Sunday, April 02, 2006

Motionbox - Best Online Video Sharing So Far

There have been big changes in the online video space since I wrote a comparison post of the companies in the space (Flickrs of Video) last November.

Some things haven’t changed: Flickr still hasn’t released a video product, and YouTube (TechCrunch posts here) is still the reigning champ of online video with just massive traffic growth and mindshare.

But new tools are coming out to make sharing videos online even easier. Both Video Egg and Grouper (TechCrunch posts here and here) have downloadable clients that allow encoding to flash on the desktop (saving users from uploading very large files to the service) and some very basic editing features. Grouper also allows users to string together multiple video files (VideoEgg does not yet allow this). Also, while working from the desktop is easier than online, you must install the software. Grouper is not available on the Mac. VideoEgg has a Mac client that works with Safari, but I cannot get it to install on my new Intel based Mac.

New service Motionbox, which will launch in the next few weeks, goes way beyond all of this. CEO Chris O’Brien and investor Derek Idemoto came by to demo the service to me last week and, well, I’m impressed.

Motionbox doesn’t have a client uploader like Grouper and VideoEgg. You must upload the full video files to the service. And while those uploads are a pain, Motionbox has very good reasons for doing this.

To get what Motionbox is doing, take a YouTube and add a ton of really great editing, mashup and deep tagging features. Like YouTube, Motionbox transcodes files to flash to reduce file size and standardize viewing. But they also store the original files and allow you or those you authorize to download those files and/or purchase DVDs with the files.

Editing and Mashups

I also had a chance to test MotionBox’s video editiing tools. When editing a video, Motionbox breaks it down visually into frames (see picture above). Users can edit the file extensively, including linking several video files and removing any portion(s) of files. Mashups with other users’ public or shared videos can also be created using this editing feature. Frankly, this goes way beyond what anyone else is doing, including VideoEgg and Grouper’s current offerings. All of these changes can be pushed back to the original quality files for downloading or DVD burning.

Deep Tagging

Like YouTube and other services, Motionbox allows tagging of video files. But they also allow deep tagging of parts of video files. Open a file (see picture above) select a portion of the video, and tag it. Viewers later will be able to skip right to that clip of the video by clicking on the tag. Longer videos can now easily be broken down into linkable pieces. This is a huge leap forward over competiting services.

Chris gave few details on pricing and limitations on files sizes, other than to say that any limits will be time based v. file size based like YouTube (which has a 100 mb file size limitation), and many or all of the restrictions will be lifted for premium users (expect a $25/year premium subscription fee).

Sign up to be notified of the Motionbox launch here.