Rarely do I see an online video service and geek out. But after talking with Jeff Malkin, President of Encoding.com, last week and then testing out the newly launched (private beta) of Vid.ly all I could say was: Oh My God that's cool!
How cool? Read on Reel Believers and find out just how this amazing new service from Encoding.com will completely revamp your online video workflow and revolutionize your online video presence.
Vid.ly, a new automatic transcoding, universal URL service from Encoding.com is simply genius. You upload your file, set up your profile and it automatically encodes to whatever formats you desire (or that's the plan). You are then emailed links that can be sent in SMS (US only right now but International is planned) as well as,
Embedded via HTML5 (which had a small bug, but is fixed):
or embedded with legacy Flash Players: http://vidly.s3.amazonaws.com/5t9q4t/mp4.mp4
The truly cool thing is that once the video is uploaded and you receive the email, the video plays, well, on just about anything. Check this out:
Yes. I uploaded a video to Vid.ly and that is it playing on my PC, iPhone (1st Gen), Nokia N97 Mini and downloading for play on my Sony PSP (2nd generation). Well just believe me about the PSP, it's off screen in that shot (but is in the video later). I did nothing special. I just uploaded the file and presto-change-o Vid.ly did.ly the rest... Here, don't believe me? Click this link - http://vid.ly/5t9q4t -on just about any connected device. Go ahead, I'll wait, no really, do it.
When I sat down with Jeff I didn't exactly grasp the sheer coolness of it until I got to give it a whirl myself. They have pretty much removed the major barrier to having your video show everywhere. There's no more worrying about multiple codecs, devices, lack of standards and various resolutions.
Check out this brief video I made of that Final Fantasy XIII-2 (newly announced) trailer playing on multiple platforms (stated above): http://vidly.s3.amazonaws.com/0k9s0d/mp4.mp4
The Vid.ly service gives you up to 1GB per video and offers unlimited storage and bandwidth presently. They're using Amazon Cloudfront but offer several options for uploading your file to Vid.ly including FTP, HTTP, S3, Cloud files and direct upload from your PC.
The plans are for both a free version and a pro version. The Pro version will include API support so that you can hook right into the service and not have to manually go to the website to process new files. That also means that it will probably start getting integrated into some other services over time.
On top of that, there are three other major differences planned for the Pro version:
- Ability to customize the 14 profiles (bitrate, etc)
- HTTP live streaming for iOS devices
- Access to a premium CDN partner or use your own CDN
But what about...
After my initial WebEx with Jeff and my fiddling about with the service on my own, I had more questions to answer than I initially thought I would. While the one video -> all formats thing is brilliant, we have other concerns here at ReelSEO, like, video SEO, monetizing the content, getting the content discovered by new audiences and of course content management, metadata, etc.
Jeff tells me that the Vid.ly roadmap really focuses on getting the Pro version up and running. That tells me that they're not thinking about video SEO right now, nor will there be any way to attach metadata directly to the video files for some time. This could be a major drawback of the service, as it could seriously hinder your video SEO for some videos that you don't ultimately embed in your site.
However, you can still do all the basic video SEO on your site and in your video sitemap when you publish the videos there. Since you're probably doing most of your video SEO via sitemap right on your site (you are, aren't you?) it shouldn't be a big difference. These are essentially CDN hosted video files. The only thing that could be problematic is getting all of the formats for the video into the sitemaps. The service poses an interesting question there. Since it's just one URL for the video. We'll have to see what Mark thinks about it all in regards to VSEO.
In regards to advertising, I asked if it would be affected by Vid.ly. Jeff said, "It is a standard video stream so if you plug in the code from the section 3 on the confirmation page (direct FLA play), this should work." So at least we can still monetize the content without problem. I tested that with the FF XIII-2 trailer on my demo page at GDN. I'm using JW Player there with the Longtail Ad Solution and the ads show up just fine, as I expected they would.
The service still lacks in the interface department. There's no account to login to and so there's no central location for you to manage all of your videos from. That means you've got to keep all of the emails you get from them and you also have to remember which email is for which video. An easy solution to this would be for them to implement a simple text field in the process that takes the file name and sets it as the email subject or includes it in the text of the email. Right now, if you've got multiple videos and you've forgotten which is which you need to go in and watch each one until you find the one you're looking for. It's rather cumbersome, but again, they're just in early beta and I'm sure they'll get something in place eventually.
The service also pulls thumbnails from the videos automatically, but I can't for the life of me find a place where I can access those and choose a specific one to be the main thumbnail when I load it into a player or embed it.
Right now the Vid.ly service is rather rudimentary. As I said there's no place to manage your videos, look at thumbnails, add metadata or even a way to know which URL is for which video without physically going and checking them. Also, I had some problems when uploading the straight AVCHD files from my camera to the service. It would upload but then error out as if the service didn't know how to handle the files (that was easily remedied by me editing or transcoding them before uploading.
However, Vid.ly is extremely early beta and the thing that it's meant to do, take all the hassle out of multiple video versions, it does extremely well. Over time I'm sure they'll add on a dashboard and account management section along with a variety of other things. At that time I can certainly see this becoming a very valuable service for everyone who is doing video online. I can even see value for myself and GDN which would allow our videos to reach far more people than they are currently. That could, when the Pro version of Vid.ly rolls around, pay for itself rather quickly.
The Big List of Formats
They also have specific formats for Android, Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, Opera, Samsung, Nintendo DS, Wii and Sony PSP.