The Ultimate Video Sharing site

What do you think the ultimate video-sharing site is? As in having practically everything? There are a lot of "good" video sites, but I don’t think there aren’t any that actually pretty much do it all so well. Every video site has some flaw of course, even YouTube (which has tons), but if you had to think what the most ultimate video-sharing site would have, what would there be?

                                                                               

Here’s my list:

  • HD or high quality videos – No more of this awful low-res videos that we’re forced to watch. I’d do anything to see something that isn’t grainy, awful audio quality, and has something seeable. Instead, I want more crisp pictures, smoother transitions, and better audio quality.
  • Download button – Lets users (who post videos) have a choice if they want to allow people to directly download their video. No more having to go find a converter site to do it. Just directly download into a variety of video file formats. Average users will probably allow the downloading capability for their videos, while big content companies probably won’t. Even and fair. It makes sense.
  • Upload many different video files/codecs – I hate it when a site won’t upload my video because it’s the "wrong" format. Please upload my video no matter what file type or codec it is. Or at least instantly convert it into what you think acceptable. Better hope the quality is still the same.
  • Have a great video player – Preferably Flash/Silverlight. Put the video controls in a good intuitive style. Let it do many advanced functions, but at the same time, not clump up the simple video controls. I think Brightcove has the best all around video-player. Viddler wins in terms of advanced features. It would also be nice if the controls/menu only appear if you hover over the video. When you’re not, you just see more video.
  • Embedded video tagging featureViddler is cool, because it’s the only site I know where you can embed tags within a video. The progress tracker has a little plus sign on it to add a comment/tag to the video at that point. Pretty neat.
  •  Hover-n-watch video thumbnails – I like how on Live Video Search, you can see a preview and other quick shorts of a video result just by hovering your cursor over it. That technology can be extended by also giving the video’s description in a small speech bubble on the side of it. Really awesome if that capability was added. I know that Dailymotion does full video straight from it’s thumbnails, from it’s related videos that appear after you watched a video.
  • Lot of social bookmarking buttons – Would be great if all videos had a nice social bookmarking button in the video’s profile. Put the top ones like Digg, Facebook, Del.icio.us, and StumbleUpon as primary buttons, and a down arrow to extend options for other social bookmarking sites. Would be wonderful if all or most social bookmarking sites were represented.
  • Video playlists – I love how MSN Video lets you easily make a video playlists by putting a little plus sign in the corner of video thumbnail results. Really handy and it’s instantly added. You can also view your playlist straight from the video player, and remove videos or go back to previous videos straight from that. Pretty nifty. Would also be great to save and share playlists.
  • Live video streaming – Another new thing that’s been gaining popularity lately. Some people really like to sit in front of (or behind) a video camera and let users view what they see LIVE. I think it’s a ridiculous small geeky fad, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some nice quality live video streaming on a video-sharing site.
  • Multiple uploading – I’m not sure, but I think MSN Video is the only site that offers this convenience. Probably because it’s pretty much all Flash, but it’s really convenient how MSN Video lets you upload more than one video file at the same time, and you can still view a video the whole time on the right pane. Really neat feature.
  • Stationary video player – MSN Video has a stationary player on their site. It stays as itself the whole time on the site. The only thing on the site that changes/reloads is the video results, user profiles, among some other things as you’re searching. So that way, you video stays in the same spot and plays the whole time without the interruption of a reloaded page and whatnot. Really keen.
  • Built-in video editing software – What could better complement a video-sharing site, but video editing software? Something from basic to pretty strong for free (probably ad-supported) would be nice. Users can refine their video before publishing it to the world. Would be great if it could just work inside the browser.
  • Support for many browsers – IE, FF, Opera, Safari, and the other smaller ones. Make it all work.
  • Nice plug-ins and add-ons – Wouldn’t it be great to extend your video-sharing site beyond the website? Like a Media Center plug-in, gadgets/widgets, Apple TV, Chumby, great mobile versions, and so-on? Be extensible, be ubiquitous.
  • Non-intrusive advertising – There’s text ads, but that takes up real-estate space. There’s banner ads which are worse because they’re annoying, take up a lot of site screen space, and aren’t as effective as adblocking gets more popular.  There’s video ads, but that takes up a user’s time to view what they came for. So what’s the next best thing? Small ads that appear in a pane that extends outside of the video player during certain time intervals. They won’t appear directly on the video player when they jump out, but on the side of it, most likely. There can be a button to close them, but the site will probably load another ad in 30 second intervals. It’s a free site, but you’ve got to have ads to pay for employees and servers just to run the best site.
  • Common video tools – Like rating, favoriting, e-mail, embed, URL, report/flag, and that kind of common stuff. Going on and above would be like offering most social bookmarking links, IM (to a contact) button, download button, etc.
  • Forums – Just a place on the site to talk about the popular videos, put public feedback, share tips & tricks, report problems, etc.
  • International versions of the site – To avoid a melting pot of confusing language, annoying amounts of un-understandable videos in the results, etc.
  • Publish suitable age ratings for videos – Not all videos should be viewed by everybody. There might be some more "mature" content that some people might want and should view, without it killing the innocence of a kid. So put a certain age ranking on a video to avoid being reported, but get some people to see it. People who have ID’s on the site and meet the age requirement can watch them. Though anybody can fake an ID, that’s a different story.
  • Good commenting section – Every video needs some community feedback, so video sites have comments. I think YouTube admittedly has the best commenting space. The comment is show with person’s username, time/date, along with a thumbs-up/down ranking, and a report/spam button. People can reply directly under the comment, and the person gets notified who replied to them. Simple but effective. Thought that system could be improved by allowing users to show their online IM presence if they don’t mind letting people talk to them. Of course e-mail address is hidden.
  • Great content from TV/Movie studios – Watching televised content on the Internet is practically a norm these days. Some even do it for free, where users have managed to rip some good content for people to watch for free. Now these TV/Movie studios are getting wary about digitizing stuff again. So what better way to keep making money, and letting lots of people watch, than getting an account and a percentage of the ad revenues from the video site? The company/studio can set up a special account from the video site, and post their videos in a very secure code (so not pulling off from the URL) that people can’t steal with. Then the advertising revenues for the video can be shared amongst the company and the video site host. So it’s a win-win situation, right? Let’s see this come up. Hulu has been a really great site to see such content, but it’s not the ultimate video site (all combined into one).
  • Effective end video accompanying – At the end of a video, what shows up on the player? What I think should be there is a simple button to "replay", "link", or "send" similar to Brightcove‘s player. And show other related videos in a nice cursor-down strip like YouTube‘s with a touch of hover-watch like DailyMotion. MSN Video does it the worst. The video ends, and there’s 10 seconds before the timer stops and either an MSN content-related video or an ad is stuffed right into the player. As if I wanted to see these things. As long as it’s easy to refresh the video to the beginning, that would be great.

So that’s my top list. I usually love to draw mock UI concepts of things, and I’ve made a few, but I don’t think they’re worth showing.

Anything else I should add? Just comment.

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Microsoft Video site is down

By down, I mean it’s no longer viewable by the public. Not that the public even knew about it. I wrote about it a week ago.

                                                                                    

Looks like it will be coming fully in April. There wasn’t much to do when I saw it. You couldn’t comment or anything really. Just watch.

Just thought people might want to know. Here’s the site : http://preview.microsoft.com/video/

Microsoft and the bazillion different web players

People often view videos on the web in some type of customized player, right? Well I thought it was amazing over how many different web players that Microsoft shows on their sites. Here’s a few:

             

              

             

          

That’s just some of them. I’m guessing there’s at least a few more. It’s kinda funny how one company could be so spread out that a lot of their product/service teams have different version of a video player. Some cruddy, some neat. It’s nuts.

Hopefully Microsoft can realize that consistency is the key to doing things better. Especially having just one good video player might be great.                                                            

Live Search News gets a revamped look

With the latest Live Search UI update, comes a new news search layout.

                                                            

In the past, you would just see a simple list.

                    

With the new update, there’s some more with the results now. Things like:

  • News article pictures – pictures associated with the article in the result are shown
  • Simple search filter – getting results either by their relevance OR recentness
  • Refine by location or category
  • Related searches of search term

Quite a nice update. I still think Google does News Search better, but we’ll have to wait and see if there’s more.

Things I wish Live News Search would do:

  • Better refinement filters – By recentness, I could want something in the last hour, the latest day, the latest week, etc. Relevance can done by opting out words that I don’t want to associate with, probing for specific words, etc.
  • Archives – I might want to view a news article from 3 years ago. Google does an awesome job of pulling out articles from newspaper sites’ archives
  • RSS feeds or Live Alerts – That too would be very helpful if you want to keep up with the latest news on a certain topic
  • Blog Search – Offer blog searching. Blog posts are kind of news in itself. Partner with Technorati or something. Just get a blog search going.
  • Site’s Favicon/Icon–  Sometimes I don’t like certain news sites, and seeing their icon helps me identify which ones to avoid, and which ones to read from.

I hope this means more updates from Live.

Windows Fiji – What’s the next Media Center update?

So possibly due later in 2008 is Windows Fiji. At least that’s the codename for it, I think. News about Fiji has died down, but I’m still wondering. Some of your tech blogs said it had to do with Media Center getting a pretty big update.

Now I’ve heard wonderful things about the new Media Center in Vista. I’ve even see some video showing off the gorgeous Media Center displays and all that. So it’d be interesting to see what big updates Microsoft has in store for Media Center.

So I’m making a list of things I hope to see come true:

  • Satellite Radio – How about getting XM or Sirius to offer their digital radio on WMC? I think there’s already XM, but they could do a better job.
  • Web browser – People are all about the Web these days. So putting in a web browser would be awesome. Allow it to port IE favorites, RSS feeds, and all the works that’s possible to hand with a remote. Make it fast and simple.
  • VOIP or Skype?
  • Radio recording – You can already record TV broadcasts, but not radio broadcasts?
  • Podcasts – Well first there actually needs to be a podcasts section in WMP 11, and then make a nice way to see podcasts on WMC
  • Customized UI themes – Blue is nice, but it gets boring. What’s wrong with other palettes of the rainbow? Like green, silver, black? And maybe some ways to tweak the opacity, the reflectiveness, the transitioning, use multiple colors, etc. Also how about popular created themes like maybe TV/Movie/Game inspired ones, like Halo, Hello Kitty, Terminator, Lost, or a bazillion other pop culture themes. Just let users really create themes, and share (with downloadables) on a dedicated Media Center site.
  • Dedicated online store – There’s a myriad of online stores with WMC, but not a store that just does it all so well. Apple TV does the iTunes store, and as everyone knows : the iTunes store has the king of all legal media. Microsoft really needs to step up with it’s online store strategy such as Zune Marketplace and Xbox LIVE Marketplace and combine them together, and get nice decent (maybe even HD) content from content providers going up. Because going to one store for this, another for this, and so on and so on is something people don’t need to deal with. Make a good one, and make it MC accessible.
  • Native BluRay support or HD-DVD support as well
  • The ability to customize the EPG. I suppose my main gripe is not being able to group certain channels together. Another change I would like to see is adjusting the number of columns and rows as well. Along the same line is the search capability. It really isn’t intuitive at all. It takes several clicks to find the search function from the EPG. I think Microsoft could do some work on advancing the whole PVR concept by adding rating systems, suggestions etc.
  • DVD Streaming. There is no DVD streaming for extenders. This is not a good thing.
  • A la carte channels – Please MS. Do something that cable/satellite services haven’t done for a long time. Let users browse through a mondo list of channels, and let them choose what channels they want. No premium packages, bundles, tying, or any of that nonsense. Give users full choice in channels we want to see for a good price. I don’t know how MS could do this, but if they can do this through Media Center, that will definitely get people more on this platform.
  • List View option – While having a showcase of pretty thumbnails to browse through is awesome, for some, it’s quite laggy. So if the WMC could at least offer the option somewhere to view items in a list, that would be nice.
  • Fix Rewind/FastForwards lag – Improve that, and also offer support for that on .avi files
  • Get more online partners – There’s nice 3rd party things to view from, but not a lot. It’s kind of sad. It’s like a beautiful building, with little or nothing inside it. Some big things people want to see is Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, and some other popular web destinations on their TV. Apple already has gotten Flickr and YouTube, but what about Microsoft?
  • Windows Live integration – somewhere at least. IM via WLM on WMC? View my calendar and e-mail? Something would be good.
  • Own set top box – With it’s own DVD player, inputs, and whatever. Make it affordable and in a way so you don’t need a computer to utilize it. Or at least make your own box for it.
  • Support more codecs – You can never have enough codecs.
  • Promote Home Automation uses – Lifeware does an awesome job for making WMC a nice home automation system. Show off Home Automation uses in the next version.
  • Visualizations during music playing – WMP 11 does this, so why can’t WMC?
  • Video Playlists – Video isn’t that much of a different media than music, so why not?
  • Mpeg2 (possibly other format) thumbnails not displayed – This has been recognised by MS as a problem but remains unfixed. Seems OK in WMP11.
  • Music Tags – MC Artist pivot should display all Artists regardless of whether they have an Album associated to them. Currently the MC Artist Pivot is pretty redundant as it displays the same info (in text form) as the Album Artist Pivot. WMP11 handles both the Artist and Contributing Artist tag info perfectly why not MC? They both read from the same tags after all.
  • Album art – No software should ever change your files without asking! If I decide to replace my folder.jpg’s with higher resolution versions that is what Media Centre should use. Instead it merrily overwrites them with low res versions. I use a workaround (VMC Album Art Fixer) but it remains an ongoing battle against Media Centre’s desire to degrade my user experience.
  • Embedded album art – If album art is present in a tag it should take precedence over the folder.jpg, if no embedded art is present folder.jpg is displayed. If for instance you have individual tracks from different artists you don’t really want to put each track in an individual folder with it’s own folder.jpg. WMP11 again handles this correctly.

Last 5 came from anonymous user in the comments. (Thanks!) As he points out, most of what WMP 11 does has been pretty well, but the syncing/porting between WMP 11 and WMC doesn’t work as well.

I ran out of ideas. Can you come up with anymore for me to add?

 

I really hope the next version of Media Center will dazzle even more people. WMC is one of the better products Microsoft has shown us.

MSN gets festive today – St. Patrick’s Day

I couldn’t help but notice the big green clover leaf next to the MSN logo on their homepage today.

                                                                         

Quite a surprise, since I never known Microsoft to actually celebrate the holidays like Yahoo! and Google do by putting symbolic holiday symbols next to the WinLive/MSN logo.

Not as animated as Yahoo!’s, though kinda nicer than Google’s, but it’s at least something.

I hope they do this more often.

Future Health – Office Labs video

So here’s the official video of "Future Health", from the Office Labs folks. It’s just another one of those futuristic demo thingies with UI concepts and interaction and all that. But they’re still neat to watch.

It’s very similar to this video, "Microsoft Bank of the Future" :

Pretty much the same upbeat music, interest future interaction concepts, and same looking text stuff. Pretty neat, huh?

Long also posted a neat photo series of the "Future Health" videos right here : http://www.istartedsomething.com/20080308/office-labs-future-of-personal-health-concept/

Just wanted to post these.