What's next for Flickr video?

Flickr's video hosting service has been out for almost a month. So what's happening with it?

I chatted last week with folks at Flickr to catch up on the video hosting service it launched less than a month ago.

It's proven to be popular, despite a small uprising from a portion of its diehard users that was later quelled with Yahoo-subsidized doughnuts. Flickr wouldn't share the exact number of videos that have been added, but the site is teeming with them. A casual advanced-search for videos with a space in the title yields more than 124,000 clips, but the true number is likely to be significantly larger.

Flickr's splash into the video hosting scene last month was slightly overshadowed by two hurdles that people had to jump over to get their clips online. The first was the necessity of the $25 per year pro membership, something that's still required. The other was time, with videos capped at 90 seconds--roughly half the length of the average Internet video clip, according to research done by ComScore in January.

A Flickr representative says it's happy with the controversial 90-second limit. Of all the uploads, says Shanan Delp, Flickr senior product manager, 92 percent were well within the cap, meaning the other 8 percent came from people who attempted to upload videos that were too large. Additional time will almost certainly be tacked on at a later date. But for now, the company plans to keep the limit throughout the beta period, as well as keep the video uploading privileges reserved to just pro users. Part of the reason for the cap has been for scaling purposes. Flickr has more 20 million users. While an unknown percentage of those are pro members, even small videos can use up more bandwidth and storage than an entire roll of photos.

So what are people doing with videos? Delp says there are two distinct trends: one of people grouping together their clips into video-only groups, and one of people who are mixing both forms of media into shared pools. Some groups are even banning videos from being added at all.

Delp said, one of the more interesting groups to come from this has been stop-motion video--a feature found on new-model, mid- to high-end digital cameras. The company also created its own video meme with "fridgets," or short clips of people opening up their refrigerators and looking for something to eat while filming the activity on their digital cameras. The group pool for that currently has more than 50 clips.

One of the stranger video trends to hit Flickr is 'fridgets,' which are videos of people opening up their refrigerators and filming the often mundane experience. CNET Networks

One notable feature to come with the addition of video was the company's decision to make it immediately available for use in Flickr's standard data API. So far, there have been few services to take advantage of this, including Yahoo's own video-editing tool Jumpcut. Kakul Srivastava, Flickr's general manager, says that there's still work to be done with the Jumpcut team before Flickr video gets tie-ins, but that they're on track to deliver something that's seamless for users of both services.

In the meantime, one of the cooler creations to take advantage of Flickr's video API is a video browser put together by Matt Crampton. It takes a smattering of some of the latest videos and puts them together on a giant array that people can watch without having to venture on Flickr.

Tags could be the next thing to get a tweak for videos, a format that lends itself to timed tags.

So what's next for videos on Flickr? Soon people will be able to edit the thumbnail others see on their videos--something that's currently decided for them. Users will also be able to make time adjustments to pick the start or end of a video, reupload clips, and rotate videos that had been shot sideways or upside down.

Reuploading will be a necessity for people who want to go in to make an edit or make adjustments while preserving users comments, tags, and usage statistics. The company is also in talks with camera vendors regarding video metadata that could do more analysis and charting of video usage on the site, such as what's been seen in the camera finder charts.

In the near future, I'm expecting a big change in the way people are able to add tags to video clips, something that's identical to the tagging system used for still images. Back before Flickr had launched video, I had asked Srivastava about using a system like Viddler's to add tags per single frame or entire sections of frame. While she wouldn't divulge whether they had a working version of it in development, she said that it's something "we'd love to explore."

More recently, Flickr has started to make videos a larger part of the site and the built-in discovery tools. Over the weekend, videos began making their way into the explore section of the site. Previously, they had been separate entities, but the team has since tweaked the "interestingness" algorithm to include video clips too.

What would you add to Flickr video?

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About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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