So, in the last couple days I've come to the realization that Google Video has started putting iPod and PSP compatible MP4 videos in their RSS feeds. Google has always had downloadable MP4 videos for free content though they haven't always put them in their feeds.
This is no minor thing. In fact it's pretty amazing what you can aggregate directly to your iTunes, iPod, PSP or media center.
For example, you can get compatible RSS feed of the highest rated documentaries (RSS feed / google page) or the latest Machinima videos (RSS feed / google page).
In fact why don't you try and pop the below RSS feed into iTunes now.
*Please make sure to turn off "auto downloading" in your iTunes podcasting preferences so you don't swamp google or your computer with multiple downloads.
If this is still not *digg worthy* enough for you, don't worry there's more.
You can also access MP4 feeds on pretty much all youtube users.
That's right, let me say it again... you can get iTunes/ iPod / PSP compatible RSS video feeds for pretty much ALL youtube users.
So for example here's the latest youtube videos from spectacular comedian Mark Day.
And here's the corresponding ipod/PSP compatible RSS feed from google video.
Note the syntax. All I did was pop Mark's username from youtube, "MarkDayComedy", into the google query url.
You may notice there are a few other youtube users videos in the query. These videos are responses from other users to Mark Day's videos. Many might consider this pretty cool. All the same I tried to find a way to filter them out but I cannot find a way to limit the query to a single youtube user. So... to bad I guess. Deal with it. ;)
This does bring to mind, the next big question.
Does this mean we'll see video podcast feeds on Youtube soon?
I certainly can't tell you that, but now that the question has been posed, maybe if enough people *digg it* or blog about it youtube will listen. :)
I can say this. There are really no legal implications, but there are some important business considerations for Youtube regarding video podcasting. Youtube's business model is predicated on adding value through distribution with it's very nice, but arguably very controlling, Flash based player. This added value includes such things as links back to youtube, links to related videos others have found interesting, and above all such "social networking" features as the ability to comment, blog about and email the video.
That said it would certainly appear all the content is already available through google video so does it really matter when youtube gets around to promoting their video podcasting feeds in the youtube interface? If you're reading this then you have everything you need to start using youtube with your favorite video aggregator, handheld video player, media center, set top box, or even cell phone today.
While I'd love to see youtube take some development initiative and take that final step for the sake of all youtube users... I'm not going to sit around and wait for it. I'm already plugging my favorite youtubers videos feeds into my favorite aggregators like iTunes, mefeedia.com, Fireant and Democracy Player.
While some aggregators and players do support youtube's Flash based video feeds there are certain obvious things you can't really do with flash videos.... like store them on your hard drive... play them back in preferred video players... or media players... and many more obvious things... like playing them on your iPod. While MP4 is a proprietary video format and is not freely licensed it is quickly evolving as the MP3 of the video world. Most new handheld video players, set top boxes, and many new cell phones (such as the Nokia N95) support MP4.
With the recent announcement by EMI and Apple to sell non-DRM mp3's the big question is will video based distribution evolve in a parallel open fashion as music with mp3's or does the overhead of video based distribution and production require such digital crutches and controls as Flash based players, or even DRM?
What I very much believe is that youtube doesn't need to use Flash like DRM to create an artificial "speed bump" around youtube to force youtube users to keep coming back. Quite the contrary, the use of only Flash is discouraging use of youtube and encouraging the creation of a cottage industry of tools for cracking youtube and alternative "open" solutions.
I think there's enough love of youtube that if they did open up and allow MP4 downloads and video podcasting... along with some improvements to their EULA... that the good graces will cement them in a favorable light with many of their users.
There is also TREMENDOUS opportunity around these features for users to start offering proverbial "pro level" services, and advanced demographics and statistical information, the removal of caps on video length and resolution (HD VIDEO!) and even offerings for video based advertising, and optional paid subscription offerings on video feeds.
This is to say nothing of the opportunity for youtube to create standards and promote partnerships with set top box manufacturers, cell phone, and other hardware makers to bring the entire videoblogging space beyond the desktop computer and out into the world. It's also important to note that these aims would correspond directly if not be complimentary to the aims of google video whom is already offering paid downloads, and the web based distribution of high quality and feature length content.
It's time for youtube to set the video free.
Some tips for the uber users.
As far as googles video podcast feeds you might also note the variable "num=20" this is the number of items in the feed. If you like you can easily increase that number to 50 or even 100 items. Just us this power sparingly or your hard drive and iPod will be full of videos, google will disable this feature and I'll have to come and personally kick your ass. ;)
So for example if you wanted to download ALL youtube user Mark Day's videos to your iPod you might change the variable "num=20" to "num=100".
Again... try turning off "auto downloads" in your podcast preferences in iTunes so as not to overload google or iTunes with multiple downloads and instead browse the podcasting tab in itunes and download ONLY those posts which you want on your iPod.
So what else can you do with this knowledge.
Well, to start with you can go look up your favorite youtube personality, and try putting their USERNAME into the following query. Disclaimer: results vary depending on the uniqueness of the username.
Or... you could create any sort of complex query you like. For example... How about the last 50 machinima videos?
Or... how about using google's advanced video search to find THE highest rated documentaries (RSS feed). I highly recommend "Revolution OS" about the advent of GNU, open source and linux, it's right there in the top 10 highest rated documentaries on google video, and it's available in it's entirety at 1 hours 25 minutes, for FREE. I already own the DVD, but I appreciate it all the same. :)
Obviously not everything on google video is available as a freely downloadable mp4. In order make sure you only get freely downloadable MP4's a highly recommend selecting "is free" in the "price section" when using Googles's Advanced Video search settings or adding "+is%3Afree" to your query string.