I just recorded two screencast videos last night that I wanted to use as video blog entries. Seems easy right? Just find a video host!
Unfortunately, “easy” is far from the way I would describe my experience, and I am somewhat exasperated by the process at the moment. So here is the detail: I have two videos, one being 9:17 long, and the other being 15:02. Both of these are recorded as OGV files, which is part of the free, open, cross-platform OGG media container format. All I need to do is find a service to host them and stream them. So far so good right?
I decided that I would try to look around for a video hosting solution other than YouTube, since I have posted screencasts on there before and the video degradation was horrendous. After some googling and reading reviews, I started down a spiraling path of services leading to nowhere, beginning with….
- Vimeo (verdict: fail) – Vimeo seemed like a great place to start. Any time I have seen their videos, I have never noticed a degradation. They offer HD and the service is free – kind of. In all actuality, there were three issues for me here.
- bad: They do not support the OGV file format, so I had to convert the OGV to an AVI before uploading it. Of course they don’t actually tell you this until you have sat through an entire upload first! There was a degradation that occurred during that process, so even after uploading it, the quality wasn’t as good as I liked.
- bad: Free accounts are only allowed to upload a single HD video per week. Already in my first try I had two, so that is a show stopper.
- good: The HD version that was uploaded was better than many of the alternatives,
- bad: you can’t embed the HD. If the user wishes to see it, they have to click through the player to the site and watch it on the Vimeo site.
- Viddler (verdict: fail) – Viddler seemed like a good alternative to Vimeo. However, ultimately it doesn’t seem to be the direct fit either.
- bad: Just as with Vimeo, they do not support OGV.
- good: As opposed to Vimeo, at least they tell you about the lack of OGV support as soon as you attempt uploading!
- bad: Since I had already converted one of my videos to AVI, I went ahead and tried it. Even in full screen mode, the degradation was bad enough that I couldn’t see what I was typing in the video, which is kind of the point!
- YouTube (verdict: fail) – After nixing Viddler, I thought “why not at least try YouTube again?”, and I was soon reminded of exactly why not.
- good: They support OGV!
- bad: Even my 9:41 video was deemed “too long” and was promptly removed.
- bad: I couldn’t even get far enough to report on degradation!
So just as I began typing this blog entry to air my dissatisfaction with things in general, I came across this post, praising the combination of using Jing to record, and Screencast.com to host the video. The video clarity on his example was really impressive. “Ha!” I thought, “finally!”. So I now have one more to add to my list:
- Screencast.com (verdict: fail)
- good: They allow you to upload any file type whatsoever! (I think anyway)
- bad: They only embed a few different file types into players. OGV is again not supported.
So here I sit, still without a good solution to what initially seemed like it should be a no-brainer of a problem to solve. The amount of time that I have wasted to still be sitting at square one is terribly aggravating. Between upload times and service-specific encoding times, I am more hours deep into this than I care to think about.
HTML5 to the rescue?
One thing that came out of this search is that I learned that HTML5 natively supports OGG/OGV using the <video/> tag. (more here), and based on an example that on this page, it looks very cool! The only fundamental thing that is holding me back at the moment is that there doesn’t appear to be any option to allow your user to ‘full screen’ your video out of the player. So close, yet… still no solution!
If anyone has any good recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments.