There are two reasons to post videos to a user generated content (UGC) site; first, to reach the constituency of members, second to use the platform to post videos on your own website.
Regarding reaching the constituency, for most producers, there’s no reason to discriminate, as more is definitely better. For the second, posting videos to your own website, you want the site that provides the best video quality and a reasonably featured player without potential negatives like pre-roll advertising. You also want to make sure that your use of the videos on your own site won’t violate the letter or the spirit of the site’s terms of service. All of the sites prohibit content that violates copyrights owned by others, as well as offensive content such as pornography, animal cruelty, hate videos and the like, so I won’t mention that
The focus of this article is the second reason, choosing the best site for embedding videos into your own web site. To accomplish this I looked at six different options, five UGC sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, DailyMotion, and Metacafe), and VideoPress, which is the fee-based video publishing option available to WordPress users. True, VideoPress doesn’t really fit in because it’s a paid service, but it’s so cheap, and WordPress blogs so ubiquitous, that when the opportunity to have a look fell into my lap, I couldn’t resist. By the way, we were going to look at Revver.com, but the 100 MB upload limit was too low for three of our five test files.
To test the sites, I uploaded five video files, one 720p HD file, one 640×360 SD file, one 4:3 interlaced DV file to test the site’s scaling and deinterlacing capabilities, one screencam-based file because I post a lot of screencam videos, and one very short video shot with an iPod Touch 4, because I noticed that some sites (and editing programs) tend to display these upside down.
I downloaded the encoded versions of the files from the sites, identified the codec and analyzed the data rate using the MediaInfo utility, and compared quality. Next, I embedded the files into my own website to get a feel for embedding options, and tested playback on multiple computers using multiple browsers, as well as my iPad.
Then, I had a glass of merlot (or three), and wrote this all up. So here you go, my guide to choosing a UGC site (plus VideoPress) to use for embedding video into your own website.