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Revver wins the battle of the video sharing sites

Preparing the Talk-Now demo video which I posted yesterday has been a fascinating odyssey.  Keeping in mind that I am an utter video neophyte, although I do have some skills as a still photographer, the result turned out pretty alright.

This post, then, is for all the video-noobs out there like me.  It’ll save you some time…

The original footage was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, standard definition, on a Sony HDR-SR1 camcorder.  They were recorded in MPEG2 format, with AC3 audio.  The lights used were three sets of halogen shop lights, arranged in a key / fill / back combination.  I recommend Steve Smith’s excellent video lighting tutorial if you don’t know what that means.  As mentioned previously, the yellowish cast to the video is due to the fact that I didn’t white balance the camera before shooting.  Next time!

The editing was done using Adobe Premier Elements 3.0.  Results were output as a 640×480, 30 fps Windows Media file, 96bit 44Khz stereo audio, and a video bit rate of 3600 kbps.  I also experimented with MPEG2, but the output files were nearly twice the size, and the results were noticeably less sharp.  In addition, on YouTube’s recommendation, I also tried QuickTime with MPEG4, but there were obvious video artifacts in the output.

Having created a suitable master, where to upload it?  I sent it to YouTube, GoogleVideo, Revver, Video.ca, Yahoo Video, and MSN Soapbox.  Each of these sites takes an incoming video, and transcodes it into a format universally playable (Flash), as well as downsampling it.  I uploaded a variety of different sizes, bitrates, and formats to the different servers before settling on Windows Media.

The results differed, and differed dramatically.  Without further ado, I present all of the uploaded videos and my comments.

YouTube

YouTube is by far the most popular video sharing site on the internet today.  Uploaded media is restricted to 100Mbytes in size.  YouTube recommends uploading 320×240 MPEG4, which they then transcode to 425×350 Flash.  However, 320×240 didn’t produce a good result for me, and logically it shouldn’t if you’re upconverting from a lower resolution to a higher resolution.

The results?  Fuzzy video, with mono audio.  On a scale of 1 to 5, they earn a 2.0 in my opinion.  Mediocre at best.
 

GoogleVideo

GoogleVideo, while it doesn’t have the pull of YouTube, is slightly different from its sibling service.  There are no restrictions on uploaded media size, although it’s transcoded to a miniscule 400×326 size.

The results?   Visibly better video quality, although postage-stamp sized.  Mono audio.  On a scale of 1 to 5, they earn a 3.0.  Better looking and sounding video than YouTube, but way too small.Video.ca

Video.ca is a brand new service, still in beta.  Nice Video is transcoded from it’s native format to 400×300.  The results?  The quality of the video was good, and audio was stereo.  Still a very small image though.

Video.ca earns a 3.0, also.
iotum Talk-Now Demo on Video.ca

Soapbox

Soapbox is still in beta, and the service is mostly full of Microsoft generated footage.  The video is the same small size other services, and reasonably clear. Audio is stereo. Overall, though, this is a terrible experience.  Audio and video were choppy, with frequent dropouts.  Of all the services I tested, Soapbox was undoubtedly the worst. 

Soapbox earns a 1.0 on a scale of 1 to 5. Update: reader BrianD comments that he sees Soapbox video with the same quality as the Google, and it is in stereo. I’ve now tried it on a couple of different PCs, and the results differ widely. It’s clear that on some computers you can get equivalent or superior performance to GoogleVideo, but not all. Depending on your PC, it can be a great experience — a 3.0 or 3.5.
Video: iotum Talk-Now demo

Yahoo Video

It’s impossible for me to comment on Yahoo Video.  After uploading the video, and seeing it classified by Yahoo, 5 hours later it still wasn’t available, and Yahoo was providing the helpful message “Sorry! This video is no longer available on Yahoo! Video.”

Sorry Yahooligans.  That performance earns you a zero.

Revver

Revver was the hands down winner in this comparison.  With beautiful 480×392 resolution, crystal clear picture, and stero sound, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would upload video anywhere else!

Revver earns a 4.0 on a scale of 1 to 5, plus one bonus point for being the only service to share revenue with uploaders.  Perfect 5.0.  Congratulations.

Some weeks back I asked, on LinkedIn, how do you promote a video on YouTube.  The answer was basically “you don’t… at least not the kind of video you’re making”.  If you’re shooting a video with broad mass appeal (humour, nudity or stupid stunts) then the YouTube community is a great resource.  But if you’re shooting a business video, then forget about YouTube, and go Revver.  You’ll have to pull the traffic through anyway, so you might as well have great results!

{ 24 comments… add one }

  • Ken Camp February 13, 2007, 8:25 pm

    I wish you'd have compared blip.tv too. Just an thought.

  • MatthewS February 13, 2007, 8:53 pm

    Good for you. I've been pushing Revver pretty hard myself. It is a site that you can actually make money from your content. I'll syndicate your content!

  • BrianD February 13, 2007, 10:02 pm

    Hold it.

    I just watched the Soapbox video and saw no video or audio droputs. It is in stereo
    also.

    Was comparable to, if not better video quality than Google Video, which got a 3.0 and in mono.

    Are we looking at and listening to the same video here?

  • Alec February 14, 2007, 2:28 am

    Ken, thanks for that. I had forgotten Blip.

    And thank you Matthew!

  • Alec February 14, 2007, 2:46 am

    Brian, in fact we are. And interestingly enough, the artifacts I saw on the Google player are present on one PC, but not another. One is running Windows Vista (with 1G of memory, so it's a little underpowered), while the other is running Windows XP. Both have similar ATI Radeon cards in them, so it's not the graphics driver.

    Anyway, Google video is clearly better on the PC that I originally tested on, but is of approximately the same quality on the PC I just tried it on this morning. I'll update the story to reflect that.

    Thanks, Alec

  • Alec February 14, 2007, 4:07 am

    Ken, I just uploaded the video to blip.tv. You can see it here: http://www.blip.tv/file/148982/.

    Nice big image, mono audio. I'd give it a 4.

    A

  • Jon Arnold February 14, 2007, 5:48 am

    Great post, Alec. Very informative for anyone looking to post clips. Makes me think I should start putting my clips up on Revver. I'll post about this shortly.

  • Andrew February 14, 2007, 6:24 am

    One thing to note, only Google and YouTube are viewable in Google reader (for obvious reasons) – so if your blog traffic is mostly through GR, your readers won't see the content.

  • Anonymous February 14, 2007, 9:02 am

    I love YouTube because every video loads incredibly fast speed. Speed trumps quality, especially for my crappy computer.

  • Micki Krimmel (Revve February 14, 2007, 9:50 am

    Thanks for the props, Alec. We've put a lot of work into our video player and we're super proud of it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me: micki(at)revver.com.

  • Mike Hudack February 14, 2007, 10:11 am

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for trying out blip. We maintain the original version of your video (something no one else does) so that you can display it as you intended, and we also transcode all videos to Flash 8 VP6 at very high bitrate, maintaining the exact dimensions on the video you originally uploaded. It's true that we transcode the audio to mono, but we do this because we want to reserve as much bandwidth as possible for the video while maintaining compatibility with lower-end DSL connections. You're the first to mention the mono audio as a downside (I'm guessing you think it's a downside) and we'd be very open to discussing whether or not we should move to a stereo profile.

    By the way, if you'd like to upload your own FLV to blip.tv you can do that. We'll use your FLV, encoded to your exacting standards, instead of the one we'd otherwise create for you. So if you want to use two-pass Sorenson with 128k stereo audio in your FLV you can do that. We're also the only service on the Web that I know of other than the Internet Archive that provides direct access to your FLV files so that you can use your own Flash player with the blip.tv service.

    Please feel free to drop me a line at mike@blip.tv or give me a ring on my cell phone (646-827-9773) if you'd like to discuss the audio, transcoding or anything else about hosting video on the Web. I'd love to talk.

    Yours,

    Mike Hudack
    Co-founder & CEO, blip.tv

  • Mike Hudack February 14, 2007, 10:12 am

    Ack, Alec, I apologize I called you Jon! I think I owe you a drink for that one :)

  • Mike Hudack February 14, 2007, 10:15 am

    Alec,

    This is now going to be my third comment. This is apparently not my best blog-commenting day (I just spent seven hours at JFK Airport trying to get on a plane despite the bad weather we're having here in New York). I just wanted to mention that bilp.tv also shares revenues with video makers (although unlike Revver, our advertising program is totally opt-in, you don't have to use it) on a 50/50 basis. In addition to run-of-network advertisements done through our advertising partners we also offer sponsorship sales for great shows that use blip.tv… we actually closed the first-ever major brand sponsorship of an independent podcast/videoblog at launch ever when Amanda Congdon launched "Starring Amanda Congdon" on blip.tv sponsored by Dove.

    Yours,

    Mike
    blip.tv

  • Alec February 14, 2007, 10:19 am

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for all the comments 😉 I am quite intrigued by blip.tv, actually, and will spend some more time on it. My very quick view of it doesn't do the blogging tools justice, I don't think, so I'd like to learn a little more. I may have to eat my words yet — sometime ago I told Dina that I would never be a video blogger…

    A

  • Mike Hudack February 14, 2007, 10:38 am

    Alec,

    Let me know if you'd like a guided tour — it'd be my pleasure to walk you through some of the features blip.tv has that no one else does, like cross-posting and our soon-to-be-released-to-the-public DIY advertising. We also have full support for iTunes, automatic syndication to Yahoo Video, AOL Video, MSN Video and MeeVee, support for Flickr and del.icio.us, a partnership with Akimbo to bring top blip.tv shows to video on demand and much more… We've also got some of the best stats in the business (which are set to get even better with our next release).

    Yours,

    Mike

  • MatthewS February 14, 2007, 8:24 pm

    You caught Micki's attention! She is a very friendly face at REVVER.

  • Alec February 15, 2007, 4:12 am

    Sensei – not one I knew about. Will try them too.

  • Sensei Roberts February 15, 2007, 3:44 am

    Why didn’t you try the Metacafe one? they’re really good too, and they have a great site that actually pays producers – and not just pennies.

  • Rand February 22, 2007, 4:26 am

    I've always like the revver player, I like how the videos uploaded there aren't a bunch or duplicates like youtube. I do wish that the Revver player had a way to go to the Revver page, similar to clicking on a youtube video would go to youtube. Would make it easier when I want to post a video that I find on another site.

  • TopherX April 14, 2007, 4:06 pm

    We are the T-Cast Network create and syndicate content from revver. For all its faults, we agree it has the best model for internet video distribution.

  • kobak May 26, 2007, 12:27 pm

    I miss viddler from the list. It's my favourite.

  • Hosting Reviews August 7, 2007, 2:26 pm

    revver is taking over the world

  • Domingo September 6, 2007, 10:50 pm

    Great article!. Do you know if in these high volume sites they keep transcoded versions of all uploaded clips so that they can quickly deliver them, or do they do some on the fly encoding for infrequent clips?

  • David October 22, 2007, 4:46 am

    watchout youtube, revver is coming!

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