From YouTube to those that pay, video-sharing sites have risen from the obscure to dominate internet users’ online experience. Which one is best for your video?
Families are using video-sharing websites to send home video to other family members, while entrepreneurs are posting video to gather an audience larger than they ever had before. Video-sharing sites offer tremendous bang for the buck, if you have high-speed internet access. It’s free to join most sites, and some even pay you for your efforts.
Defining a Video-Sharing Site
More people than ever are using video-sharing sites. But what are they and how do they work? They are privately-owned websites that specialize in showcasing video, and they are designed with ease of use in mind. The website compresses and houses the videos, so we don’t have to do that on our computers. The sites allow us to customize our own micro-site with the videos and send invitations out to family. A typical sharing site homepage usually has dozens of little pictures that correspond to uploaded videos, usefully organized into column categories like Favorites, Most Popular, Most Viewed, etc. That said, sharing sites don’t require us to make our videos public. We can add a video to YouTube and alert Cousin Rita, without letting the rest of the world see it, too. To watch videos on a video-sharing site, we aren’t generally required to share. We can sit back and watch millions of videos without giving up any of our personal information or our own videos. But as Videomaker readers, we want to be active participants in the new distribution medium.
Caveats and Privacy
When you are searching for that perfect way to share, there are many things to consider. Research the features and stability of the sharing site. Can you open a private account, or does the site mandate that you be public? Be sure to read the fine print on this feature, especially if you wish to send sensitive family videos to family only. Also look for a Family Filter, which is a way to censor certain adult content that exists on most sites. Many sharing sites give subscribers the ability to create Playlists or Favorites, which is a great feature, as it ditches the need to type in a search every time you want to watch that one video… “where was that great video again?” Unfortunately, you’ll likely have to divulge some personal information and sign up for an account to use features like this.
Since you’re a content creator, too, and are looking for more exposure for your video work, be sure to find out if a sharing site gives you added features and a specific title. Many sites offer Producer or Director labels that enhance the way viewers can find your video masterpiece. Some sharing sites allow you to create a custom video player, containing multiple videos that you can use and embed in your own website. Still, only a few sites actually pay you for posting video. The higher your viewership, the more dollars (or euros) you can rake in on the side.
YouTube was instrumental in starting the online video craze. This site boasts the largest viewership of any sharing site, while also being one of the most heavily viewed and easiest sites to use on the web. (See our story YouTube – Step by Step of this issue). It’s a great site for both families and entrepreneurs. Check out its Group function, and invite family and friends to watch your videos. You Tube has even asked Videomaker to provide some videos for its Help content (found at www.youtube.com/video_toolbox).
Brightcove has added great functionality to its custom video player. You can make tabs within the player to distinguish different collections of videos (yours or someone else’s). After you’ve compiled the list you want to share, Brightcove allows you to embed its video player almost anywhere, including on a personal blog, on a website or at MySpace.
Blip.tv is a great source for watching episodic web shows and creating an audience of your own. It has an abundance of better-than-TV content and an intuitive way to share and distribute video, even to mobile devices like cell phones.
SpinXpress is a great video-sharing tool, although the site works a bit differently from the others listed here. It’s for video producers who want to share high-resolution videos and other documents, like project files and shot logs. There isn’t a big viewing audience to woo, but it’s a valuable tool that enables small groups of videographers to work with one another on the same video.
Expert Village is an interesting site for the entrepreneur. Its mission is to create the largest library of how-to videos. And they pay handsomely to producers that ship loads of quality videos. Byron Reese, CEO of Expert Village, says that they buy around 10,000 videos monthly. “They get paid every Friday, like a regular job,” says Reese. Expert Village is a terrific destination if you want to make and sell video.
TubeMogul has a fun concept: a tool to easily track your video if you’re using multiple sharing sites. To really get a video “out there,” you’re going to want to send it everywhere. TubeMogul lets you manage and check your video stats for almost every sharing site.
There’s still an abundance of up-and-coming sharing sites on the web. One of these budding sites may be the perfect niche for sharing your video with people of like interests. It could be a boon for video producers who get in early to reach a new audience.
What’s Expected for 2008
Video-sharing sites are starting to become integrated into social networks and regular ol’ websites, just like our Videomaker Lounge. Look for sharing-site functionality to become as popular as other website features like blogs. Also, some sites are targeting those who want to watch HD video and who have the proper internet connection to enjoy it. Video compression technologies and speedier Wi-Fi should make it happen. Video-sharing sites are fun and easy to use. There simply aren’t many drawbacks, unless, of course, you’re stingy and don’t want to share.
Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.