Motionbox, a video sharing site we've been tracking for more than a year, is officially exiting its freebie trial period on Tuesday with an optional paid, premium service, and adding a really cute way to view your videos offline.
The offline viewer: Paper flipbooks. All you have to do is select a fifteen-second clip in a video you've uploaded, write some text for your cover, and pony up $8.99 per copy, and Motionbox will send you a little hand-held, paper-based video player. A great gift idea, clearly. CEO Chris O'Brien even joked about a future version that plays audio (sound chips are pretty cheap these days).
The flipbook gimmick was an excuse for me to take a new look at the Motionbox service. It's a useful resource for posting and sharing videos. It's no YouTube, but it's not supposed to be. The design point is more Shutterfly: It's a place to upload and store videos and then share them with friends and family.
Still, the embeddable Motionbox player has a few tricks. Below the viewing pane, it shows snapshot frames of the video, sort of a live table of contents. Using this timelime, viewers can also select a segment of the vid they're watching and share (by link or e-mail) just that clip.
The Motionbox upload utility is Flash-based and handles large video files gracefully. It can't do anything about your slow upstream video connection, though. Videos are stored at Motionbox in their original resolution, and Motionbox does a small amount of post-processing on them if necessary, like increasing brightness. It may offer more in the future.
Motionbox lets you trim videos and mash them together with its "mixer." The video editor is very easy to use, but also extremely limited in functionality. Yahoo's Jumpcut is a much more robust online editor.
Other services do offer more control and sharing options, but Motionbox's focus on personal and family video makes it an easy recommendation for people looking for a simple way to store and share.
The new premium service, $29.99 a year, will give you unlimited upload space and the capability to stream and download the full-resolution videos you've uploaded. Freebie accounts have only 300MB of storage space and only streaming privileges --no downloads.