So, the question is – why use YouTube to host your video when the institution has a perfectly good media server sitting in the rack room? The Auricle asked this question recently and came up with 5 good reasons to choose YouTube over an in house media server. In some respects, this post is an extension to that.
Granted, I am pretending here that some of the elephant issues have left the room. I am not discounting these issues as they are vitally important when it comes to using a very public web service like YouTube. But there are more informed educators than me to discuss issues such as opening up your content, transparency, copyright and (gulp) sharing.
Instead, I am going to focus on a few of the killer technical features YouTube has that will enhance your video in ways that would take me, as an educational technologist, hours and hours of time and effort to reproduce – if I could reproduce these at all.
Take embed, for example. Now, our in house Flash server does a decent job of streaming video content from a single location (which, at my institution, is usually Desire2Learn). But beyond that, well, that’s about all we can do with video. If you want to have that content in a second place (say, a blog or website), it requires an EdTech like me with access to server folders and the tools to create a custom video player to do. So for that reason alone, the YouTube embed ability is a killer feature.
But YouTube can do so much more with a video. Here are 7 technical things that you can do with your video on YouTube that I can’t do with my media server.
1) Annotate videos
After you have created and uploaded a video, you can add notes, speech bubbles and highlights to your video. You can even create hyperlink hotspots that, when clicked on, will take users to an external website or another YouTube video.
2) Close caption videos
Looking to make your videos more accessible, or add in a second language to your video? Try adding subtitles or captions to your YouTube video. What’s the difference? Captions are in the same language as the video’s audio track, subtitles are in a different language.
3) Deep link videos
Want to trim a bit off the top of your video? To do this on our media server requires me to edit the clip, a cumbersome process at best. With YouTube, you can create a link to a specific point in a YouTube video. For example, if you’d like the viewer to start watching the video at one minute and fifty-one seconds into the video, you’d add the following time code to the end of the URL: #t=1m51s. So, here is the link in example. This url should take you to a clip from a New Scientist video that is 1:51 seconds in. http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=CmPDbktOyBc#t=1m51s
4) Swap your audio for music
Again, I would need to edit and, probably, reencode your video. But YouTube gives you the ability to turn your video into a music video with a preset music track.
5) Subscribe to feeds
RSS feeds are an area we haven’t even begun to explore with our in house media server, so if you want to replicate anything like a YouTube channel that people can subscribe to, well, you are out of luck unless you happen to catch me at a slow time of the year.
YouTube, on the other hand, does have basic RSS feeds for subscribing to content. If these feeds are too general, find some smart people who can work their way around YouTubes public API and create the most useful YouTube feeds not found in the YouTube interface.
6) Watch a high resolution version
Okay, granted, the quality of YouTube video is bad, and on this point our in house server has YouTube beat. But that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with really lousy video when you use YouTube. Add this code &fmt=18 at the end of the video URL on YouTube and see a higher resolution version of the video.
7) Embed that higher resolution version
Here is a simple hack from Make on how to embed that higher quality video in your site. Basically, add the code &ap=%2526fmt%3D18 at the end of your embed and param url’s and embed the high resolution version of the video on a webpage.
Update November 21: Just found out that you can actually view and embed HD quality videos on YouTube.