Vimeo

Vimeo is optimized for HD video (default playback setting) and gives the user numerous ways to share and distribute video. However, Vimeo, like YouTube, works best when your video is exported and optimized for the compression settings Vimeo prefers. Keep in mind that these settings change sporadically, so it’s best to check the Vimeo website for the latest information if you are working on a high profile project. Vimeo is especially well suited for embedding higher quality video as there are numerous playback options and Vimeo sets their default values somewhat higher for video playback. This can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on your audience.

Vimeo compression website:
http://www.vimeo.com/help/compression

If you are using Final Cut Pro to export your video, here are some helpful tips related to settings. Again, it’s wise to check the most current settings on the Vimeo site before moving into a large export project.

(1) Export Type
You can export your videos using File->Export-> Quicktime Conversion or File->Send To->Compressor. The compressor provides more settings and also allows you to save a profile such as “Vimeo Export Settings.”

(2) Format and User Type
Format: MP4
User: LAN/Intranet

(3) Specifications
Click on the Options Button->
Video format: H.264
Data rate: 4500-5000 kbits/sec (may need to drop this to 3000 if you expect “slower” systems playing this content
Image size: 1280×720
Frame rate: current / key frame = 30 fps

(4) Audio
Click on the Audio Button (on top)->
AAC-LC, 320 kbps, channels=stereo, output sample rate=44.100khz, encoding quality=better

YouTube
Technical requirements for uploading video to YouTube

http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=165543|

You’ll notice that the recommended export settings are very similar to Vimeo although the data rate is “automatic,” which could drop your intended image and audio quality below desired thresholds.

So, should you use Vimeo or YouTube?

This is a difficult question. Ideally, you should use both. The platforms have become very similar in terms of technical features, but YouTube is still the preferred platform for reaching a larger audience. Vimeo plays video by default in HD (YouTube plays HD only when the user selects this option—assuming the video is available in HD format) and still seems to use slightly higher quality settings for playback. So, if you are sure your end users have slower connectivity speeds, i.e. dial up, or are primarily rural–YouTube is often the preferred choice to ensure quicker download. Both platforms allow videos to be embedded on remote websites and allow keywords, channel/album association, customized shells, etc.

Another visible difference concerns advertisements. Currently, even when using a Vimeo Plus account, your Vimeo videos will playback on webpages that contain advertisements—normally at the bottom of the page. YouTube does not push advertising alongside of video playback, but you must be careful when directing users outside of your dedicated channel or embedded pages as videos played outside of this can sometimes associate with “unsavory” or inappropriate videos that show up on the heels of your screen in the form of thumbnails.

I recently gave a talk to the green industry about using web-based video and photo assets to help meet instructional goals. I was reminded of the amazing potential visual story telling holds for industries that find their center of gravity outdoors. Visual pedagogy is a powerful tool that can be used to unlock this potential and more effectively share the stories and underlying knowledge in the context of real-world physical settings. As we’ve discussed in an earlier post, Augmented Reality is pushing this kind of “location-based learning” to new heights, but video will always be a major player in the reformulated media types that emerge in the years to come.

As the sites and resources that house and deliver visual assets (think Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr) continue to evolve and integrate with map and location-based websites like Google Maps (and Panoramio), crowdsourcing and syndication models continue to become more important. Therefore, the core functional requirements around which web-based interactive sites are defined  require a much deeper understanding of visual literacy and how to convey information using visual assets (visual pedagogy). One of the leaders in this field is Michael Wesch at Kansas State University. His recent article on being “knowledge-able” is enlightening and a must read for anyone looking for insight on this topic.

Core SME (subject matter expert) content, as essential as it is, will more frequently co-exist (but not necessarily comingle) with content contributed by the SMA (subject matter amateur). One of the best examples of this shift can be found on CNN’s recently redesigned website. CNN is the 59th most popular website in the world (Alexa.com) and its main audience is 25 to 44 years old and predominantly male. Sometime around November of 2009, CNN completely reformatted their site to include a very heavy focus on video content (see the prominent position, size and number of video thumbnails) and pushed their video navigation tab to the top position on the top bar (after the Home tab). They also integrated their iReport pages on the top navigation bar and included the following text when a user clicks on this tab:

“Welcome to iReport, where people take part in the news with CNN. Your voice, together with other iReporters, helps shape how and what CNN covers everyday.”

We’ll definitely see more of this message across different industries, “your voice, together with other iReporters.” The SMA, or subject matter amateur, has become a driving force now even in the news industry, and text is continuing to move into a supporting role for video content.  Howard Keen in his book, “The Cult of the Amateur,” along with others, decries this strong push towards unregulated and unvetted content creation, but he concedes that examples like Wikipedia seem to suggest that accessibility continues to trump quality gatekeeping in many domains. As Keen reminds us, “It’s hard to beat free.”

Is the CCN website shift towards supporting video and “iCreateContent” a sign of things to come, i.e. “Our Stuff” + “Your Stuff”? Sure, interaction is always a plus, but will more once-trusted sources of information go the way of Wikipedia?

Here are some interesting statistics about the increasing popularity of video on the Internet:

“The age diversity of online video viewers is reflected in a July 2008 Nielsen study that showed a fairly even distribution by age among the US audience. Although a combined 39% of US viewers were under age 35, the single largest cluster of users was in the 45-to-54-year-old cohort. Older users were also well-represented, with a combined 22% ages 55 and older.”

Cisco Systems says that in 2012, Internet video traffic alone will be 400 times the traffic carried by the U.S. Internet backbone in 2000. Video-on-demand, IPTV, peer-to-peer video, and Internet video are forecast to account for nearly 90 percent of all consumer IP traffic in 2012.

The SlideShare presentation referenced above has some links to companies (especially gardening or green industry related) who are tapping into this type of approach. Not all of the examples employ crowdsourcing or even user participation, but they definitely extend the reach of each organization and utilize video and photos in a way that is relevant and engaging. A key consideration in this type of undertaking is whether or not an organization’s deficiency in this area leaves room for the end-user (SMA) to define the visual assets that shape sites like Panoramio and Flickr. The repositories that hold our visual assets will become more relevant as they progressively proliferate content to more network endpoints and also leverage geotagging.

Do you have any similar examples? Do you feel like most of the E-learning you’ve encountered takes into account user preference towards video and visual assets?