Where Should You Host Your Videos?

We recently conducted an (unscientific) survey of media professionals to answer the question “Does self-hosting videos on a website make them appear more professional than embedding them from a service such as YouTube or Vimeo?”  Responses fell into three major categories:

  1. “Use a video hosting service.”

    A plurality of respondants felt that there is no longer a stigma of hosting videos on external services like YouTube and Vimeo and that, in fact, using these services provided additional benefits such as ease of accessibility and avoided the undesirable characteristics of a walled garden model.  They strongly preferred service-hosted to self-hosted videos.

  2. “It doesn’t matter how you host it.”

    The second, smaller group were agnostic to the hosting method as long as it was quality content.  They asserted that the credibility stems from the creator, not the delivery mechanism.  This suggests that while the hosting of your videos may not matter, the rest of your web presence should project an air of professionalism if you want your videos to be viewed that way.

  3. “It depends.”

    The final group of media professionals felt that the circumstances mattered a good deal.  One respondant pointed out that signalling theory (as in economics or biology) applies to the degree that if an organization can waste money on self-hosting, then they are signalling economic health by showing that they have money to waste, in the same way that an opulent lobby is a signal of economic prosperity. While this might be of important to some organizations (investment banks for instance), others (such as non-profits) might be negatively impacted by the appearance of profligate spending.

    As for individuals and job seekers, the entire third group agreed that YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting services were perfectly acceptable solutions for portfolios of creative work.

While perceptions of self- vs service-hosting may be different outside of the media industry, it does seem that, among media professionals, there is only a percieved benefit to self-hosting in very specific cirumstances.  In general, the old adage still reigns: Content is King.  So focus your efforts on creating good content, and take advantage of the work others have put into providing ways to host it.

Joss Whedon at the Shasha Seminar, Part II

Last time, I gave a recap of Joss Whedon and Mark Harris’s thoughts on where the media industry is going, but much of our time at the Shasha Seminar was spent talking about the nuts and bolts of actually getting work produced.

Photo Credit: Malenkov in Exile

Photo Credit: Malenkov in Exile

Whedon talked about his own career, and how he got his stories up on screen. He started with Buffy, who he described like so: “This is my voice. This is my avatar. This is my girl.” Buffy, the story of a “bimbo” getting her revenge on big scary monsters, was the story he needed to tell. Being a script doctor was not enough for him – because it didn’t involve creating anything. Lucky for him, as he creates, he sees the title, the trailer, the one sheet and the marketing campaign all in his head. That probably goes a long way to explain why Whedon’s incredibly off-beat concepts worm their way into the pop culture landscape – he understands that media doesn’t just live up on screen, it lives in advertising, it lives in conversations online and in person. He claims it’s not cynical to think of these things as you’re doing creative work – because “It’s going to be a dialog between the audience and us.” In other words, he’s reaching out to his audience any way he can.

For Buffy, reaching out to the audience also meant a huge amount of multi-platform content – some of which he controlled creatively, and some of which he didn’t. In the case of the books, Whedon said, “Please don’t have Buffy deny the Holocaust in any of them, I’ll be over here.” In the case of the video game, he voiced an avatar of himself. Whedon put a lot of creative effort into the comic book series, because that platform interested him. However, he also addressed the announcement that Fran Rubel Kuzui, producer of the original (and failed) Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, intends to revive the series without Whedon’s creative input. Whedon said that Buffy “would not have happened” without Kuzui, and that the party who would have legal difficulty creating a new Buffy TV series is, in fact, him. When someone asked if he regretted not telling more television stories in the Buffy universe, he said “I’m not long on regret.”

Whedon’s shows are widely given credit as some of the first to have massive (and well-organized) online followings, Firefly was one of the first shows without a fully aired season to come out on DVD, and now his show Dollhouse is being renewed in part due to a strong web-based viewing audience. As I noted in my last post, Whedon started shooting the second season of Dollhouse on Monday. Budgets have been cut, and he’ll be shooting in HD video instead of film. Whedon actually seemed pleased about this, saying that “When they take money away from me – I get better.” (Fox executives, if you’re reading this, please don’t take it to heart). Whedon talked about the challenge of writing a show with six act breaks instead of four (which I understand is at Fox’s request, since there are more ad breaks online than on TV). He said it was challenging not to take the audience “out of the story” with so many cuts.

When you watch Joss Whedon speak in person, what comes across most readily is that he genuinely loves his job, and believes in his own work. Much of the weekend (which I’ll get to in a third, and possibly final post) was very tied up in justifying the artistic compromises that everyone makes in order to get art to make money. Whedon still believes that storytelling can, should, and must stand for something – even when it’s happening in a staunchly commercial enterprise. Whether regular folks can do what he does – create their own Dr. Horribles without the backing of experience, prestige and lots of famous friends – remains to be seen. But it’s nice to know that there are powerful people who are still in our corner.