Video Hosting What Are Our Options?
When we create a video we have several choices for getting it out to an audience on the internet. Of those choices we need to decide which is better for video syndication.
In other words we want to distribute our video to the widest possible audience through a network of services. So how do we do that?
Video Hosting Services
So first of all “What is video hosting?”
In simple terms it is when we upload our video to an external server which in turn becomes the host that handles that video for us. Some examples are:
What Do Video Hosting Services Do?
Generally what they do is handle the encoding of the video so it can be viewed in a format common to each of the browsers people use. Briefly it involves:
• Converting the raw file into smaller formatted versions
• Optimize it for streaming
• Stripping out what is not deemed necessary
• Provide embedding of a player
• Stream the content when requested
Some will also provide video tracking statistical information with their video hosting service.
Special features like branding, domain locking and hosting of private videos can be part of the service.
Streaming the content means you can “scroll” through the contents using the controls.
Self Service Video Hosting
Self service video, or self hosted, is when your videos are kept on your own server, uploaded to your domain server or an external server such as Amazon S3. This type of video hosting service has restrictions so you need to provide additional support to play these videos.
By restricted it means they are only the holders of the video and you need to provide and configure a video player such as FlowPlayer. There are WordPress plugins that can make the task of using FlowPlayer much easier as well.
Once you install and configure the plugin it’s usually a matter of pasting a short code into a post or article to display the video.
The downfall is this is “semi-streaming”. It doesn’t actually stream, it simply begins the download and then starts playing once it has buffered enough. A slow connection means a lot of stop-start activity.
It also means the video is raw and – without modifications or any of the unnecessary pieces extracted. This is not to say there is anything inferior about this form of hosting but just a comparison.
I use Amazon S3 and YouTube to host my videos depending on the content. YouTube is the second largest search engine outside of Google (of course they are co-related) and provides a good set of statistics.
Downloading From Video Hosting Servers
A downloadable video is where you usually host the video on your own server or domain server and provide a download link.
Downloading from hosts such as YouTube can be a little trickier and can require you to use third-party software. One I have tried with some success was VideoSlurp and has recently been upgraded. There are others if you do a quick search.
Another tool I use is FlashGot for Firefox and I’ve had great success in capturing Flash files of all kinds. It can be good to have others download certain videos if you want them to be used elsewhere.
Next week I will look at some of the more technical aspects of video and try to break them down into more easily understood terms. This can help when it comes making choices about such things as which video format to use and why plus tagging video for search engines.
With the use of mobile technology it is going to become more important as time moves on.