Saturday, 19 March 2011

Google Videos

Google Videos is a free video sharing website and also a video search engine from Google Inc. Google Videos allows selected videos to be remotely embedded on other websites and provides the necessary HTML code alongside the media, similar to YouTube. This allows for websites to host large amounts of video remotely on Google Videos without running into bandwidth or storage capacity issues.

The service was launched on January 25, 2005.[1] On October 9, 2006, Google bought former competitor YouTube. Google announced on June 13, 2007 that the Google Videos search results would begin to include videos discovered by their search crawlers on other hosting services, in YouTube and user uploads.[2] Search result links now open a frameset with a Google Videos header at the top, and the original player page below it, similar to the way the Google Images search results are presented. In 2009, Google discontinued the ability to upload videos to Google's web servers.

Video content

Google Videos is geared towards providing a large archive of freely searchable videos. Besides amateur media, Internet videos, viral ads, and movie trailers, the service also aims to distribute commercial professional media, such as televised content and movies.

A number of educational discourses by Google employees have been recorded and made available for viewing via Google Videos. The lectures have been done mainly at the employees' former universities. The topics cover Google technologies and software engineering but also include other pioneering efforts by major players in the software engineering field.

Various media companies offered content on Google Videos for purchase, including CBS programs, NBA, music videos, and independent film. Initially, the content of a number of broadcasting companies (such as ABC, NBC, CNN) was available as free streaming content or stills with closed captioning. In addition, the U.S. National Archive used Google Videos to make historic films available online, but this project was later discontinued.[4]

Google Videos also searches other non-affiliated video sites from web crawls. Sites searched by Google Videos in addition to their own videos and YouTube include GoFish, ExposureRoom, Vimeo, MySpace, Biku, and Yahoo! Video. It appears that Google Videos is moving away from an online video archive and toward a search engine for videos, similar to their web and image searches.

As of August 2007, the DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program ended. Users who previously purchased a video from Google Videos were no longer able to view them. Credits for users were made available as values for Google Checkout and were valid for 60 days

Termination of video upload service

In 2009, Google ended the ability for users to upload videos to Google Videos. Videos that were already uploaded will continue to be hosted.[3] Since this time, other navigation features have been retired such as ability to cross-reference videos back to now-inactive user accounts, as well as selection of top videos[1].
Uploading videos

Until 2009, users were able to upload videos either through the Google Videos website (limited to 100MB per file); or alternatively through the Google Video Uploader, available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Major producers with a thousand or more hours of video can apply for Google's Premium Program, which continues to allow for the uploading of videos.[3][7]

While the Video Uploader application was available as three separate downloads, the Linux version was written in Java, a cross-platform programming language, and would therefore also work on other operating systems without modifications, providing that the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is installed. This Java executable (.jar) file was a standalone application that did not require installation. Consequently, it could be run from removable media such as USB flash drives, CD-ROMs, or network storage. This allowed users to upload video even if the computer terminal on which they were working would not allow them to install programs, such as a public library computer.

Uploaded videos were saved as a .gvi files under the "Google Videos" folder in "My Videos" and reports of the video(s) details were logged and stored in the user account. The report sorted and listed the number of times that each of the user's videos had been viewed and downloaded within a specific time frame. These ranged from the previous day, week, month or the entire time the videos have been there. Totals were calculated and displayed and the information could be downloaded into a spreadsheet format or printed out.

Video distribution methods

Google Videos offers both free services and commercial videos, the latter controlled with digital rights management.

The basic way to watch the videos is through the Google Videos website, Each video has a unique web address in the format of<video id>, and that page contains an embedded Flash Video file which can be viewed in any Flash-enabled browser.

Permalinks to a certain point in a video are also possible, in the format of<video id>#XXhYYmZZs[8] (that is, with a fragment identifier containing a timestamp).
Flash Video

The browser automatically caches the flash file while it plays, and it can be retrieved from the browser cache once it has fully played. There are also several tools and browser extensions to download the file. It can be then viewed in video players that can handle flash, for example VLC media player, Media Player Classic (with ffdshow installed), MPlayer or Wimpy.

Google Video Player

Google Video Player was another way to view Google videos; it ran on Windows and Mac OS X. The Google Video Player plays back files in Google's own Google Video File (.gvi) media format and supported playlists in "Google Video Pointer" (.gvp) format. When users downloaded to their computers, the resulting file used to be a small .gvp (pointer) file rather than a .gvi file. When run, the .gvp file would download a .gvi (movie) file to the user's default directory.

As of August 17, 2007, Google Video Player has been discontinued and is no longer available for download from the Google Videos website. The option to download videos in GVI format has also been removed, the only format available being iPod/PSP (MP4 format).

While early versions of Google's in-browser video player code were based on the open source VLC Media Player, the last version of Google Video Player was not based on VLC, according to its readme file. However, it did include the OpenSSL cryptographic toolkit and some libraries from the Qt widget toolkit.

GVI format and conversion

Google Video Files (.gvi), and latterly its .avi files, are modified Audio Video Interleave (.avi) files that have an extra list containing the FourCC "goog" immediately following the header. The list can be removed with a hex editor to avoid playback issues with various video players.[10][11] The video is encoded in MPEG-4 ASP alongside an MP3 audio stream. MPEG-4 video players can render .gvi Google Video Files without format conversion (after changing the extension from .gvi to .avi, although this method of just renaming the file extension does not work with videos purchased with DRM to inhibit unauthorized copying. Among other software VirtualDub is able to read .gvi files and allows the user to convert them into different formats of choice. There are also privately developed software solutions, such as GVideo Fix, that can convert them to .avi format without recompression. MEncoder with "-oac copy -ovc copy" as parameters also suffices.

AVI and MP4

Besides GVI and Flash Video, Google provided its content through downloadable Audio Video Interleave (.avi) and MPEG-4 (.mp4) video files. Not all formats are available through the website's interface, however, depending on the user's operating system.

Where available, Google's "save as" function for Windows/Mac produced an .avi file, while the "save as" function for iPod and PSP produced an .mp4 file.

This .avi file was not in standard AVI format. To play the file in a popular media player such as Winamp or Windows Media Player, the file had to first be modified, using a hex editor to delete the first LIST block in the file header, which started at byte 12 (000C hex, first byte in file is byte 0) and ended at byte 63 (003F hex).[10][11] Optionally, the file length (in bytes 4 to 7, little endian) should also be amended, by subtracting 52 (3F hex - 0C hex = 33 hex).

Winamp and Windows Media Player cannot play the unmodified .avi file because the non-standard file header corrupts the file. However, Media Player Classic, MPlayer, the VLC Media Player and GOM Player will play the unmodified .avi file, and the Google .mp4 file. Media Player Classic can do so only if an MPEG-4 DirectShow Filter, such as ffdshow, is installed. Most Linux media players (including xine, Totem, the Linux version of VLC Media Player, and Kaffeine) have no problem playing Google's .avi format.

An .mp4 video file will play in Winamp 5 if an MPEG-4/H.264 DirectShow Filter such as ffdshow and an MP4 Splitter such as Haali are installed, and the extension ;MP4 is added to the Extension List in the Winamp DirectShow decoder configuration.

In the Spring of 2008, the option to download files in .AVI format was removed. Files were henceforth only available as Flash video or .MP4 video. The same videos, when accessed through the companion site, were available only in Flash video format.