Google Video

Google Video

Google Video is a free video sharing website and also a video service from Google that allows anyone to upload video clips to Google's web servers as well as make their own media available free of charge; some videos are also offered for sale through the Google Video Store.

Uploaded videos were saved as a .gvi files under the "Google Videos" folder in "My Videos" and reports of the video(s) details are logged and stored in the user account. The report sorts and lists the number of times that each of the users videos have been viewed and downloaded within a specific time frame. These range from the previous day, week, month or the entire time that the videos have been there for. Totals are calculated and displayed and the information can be downloaded into a spreadsheet format or printed out.

Competing services include iFilm, Metacafe, Veoh, blip.tv, IKlipz.com, and Outloud.tv. On October 9, 2006 Google agreed to buy former competitor YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock, but YouTube will remain a separate service under its own identity for the near future, though Google video searches include YouTube results as well.

Google announced on June 13, 2007 that the Google Video search results would begin to include videos discovered by their search crawlers on other hosting services, in addition to YouTube's and their own uploads. Search result links now open a frameset with a Google Video header at the top, and the original player page below it, similar to the way the Google Images search results are presented.

Video content

Google Video is geared towards providing a large archive of freely searchable videos. Besides amateur media, Internet videos, viral ads, and movie trailers, the service also aims to distribute commercial professional media, such as televised content and movies.

A number of educational discourses by Google employees have been recorded and made available for viewing via Google Video. The lectures have been done mainly at the employees' former universities. The topics cover Google technologies and software engineering but also include other pioneering efforts by major players in the software engineering field.

Various media companies offered content on Google Video for purchase, including CBS programs, NBA, music videos, and independent film. Initially, the content of a number of broadcasting companies (such as ABC, NBC, CNN) was available as free streaming content or stills with closed captioning. In addition, the U.S. National Archive uses Google Video to make historic films available online.

Google Video also searches other non-affiliated video sites from web crawls. Sites searched by Google Video in addition to their own videos and YouTube include GoFish, ExposureRoom, Vimeo, MySpace, Biku, and Yahoo! Video. It appears that Google Video is moving away from an online video archive and towards a search engine for videos, similar to their web and image searches.

As of August 2007, the DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program ended. Users who previously purchased a video from Google Video were no longer able to view them. Credits for users were made available as values for Google Checkout and were valid for 60 days.

Video distribution methods

Google Video offers both free services and commercial videos, the latter controlled with digital rights management.

Website

The basic way to watch the videos is through the Google Video website, video.google.com Each video has a unique web address in the format of http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=, and that page contains an embedded Flash Video file which can be viewed in any Flash-enabled browser.

Permalinks to a certain point in a video are also possible, in the format of http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=#XXhYYmZZs (that is, with a fragment identifier containing a timestamp).

Flash Video

The browser automatically caches the flash file while it plays, and it can be retrieved from the browser cache once it has fully played. There are also several tools and browser extensions to download the file. It can be then viewed in video players that can handle flash, for example Media Player Classic (with ffdshow installed), MPlayer or Wimpy.

Google Video Player

Google Video Player was another way to view Google videos; it runs on Windows and Mac OS X. The Google Video Player plays back files in Google's own Google Video File (.gvi) media format and supported playlists in "Google Video Pointer" (.gvp) format. When users downloaded to their computers, the resulting file used to be a small .gvp (pointer) file rather than a .gvi file. When run, the .gvp file would download a .gvi (movie) file to the user's default directory.

As of August 17, 2007, Google Video Player has been discontinued and is no longer available for download from Google Video website. The option to download videos in GVI format has also been removed, the only download option remaining for iPod/PSP (MP4 format).

While early versions of Google's in-browser video player code were based on the open source VLC Media Player, the last version of Google Video Player was not based on VLC, according to its readme file. However, it did include the OpenSSL cryptographic toolkit and some libraries from the Qt widget toolkit.

GVI format and conversion

Google Video Files (.gvi), and latterly its .avi files, are modified Audio Video Interleave (.avi) files that have an extra list containing the FourCC "goog" immediately following the header. The list can be removed with a hex editor to avoid playback issues with various video players. The video is encoded in MPEG-4 ASP alongside an MP3 audio stream. MPEG-4 video players can render .gvi Google Video Files without format conversion (after changing the extension from .gvi to .avi, although this method of just renaming the file extension does not work with videos purchased with DRM to inhibit unauthorized copying). Among other software VirtualDub is able to read .gvi files and allows the user to convert them into different formats of choice. There are also privately developed software solutions, such as GVideo Fix, that can convert them to .avi format without recompression. MEncoder with "-oac copy -ovc copy" as parameters also suffices.

AVI and MP4

Besides GVI and Flash Video, Google provided its content through downloadable Audio Video Interleave (.avi) and MPEG-4 (.mp4) video files. Not all formats are available through the website's interface, however, depending on the user's operating system.

Where available, Google's "save as" function for Windows/Mac produced an .avi file, while the "save as" function for iPod and PSP produced an .mp4 file.

The .avi file is not in standard AVI format. To play the file in a popular media player such as Winamp or Windows Media Player, the file must first be modified using a hex editor to delete the first LIST block in the file header, which starts at byte 12 (000C hex, first byte in file is byte 0) and ends at byte 63 (003F hex). Optionally, the file length (in bytes 4 to 7, little endian) should then be amended by subtracting 52 (3F hex - 0C hex = 33 hex).

Winamp and Windows Media Player cannot play the unmodified .avi file because the non-standard file header corrupts the file. However, Media Player Classic, MPlayer and the VLC Media Player will play the unmodified .avi file, and the Google .mp4 file. Media Player Classic only if an MPEG-4 DirectShow Filter such as ffdshow is installed. Most Linux media players xine, Totem, the Linux version of the VLC Media Player and Kaffeine have no problems with Google's .avi.

An .mp4 file will play in Winamp if an MPEG-4/H.264 DirectShow Filter such as ffdshow and an MP4 Splitter such as Haali are installed, and the extension ;MP4 is added to the Extension List in the Winamp DirectShow decoder configuration.

As of Spring 2008, the option to download files in .AVI format has been removed, and files are only available as Flash video or .MP4, while the same videos when accessed through the companion YouTube.com site are available only in Flash video format.

Third-party download services

Google offers users the means to save only some of the videos on the site, mostly for copyright reasons. Their documentation goes so far as to claim that only these videos can be downloaded. However, since viewing a video requires downloading it to the computer, their software merely makes it an inconvenience to save downloaded videos on the computer. A number of solutions to this problem, including external software and bookmarklets , have been developed.

RSS feed

Google Video search results can be viewed in an RSS feed by clicking the RSS link to the right of the results count or by adding &output=rss to the end of the URL in your web browser's address area.

Changing the &num=20 part of the URL to &num=100 shows 100 results in the RSS feed instead of 20.

External embedding of Google Video files

Google Video allows select videos to be remotely embedded on other websites and provides the necessary HTML code alongside the media, similar to YouTube. This allows for websites to host large amounts of video remotely on Google Video without running into bandwidth or storage capacity issues.

Uploading videos

Users may choose to upload videos either through the Google Video website (limited to 100MB per file); or alternatively through the Google Video Uploader, available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Major producers with a thousand or more hours of video can apply for Google's Premium Program.

While the Video Uploader application is available as three separate downloads, the Linux version is written in Java, a cross-platform programming language, and will therefore also work on other operating systems without modifications, providing that the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is installed. Also worthy of note is the fact that this Java executable (.jar) file is a standalone application that does not require installation. Consequently, it can be run from removable media such as USB flash drives, CD-ROMs, or network storage. This allows users to upload video even if the computer terminal on which they are working will not allow them to install programs, such as a public library computer.

YouTube does report the total number of video views for each user, however, which Google Video does not. Although there is no option to download videos on YouTube itself, some download manager, such as orbit downloader,Moyea FLV Downloader allow the video to be downloaded as an FLV file, by simply copying the URL address of the video page and paste it in download Task dialog box

Market adoption

Despite availability of downloading in multiple formats, being less restrictive on video uploads, and Google being tremendously well-known, Google Video had only a minor share from the online video market. According to one poll, Google Video has about 8%, while YouTube has about 27% Users who have posted videos to both sites may have noted an increase in YouTube traffic, and a decline in Google Video share.

Availability of service

While initially only available in the United States, over time Google Video has become available to users in more countries and can now be accessed from many other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India and Japan.

Regardless of general availability, content providers are given the opportunity to limit access to video files to only users from certain countries of residence. However, methods of circumventing geographical filtering exist.

International

Google Video has been localized for several countries:

Country/Region URL Languages
http://video.google.com.au/ Australian English
http://video.google.ca/ Canadian English
http://video.google.cn/ Chinese
http://video.google.fr/ French
http://video.google.de/ German
http://video.google.it/ Italian
http://video.google.nl/ Dutch
http://video.google.pl/ Polish
Spain http://video.google.es/ Spanish
http://video.google.co.uk/ British English
() http://video.google.com American English

Criticisms

Google Video has little organization of content and no noticeable pricing scheme. However, pay content (available currently in the United States only) is arranged in a few categories. A video ranking in the form of a Top 100 has been introduced and the official Google Video Blog features "Google Picks" (videos considered noteworthy by Google) on a regular basis. "Google Picks" are currently also available via the Google Video homepage.

The strategy for Google Video has shifted dramatically from an initial focus on digitizing offline content, akin to Google BookSearch, to then later focusing on fee-based downloads akin to iTunes, to then later focusing on social networking features akin to YouTube. Despite constant product development and business development churn, Google Video had never attained market leadership in the online video space at the time when Google acquired YouTube.

While the lack of a fixed pricing scheme may be perceived as confusing by a number of users, it does offer content providers a wider scope in terms of individual pricing. Whether this pricing concept will be accepted and retained beyond beta remains to be seen.

There has also been criticism regarding varying standards used by Google on evaluating the content of each video for suitability. For example, Google might accept a video featuring graphic violence and profanity, but reject a milder one, with no apparent means of objective analysis.

The video uploading tool also receives various complaints, due to its "Uploading failed" error message which seems to appear in random cases without any explanation why the upload was not successful. This message sometimes also appears when the upload was successful which can be problematic as the same video may be uploaded again. Google has not yet addressed this issue.

Additional criticism of Google Video has been on a lack of end user tools to add tables of content and chapters to the videos, which make longer format videos easier to annotate, view, navigate and understand. The reports page stopped working at some time in 2008, and Google has only remarked "we're currently aware of the issue and are working on it." And playback issues also appeared in 2008, leaving many users with the warning "This video is currently not available" in error. Many webmasters wonder why Google Video has been in beta for so long, and have begun to explore other sites such as Blip.tv for posting and embedding videos.

See also

References

External links

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