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How to Get Started with Free Video Encoder Vid.ly (Updated)

Big news: Vid.ly is now in public beta, so anyone can try it without an access code. Since the service is incredibly useful and free, we've updated our original feature.

If you're a small company just getting into online video, Vid.ly is the solution you didn't know you needed. It lets you upload your finished videos, and then encodes them into 14 different versions, so they'll play on every browser and every mobile device.

But it does more than that: it also stores and streams your video. And it does this for free. Sure, you could use YouTube to store your videos, but then they have a YouTube watermark on the lower right corner. Vid.ly videos look exactly as you intended.

Once Vid.ly has encoded your videos, it provides you with a link and a bit of HTML code. You can use the link for your company's social networking projects: tweet it to your Twitter followers or post it on your FaceBook page. Use the code to embed your videos directly into your Web or intranet pages. Both provide browser and device detection, so that people see the video no matter what platform they're on. Whether using a cell phone, set-top box, tablet, or desktop computer, every viewer will see the correct version for them.

It's a solution that just works, period.

When Vid.ly first launched in late January, 2011, it was in closed beta, and required an access code for use. According to Jeff Malkin, president of Encoding.com (which runs Vid.ly) thousands of people tested the service in the past two months, uploading over 10,000 videos. Those early users gave feedback, so that the developers could work the kinks out of Vid.ly.

"There were many, many bugs that people helped identify for us," says Malkin.

The service is now even more stable and accessible. If you'd like to check it out, here's how you get started:

  1. Visit the Vid.ly page and click the Start button. You'll be prompted to find the video you want to encode. Your source can be an FTP directory, HTTP link, Amazon S3-hosted file, a file stored in the cloud, or a locally stored file. Select the correct source and then input the correct link to the file. The only limit to Vid.ly is that files can be no larger than 1GB. When you're done, hit Next. 

  2. Vid.ly will show you its progress as it uploads and then transcodes the file. The process can take a while. When it's done, you'll get a link and a bit of code. Use the link in your social network accounts or embed the code in your website.

That's all there is to it. Vid.ly also stores your original file, so when some other must-have video format comes along in the future, it will re-encode your file into that new format, as well.

If you love Vid.ly and want to use it with your in-house workflow, a paid Pro version is coming in four to six weeks. It will offer developer APIs, so that it can be built into a workflow and used automatically.

Pricing for the Pro service will be based on the number of users, the storage costs, and the streaming costs. Pricing will be tiered, with unit cost decreasing with greater use, but the exact numbers haven't been finalized yet. Malkin is now talking with potential customers about what pricing makes sense.

"Today we are thrilled to open up the Vid.ly service from private beta to public beta. We thank everyone for their feedback in helping us resolve critical bugs so that Vid.ly is now a much more stable place," says Malkin. "The next milestone is launching the Vid.ly Pro Server, along with an API so that developers can build their Vid.ly apps on top of Vid.ly."

Troy Dreier's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

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