This week, I’m going to take a look at some of the video hosting options available to IHEs. I’ll be looking at each of them from more of the technical end – production, upload and quality wise.

Let’s start things off with the big fish in the pond: YouTube. I think it’s safe to say they are the top when it comes to online video, and they get the most media attention and eyeballs from prospective students. There are plenty of other resources out there about how to set up your channel, make it pretty, etc. I’ll skip the bits about how to customize your landing page. Here’s the landing page for my college.

From a technical perspective, YouTube will take any format you throw at it. You’re limited to 10 minutes and 100mb per upload. I try to upload as high a quality as I can, since by default they stream some of the lowest video quality, fidelity-wise, not content-wise (though some videos out there are just awful.) You can tweak quality settings in your user prefs, but most users probably haven’t and I don’t think that setting carries across to embeds.

Speaking of embedding your videos, it’s very easy with YouTube, just grab the code and you are good to go.

I mentioned a second ago about quality, and I want to dig into that a little bit more. Here’s an example. I made this video in 2006. We shot with a 3CCD camera so we started with very good quality source video. We edited in iMovie and output to a high quality MOV.

Now, visit this YouTube link and see the quality difference? Go ahead, I’ll wait here. It’s startling, isn’t it?

As far as I can find, you can’t change that embed quality. I can get why – those files are larger and take more bandwidth, but YouTube is doing that conversion for some reason. But, why? I’ll tell you.

The iPhone. Well that’s part of it. Since the iPhone lacks Flash support (for now,) Apple most likely said to YouTube “hey, give us H.264 files!” The iPhone plays videos, so it already has the codecs for that format.

Want to see if your video is available in higher quality? Browse to a video in YouTube that isn’t an embed, and tack this bit onto the URL “&fmt=18“.

One newer thing that’s very interesting about YouTube is their API. They recently upgraded their tools and now offer a myriad of ways to use content inside YouTube to create your own mini-YouTube. You could easily create a video portal of videos about your institution or allow users to upload videos through your site and into YouTube and become part of your portal. The API is pretty interesting and there are some definite opportunities for IHEs here.

Despite some of the quality issues, putting your school’s videos in YouTube is a no-brainer. It’s easy, accessible and best of all, free.

As you can probably tell from a bunch of posts here, I’m a huge fan of cloud computing and distributed services. We use Amazon’s suite of services and I’ll be giving several talks this summer about them and our uses of them.

In my insatiable quest for knowledge, I’m excited for the following book to be published: Programming Amazon Web Services. The book will cover several of Amazon’s services: S3, EC2, SQS and FPS. Here’s a quick snippet from Amazon:

Building on the success of its storefront and fulfillment services, Amazon now allows businesses to “rent” computing power, data storage and bandwidth on its vast network platform. This book demonstrates how developers working with small- to mid-sized companies can take advantage of Amazon Web Services (AWS) such as the Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Queue Service (SQS), Flexible Payments Service (FPS), and SimpleDB to build web-scale business applications.

The book is released on March 28. I hope it’s in O’Reilly’s Safari service. Our institution subscribes to that.