Automattic Overhauls VideoPress and Open Sources Technologies Used to Build It

VideoPress, Automattic’s video hosting service, has undergone a complete overhaul. The video player is now responsive and adjusts well to mobile devices. Videos can be embedded anywhere and are easier to share, thanks to permalinks.

There’s also a couple of neat options for sharing videos. Similar to YouTube, you can select a time stamp where the video will start playing. You can also loop and autoplay videos.

VideoPress Sharing Options
VideoPress Sharing Options

One thing I noticed is that pasting a VideoPress permalink into the self hosted WordPress visual editor does not load the video. This is because WordPress does not have oEmbed support for VideoPress.

To embed videos into posts, you need to copy the HTML embed code from the video and past it into the WordPress text editor. Pasting the code into the visual editor doesn’t work. Guillermo Rauch, who works on the VideoPress team at Automattic says they are working on adding oEmbed support.

The new video player takes up little space and is unbranded. According to Rauch, the player’s skin and behavior is controlled by JavaScript, HTML and CSS. This opens the door for customizations by theme developers in the future. Thanks to major performance enhancements, pages with videos on them will load faster, even for those on slow internet connections. Here’s an example of a video using the new player.

A feature that I think a lot of people will enjoy is real-time seek which lets you skim through videos and helps you start playing at a desired point. Last but not least, the libraries used to build the new video player have been open sourced, including jpeg-stream, pixel-stack, and video-thumb-grid.

If you’re interested in using VideoPress, you need a Premium or Business plan on WordPress.com. The premium plan is $99 per year and includes 13GB of space. Videos take up a lot of space and one has to wonder if it’s worth the cost or if YouTube is a better option. If you use VideoPress, let us know what you think of these improvements.

25 Comments


    1. Gmail was free and now it’s $50/year per email address. This is how free and low cost services work. First it’s free or close to free to destroy the market and shut down the independent operators. Then prices start rising. Automattic has used the same model with Akismet. Akismet used to be a donation, then a modest fee per site, then even if you are paying you get your account shut down unless you pay more. This happens while sending out notifications to all your included sites that your account is suspended.

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      1. …what? No… Gmail is free.

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      2. Gmail for business was free at first, then free for companies less than ten people and now Gmail for business is $50/account.

        Free Gmail is advertising supported, so Google reads your email and sticks ads in front of you. That’s also not free.

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      3. Gmail for business works excellent, Every email is delivered at time. For that price you can use tens of domains there, so its almost like free.
        Where you see adverts? I never saw one advert there.

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      4. Yea well, there has to be some price/cost somewhere don’t you think?..

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    2. Frankie, the $99 is for the WordPress.com premium plan, which includes VideoPress, a domain, space, premium Typekit fonts, custom CSS, premium support (usually livechat), and more. We haven’t announced separate pricing for .org users yet, it’s a .com-focused release right now.

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      1. Oh awesome. Well that’s a whole lot more than just video hosting :-) Thanks for clarifying, Matt.

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  1. I’m sure oEmbed support will arrive very soon.

    If someone is looking for a more flexible and equally inexpensive high volume solution, our FV Player together with Vimeo Pro hosting allows unlimited videos for $200/year. Our FV Player Pro will also mix and match to use YouTube videos, allowing you a free hosting option. If you are looking for highly secure streaming, our player will also work with Amazon Cloudfront RTMP.

    All with the same custom interface across all the hosting, so your visitors will only perceive a single brand: yours.

    We support every major video hosting platform. Next week we will add support for VideoPress hosting in case someone would like to add VideoPress to the mix or arrives with legacy VideoPress videos.

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    1. I don’t use any videos on my sites, anyway if I need some, I will never put some YouTube there.
      Do you understand why anyone would pay for theme/plugin/service if many of them are free?

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      1. Why wont you? It is probably the most reliable service at no cost.
        You pay for themes/plugins/services because they usually have a higher quality than those available for free.

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      2. Simply bc. I don’t like youtube for more reasons (for example facebook too) and I have no plan to use it if alternatives which are closer to my personality/ideas/style/needs exist.

        For example … Can you imagine that Apple use youtube on their site?
        I prefer something more clean, designed and focused on details, without adverts, annotations and another things around what youtube use.
        I don’t think that youtube is something what has place on quality websites.

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      3. For free users, YouTube covers your video in ads and leads your visitors to your competitors (or just away). That’s not free, Juan.

        YouTube should be used as a venue where you attract visitors to your own web properties, not as a source of leakage.

        For $200/year, Vimeo offers unlimited videos including commercial (or any) content you like. A single month’s hosting on other video hosts for a reasonably popular video can rise to around $500/month. I.e. Vimeo Pro is by a factor of 10 to 20 times less expensive than your alternatives (i.e. $200/year as opposed to $3000 in our example) even for relatively modest usage. For that matter you can sell/rent your videos on Vimeo Pro with very little set up.

        We’re not affiliated in any way with Vimeo, pay for our own pro account. As video experts, we just think the Vimeo Pro offer is the best value for money on the internet (if you want to use video commercially).

        VideoPress’s value offer looks good too. I’m really looking forward to testing our fully responsive and brandable player works with VideoPress next week.

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  2. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get VideoPress videos to be responsive, which to me seemed like one of the big selling points of the update. I uploaded a fresh video just to make sure the problem wasn’t confined to old videos. Even the new video doesn’t seem to resize itself as a responsive video should. Is there some obvious point I’m missing? Perhaps something that needs to be added to the embed code? If so, it doesn’t seem to be documented yet.

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  3. You didn’t highlight the part of the announcement that I was happiest to read: “VideoPress now takes a fraction of the space it used to and is optimized for speed, so pages and posts with video content load faster. This is a huge plus for viewers who use slower connections or rely on bandwidth-strapped mobile devices.” I’m on a 1M/sec connection, and I’ve never been able to watch the videos at WordPress.tv very well. Sometimes it feels as if Silicon Valley developers ignore those of us in rural parts of the US or the global South (as with the next to most recent overhaul of Flickr, which suddenly made that site almost unusable), so thanks to Matt & Co. for remembering that we exist (and even sometimes upload videos, agonizing as that can be.)

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    1. Actually, I have installed ffmpeg on my dedicated server and it wasn’t that difficult. The difficult part was getting it to do EXACTLY what I wanted it to. But I’m a glutton for punishment (aka developer)

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  4. YouTube only shows ads and branding if you use thier player. There are dozens of free and premium players that let you use YouTube videos with zero ads and no branding.

    And if your uploading videos to YouTube for your site, you can use privacy controls to only show them on your site for paid memberships.

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