4 easy steps to getting your videos online

UPDATE: The updated version is now called The Ultimate Guide to Online Video and looks at 55 different video sharing sites. So take a look now!

This is part one of a (currently) four-part review of online video sharing sites.

Whilst clearing out my hard drive I came across a few videos which would be fun to share with friends and family. Rather than email it out (too big), I decided to upload them to an online video site, but which one? I’ve previously posted about Metacafe, and have used YouTube & Google Video to view movies, but as of yet I haven’t uploaded any. I’m also one of the beta testers for Microsoft’s answer to the combined Google/YouTube user generated online video market, Soapbox, so I thought it would be interesting to go through the process of uploading a video to each of the sites and measuring how easy it was and the resulting video quality.

Step 1: Find your video

I chose a short (13 seconds, 3.5MB) video of the Amalfi Coast, between Positano and Amalfi.

Step 2: Create an account

Simply click on the Sign Up button, enter 9 fields (including postcode for some reason), and you’re in.

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Google Video
I already have a Google account, and the same user login process was used for all Google services. However the account creation is incredibly easy and painless once again.

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Incredibly simple, just requires an email address, nickname and a password.

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Again, like Google I already have a Microsoft Passport, but even without, the process is quick and easy.

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Step 3: Upload the video

Select the Upload tab, and I had to verify my email address. “Before you can use certain features on YouTube, we need to verify your email address”. This prevents people registering with false information, although doesn’t prevent someone using a disposable email address. Once the email has arrived and you’ve clicked on the link there is a two step upload process. There are the following tips and restrictions:

  • Uploads will usually take 1-5 minutes per MB on a high-speed connection.
  • Converting your video takes a few minutes; you can add more info or upload more videos while it’s processing.
  • Videos are limited to 10 minutes (unless you’re a Director) and 100 MB.
  • Videos saved with the following settings convert the best:
    – MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format
    – 320×240 resolution
    – MP3 audio
    – 30 frames per second framerate

The video needs a title, description, tags (in this case italy, positano, amalfi, coast), a category, and language. The second step involves browsing to your video, selecting whether you want it public or private (handy for personal videos), and if you want to email the link to one of your contact lists.

Once uploaded, the initial options are presented again, along with a raft of others. You can enter details about where and when it was recorded, allow comments, ratings and video responses. Bizarrely once you save these details there is no obvious direct link to play your video, only a “share” link to send to others (which admittedly is the same as a view link).
Once you’ve pressed upload, you need to watch the progress bar and wait for a confirmation message.

Not quite perfect, but plenty of options.

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Google Video

This was an incredibly easy one step process. Browse for the location of the file, add a title and description, select a genre and language and upload. Google also allow you to select that the video is “Unlisted”. When uploading however there was no real progress bar, so no indication of when it would be complete.

There are no further settings to edit, you’re immediately presented with the video, an email form to share it, and an embed link for embedding it on a webpage, like below. You are also sent a email with the link to your uploaded video.

Very simple, but not many options.

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Clicking on Submit gives you a page with a simple Browse box. Once done, the progress bar appears on the page where you enter the rest of the details. This can all be done whilst the video is uploading however the choice of channels was limited. My video isn’t a “movie trailer”, or “amazingly cool”. You can also join up for Producer Rewards that I’ve discussed here, or just submit the video. You then get a choice of thumbnail images to display, and then you have to wait for a while for the video to be processed.

Easy, with simple step-by-step options.

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Again, like Google video, Soapbox is incredibly easy to upload to (once you have a Hotmail/Passport account). Simply fill in the title, description, tags, category and video location and press upload. Even better, unlike Google and YouTube I could continue to use Soapbox whilst my video was uploading in the background (in the same window, I could browse the other sites in a different window). The video appears in your account when ready, a small status bar informs you of of the upload status however there is no progress bar.

Very easy but no indication of how long to wait.

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Step 4: View the video

YouTube Video Embedded
Medium video quality from a reasonable source quality.
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Google Video Embedded
Initally awful quality is now slightly improved with a change in resolution.

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My Metacafe Video was removed with no explanation!
However initially the video quality was almost the same as the source.

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Soapbox Video Embedded
Superb quality, marginally different from the source file.

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Pros: Well known site with many options.
Cons: Too many steps before you get to find your video.

Google Video
Pros: Less steps and easier for a first time user. Quick.
Cons: Video quality pretty poor.

Pros: Quick signup process and some nice features with the thumbnail selection and Producer Rewards.
Cons: Long wait for video to be processed and therefore available. High video quality before it was then removed for no reason. The forums are full of people who have suffered similar problems.

Pros: Quick and simple to upload. Background processing was nice, and the best video quality out of them all.
Cons: Only in beta so not many other videos. Player seems a little less responsive than the others.

Final thoughts

All sites have made the sign up process easy, and this is only done once anyway, so the ease of uploading and video quality are the most important factors. None of the upload processes were perfect but if Soapbox gave an indication of progress it would be the winner in this category. As for video quality, the difference between Metacafe (before they took down my video) and Soapbox compared to Google Video is huge, with Google looking very poor comparatively. YouTube is somewhere in the middle. Personally I would go for YouTube until either the quality of Google improves or Soapbox gets out of beta and has some more content. Make your own mind up and please let me know!

In Part 2 I cover a few more of the lesser known video sharing sites, such as Brightcove, Revver, MyHeavy, Vimeo and Blip.


38 thoughts on “4 easy steps to getting your videos online

  1. I recommend you try using “brightcove”. It is flash-based, easy to use, and they have an amazing player where you can put in multiple files and have them in a customized playlist player where you can put your own logo, colors, etc.


  2. Your review would be better if you would disclose why you don’t give a provider full points e.g. at the “view the video” step, but also in the other steps.


  3. Cool comparison, I have video’s on all except soapbox(don’t have a hotmail account though), and I am going to open an account straight away, as the quality looks really crisp. Interface is nice too.

    I posted one video to metacafe, it has had 1200 views, where as the same video on youtube has only had 42 views, and its been up there longer.

    I asked the for producer awards, and they replied saying ‘ we dont think you own all the right’s, but they didn’t take the video down… I do own the video rights but not the song rights, but I was going to split it with my mate.

    You missed out blip.tv which host video’s of any resolution, I put my HD stuff on there. Another cool looking one is ‘Brightcove’ Which has loads of cool features like Syndication & Price setting. But it is a bit of a ball ache to configure, with no auto thumbnail generation. Really SLOW though.


  4. Adam – I’ve had a quick look at Revver. It’s a site which pays/shares rewards with the video producer. I think I’ll cover it in a second part to this post.

    Johnvid – Thanks for the feedback. I’ll take a look at blip.tv and Brightcove for the second part

    Martin – I’ll update the post as you suggest, thanks for the constructive feedback.

    Chad – As mentioned, I’ll take a look at Brightcove, thanks for the heads-up.


  5. I love post like this. I hope that YouTube, where I’ve already uploaded over 30 videos, get some better picture quality like MSN.

    Thanks for the post.


  6. latisha – Thanks! YouTube actually looks teh worst now, Google video quality has improved dramatically for reasons I can’t fathom, but Metacafe and Soapbox are much better.

    yogi – I’ll add MyHeavy to the list to review for Part 2


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  8. John – take a look at Part 2 where I cover Brightcove and others. However Brightcove means you have to download a separate piece of software to convert and upload files so is not directly comparable.


  9. Soapbox has been updated with a new flash based uploader which lets you see uploading progress as well as retry if your connection hiccups!


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