Your own private YouTube
Review: Google Video adds easy video-sharing to Google's cloud-based business collaboration toolsFollow @infoworld
YouTube is part of the social fabric of the Internet now, with “watch this video” e-mails of the new millennium replacing the joke-list e-mails of the '90s as high-level corporate time-wasters. YouTube has made stars of some and fortunes for a few. In doing so, it has defined video as an easy, common way for regular folks to communicate with one another. Google is taking the easy video concept to business collaboration with Google Video, a video-sharing service designed for intra-business communications with team members, partners, and business colleagues.
As with most Google properties, simplicity is the primary characteristic of the user interface. The UI, presented in the simple shapes and colors common to Google Apps, makes it possible to push a video onto the site, complete with tags and descriptions, in a matter of a few moments.
[ See our review of Google Apps in "Cloud versus cloud: A guided tour of Amazon, Google, AppNexus, and GoGrid." See the review of Google Docs and Spreadsheets in "Office killers pack some heat." ]
Once on the Google Video server, the video is presented in a format that will look vaguely familiar to anyone who’s been on YouTube. In fact, according to the company, Google Video is built on the same platform that hosts YouTube. If you simply place videos on Google’s servers and define the list of those who can view them, you can get good use of the service while thinking of it as a private YouTube. If that’s all you do, though, you’ll be missing out on much of the power that lies beneath the basic video infrastructure.
Take viewing, for instance. Videos can be watched in either high quality or standard quality. You’ll want to choose high quality unless you’re reaching the service through dial-up or other low-bandwidth connections. In the Google Video viewer, a “Scenes” button provides a group of thumbnail images from various points throughout the video. Clicking a thumbnail takes you directly to that point in the video. This is a great feature for those who need to see, and comment on, specific parts of a video. Once you’ve seen the video, you may be able (at the discretion of the person who placed the video on the server) to download the file in MP4 format at either high or standard quality.
The uploader can also control who may post comments on the video. At upload time, they can designate individuals as collaborators (who can rate, tag, and comment on the video) or viewers (who can simply watch the video). It’s also possible to avoid an explicit listing of viewers and collaborators and check a box allowing everyone with an address at the Google domain to view the file.
The video you place can be in any of a wide variety of formats, including AVI, Windows Media, QuickTime, and MPEG. Google has some recommendations on quality (640 x 480, 30 fps, de-interlaced, etc.), although the file cannot be larger than 300MB. Once uploaded, the file will be converted by Google in a process that will take as much as three times the length of the video. So don't expect a 10-minute video to show up in Google Video until 30 minutes later; you might want to upload and grab some lunch.