A rotating group of around ten of my friends and I run a series on YouTube - or rather we did, I'll get to that - that's about entertainment like video gaming, movies, television and so on; kind of a video blog sort of thing. We've also got a talking puppet. It's crazy. Anyway, it's a pretty fun hobby, and the satisfaction you get after finally making everything work out with sound, writing, acting, clips, and so on is pretty great.
The thing is, YouTube has quite a few downsides when it comes to hosting videos, and since video is an integral part of new media it might be important to look at some alternative video hosting options. While this probably wouldn't be an issue for a big site like CNN or the Post - who could just host their videos on their own webspace - small-time journalists and bloggers have a lot to consider when it comes to a host. I've done some research on various hosts, and I've decided to present my findings here.
First, YouTube is probably the first video host that leaps to everyone's mind. YouTube is easy to use, it's accessible to pretty much everyone, and it's very popular, which is a big deal when you're making a series that you want people to see. Like I mentioned earlier, though, YouTube has some downsides:
*This is the big one: YouTube will not host videos that are over ten minutes long. Some older accounts can exceed this limit, but the vast majority of the time your videos must be under ten minutes to be hosted on YouTube. This may not seem like a big deal, but it's possible to run into issues with it, and being constrained to ten minutes can be bad for creativity.
*Well, maybe this is the big one: YouTube's picture quality is absolutely horrible. They've tried to address this in a number of ways over the years. For instance, they now have a "high-quality" option for videos - which doesn't seem to do all that much - and they've added in options for hosting widescreen videos. Even with these additions, YouTube just can't compare to other hosts in terms of visual quality. Your videos will usually become grainy and pixelated on YouTube due to the way they compress them after you upload them.
*YouTube requires that all videos be less than one gigabyte in size. This isn't actually a big deal, since if your video is this big you're doing something wrong when you compress it. This is much better than earlier this year, where videos had to be less than around 150 megabytes or so.
These flaws may not seem like a big deal, but they were enough for my group to pack our bags and find another host. Let's take a look at some other options:
Google Video - video.google.com - has picture quality that's even worse than YouTube's. It doesn't have any file size or time restrictions if you use the downloadable upload program offered at the site, but your videos will turn out so hideous that it doesn't matter. I'd stay away from Google Video.
DailyMotion, located at www.dailymotion.com, is very similar to YouTube. However, it has a 20 minute time limit instead of 10, and there's no file size restriction. The picture quality is also slightly better.
Revver, www.revver.com, offers to pay you for the privilege of hosting your videos! Sounds great, right? Well, it's too good to be true: Revver loads up your videos with invasive ads if you choose to host them there. Revver's also affiliated with Zango, which is a notorious spyware company, and that makes it even more of a bad idea to have anything to do with it. Oh, and get this: while they DO pay you, they have a required amount of money that you have to earn before you actually see a cent, and don't expect to make that amount anytime soon.
Vimeo, at www.vimeo.com, has the best picture quality of any video host. If you have a high-definition video that you need to upload, Vimeo is the way to go. Unfortunately, it also has a very harsh file size restriction - 500MB per week for non-paying users. The staff also has a tendency of deleting videos and accounts that don't meet a certain set of "artistic criteria", which can be a problem.
Viddler, at www.viddler.com, is a happy medium between Dailymotion's unlimited file size and Vimeo's gorgeous picture quality. Viddler also allows people to download your video to view on their own computers - this is a Godsend for some people whose computers have trouble handling streaming video. This is my recommended file host, and the one that my group's series will be moving to.
There are a few other options - Blip.tv is similar to Viddler, for instance. However, these are some of the most notable choices right now. If you ever need to host a video - say, for the upcoming multimedia article assignment - you might consider giving one of these a try instead of YouTube. You could be pleasantly surprised.