With the increasing popularity and discussion of video (we are always hearing about the convergence of photography and videography), I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the different video hosting services, and look at their functionality. So, earlier today I recorded a video using Quicktime Pro on the Mac, and tried uploading it to 3 different popular services: YouTube, Vimeo, and Animoto. Here are the videos in that order, followed by my thoughts on each:
Price: It’s free! Nothing beats free in my book, and with the competitive landscape of technology, this is pretty hard to beat.
Quality: The thumbnail does not look right, but that’s a minor nit…on playback it seems pretty good.
Ease of use: Another pro here as well…it was easy (and quick) to upload. It took less than a minute to upload, and adding the video details was also easy. You do need a Google account to do this though, but since that is also free, the downside here is hard to find.
Accessibility: It was VERY easy to find the embed code to copy/paste into the blog. And YouTube/Google is pretty recognizable as far as things go, so it’s going to be hard to compete here. But, let’s look at the other services…
Limitations: The only one I can find is that you are limited to videos under 10 minutes. You can do HD quality, up to 2GB per video (so no data size limit), with no waiting in line for video conversion or anything like that. At first I thought 10 minute limit was, well…limiting, but after looking at the other two services, not as much.
Price: It’s free…kind of. You can go the free route, but there are downsides which I will go into shortly.
Quality: It seems on par with YouTube in terms of video quality,
Ease of use: Also on par with YouTube, and the dialogs are very similar, so kind of a 6 of one, half dozen of the other sort of comparison here.
Accessibility: Vimeo videos are just as accessible as YouTube ones are, anyone can see them if you set them up the same, so kind of an interesting dichotomy here…
Limitations: Your limitations with Vimeo are that you can only upload 500MB of data per week. This may sound like a lot, but when it comes to video, that could get eaten up pretty quick. I didn’t see a length limit on Vimeo, but could be wrong here. Another limitation on the free account is that you have to wait in line for your videos to get uploaded. I uploaded the video 20 minutes ago, and still have another 40 minutes to wait before it will start the conversion for me. If you upgrade your free account to the Vimeo Plus one, you can get 5 GB of content, HD quality, no ads, and for $60/year or $10/month. Not too pricey, but again, in a competitive economy, it’s something to consider…
Not reviewable – as it turns out, Animoto only allows 30 second videos for free – everything else is a paid service. The price is cheaper than Vimeo for the service at $30 per year, and it does seem to have no limitations on video length or things of that nature, but the fact that you can only do a 30 second video on their free service seems rather lame. I realize that we need to be quick and to the point with our content, but 30 seconds? Really? This one gets a major thumbs down from me for this and on that basis would not recommend it.
In the interests of being as broad in the review process as possible, I thought it would help to also include the self-hosted option as one worth considering. There are some caveats to this though, as services and limitations would vary from one hosting service to another. I use Dreamhost, and I like their hosting, so figured it would be worth showing that here.(You can sign up from the link or from using the promo code CBPROMO to save 50% on sign-up!)
Price: Free…kind of. You do have to pay the hosting company for hosting your website, but as far as I know ISP’s typically do not charge additional fees for specific types of content.
Quality: Perfect! Since you are uploading the original video, there is no degradation in video quality – but that being the case, you are solely responsible for quality control…fair warning.
Ease of Use: Again, it depends on your host. For me and the blog, it’s pretty straightforward as I am using a self-installed version of WordPress and I am familiar enough with the functions and formats to handle it, but if you don’t want to be bothered with uploading a video via FTP, then referencing that source URL in your WordPress or website with HTML and all that, it could be challenging.
Accessibility: I hate to beat a dead horse, but it also will be a function of your host, and what format you choose to upload your videos. I uploaded the raw Quicktime video, so it will be dependent on people having Quicktime on their computer. There should be a conversion utility (I think it’s called jwplayer) that converts the .mov format to flash for easier viewing on the web, but this may need to be installed in your version. It is free, but could be a limitation as Flash viewers are more common.
Limitations: You are only limited by your own comfort level here – if you don’t want to deal with all the nitty gritty details, then this could be problematic. For those that enjoy managing all their own content, this could be ideal though, it really just depends where on the spectrum you are. For me, I am okay dealing with it, but if I had my choice between fussing over the details and using a service like YouTube to host it for me so I can go back out and shoot more, record more, and research more content, I’d choose the latter.
So, that’s the top three reviewed for your consideration. If I had to vote on one, I would say YouTube gets the nod. Ease of use, lack of expense, and visibility is just unbeatable. But, keep in mind, that’s just my thoughts. What are yours? Anyone have any particular favorites or preferences for video hosting? Any I missed? Benefits and downsides? Sound off in the comments!
In other blog news, don’t forget, the post from Saturday (yes, I made a Saturday post!) allows you to embed your own photos to the comments! Share your own thoughts on the best photos of 2009 – they do have to be online (embedded via URL) but it’s a great way to share your favorites with the community at large.
Finally, time is ticking away on the December Giveaway. Over $400 in prizes including books, prints, paper, and software are up for grabs so make sure you get your “Giving” themed photo to the Flickr thread before the end of the year!