve read,
one video will play

while the other one be dead.
For there is a rule
that I recently have found
that apparently all smartphone-type
browsers
are bound.
One video on-screen 
can play at a time
which is why I’ve resorted
to writing this rhyme
.
I wrote this short poem
to fill-up some space
So each little video
may play in
its place.

Okay, back to the article…


This video looks nice, but its not an ideal video banner. The panning camera means the entire shot is constantly changing. This makes it hard to compress. While the waterfall video above has large parts of the frame that don’t change.

 

Tip #4: Stay Around 8-16 Seconds Long

In general, keep your videos around 8-16 seconds long.

You won’t be able to compress a 2-minute video down below 1 or 2 MB (and still look good).

Every video is a little different, but 8-16 seconds tends to be the sweet spot.  The loops aren’t so short as to be annoying, but still short enough for effective compression.

 

Tip #5:  Place on Colored Overlay on top of the video

Ever notice that many videos will have a transparent overlay on top of them?

Example Text

This overlay actually servers two purposes…

  1.  It darkens the video so you can put text on top of it and retain good contrast.
  2. It lets you compress the video even smaller.

The above video is only 300KB.  Part of why that’s possible, is because to overlay decreases the color contrast, which allows the compression software to work more efficiently.

 

Tip #6: Decrease the Video Resolution

You can only crank up the compression so far, before it starts to look terrible.

Don’t just mess with with the quality slider. Adjust the resolution too.

This is especially effective when the video is being used as a background, because it give the video a slightly blurry quality without a lot of distracting compression artifacts.

screenshot of handbrake highlighting the Dimensions tab.

Click on the Dimensions tab. 

Check the box that says “Keep Aspect Ratio”.

Then shrink the width.

 

Trick #7: Simple HTML5 Video Code

Once you’ve made your video, you need to place it play on the webpage.

To keep things easy, I’ve prepared some simple code to add an HTML5 Video to your webpage.

Simple Looping HTML5 Video

Let’s say you want to have a simple video that automatically plays and loops (like the example above).

<video autoplay loop muted controls width="100%" height="auto"
src="https://www.launch2success.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Girl-Opening-Tent.m4v"></video>

You can copy the above code and simply change the URL (in orange) to include your own video file.

Remove the Controls

If you don’t want playback controls, delete the word “controls” (highlighted above in green) from the above code.

This gives the video a feeling similar to an animated gif, and is ideal for video banners or animations.

Example with no controls

Add a “Poster” To Make a Preview of Your Video

Even with a well compressed video, it may still take a few seconds to load (especially on slower connections).

Adding a poster attribute to your code, will give people something to look at while your video loads, so they don’t have to look at a black box.

<video autoplay loop muted controls width="100%" height="auto" 
src="https://www.launch2success.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Girl-Opening-Tent.m4v"
poster="https://www.rexburgcamprentals.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/low-res-banner.jpg"
></video>

But make sure your poster image isn’t too big.  Otherwise you’ll just slow things down even more.  If possible, try to keep it under 30kb.

 

Tip #8 Looping Part of a Video JavaScript

Seeing the girl open the tent over and over, can start to feel old.  Let’s have her open it just once by removing the word “loop” from the code.

But then we loose all motion after the first play-through.  Let’s keep the movement going by adding some java-script trickery.

Loop the last 5 seconds of the video

 

Watch the play-head and notice what happens…

Instead of looping the entire video, let’s just loop the last 5 seconds.

This can be accomplished with the following code:

<video autoplay playsinline muted controls width="100%" height="auto" src="https://www.launch2success.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Girl-Opening-Tent.m4v" poster="https://www.rexburgcamprentals.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/low-res-banner.jpg" ></video>
<script>
var Video = document.querySelector('video');
Video.onended = function(e) {
  Video.currentTime = 4;
  Video.play();
};
</script>

This code is actually pretty simple.  It basically says “When the video ends… move the play-head to the 4-second mark.  Then play the video.”  This results in an endless loop.

 

Play A 2nd Video After The 1st Video Ends

Sometime you might want to play 2 videos in sequence, like this stylish video banner on UsePlink.com (designed by the web firm mollie.com)

When I saw this website, I took some time to dissect it and recreate it.  You can look at the code here.

 

Tip #9: Make AutoPlay Work on Mobile Devices

Moble devices disable auto-play by default.  Normally the user clicks on the video to play it, and the video plays full-screen. 

This makes sense for stand-alone videos, but not for video banners that are part of your website layout.

You COULD use an animated gif, but animated gifs are generally large and download slowly.  Using an HTML5 video will download faster and use less battery on smartphones.

The Rules…

To keep people from abusing the technology, any videos that plays automatically cannot play sound (which makes sense because nobody wants to go to a website and have unsolicited videos yelling at them).

To make your video play on smartphones (as well as desktops) you need to add the following attributes to your video tag:

  • playsinline
  • muted
  • autoplay
<video autoplay playsinline muted controls width="100%" height="auto" src="https://www.launch2success.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Girl-Opening-Tent.m4v" poster="https://www.rexburgcamprentals.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/low-res-banner.jpg" ></video>

“playsinline” allows the video to play without going into full-screen mode, and “muted” turns off the sound (in case the video has any).

One Video on Screen at a Time

On smartphones, you can only have 1 auto-play video on screen at a time.  That means you can’t have one video playing an animated logo in your header, and another video as the background for your hero-banner.

Bonus Tip – Keyframes

Sometime you may need to tightly control the playback of a video.

For example, take a look at these two videos. Try scrubbing very through both videos quickly.

Video 1 No Keyframes

Video 2 – Keyframes

When scrubbing through the first video quickly, the video has to stop and ‘seek’ before continuing to play.  But scrubbing through the second video happens almost instantly.

Why is this?

The second video was compressed using additional key frames.  

How To Add Keyframes

Open your video in Handbrake.  On the “Video” tab, under “Extra Options” type in keyint=8 . This will place a keyframe every 8 frames.

When To Use Keyframes

Adding more key frames will make your video file larger.  The Earth video without keyframes is 1.6MB while the video with keyframe is 3.6MB

After some experimentation with my Earth video, every 8 frames seemed to be the sweet-spot between file-size and scrubbing-smoothness.

Tell Us Your Thoughts

Was this guide helpful?  Do you have any additional tips for making Video Banners? 

Let us know in the comments below…

1 Comment
  • Administrator says:

    Wow, this is some really good information. Thanks for sharing, Steve!