Publish YouTube Video on Your Blog

September 13, 2006 § 2 Comments

Turn Your Site Into a Video Blog

One of the many features in the works at Vibe Technology involves streaming video. A good part of last year was spent building a media operations center and discovering that delivering online video is not a trivial task.

How Much Server Horsepower Does It Take?

In addition to racks of powerful servers to transcode video for various connections and formats, you also need an enormous amount of storage capacity. An unconverted, full-length movie typically requires 4 Gigabytes per DVD disc. Converting that to a full-quality streaming format can take at least that much space.

Usually, you’ll want to pre-convert each movie into multiple formats for streaming to other devices over lower-bandwidth connections, so that means several versions of the same file to support each format.

The tiny movie used in the example below (decidedly low quality) requires approximately 3.75 megabytes per minute. A 90 minute movie at that size and quality would be 383 Megabytes!

Surprisingly, the storage capacity is the easy part. Learning about those various formats and delivery mechanisms… that’s the hard part.

Example: Hosting Video on Your Website

Let’s take a simple example that doesn’t require special server software. The following video clip is a Flash Video file (FLV) placed in a directory on our storage server. The file is relatively small and the FLV format allows a client to stream the video (simply put: streaming allows playing the file before it has entirely downloaded).

The file was originally encoded as a 30 fps, 320×260, 7 Meg Windows Media Video file then converted using Flash Professional. The result is a little larger, but FLV files stream a bit better:

Video: SarahPalooza2006.flv
Length: 2min 40sec
Format: 320×260 Medium Quality Flash Video (FLV)
File Size: Approx. 10 Megabytes

To display the file as an embedded video, we use an excellent free WordPress plug-in called Anarchy Media Player. This customizable plugin adds about 15k of script code to the site page and automatically plays FLV, WMV and MP3 files without launching a seperate program.

(VibeTalk video clip: Sarah Palooza 2006)

This works well and is nearly automatic, once you have everything setup. However, even without considering disk space, processing power and setup, it still takes time and costly software to perform conversions. And the problem gets trickier if you want something more robust, such as an actual streaming video server like Windows Media or Helix Server.

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YouTube Servers Are Better Than Yours

What if you could avoid the whole mess and let someone else do the work? As it turns out, the folks at YouTube have put quite a bit of money into virtually unlimited transcoding and storage servers. The best part is that it’s free!

Every video on the YouTube site has a small, almost unnoticable edit box that contains the script code to embed that video in a web page. To show an embedded video on your site, all you have to do is paste this code from any video page into a post or page on your blog:

12478
(screenshot: Video page at YouTube includes code for your site)

Example: Embedding an object from YouTube

First, you need create an account and upload your video file. YouTube doesn’t like our FLV file, so I uploaded the original, high-quality WMV file and allowed the site to convert it for me.

The dimensions were modified to stretch the video to 450×350, so the result is a somewhat grainy version of the video above. You can change the values to the original size of 320×264 or resize the video to YouTube default – your call.

Then paste your script code directly into a blog entry and you will get the following video display (if you want to try this without creating an account, feel free to copy/past from our code below)

(YouTube video clip: Sarah Palooza 2006)

One neat feature is the thumbnail that got created from a frame in the middle of the clip.

As you can see, the embedded player also includes a “share” button to allow viewers to easily share your video.

So what’s the catch?

There’s always a catch to free, right? As it turns out, there’s one here too:

  • the resulting video is not (easily) downloadable
  • the conversion process overlays a “YouTube” logo in the bottom right corner

12498
(screenshot: End of video page promotes related videos)

Having your video on their server also means that If you wanted to do your own advertizing, you’re out of luck there too.

How To Get All YouTube Options?

So you like the YouTube interface and are OK with the advertizing issue – how can you get the rest of YouTube’s functionality? As it turns out, there are a couple of handy plug-ins for that too!

MyTube by Vaam Yob

Vaam Yob recently created a WordPress plug-in called MyTube that allows bloggers to list their entire list of videos as a gallery of thumbnails with customizable CSS layout.

For an idea of what this does, check out the screenshot (I don’t have enough videos on YouTube to make testing interesting at the moment).

12493
(screenshot: YouTube gallery using MyBlog plug-in)

Video Blogger by Chad Lancour

Chad Lancour created an even more flexible plug-in called Video Blogger that not only allows easy YouTube integration, but Google Video, vSocial, and Dailymotion. The best part of this plug-in is that each video can be cached.

Caching means that you won’t need to depend on someone else’s servers for reliable delivery (but let’s face it, it’s their reliability that makes this whole project worthwhile, right? :-)).

12495
(screenshot: YouTube video using WordPress plug-in)

Video Blogger doesn’t do anything automatic for displaying whole galleries, and the big the downside of this plug-in is that you’ll need to configure the CURL library (something I couldn’t do after 30 minutes of tinkering).

Summary

While professional video services will want to keep their whole shop in-house, the casual user can easily set up video blogging using WordPress, YouTube and one or more handy plug-ins like MyTube and Video Blogger. Surprisingly, the more you do this, the more you may want to rely on external services – their servers are faster and space is currently unlimited.

Who knows? Maybe your video will make the front page!

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