I have been keeping a close eye on the evolution of HD video on the internet over the last two years. For a while, YouTube was really the only game in town and the video quality was terrible. And people seemed to be dropping F*bombs constantly in the comment section under the videos.

Then, just over a year ago, I watched a video in full screen, high definition video over the internet. I was amazed. I did not think the technology was at that point and that it could be possible to post high quality video to a world wide audience with the click of a button. The HD video website is called Vimeo, and they are simply, hands-down, THE BEST.

Other websites followed, like Exposure Room, giving people a free method of HD delivery to the masses.

But, sometimes the Flash encoding on Vimeo and XR does not meet up to my high expectations. Vimeo has a great comment and community system setup, but occasionally, the video quality suffers as it is encoded into Flash. I am not certain why, but some of my videos look better than others (compression wise) and I am exporting them the exact same way out of Final Cut Pro. I also found that when uploading video to Vimeo, it is best to do it around 10am EST. If I were to set an upload at 10pm EST, the up speed is super slow and sometimes the encode screws up. Lots of people set the video to upload and encode before they go to sleep. Perhaps this is directly related to the number of encodes going on at the Vimeo servers at a given time.

Now, a new HD web video option is available and from my first experiences, it looks better than Vimeo, YouTubeHD and Exposure Room. Perhaps the Flash encoders are even more powerful at Facebook.

I know that this technology has been available with Facebook since the end of 2008, but I think that the company may have upgraded their encoding servers or Flash codec. The HD video looks very good on the site right now.

When I click full screen on my iMac computer, the Facebook HD looks far better than anything I have ever seen. I have posted an embed of the first video I have uploaded to Facebook HD. I think the embed will only play in standard definition. In order to view it in HD, you must click the “Facebook” logo in the upper left of the window and watch it from their site. Unfortunately, I think you must be a member of Facebook to view HD. It is free, so sign up now, just to try it out.

I hope Vimeo can use similar encoding technology and improve their website. Perhaps, because Vimeo got so big, so fast, they are trying to sort things out. Time will tell.

UPDATE: Looks like Vimeo is working on this problem. Click here to see the mp4 conversation at Vimeo.

Let me know what you think. When you post a comment, please let me know what type of computer you are using to view the HD video and tell me how it played out on your screen (ie. choppy, smooth, ect)

I must say one last thing about web video. All the video on my website is hosted by my server and all of the videos are in 720p HD quicktime. This is the clearest and best way to view HD internet video, in my opinion. But it takes a toll on the web hosting, server bandwidth and you need a decent computer to view it. A lot of people are looking for third parties to host HD video for new and old computers.

Perhaps, Facebook will allow HD embeds with their great Flash encoding in the future for people who have video intensive websites.

To address some of the concerns about who actually owns your content on Facebook, I cut and pasted a little part of the May 1, 2009 terms and conditions.

You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how we share your content through your privacy and application settings. In order for us to use certain types of content and provide you with Facebook, you agree to the following:

1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (”IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (”IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account (except to the extent your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it).

2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).

So as far as I see it, you are in control of your content and allow Facebook to send it where they please. But, if you want that roller coaster to end, you simply delete the content and all is well. The content no longer is used on or by Facebook.

UPDATE 12/31/10: I am using vimeo for all my video on this webpage. They simply KICK ASS. Thanks for such a great service.