Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Internet and Opinion and Manufacturing & Technology and Technology

YouTube isn't the only place to watch, share videos

March 2, 2009

By now, it seems nearly everyone on the planet has heard of YouTube (www.youtube.com), Google's popular video sharing site. You've probably either watched a video there — whether for research or to laugh at someone falling down. You might have even posted something. But you might be surprised to know that YouTube isn't the only such site available, it's just the most popular.

The fact is there are several alternatives, at least a handful of which can't compete with YouTube on scope and reach but excel in other areas. Remember, with all those people and all those videos on YouTube comes a few headaches that are unavoidable: clutter, spam, and content that is downright junk.

It's in these areas that some of the competitors, specifically Vimeo (www.vimeo. com) and blip.tv really shine.

Vimeo (an anagram of the word movie) was created by filmmakers and video creators in 2004 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 wasn't 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. It's simple to use and puts at your fingertips everything you need to make the most of the network.

Once you have your account created, you can begin exploring videos on the site by popularity, newest and oldest additions, most commented on, 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. Vimeo also supports HD (hi-definition) video, and its 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, sporting a minimalist look. 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 you're 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 and both allow you to see and share videos with others in your network.
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Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.

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