The internet has allowed many people worldwide to share all content types. Filmmakers and content creators see the value of this and have uploaded their creative projects in hopes of being discovered. However, one issue with that is deciding whether to upload that content onto YouTube or Vimeo.
YouTube and Vimeo have been the go-to for up-and-coming filmmakers looking to make a name for themselves. As a result, there is a higher possibility of getting a film project noticed by producers, directors, and other fellow creatives than over a decade ago. For example, director Dan Trachtenberg left his calling card online with his short, Portal: No Escape, which was instrumental in starting his feature-length career. Likewise, producer, director, and animator Jon Schnepp had been a popular personality on YouTube before using his notoriety to create the documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?.
Suffice to say that there are outlets for filmmakers to upload their short or feature films on sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Yet, deciding which one will give you the biggest bang for your buck, suited for your artistic needs, and which one is “content creator” or “filmmaker” friendly is something to consider.
Choosing the Best Video Platform – Based on Your Goals
Before leaping, decisions have to be made. Every filmmaker should plan out their film projects endeavors well in advance. First, they’ll want to direct all the initial buzz to the same place—scattering it around multiple platforms might dilute the project’s success. YouTube and Vimeo contain so much content, but there are a few things to contemplate. Is the creative an artist or a content creator? A content creator is seen as more influencer—think of someone like PewDiePie or Ryan Kaji. Though these people are well-known, the creative force behind their decision is what their target audiences want. An artist is someone who creates content to make a statement or show something innovative. In deciding on YouTube or Vimeo, a few more things are the type of audience, artistic control, video quality, and monetary value.
Pros and Cons of YouTube to Promote Your Film
YouTube has been the go-to for anyone looking for videos about anything under the sun and beyond. The site is the second-most visited website—behind Google—with 14 billion monthly, can be seen in 100 countries, and uses 80 different languages. A filmmaker’s content is almost guaranteed to garner a high number of views if it’s engaging enough. YouTube has become so inundated in society and social media that many companies use it to raise their brand awareness to tap into a successful viral marketing campaign.
The website also features minimal barriers to entry. The only things required to upload new content for any user are a smartphone and a decent internet connection. There’s no need to pay to set up an account, and there are no upload limits or caps on storage space. Even the video quality on YouTube has stepped in, allowing fast rendering and up to 8K resolution in their video content.
Of course, one thing that YouTube is known for is monetization. Google purchased YouTube in 2006, and the search engine tends to push internet users to the site. This purchase allows opportunities to bring viewers to a filmmaker’s channel in the hope of finding sponsorships and making a decent monetary amount for their hard work. YouTube’s premium subscription service is one of the ways a filmmaker can make money from their content and create a die-hard following. This service can offer subscribers access to exclusive videos, live chats, streams, and more for a monthly subscription.
YouTube features more than 800 million videos on its service, making it hard for up-and-coming filmmakers. Many users visit the site for topics that will likely cause a filmmaker’s works to get lost in the shuffle. Thirty thousand hours of content is uploaded per hour, which showcases a large amount of competition to grab the audience’s attention.
Another disadvantage with YouTube and filmmakers is the lack of artistic control. The content ID system that automatically scans each upload for copyrighted tracks has been seen by other users as too aggressive and can cause a filmmaker to jump through hoops to restore the silenced audio. Even the video editor on YouTube may not be what a filmmaker desires. YouTube Studio allows users to trim their videos, add music, blur parts, and end screens. Also, only one stream of raw footage at once—meaning jumping between two different camera angles is not allowed. Plus, if the audiences are not YouTube premium subscribers, they can expect ads in every one of their videos.
Monetizing a film project is possible, but an enormous audience has to be there to make it worth the hard work. Unless a filmmaker already has millions of followers or their film becomes miraculously viral, living off short films can be very difficult. In addition, to get a cut of ad revenue, the creative will need to be in a country eligible for monetization, have at least 4,000 hours of content, have more than 1,000 subscribers, and create and link an AdSense account to their channel. Yet, after all the trials and tribulations, monetizing is a possibility; there is still a chance for a channel to lose the ability to earn advertising income by being demonetized.
Pros and Cons of Vimeo to Promote Your Film
Vimeo has a smaller market while YouTube reaches millions, but the audience is a much more vibrant and active filmmaking community. Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, was a guest on the Decoder podcast in 2021 and said over 200 million active users are on Vimeo. Also, 1.5 million creators pay to host their content on the site. The site has been on a campaign to focus on filmmakers looking to use it for their film projects rather than directly competing with YouTube. By gaining subscribers on Vimeo who are willing to pay for a filmmaker’s content, the user nets 90% of the profit, which can go a long way.
One of the many advantages of choosing Vimeo is targeting the filmmaker’s preferred audience. For example, in creating a short film, a filmmaker will target short film lovers and connect with other short filmmaking artists. The platform also offers password protection features for its content to better control what type of audience is allowed to view the content. This feature opens the door for better audience control and gives the creative and viewer a more stable platform to have a constructive discussion. In addition, a filmmaker can add this custom contact form on the Vimeo player to request the viewers’ contact info.
Artists like to see their work in the highest quality possible which is why Vimeo can take the advantage over YouTube. Vimeo Pro and higher is a service that filmmakers can pay for to have tons of features the platform offers. The site’s paid features have abundantly available tools such as Creation, Video Collaboration, and Video Marketing. Services include stock videos, music, images, and video templates and give the users ability to add text, frames, and filters through the editing process. Even though this service will not be able to compete with existing editing software, it’s a great feature to have for a filmmaker who wants to squeeze every penny they have.
Filmmakers want to put their best foot forward when sharing their projects. Vimeo has a certain standard the user much reach. It has always prioritized video quality and size, so it’s a rarity to see a poor-quality video on their site. On the other hand, YouTube is willing to take any video quality, whether watchable or not.
Though access to Vimeo is standard across some parts of the world, the site isn’t as accessible as YouTube. Some countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China, to name a few, have blocked access to the site. That block can be a significant problem if the filmmaker tries to reach one of these markets. The effects of that lack of access will also affect monetizing content.
Much of the leg work in monetizing a filmmaker’s project relays heavily on the filmmaker. Vimeo on Demand offers exclusives to viewers in exchange for donations, but you need to be on the Pro plan and pay $20 per month to monetize your content. Also, monetizing your content doesn’t always guarantee a huge audience. It isn’t easy to have a filmmaker’s content from Vimeo featured on search engine result pages because Google has a strong preference for returning YouTube videos.
Working against Vimeo is their analytics system. YouTube has a vast range of data to find out what viewers are searching for and what’s trending. Vimeo’s Analytics can give their user some data, but it’s sparse. In addition, Vimeo doesn’t rely on getting millions of views and landing substantial sponsorship deals and doesn’t have reliable data about which videos or trending or which creator earns the most on the platform.
There are several more pros and cons to choosing YouTube or Vimeo for a filmmaker’s needs. However, these two are the top choices among those willing to share their artistic vision, gain notoriety, or go in for a big cash grab. What matters is the work to accomplish these goals and construct a plan to suit your needs. Remember that many eyes are out there watching for the latest trend, innovation, lesson, or just looking for a good laugh in a video that viewers are eager to share.