Who doesn’t like to just kick back with friends, watch a movie and have some laughs? Experience all the fun of the cinema without leaving your house by using video synchronization websites. With these free tools, you can watch videos on YouTube and Vimeo together while chatting for free.
You are limited to the movie selections available for free online. But I easily came across full films which were in cinemas as recently as two years ago. The list of independent films on YouTube is growing each day and Vimeo is also home to many independent short films. Alternatively, you can set up a playlist of your favorite vloggers or viral videos to enjoy together.
Large popcorn and Coke not included.
For: Quickly set up a virtual public video room to watch synchronized videos in real time.
InstaSynch is a service used predominantly by the 4Chan community. The big appeal of InstaSynch is how easy it is to set up a “room”. Once you register, your new room will automatically appear on the homepage. To watch videos and chat in public rooms, you don’t even need to register; simply choose a name on entering the room and start chatting.
The moderator can lock and unlock the playlist by clicking on the padlock symbol. An unlocked playlist allows any user to add videos. If locked, only moderators can add new videos.
Users can also vote to skip the current video in favour of the next one. This feature is particularly helpful, not for watching films, but for watching long playlists of short YouTube videos. If lag causes users to become unsynced, all you have to do is hit the ‘Resynch’ button. This brings you back into sync with the others.
InstaSynch has a lot of unfinished elements. For example, all moderator actions (e.g. play or ban user) must be completed by entering certain text codes into the chat box.
For: Watch online videos in privacy.
Sync Video is similar to InstaSynch, but with added privacy features. When you register, a room is created automatically for you and it is private by default. You can invite friends to the room using the invite function in the right hand column. If you like, you can make the room public. After using the service, it seems to me that Sync Video is mostly used for private rooms as the few public rooms available contain very few viewers and some really bad videos.
Users can download browser extensions for Chrome. When viewing a compatible video online (mainly YouTube and Vimeo), clicking the extension’s icon in the address bar will instantaneously create a private chat room for the video.and
A unique feature of Sync Video is the user status bar on the bottom right of the browser window. For every viewer, there is a bar that displays which part of the video they’re watching. This is used to indicate YouTube buffering and the lag if any with the YouTube videos. Normally, all users should be within two or three seconds of one another.
For: Suggest and have a say in the video you want to watch.
The first thing you notice about TogetherTube is the sleek user interface; it’s well designed and clean with plenty of easy-to-navigate drop down menus and buttons for the moderators. Like the other sites, there is no mandatory registration. Moderators are easily assigned by the room creator, using a small drop-down box beside each viewer’s name.
TogetherTube’s most distinctive feature is how videos are selected. Each user can suggest a video. The other users then vote on their suggestion. When a video gets a majority of yes votes, it will be bumped up the playlist.
Users with slower Internet connections are at risk of some lag. This would obviously ruin any syncing. TogetherTube has the ability to alter the quality of the video so individual users won’t lose sync.
For: Voice chat while watching movies and videos.
MyCircleTV is quite like TogetherTube in terms of good design and function. Rooms are easily shared, emailed, or tweeted to invite friends.
The unique selling point of MyCircleTV is the VoIP function. That’s right! Once registered, users can voice chat about the movie. Obviously, this would appeal to family or friends only, so it can be disabled for other groups.
I thought the chat window was a little plain, however. What’s more, the playlist is hidden from view thanks to the tabbed interface. This means the moderator must leave the chat window to manage upcoming videos on the playlist.
For: Choose with the help of cool playlist suggestions.
Finally, we have Watch2Gether. It does pretty much what it says on the tin. It has most of the features we mentioned in the other websites above. Interestingly, although YouTube videos are supported, Watch2Gether’s own media player appears on the website. This is in contrast to the other sites that just embed the YouTube media player.
For undecided viewers, a list of suggested videos lie underneath the chat pane. It takes featured videos from the YouTube homepage and makes suggestions based on your recently watched videos. By clicking a thumbnail, a video will be added to the playlist. You can also use the search function to find free films on YouTube.
Unlike previously mentioned services, Watch2Gether does not offer public chat rooms. The only way you can get access to a chat room is through invitation. This helps to alleviate the problem of trolls and spammers, which can crop up on other sites.
So, do you think watching videos and films online, with friends, is a good idea? Or do you prefer to do it alone? Tell us about your experiences and other collaborative ways to have fun while watching a movie online.
Image Credit: Cinema via Pixabay