Getting Your Videos Off the Ground With Vimeo

Videocasts can be a fun addition to any website, giving people a glimpse of what you’re like in front of the camera and promoting some face-to-eyes interaction. There are many different services to host your videos with, but today I’m going to show you how to get started with just one: Vimeo.

We’ll take a look at some of the basic features of Vimeo and also explore the added benefits of paying for a Vimeo Plus account. Let’s get started!

Making your Video

Of course, without a video there’s no reason to take a look at Vimeo. There are many different ways to shoot your video, and it’s up to you to take a look at what your computer currently offers, and whether it’s worth investing in a more heavy-duty setup. Some things to take into account include:

  • The quality of your webcam
  • The amount of people that will watch the video
  • The quality of your microphone
  • Your goals for the video

If you’re posting something to a personal site people are more willing to forgive some so-so quality; for a time. Eventually it will be worth looking into a more professional setup, especially if your audience is growing and you’re already playing for Vimeo Plus (more on that later).

Beginning with Vimeo: Setting Up your Account

Account setup with Vimeo is a breeze. The first thing that you are prompted for is choosing whether you would like to sign up for the Basic account or the Plus account; depending on your needs you may choose to go with the Plus right away, but I decided to see what the Basic account had to offer.

After that you give Vimeo your name and email, then decide on a password. Vimeo will send you a confirmation email, and from there you’re ready to get going. Like I said: account setup is a breeze.

Beginning with Vimeo: The Upload

Now that you have an account, you’ll want to take that video that you shot and get it into Vimeo. This can be done via the browser, but on the Mac I prefer to tie my account directly into iMovie or Quicktime and upload through the built-in apps.

Your upload time will generally depend on the quality of your connection and the size of the video. I found that even with a (remarkably) slow connection, videos would upload fairly quickly. Unfortunately the upload is only half the battle; after upload Vimeo has to process the video, a step that can take anywhere from a few minutes to a half-hour or more. Vimeo will email you when the video has finished processing, which is nice for people (like myself) that would have otherwise been watching that little timer for far too long.

This is where the Plus account first shows its benefits: Plus users are placed to the front of the processing line, giving them priority placement and reducing their wait-time. If you’re impatient or feel that you’re going to upload a lot of videos, a Plus account may be worth the cost of entry for this feature alone.

Of course, upload is also available via the Vimeo iPhone app, if you happen to be in possession of Apple’s mobile product. The point here is, it’s fairly easy to get your videos up into the service no matter where you are.

Advanced Vimeo: Embed Options

Uploading and processing is only part of the equation. The big part is making sure that you can put those videos in a place where other people can see them. Since I’ve primarily seen Vimeo used for weblogs I might refer to that process specifically, but in general embedding a video is as simple as copying and pasting some code from Vimeo into a compatible text field.

You’re given a few options right out of the gate, like what size the video player should be (all sizes are capable of going fullscreen) but the Plus features really seal the deal. With a Plus account you can choose to embed HD videos, whereas with a Basic account even the HD videos you upload–with a maximum of one per week–will be embedded in standard definition.

You can also customize the embed player even more, including doing things like removing the playbar from the video player, customizing the colors used to match your site’s color scheme, etc. If you want more control over this aspect of the experience–which, if your videocast becomes serious, you should–Vimeo Plus has all the right tools to get you going.

Advanced Vimeo: Plus Features

Beyond the features listed above, Plus accounts also have more storage allotted to them, give access to advanced statistics, and remove banner ads from the Vimeo page. The full features can be seen in the picture below:

Why Vimeo?

The elephant in the room during this entire how-to has been YouTube, the free service from Google that I’m sure anyone with access to the Internet is familiar with. With some of the same capabilities, a free account, and ubiquity, why would someone choose Vimeo over YouTube?

It all comes down to the amount of professionalism. Sure, YouTube can be a good host for your videocast, but you’re going to attract many of the people that actually comment on YouTube videos, something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. This community aspect is important; with Vimeo you’re attracting people that have gone out of their way to find an independent, powerful solution, creating a community that is largely respectful and helpful.

Of course, Vimeo has some other nice features, like the ability to customize the video player to your liking. They have a good corporate identity, a fun blog, and the interface is miles ahead of YouTube despite the latter’s recent redesign.

From Beginning to End

To get started with Vimeo you need to take a few simple steps:

  1. Create a video that you would like to share
  2. Sign up for either a Basic or Plus account
  3. Upload your video, either through the browser or via connected apps
  4. Wait for processing
  5. Customize your player and embed it in your site

All-in-all, Vimeo makes it incredibly easy to host and display your videos. Everything is intuitive, remarkably useful, and actually enjoyable.