Recently we had a bit of a discussion behind the scenes at MakeUseOf and a few staff decided that when it comes to hosting and watching video on the web, it doesn’t get much better than YouTube. Whether you’re looking at it from a content creator or viewer’s perspective, YouTube offers a lot for free including unlimited hosting space, embedding, HTML5 video, royalty-free music, a video editor and the Web’s most ferocious commenters.
However, one thing that has always annoyed me about YouTube is a lack of proper channels. A typical “YouTube channel” is merely one user’s collection of videos. Not so on Vimeo; a channel is a user-created collection of videos from any of the service’s content producers. Channels revolve around themes and interests, rather than the work of an individual and can be subscribed to separately.
For this reason, Vimeo channels better resemble “proper” television channels and offer a diverse range of content. Settle down and we’ll take a look at some examples.
The Other Video Site
It’s no secret that Vimeo isn’t quite as approachable as YouTube for many people. To start with, free accounts are limited to 500MB of weekly upload space with no 1080p streaming (though 720p is sufficient for most). If you want to seriously make use of Vimeo, you’ll need to cough up at least $60 yearly for a Plus account or $200 yearly for a Pro account. The many benefits (a custom player, hosted portfolio, the ability to sell your content for a starter) are worth it for most content producers drawn to the service, and the fact remains that as a viewer there’s a lot available on Vimeo for free.
The website provides more of a TV-like channel experience than that provided by YouTube. You would need to use playlists in order to get similar functionality from Google’s service and playlists just don’t have the same functionality or user-friendliness. Channels on Vimeo get an identity, a logo, a colour scheme and space to breath. More importantly they provide some more advanced features including multiple-moderators for group video selection, a shout-box for reaching out to these micro-communities (and submitting your own videos) and an opportunity to follow a genre, movement or interest rather than just a personality.
Vimeo has also worked on the discovery side of things considerably, and heading to Vimeo.com/channels makes it easy to discover interests by popularity or category. You’ll need to be a Plus subscriber ($60 annually) in order to create or curate, but this moderate pricing scheme and the overall stellar design of the Vimeo website encourages one of the web’s most vibrant video communities.
Oh, and did I mention there are no adverts on Vimeo? While opinions on YouTube are divided between annoying, intrusive video adverts and the need to support content creators; Vimeo is looking at different forms of revenue streams. These include video on demand sales, a “tip jar” for viewers’ donations and the ability to licence video using Getty Images. Head to Vimeo.com/creatorservices to find out more.
Stuff to Watch
No Stuff to Watch article would be complete without some actual stuff to watch, so here are a few of my favourite active Vimeo channels. I’ve previously curated a list of beautiful motion graphic and typography channels in a past article, too.
This is must-watch stuff, curated by the folks who run Vimeo. It’s essentially a community spotlight, where the best of the best videos from every category are proudly displayed on the proverbial fridge. It also happens to be the most-subscribed-to channel on the service. The video below, titled Captain T and T, is a beautifully shot coming-of-age story about a boy searching for super-powers. It was selected as a Staff Pick, and it’s not surprising considering the cinematography, narrative, gorgeous tropical setting and gripping story.
If you love animation in its various, sporadic forms then the Everything Animation channel is for you. The channel features the best animation found on Vimeo from all kinds of artists, backgrounds and countries. The best thing about this channel is the diversity of the content – it’s all animated, but no two animation styles are the same. From the naive and hand-drawn masterpieces to technical marvels that use every computer-enhancement in the book; you’ll find it here. Below is a film titled Another by Sean Buckelew which turns the “my father was eaten by a bear” concept on its head in one surreal and poignant animation.
What can only be described as the jackpot for documentary lovers, the Documentary Film channel brings together the best non-fiction films on Vimeo. From personal tales of accomplishment to hard hitting political commentary, this channel is virtually genre-less when it comes to content. That means you’re bound to find something that interests you, like the video below called Enchanted Way that tells the story of a family-owned theme park in Oregon known as Enchanted Forest.
What could also be known as the “eye candy” channel, Slowmotion & Timelapse Theatre collates the best of the best when it comes to artsy shots of urban and natural environments. There’s little more to say beyond that, but rest assured if you’re fond of this kind of thing there’s a huge amount of material to just sit and watch. The featured video below is called SUR by Jeremias Thomas and shows off some of Argentina’s most beautiful scenes.
In a similar spirit to the collection of timelapse videos above, Cities in Minutes is a Vimeo channel dedicated to urban environments and those who take it upon themselves to document them in video form. Comprising mostly of time-lapse and hyper-lapse videos, Cities in Motion is a celebration of the modern city and urban environment. One of the most impressive videos I found in the collection is this action-packed look at Tokyo by night, embedded below.
Find and subscribe to more Vimeo channels at Vimeo.com/channels.
Do you love Vimeo? Let us know why you love this vibrant community in the comments, below.