YouTube 2012

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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A long time ago we wrote a piece about the video website YouTube. At the time it was still a relatively new service and the range of features and the video quality on offer left a lot to be desired.

It's 2012 now, in case you hadn't noticed, so we thought we should take a fresh look at the sharing website that many folks love to hate and see what has changed and what YouTube can offer for you and your work.

Let's Roll

First of all the upload portion of the YouTube site has been massively overhauled. Previously, when last we tested it, there was only a simple button to select a file and you had no idea how long it would take to complete the upload of that file.

Once you have selected a file and clicked the upload button you are presented with an options screen that tells you how long you will have to wait for your video to upload.

HD video uploads are limited to 15 minutes in length unless you choose to "verify" your account with Google (YouTube's owners). Verification means giving Google your cell phone number so they can send you a code.

This appears to be nothing more than a way to get your cell phone number (email activation would be just as simple), something Google does on a regular basis, so we would recommend not doing that. Keep you cell phone number off the internet.

Also on this screen are a plethora of options to title your video, add a description, add tags, etc. You can set your video to private, public or unlisted which dictates how you can share your creation with other people.

An unlisted video makes the video publicly accessible but only if they have a link to that particular video. This is a good way to keep the general YouTube population away from your work and keep the potentially mind numbing comments to a minimum.

Unlisted videos can also be embedded into any website, so if you simply want to use YouTube as a hosting platform for your stuff selecting the unlisted option is how to do it.

The advanced settings tab lets you turn off comments, turn off the, somewhat pointless, rating system from being visible and turn off the, also somewhat pointless, "video responses" option.

You can also disable embedding if you wish and add location and recording date information.

There is also an option to turn on "3D Video". We have no idea what that does but we suggest you leave it alone unless you actually filmed your video using a 3D enabled camera and if you did that, then we have no sympathy for you.

Video Quality

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Once upon a time YouTube, despite its popularity, had the worst playback quality of any video website on the internet. Fast forward to 2012 and the same is still true when you look at the default quality that YouTube offers when you start watching any video.

Unlike Vimeo, for example, YouTube encodes videos at multiple quality levels using the confusing descriptions of "360p", "480p", "720p", "1080p", etc, selectable from a cogwheel icon on the bottom of the player.

A far simpler method would be to use a button for either SD (Standard Definition) or HD (High Definition) since these terms tend to be more readily understood by internet users.

When videos play in the HD format, assuming you have uploaded them in HD, then the quality is much the same as any other site on the web. The image is relatively sharp with accurate colour reproduction and good sound. YouTube has no method for selecting HD video by default unless you have an account on the site.

If that's the case then you can select HD video to play if a video is run in full screen and an HD version is available. It's unlikely the vast majority of YouTube users, even if they have an account, will even know that those options are available however.

Embedded

One of the main advantages of video sharing services is the ability to embed your videos into your own website. On this front YouTube have made some improvements. The player itself has a much better design so when a video is displayed, before it has started playing, all you can see is a large play button in the centre of the video.

As you can see from our demo the video title is still rendered in a rather ugly type face (this might look different depending on the computer platform you are using).

Once the video begins to play the controls all roll out of the frame and all that remains is a rather humble red strip at the base of the video denoting how far along you are in the timeline.

The "inline" controls allow you to select the video quality, turn on captions (more of which later), add the video to a watch later list on your own YouTube account and blow the video up to full screen.

Just like the YouTube website there is no option to enable HD embedding by default so unless the user selects it they won't be watching your video in the best quality possible.

The Ugly

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YouTube is owned by Google and Google is one of the world's biggest distributors of advertising and in this regard YouTube is no different from any other service that Google offers.

No sooner had we uploaded our test video than ads were displayed over the top of it. These ads have to clicked-on to remove them and, if you look at the screen shot, you're not really going to be able to concentrate on the video unless you do.

An additional button on the YouTube website lets you adjust the size of the view screen to make the video more prominent in your browser window.

The side effect of this is to make the overlay ads even more annoying to say nothing of the scammy looking side bar ads that often pop-up an YouTube for some some money making scheme or other.

Such things will do little to enhance the reputation of your company even if you don't have anything to do with the ads themselves and have little or no control over whether or not they are even displayed.

There is an option in the YouTube account preferences to "monetize" your videos from these advertisements. However, the number of plays you have to rack up in order to earn any real money will be enormous so don't pin your hopes on "monetization" replacing your ACE funding.

Play What

On the subject of video plays. Even though our test videos were private, meaning nobody else could see them, we managed to rack up a dozen or so plays just by reloading to check out different features and settings.

It's a well known problem with YouTube that the "views" number probably bears little relation to how many times the video has actually been watched.

Caption Me

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After you have uploaded your finished video you can, should you choose to do so, use a number of "enhancements" offered by YouTube that are designed to improve your video. We use the word "improve" in the loosest possible sense however.

The ad-hoc colour correction, stabilise and editing features should never really be used unless you have absolutely no other way to do these things in post production before you upload the video. Even then we recommend you avoid them completely.

One feature though could be very useful is the ability to add subtitles. YouTube supports the "SRT" and "SBV" file formats.

To subtitle your video all you need to do is prepare a text document matching what people are saying to the time code of the video itself. Once you upload the finished transcript the subtitles will be immediately available at the click of a button.

You can even upload subtitles in multiple languages all of which would be selectable from the "CC" menu on the player. Preparing the subtitles is a very slow process (depending on how much speech you have in your work) but having the option there is very useful if you want to make your work as accessible as possible.

Our test video, above, has some subtitles that kick in at the one minute mark so you can see how they look.

Copyright Mis-Fire

YouTube and Google have come under increasing pressure to deal with the large amounts of copyright protected work that are uploaded without the proper permissions from rights holders.

In response to this the site has deployed automated scanning systems that check both the image and the soundtrack for any copyright protected work.

Our test video was flagged for possibly containing a piece of music that wasn't actually there. Still, we filled out the forms that popped up, stated we had a "fair use" claim to use the music and clicked the submit button.

That was the last we heard of it although our video didn't remain online very long, we only put it up there for testing.

So, if you use YouTube you should be aware that if your work features popular music then it may get flagged even if you have permission to use it and you will have to fill out the autobot forms.

You could also find yourself having to deal with people you never see and whom you cannot contact claiming that you have no right to use the music. "They" could then serve YouTube with a take down notice and your video could get deleted.

Better But not Much

There is no doubt that YouTube has become substantially better over the last few years but many issues still remain, not least of which is the sometimes hugely offensive YouTube "community".

Ugly advertising, poor SD video quality and irritating copyright systems are somewhat mitigated by the excellent subtitling integration.

Here in TheLabā„¢ we would suggest that if subtitles are important to your online presentations then YouTube is a good option. However, you could always create a "hard coded" subtitle version of your video and use other video services that have fewer irritations.

[ YouTube ]

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