Where to start, mostly my own stupidity was stopping this working, however as it's now working I'll note down what I did so others don't waste as much time as I have on this problem!
(1) you need to generate the video before you export it! I was missing this option because of my video side (400x300) the options across the top of the event were wrapping around. "Video" is last in the list, but was appearing exactly under "Delete" so appeared to be a single option called "Delete Video". Yes, please don't reply telling me how stupid I am.
(2) I was struggling to generate videos because I had parts of two installs of ffmpeg installed. I had downloaded and compiled the latest ffmpeg source (along with the latest zoneminder source). I hadn't uninstalled all of the packaged libraries relating to ffmpeg which my distro (Debian) had installed. Namely I had to manually uninstall the packages libavcodec, libavdevice, libavformat and libavutil which were conflicting with the version of ffmepg I had compiled.
It's worth noting down for the benefit of other people, if your video generation fails, zoneminder helpful puts the output from ffmpeg into a file called ffmpeg.log in the event folder (/var/www/events/2/73/ in my case)
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