5. Website Video Hosting

Website: Video Hosting
While it would be possible to include the videos of Vidtionary within the content that I host at Dreamhost, dedicated video hosting sites have gone through great effort and expenditure to make viewing videos online smooth and reliable. They have also paid great attention to the usability of their video player, and they generally make it possible to embed the video into other websites. Thus, what I intend to do is host the Vidtionary website with Dreamhost, then upload the video to a separate video hosting site, and finally embed the video from the video hosting site into the Vidtionary website. When a Vidtionary user goes to a page within the site, the host (Dreamhost) delivers all the necessary data for the page to appear, but it then calls on the video hosting site to make the video player appear. The different video hosting sites have various strengths and weaknesses. Of the video hosting sites that I have used in the past (for Vidtionary or other purposes), I am most satisfied with Vimeo and Blip.tv, while YouTube is not to be ignored for its sheer market size. There are numerous other sites that host video. A Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_services) has a comparison chart which lists nearly 40 video hosting services. Several pages could be filled outlining the differences between different video services, but I think it will be more expedient to explain why I intend to use Vimeo, Blip.tv, and YouTube to host Vidtionary’s videos.
At this time, the primary video service for Vidtionary is provided by Vimeo. I have paid for a ‘plus’ account for a $60 annual fee. The Vimeo ‘plus’ account allows the upload of 5 GB of video per week (of course I am never close to this number), HD uploads (videos with a resolution up to 1280 X 720), a customizable video player, storage of the original file with option to download, the creation of groups, and privacy controls. One of the most important aspects for Vidtionary is control over the embedded video player. The players of many video hosting sites include links to sites or videos which I have no control over. Since Vidtionary is a tool to be potentially used in the classroom, it is not appropriate if, when the video ends, links to random videos are shown. There is obviously a risk that one of these videos linked to beyond the Vidtionary site could have objectionable material. Also, the link might take the user away from the Vidtionary site. It is Vidtionary’s goal to keep the user within the site. Also, the links are often distracting. With Vimeo’s ‘plus’ account, I am able to control the video player so that a black screen appears at the end, or else a link or text which I can determine. Vimeo’s ‘plus’ account also enables me to remove Vimeo’s name and link from the player. Videos uploaded to Vimeo also maintain a good quality video overall, especially when they are uploaded in HD. Vimeo is a popular site, which means that in years to come it should hopefully have the resources to continue providing good service.
My second choice for video host is Blip.tv. I intend to upload all Vidtionary videos to Blip.tv as well as Vimeo. Blip.tv is a free video hosting service, but also offers a “pro” account for $96 per year. This “pro” account does not seem to offer the same degree of customization of the video player that Vimeo’s service offers. While adequate, I have not been as impressed by the quality of Blip.tv’s conversion of videos. There are a few potentially useful functions that Blip.tv does offer, which Vimeo does not. One of these useful functions is the option to insert advertising at the end of the video (Blip.tv shares the ad revenue 50/50 with the video’s creator). I do not have a business plan developed yet for Vidtionary, so in the near future advertising is not an option, but it is good to know that the feature is there if desired. Second, Blip.tv gives options to attach a Creative Commons license to the video when uploaded. Finally, Blip.tv is also one of the only video hosting sites, besides YouTube, that enables its videos to be played on Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone. The iPhone does not play Flash videos, so most video hosting sites do not work on the iPhone. By using Vimeo, I am sacrificing the ability for it to work on the iPhone.
In addition to Vimeo and Blip.tv, Vidtionary videos will be uploaded to YouTube. YouTube is far and away the most popular video hosting site on the Internet. YouTube’s videos are also playable from various devices, such as the iPhone or the Nintendo Wii. YouTube also gets a lot of accidental traffic. Hopefully, placing Vidtionary’s videos at YouTube will help to increase exposure.
Since Vidtionary’s videos are available at different sites, this means that they could be viewed without going to the Vidtionary site itself. The video sites also offer their users the option to embed the videos at their own sites. Thus, it is possible that people could integrate Vidtionary videos into their own websites. Vimeo’s ‘plus’ account offers the ability to control where the video can be embedded. For now, it does not seem problematic to me that its videos might be embedded elsewhere. If anything, it might create more exposure for Vidtionary.