Quick quiz. Close your eyes and tell me what you think of when you hear the words YouTube. Here’s my free association: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes really ugly.
But, let’s say I wanted to know how the George Washington Bridge looks from a car window. Sure enough – in jerky DV - there it is: ah, the magic of relevant search. However, to browse YouTube clip by clip for excellent content would be kind of ridiculous.
Vimeo is an all-together different animal. It is the go to destination for filmmakers and wannabe filmmakers searching for inspiration. Owned by IAC (Barry Diller's conglomerate), the community is known for being supportive and celebrating the artist. It's led by a team of Community Directors (that’s their real title) like Blake Whitman.
Vimeo boasts an ever-expanding list of members (1.3 million and growing) that includes director Michael Bay as well as creative wedding video production companies in the UK.
Strategically, Vimeo does not allow any video that actively promotes a product or service – except for self-promotion of members themselves. And, that's why it works so well. Freed from the constraints of selling a product, filmmakers are liberated to explore anything that makes them excited. To simply do a great job and do it for the feedback is enough.
Whitman was hired from the community itself. Still a filmmaker at heart, Whitman's mission along with his other community directors is to show, “that Vimeo is about creative video. We’re looking to inspire members to take that next step… to go from a pro-sumer to a professional.”
(Note: Michael Bay need not apply).
Vimeo was the pioneer in allowing members to upload HD files (October 2007) so it quickly became a home for serious filmmakers. Vimeo has never looked back.
The Vimeo difference plays itself out when filmmakers post a video. Usually a video post includes the credits of who made the film, what camera it was shot on and any other inside information that is relevant like lenses or processing effects. Community members will give support, ask technical questions, and give honest and open opinions of the work being shown.
In my post of 37 Viral Video Web Tips, I noted that the Vimeo staff picks are the videos to watch. Here’s what Whitman looks for in one of his staff picks:
“If I can inspire someone through the staff picks that’s probably the best thing. The qualities I look for are something that is inspiring, something that is interesting something that is in the possibility of someone doing it themselves." (Paging Mr. Bay. You won't be a staff pick any time soon).
Here are three of Blake’s picks that speak directly to what he’s looking for:
Stop Frame As Metaphor
One staff pick video that would probably take a long time for Blake to do himself is The Long Haul. A wickedly good stop frame animation and labor of love that Sylvain Dumais and his producing partners Full Serve Productions in Toronto put together. Sylvain worked on the project during a long haul of two months and split the cost with the producers. All the staff worked for free – but all are using the piece as a demo reel to show their services.
Knowing that Vimeo is a destination for not just supportive filmmakers but bloggers and agency types, Dumais didn’t think of premiering his piece anywhere but Vimeo.
With the help of Whitman's golden pick, the video went viral. 72,000 views in 11 days. The video got picked up by Andrew Sullivan's website and then featured on other well-known blogs. Sylvain has been on the phone with talent scouts, camera accessory manufacturers for sponsorships and Good Morning America.
Sylvain cherishes the nurturing environment that Vimeo has created: “Well, the Vimeo community has really great and generous feedback. It's a hub for a lot of creative people both professional and amateur and is somehow more serious then let's say, YouTube. So when people see something they like they often comment, mostly positively and constructively as they create video as well and know about the medium. Vimeo is always evolving where as YouTube looks the same since forever. I'll say the most important and great thing about it is the content and the users.”
Of course the web is one great pool to steal from and Dumais knows with popularity comes the double edged sword of someone lifting your ideas.
In the meantime, make something beautiful and upload it on Vimeo or just subscribe to the RSS of their staff picks here.