Comparison of Steaming Video-Server, Vimeo, Panopto, and Others

Below, I explain my current experimentation and distribution of my videos.

This diagram, Rick's Video Management System, attempts to portray what I seek with video distribution.

Vimeo - My Current Video-Serving System (Updated 12/2021)

Note, at the end of 12/2021, Vimeo switched to a new "unlisted" category. I need to redo this web page, again.

Vimeo offers several methods to provide viewers access to videos. These methods provide flexibility and restrictions to what your viewers can see. I show these below using my public video, "Install Moodle PC Sandbox," as an example (captioned in English and Spanish.)

  1. Copy video link: Vimeo's default link opens a video in Vimeo. Other Vimeo features control what the viewer sees (e.g., like, share, chapters). In general, I don't like this view because I don't want to bother my students with Vimeo web page surrounding stuff, like "joining Vimeo" or any other ads. However, this method does provide the most Vimeo features, including the downloading of SRT captions when public. This is the URL that Moodle wants when posting a video on a discussion topic. Embedding must be enabled. The URL looks like https://vimeo.com/656639599. I like using this URL for my "Downloads" button since it is most comprehensive. If you want to share this URL with others, you must use either Private or Public, Hidden won't work.
  2. Copy review page link: This method supports reviewer comments, which could be a nice feature. This URL does support many Vimeo features, including "download" (not captions). It does show a Vimeo logo. The URL looks like https://vimeo.com/rickjerz/review/656639599/db45a5dd38.
  3. Copy download link: This method presents the video's thumbnail image and a button to "Download." The Download button provides a resolution selection but not caption downloading. You cannot play the video using this URL. I have not found good use of this method except when you only want download functionality, and nothing else. #1 and #2 are more flexible methods. The URL looks like https://vimeo.com/rickjerz/download/656639599/3f46b3d735. The downloaded filename is the same as the original video's filename, regardless of resolution.
  4. Copy embed code: This provides iframe code, meant to be used on web pages. However, the URL part of this code, https://player.vimeo.com/video/369899356, will produce a clean web page with only the video, meaning no Vimeo ad stuff. Embedding must be enabled. Downloading is not supported with this method. I like this URL on my web page summary, and it is what I use for RSS feeds.
  5. Play the video for download links: This method provides a specific URL. For example, one URL for 1080x720 looks like https://player.vimeo.com/external/656639599.hd.mp4?s=3fa3f78d570c439dcfb909a6e5683b9ee381fef9&profile_id=174. You find these URLs on the Advanced, Distribution, Vimeo web page. Many Vimeo features do not show themselves using this URL, such as captions and chapters, making this method unappealing.

The first four URLs are very quickly available from Vimeo's user interface. You find the fifth URL in Advanced, Distribution.

Each method provides some unique features. Vimeo doesn't offer a player that provides everything, so picking a method always has trade-offs. These methods are also affected by Vimeo's security settings, namely: Private, Password, Only me, Hide from Vimeo, or Public. The Moodle example video is set to "public," allowing me to demonstrate all methods easily.

Private and Hidden videos will not appear in a search on Vimeo or Google.

If you want to allow the SRT file to be download, the video must be Public, and you have to allow downloading.

Hidden videos can only be shared by having embedding turned on, whereas you can send someone the URL for Private videos. Since I do want to email someone a link to my video, I prefer using the Private setting for course videos.

Using Vimeo in Moodle

For the video to work on Moodle, and perhaps any LMS, you can use either Private, Hidden, or Public for "who can view," and you must allow embedding. Moodle 3.11.4 fixed the problem that Private videos would not work, so now they do. I prefer making course videos private. This prevents another school from easily using my videos.

Using Vimeo on a Web Page

Almost all URLs can be used in one way or another on a web page. You will see how I create web page "play" buttons, below.

Give someone a URL.

You can give someone the Private "Copy Link" URL.

In general, if a video is Hidden, it can only be embedded (or you can give someone the Review or Download URLs). If you wanted to email someone "see this video" you would have to provide them the Review or Download URL.

I still need to explore how to use videos in other LMS, protecting copyright.

 

Summary from findings: Use Private, Embed on Domain for course videos. Moodle works, and on my Videos Summary web pages, use the Embed Link for a clean web page (no Vimeo), and the Link URL for downloading (shows Vimeo stuff.) For now, I can't easily give students SRT file.

 

Additional Notes:

1. Copy video link

This method's disadvantage is that Vimeo's website (advertisements) stuff surrounds your video, so I don't like it unless I am sharing my video as "public," with the entire world. Note that the Vimeo "chapter" feature is not supported. If "downloads" is enabled, a download button shows whether the video is public or private, and downloading of captions is also allowed.

However, the student has no easy ability to "download" the video unless the video is "public." The embed player provides the "thumbnail," the one that you defined in Vimeo. The thumbnail provides a nice display of the video but also takes up more web page space; therefore, I don't like to show it on any web page that the student might print.

2. Copy review page link

This method does not support "chapters," speed control, or quality settings.

3. Download URL additional notes.

None

4. Embed code additional notes.

The embed code looks like:

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/656639599" width="640" height="564" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>

One needs to know how to use iframe code effectively. It's more technical, but can provide a solution to some situations.

I created this web page using Dreamweaver, which supports the iframe.

Here is what this looks like on this web page:

 

4+ extra: What I discovered is another undocumented method of providing a video, which is using only the URL portion of this embed code. You then get a clean web page with all embed code features. So, this method is pretty good, and it is my preferred method.

I prefer that my course videos are not public to the world. So, downloading no, chapters yes! My current solution is to provide play buttons for this Embed player and the Default player. For whatever reason, Vimeo hides the "Picture in Picture" button until you click the Play button. This picture-in-picture feature is important, as it puts the video into its own movable and sizable window.

5. Play the video for download links

To use this method, go to Distribution and scroll down to "Video file links." Copy any of the various sized video links. This method presents the video in a browser, and the student can right-click on the video to download it, but the downloaded filename is coded.

Other Notes about Vimeo

Advantages: Overall, I have used Vimeo since January 2020 and am very satisfied. I can provide students with a clean web page, it supports captions, chapters, speed and quality control, picture-in-picture, and video downloading. The download filename is correct, too. It works on mobile devices (with and without the Vimeo mobile player), a version history is kept, easy replacement of either the video or captions, easy uploading and management of videos on Vimeo, videos play fairly quickly, there are minimal "server" problems, and support is good. I like having Embed presets for overall player consistency.

  • The connection to Vimeo is easy and fast. I open a browser, type "vim" into the address line and connect. With the UIowa Streaming Server, I had to use a VPN to connect, navigate to my videos directory, and then use my Mac's Filer to move the video. With Vimeo, open Vimeo in my browser (it keeps me logged in,) click on the sub-folder, and then drag & drop my video into it. Vimeo seems a little faster, and no VPN required, with was a nuisance on my Mac.
  • The "chapter" feature in Vimeo is nice. It provides a table of contents and a quick way for students to jump to different video segments.
  • The picture-in-picture feature is very nice, but it doesn't work on all browsers. Vimeo says that this is a browser-specific feature.
  • I have requested a +/- 10 second feature.
  • Replacing and managing both videos and SRT files is better with Vimeo. I no longer need closed-caption (_CC) duplicate videos. I don't need to keep SRT files on my website, either.
  • Vimeo is reliable.
  • By paying for my own Vimeo video server, I never have to worry about what videos I put on it, such as "home" videos.

So far, I like Vimeo better than Panopto, and much better than Kaltura.

Disadvantages:

  1. Cannot podcast. To do podcasting, ala iTunes, I need a direct URL to the .mp4 video.
  2. I desire a "download" icon in the embedded player for private videos so that only one video player (button,) instead of two, would be needed. I have asked Vimeo for this feature.

For Vimeo's Thumbnail: Best thumbnail is from Premiere, exported png, no alpha. This provides the best quality, and it matches the videos first frame.

Current Method on a Resources Web Page

For courses, I want to provide students the ability to control speed, pick captions, download the video and SRT file, have picture-in-picture, and chapters. However, I don't want to make all my course videos public to the world. I have not found one video playing method that supports my desires, so currently, I am providing two buttons.

In this example below, the Play Video button provides a clean web page, most Vimeo features, chapters, and speed control, but not downloads. The Download video button takes you to the Vimeo web page and allows you to download the video and SRT files. I have put in a feature request to add the download feature to Vimeo's embed code options for non-public videos. Picture-in-picture seems to be a browser feature, supported by Safari and Firefox, but not Chrome.

Course Introduction video (24 minutes.)

Button to play video 'Course Introduction' Button to download video 'Course Introduction'

Additional Vimeo Settings and Distribution Notes

I have three kinds of videos: Public, Lectures (or Course,) and Copyrighted. Settings are slightly different for these.

General: Privacy

  • Who can watch? Public = Anyone, Course = Private, Copyrighted = Hidden.
  • Where can this this be embedded? Public = Anywhere, Course = www.rjerz.com, Copyrighted = no where (see if this works in Moodle).
  • Who can comment? Public = Anyone, Course = Anyone, Copyrighted = No one.
  • People can download this video: Public = on, Course = on, Copyright = off.

Embed: I am using presets. Public = rjPublic, Course = rjCourse, Copyrighted = rjPrivate. rjStudent does not show my picture or name.

Interactive tools:

  • Use chapters, where appropriate.

Distribution

  • Use subtitles, where appropriate.
  • No Creative Commons License

For Additional Testing

Here are some links for a "private" course video that is restricted to the domain www.rjerz.com. Based on the below experimentation, I might use #4 to present a very clean web page, and then #1 for "Downloading." Explore which method works for RSS feeds. Moodle uses #1 is discussions.

  1. * Copy video link: https://vimeo.com/656741487/77ee51dc26. This is missing SRT caption downloads, but does allow review. Has some minimal Vimeo stuff. If "review" is enabled and a person click on the review icon, they are provided #2.
  2. Copy review page link: https://vimeo.com/rickjerz/review/656741487/3b9f78fd93. Very similar to Public. I can't notice any differences, yet.
  3. Copy download link: https://vimeo.com/rickjerz/download/656741487/3e73179532. Appears identical to Public.
  4. * Copy embed code: https://player.vimeo.com/video/656741487?h=77ee51dc26. Similar to Public, but if the embed code is restricted to a domain, you cannot use this URL from any other web page. You cannot, for example, give someone this URL in an email.
  5. Play the video for download links: https://player.vimeo.com/external/656741487.hd.mp4?s=f70044807fd436813ccbadf6ff888c94ddaeebdd&profile_id=174. Works like Public.

Here are some links for a "copyrighted" course video that is restricted to the domain www.rjerz.com. Based on the below experimentation, I might use #4 to present a very clean web page. #1 is used in Moodle.

  1. Copy video link: https://vimeo.com/656758831. I prevent anything from being downloaded. This link doesn't work. It must be embedded on a web page or in moodle.
  2. Copy review page link: https://vimeo.com/rickjerz/review/656758831/fdcebffbc0. Very similar to Public. I can't notice any differences, yet. URL can be specifically provided.
  3. Copy download link: https://vimeo.com/rickjerz/download/656758831/17c546bf9d. Appears identical to Public. Cannot download if downloads are not allowed.
  4. Copy embed code: https://player.vimeo.com/video/656758831. Similar to Public, but if the embed code is restricted to a domain, you cannot use this URL from any other web page. You cannot, for example, give someone this URL in an email.
  5. Play the video for download links: https://player.vimeo.com/external/656758831.sd.mp4?s=d964e3380a1bf0fb39677a40c71bece1325587d3&profile_id=165. Works like Public. Viewer can right-click to Save As, even though downloading is turned off. So even though this is Hidden and Downloads are off, it can still be downloaded with this URL.

In Canvas, I make a page and then use Insert, Embed, to insert the iframe code into the page. This then restricts the playing of this video to the Canvas (school) domain.

UIowa Adobe Streaming Video Server - No longer available as of 1/2020

Note: The university turned off the streaming server in December 2019. So links to videos that were once on it will not work.

The UIowa Adobe Streaming Server URL looked like the following: http://streaming.iowa.uiowa.edu/business/rjerz/(folder+mp4 filename.mp4)

Below is a simulation of how this URL worked (the videos are on my VPS server.)

URL: BA_Introduction.mp4, http://streaming.iowa.uiowa.edu/business/rjerz/ba/BA_Introduction.mp4

URL: BA_Introduction.mp4, http://streaming.iowa.uiowa.edu/business/rjerz/ba/BA_Introduction_CC.mp4 (Open-Captioned)

My method involved creating two videos, one with and one without burned-in captions because the browser's video player had no way to marry an SRT file to the video, which existed on both computer and mobile browsers. I would bundle the video collection into a podcast feed, which was a very convenient way of distributing videos. I had two feeds, one for non-captioned and one for captioned videos. My method also meant that I had to create and manage two videos for every lecture video. The produced the original video using Premiere, and the burned-in version in Camtasia.

Advantages: Downloads maintain exact size and name. Able to podcast. Video management is relatively easy, including easy upload and replacement of videos. URL contains a recognizable video name.

Disadvantages: Just a little quirky at times. I had to log in with the VPN to manage videos on this server.

Panopto

Example of video link that uses "Panopto Web Viewer."

https://uicapture.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=63a21969-ed75-49b7-a7d0-ab520114c27c

This provides speed controls.

Example of "View Podcast" link.

This is very similar to what one sees with my own server or the UIowa Streaming Server.

https://d2y36twrtb17ty.cloudfront.net/sessions/49f72a9a-ce74-46fa-99b7-ab520114c273/63a21969-ed75-49b7-a7d0-ab520114c27c-0673c627-b9e1-4ef5-b13e-ab52011a6bb1.mp4?invocationId=0cc5755a-8443-ea11-a9dd-0a8e213f0382

This is an example of Panopto "Embed Code" added to a web page, in Dreamweaver.

 

Advantages: It is free to university instructors. Compared to Vimeo, Panopto offers a 10-sec rewind tool, some flexibility to where captions display, and the ability to show captions on the side. Captions can also be searched. Player supports picture-in-picture.

Disadvantages: It does not present the video in a clean web page; it always wraps it with Panopto margins. URL is not obvious. Panopto doesn't provide a download of the original. It always appears to transcode videos. Replacing video is not obvious. Downloaded videos do not take on the video file name. On embed code, puts a "Powered by Panopto" watermark on the video. Cannot edit/replace the caption SRT file. Compared to Vimeo, there appears to be no picture-in-picture feature or full sizing control.

Problems:

  • Captions show, but I don't see where to pick the language.
  • Videos played with Safari will intermittently lose their audio. You have to refresh the web page and scrub to where you left off.
  • If a lot of videos are put into one Canvas web page, this web page takes time (a minute) to show its content. It could have something to do with either Canvas or Panopto.

Rick's Server

This option involves using my own server to manage videos. The URL looked like: http://www.rjerz.com/(folder + video_filename.mp4)

URL: BA_Introduction.mp4, https://www.rjerz.com/v/exp/BA_Introduction.mp4

URL: BA_Introduction.mp4, https://www.rjerz.com/v/exp/BA_Introduction_CC.mp4 (Open Captioned)

You might notice that this method is very similar to the UIowa Adobe Video Server method. Since I already owned my VPS, there is no cost to this method. I just need to have more disk space.

Advantages: Same as UIowa Video Server. Can use FTP to manage videos, which is more convenient and did not need to log into VPN.

Disadvantages: I am not sure what effect this has on my Moodle server's performance. Now I notice that Vimeo seems to be faster at serving the video.

Kaltura

UIowa: Cannot download. Cannot replace. Cannot present in a clean web page.

Kaltura used to provide a nice ".mp4" link, but no longer does.

I am not sure where Kaltura is going to fit into UIowa's video platforms. Maybe there is some benefit with Canvas. I guess that it is a candidate (software) that will eventually be removed. Perhaps Kaltura gave the school a special deal to try it for a year or so.

2021 Update: Uiowa decided to abort the Kaltura platform. I guessed correctly.

Other Video Servers to Investigate

YouTube

Techsmith Relay

Rick's Flash Player - Ended around 2016

I created a custom Flash player to deliver my videos because there were no other good alternatives at the time.

Experimental Flash Player

Old Flash Player

Test new multimedia player

Older Videos Distribution Methods

RealMedia

This example illustrates using a "ram" file to stream RealMedia. You need a Realmedia player to play these. I no longer produce Realmedia videos because I find that Flash and podcasts are more prevalent.

Realmedia Streaming, Realmedia Download

First "Lecture" Video. I produced this video for my MBA670 course, in 2002, when I decided to try a one-week "electronic" week. This was originally an "avi" file, and now has been converted to an "mp4" file.

Sharestream (UIowa)

I never used this server because it did not provide the ability to replace videos, which was a necessary feature.

Miscellaneous

My first copy of Adobe Premiere, version 5.1, I purchased in (March) 1999. By 2000, I was using Premiere to create lecture videos. I have yet to locate my first Premiere-produced video, but I believe this was for my Engineering Graphics course.

Moodle 2.1 on Jing

Jing experimentation (Techsmith. No longer works.)

 

Experimenting