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.

“I Love You, Man” Trailer Needs Spoiler Alert

This weekend, I went to see “I Love You, Man” with a bunch of grad students. Grad students are really great to take to a movie. They don’t have time to watch trailers online over and over, they don’t see commercials on TV, they read the news in newspapers, not the movie reviews. . . so they are actually pretty good at kicking back and enjoying what’s up on screen, minus the heavy expectations.

I, however, was not so lucky. I really enjoyed the trailer for “I Love You, Man,” only to find that the movie was, in effect, a much longer version of that trailer. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable movie – without a doubt, it was fun. . . but the trailer simply managed to suck out all the most enjoyable parts and deliver them to me before the movie could surprise me with them. A pivotal scene, in fact, THE pivotal scene, in which Paul Rudd tells his fiancee why he wants to marry her, is also the prominent scene in the film’s trailer.

Now, before you tell me that all of the Segel-Rudd-Whoever-Is-Hot-This-Week movies are too formulaic to have any real surprises, I give you this precious clip from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

This scene would not have worked nearly as well had it appeared in trailers or commercials. The surprise that Segel’s character has a soft spot for puppets and vampires gives his character depth. Paul Rudd’s supposedly stuffy character in “I Love You, Man” has a soft spot for Rush – something we already guessed from the air bass scene we saw over and over again. The grad students, however, seemed to really enjoy watching Rudd’s character slowly unravel – they giggled at every line from the trailer and the tv spot. I’m sure whoever makes trailers out there giggled, too, which is why all the best lines ended up so worn out.

Were I not horribly addicted to trailers, I’d give them up entirely at this point. It’s a rare joke that can make me laugh after I’ve seen it the first time (most of those are in “Young Frankenstein” – a work of comedic genius if there ever was one). But for those lesser works of comedy, it would be lovely if we could just have a nice glossed-over summary in our trailers, and save the real laughs for the theater.

New Media Showdown at Columbia J-School

On Wednesday, the NY Mag Daily Intel blog posted about the Columbia Journalism School’s struggle to integrate new media skills with an old-school journalism curriculum. Linda Holmes of Monkey See points out that the good dirt is in the comments section, where, of course, a lot of posters claim that the Daily Intel has published information without citing sufficient sources.

Let’s put aside the veracity claims for now: I think it’s safe to say that all of us who work in new media have heard the phrase “you’re just playing with toys” at one time or another (Daily Intel attributes it to a J-school professor). The reality is that new media “toys” wield an enormous amount of power. Why else would a whole bunch of respectable journalists and journalism students flock to the Daily Intel website to refute claims about Columbia? If it was just a toy, it would be easy to shelve and ignore.

The dean of the j-school points out:

“You can go to the Learning Annex and take a Flash course. I don’t think what we should do is be replicating courses you can take at the Learning Annex. But you have to have some familiarity, or you’re not able to execute a website.”

In other words, journalism schools aren’t supposed to turn out graphic designers or Flash programmers. Nobody has really figured out yet if new media is an art, a science, a trade, or some other profession entirely. When you simultaneously integrate design, engineering and content, it’s pretty difficult for traditional academic categories to keep up. But where does that leave institutions devoted to teaching traditional media? Do the “new” and the “old” have enough in common to be taught in one curriculum?