Indianapolis, IN - March 1, 2009
By now, it seems nearly everyone on the planet has heard of YouTube, Googles popular video sharing site. Such is the power and reach of Google. But you might be surprised to know that YouTube isnt the only video sharing site available, its just the most popular. Many people would argue that its popularity is both a blessing and a curse.
The fact is there are several alternatives, at least a handful of which surpass YouTube on nearly every measure but one: reach. To reach the largest number of people, YouTube remains the king. But with all those people come a few other headaches that are unavoidable: clutter, spam, and content that is downright junk.
Vimeo (an anagram of the word movie) began in 2004 as a family-safe alternative to YouTube. Vimeo was created by filmmakers and video creators who wanted to share their creative work. As time went on, like-minded people came to the site and built a community of positive, encouraging individuals with a wide range of video interests. Their policies disallow uploading any video of commercial nature that the community member wasnt directly involved with creating, and they also forbid sexually explicit content. These community guidelines, among others, have helped them remain true to their original intent of creating an environment that is greatly different from that of YouTube.
The interface design is clean and refreshing, and boasts a distinct Web 2.0 feel, allowing it to be both sleek and charming at the same time. Its simple to use and puts everything you need to make the most of the network right at your fingertips. Once you have your account created, you can begin exploring videos on the site by popularity, newest & oldest additions, most commented, activity-based, and more. Vimeo allows you to upload as many movies as you want; up to 500MBs each week. It also lets visitors download your original files, which is unusual in the industry.
It works on the premise of a social network, infusing a community feel into nearly every aspect of the site. You can upload your contacts into the system to find other people you know that are already using it, making it simple to share things you like in both directions, whether its content youve created or just things you like. Vimeo also supports HD (hi-definition) video, and their video player does a superb job of encoding and matches the overall interface extremely well, meaning the files you upload look great.
Blip.tv is a free videoblogging, podcasting and video sharing service that is also very well-designed and sports a minimalist appeal. The video quality is very good much better than YouTube and the variety is appealing. Where blip.tv seems to excel is by helping its users monetize their content. For example, if you have a show that youre producing on a regular basis, you can implement advertising into your video in one of three ways: before or after your video plays or by overlaying the ad on your video while it plays. Payments for ad views can be deposited directly into your linked account, making it simple for anyone to make additional income by creating a following.
In both cases, these video sharing sites boast clean designs devoid of all the clutter of the YouTube interface. Both offer free memberships where you can upload as much as 500MB of video a week, and both allow you to see and share videos with others in your network.
This might be difficult to quantify, but the community on Vimeo seems much more oriented around the creative arts. The quality of the video, in terms of shooting, animation, writing, production, etc., just has the feel of being done by someone who truly cares about the craft. (By way of example, see The Crisis of Credit by Jonathan Jarvis.) This small difference is what makes Vimeo the gold standard for me.