January 8, 2014

Vimeo Overhauls Video Player & Makes the Search Box Useful Again

New Vimeo Video PlayerVimeo has long been a very popular place for creatives to share and upload videos, but in recent months the service and player have begun to show their age, with some very necessary features still missing. The team has been hard at work to update behind the scenes, so if you've completely given up on the video sharing site, it might be time to give them another look, as they've significantly updated their player and changed quite a bit under the hood. Here's a quick video which shows off the new player:

Vimeo Gets a Facelift

Here are some of the new features posted in their blog:

  • Lightning Fast Playback
  • In-Player Purchasing: Rent or buy Vimeo on Demand literally anywhere a video is embedded
  • Redesigned Share Screen
  • Integrated Login: Login screen will automatically pop up if you want to do something like Share or Watch Later and you're logged out
  • Fully Accessible: Keyboard Navigation and WCAG2AA support
  • HTML5 by Default: This means Flash will be phased out sooner rather than later, allowing for more compatibility across the board and better performance
  • Preference Sync: Anything you change in one Vimeo player will automatically change in any other Vimeo players open in your browser
  • Closed captions & subtitles support: They currently support SRT, WebVTT, DFXP/TTML, SCC, and SAMI formats. You can read more about subtitles and closed captions here.

While some people have better luck with playback on YouTube, and others with Vimeo, there is no question the player and back-end needed some updating. Though most of the updates don't drastically change the way the player works, they will make for a better experience all around. Specifically, closed captions and subtitle support means multiple versions of a video don't have to be embedded anymore -- which is especially helpful if you're trying to embed things just in one place but still want it as accessible as possible.

I've really never had too much of an issue with either Vimeo or YouTube playback, but things can get a little tricky when you're skipping forward past the portion that has already been loaded in the player. Either way, your experience will still be very dependent on your hardware, connection, and location in the world, so you may or may not notice an immediate improvement in playback speed on Vimeo.

These are all welcome changes, but the biggest issue for me is still the fact that you can't select different resolutions in the player. For example, here's a video that's been uploaded in 1080, and is defaulted to play that way no matter what (this is from my Digital Bolex review):

Vimeo makes a 720p conversion at some point, and you then must select whether you want it to appear in 1080p or not. Once you select the 1080p option, the 720p version goes away. This would seem great on the surface, but there are plenty of times where I've been on a bad connection and I simply want to watch the 720p version -- or maybe the connection is really bad and I just want to watch the 640 x 360 version. Since Vimeo isn't actually streaming  -- it's doing what is called progressive download where the video is simply downloaded to your cache as you watch -- it should be possible to implement down the road. New resolutions above 1080p would be great too see in the future, but I think being able to select what resolution plays back in the browser very easily would make for a far better experience overall.

Search Works Again

At some point in time Vimeo search completely broke, and it stayed that way for so long I forgot when it actually broke. Searching for the exact thing you wanted returned completely unrelated videos. Even searching your own name didn't always give you anything useful. That all seems to be mostly fixed, as the search function will now actually give you results you're looking for. It's still not perfect, but it's not unusable anymore. But don't take my word for it, go try it out for yourself.

What would you like to see Vimeo improve upon in the future? What do you think is still missing compared to competing services?

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Your Comment

44 Comments

Android. There are more Android handsets out there than iPhones, and Vimeo doesn't care. Check out the ratings at Google Play (sorted by most recent). Users are furious. Vimeo has done zero for over a year to fix that extremely buggy, nearly non-functioning app.

Regarding the launch of this Web player update, it's already botched. Try going full-screen and clicking on the middle Share icon at top-right. No dice.

January 8, 2014 at 6:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Paul

I don't even have the app installed on my phone. The app looks awful. Android is growing so fast and Vimeo does not even care.

January 8, 2014 at 8:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Zack

+1 to both of you.

January 8, 2014 at 8:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

+1

January 10, 2014 at 8:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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newkolay

The iPhone app sucks as well, so I don't know if it's only an Android disadvantage.

January 9, 2014 at 2:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Yup!

January 9, 2014 at 8:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

No iPad (size) app.
The Boxee app is a nightmare (though that could be the Boxee, who knows).
The Android app is so bad that I haven't even thought about it since I uninstalled it a year ago.

That said... I love Vimeo. Four or five years ago, I stopped streaming and flash video from my server, signed up for Vimeo Plus and I haven't looked back.

January 9, 2014 at 10:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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The Vimeo app for Windows Phone works fine.

January 10, 2014 at 4:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jesus, finally. I still cant understand why they dont offer variable HD as in SD 720 and 1080, people rarely have 1080p versions, and 720 vimeo looks like shit on my 27 inch iMac

January 8, 2014 at 6:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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carlos

It astonishing they still don't have variable resolution selection for the viewer. YouTube had this years ago, and it's so basic and so essential.

And what's up with the Vimeo upload shifting darkness/luminosity from the original file?

In the beginning, Vimeo was for people who cared about playback quality. But for a while now YouTube has been the leader in video quality and the gap is getting wider as time goes on.

Vimeo has never been good at listening to customers. They know better than the filmmakers who use the sight. Sigh.

January 9, 2014 at 6:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Andrew P.

I created a case about this after reading someone else complain. To their end, they said to contact support through an e-mail address rather than address the problem directly on their website.

Do you know what support said? It's your browser (Firefox).

This is a Vimeo issue, not a browser issue.

January 14, 2014 at 2:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anon

Hopefully this means the proverbial "time limit" is gone. Previously, I'd found that if you waited too long (a half-hour or so) before playing a Vimeo video (whether on the site or embedded), it would cease to load when prompted.
The two factors the player had over YouTube, the ability to turn off scaling and a higher-quality compression scheme, seem to still be intact.
Really, it looks like they barely changed anything. They moved the scaling button, added a sharing button, and... made the player work better?

January 8, 2014 at 7:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mr Blah

yeah, looks feels pretty much the same to me too... i was really excited about the news too..

January 9, 2014 at 11:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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jojo

I agree on the variable res on Vimeo, it hurt when I had to select 720p in order to reach a wider number of people since I knew there's a lot of people who struggle to watch 1080p on vimeo. Just make like Youtube and be done with it.
The subtitles thing didn't recognize mu .srt that I used everywhere else, it doesn't seem tight yet. C'mon Vimeo

January 8, 2014 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Marcus

CC are a great add, I think it was incredible necessary and it took way too much to implement (comparing to youtube, which is not fair.).

I don't think they can achieve the multiple resolutions, at least not in the same way as youtube does. It's a matter of resources.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqQk7kLuaK4

January 8, 2014 at 7:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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maghoxfr

The player is definitely more responsive when seeking.

I really appreciate the closed captioning support too. Well overdue, but at least it's here now.
Unfortunately, .SRT files won't convert on upload. (For me, at least.) Also tried a converted .SCC file - that worked, but there's a delay of at least a second when they play.
Hopefully they can make the CC system more compatible soon.

January 8, 2014 at 7:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Geoff

Too much crap gumming up the works. A lot of ads masquerading as films.
I still pay for it, but looking for a new home...

So glad re search. That was totally fubared.

January 8, 2014 at 8:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

My favorite thing to do over the past year was to periodically check in with support and ask them when search would be fixed. Each time I would be asked to explain what was wrong with the search....

Once, when I pressed, a rep responded that they weren't a search company. Touché.

January 8, 2014 at 8:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Herb

Just checked it out for 5 sec...still crap.

the play button doesn't appear, I have to reload the page before it turns up. The search engine...well we all know how bad it is.

That is just one out of several bugs with vimeo.

Watching their launch video I can't help of getting pissed off. Instead of total denial, claiming to always had the best video on the market, I would have loved them to confess that it sucks and now they'll try to do something about it.

How can a company put months of work behind and still not be able to come up with something that is comparable to others out there?

"A player that works just like the old one...only better.."

nuff said...

January 8, 2014 at 10:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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john

Artifacts in the blacks still haven't been fixed. Just look at their promo video you posted...

I've bugged them about this and numerous times they've told me it was a problem on my end.

I have very little faith in the company to surpass Google's youtube player at this point. The fact that they're charging a premium just for 1080p and mediocre video playback (even now, yes) is kind of ridiculous.

January 8, 2014 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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They don't give a shit.

Look how they handled this case I created:

https://vimeo.com/forums/help/topic:110764

Their e-mail support blamed it on my browser (Firefox).

January 14, 2014 at 2:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anon

I'll take Vimeo over YouTube because it has better content, ads aren't popping up every other second, the player is cleaner and the comments are more constructive.

January 9, 2014 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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NathanDavidHall

ever since internet explorer 11, vimeo videos have been behaving oddly. locking up the browser, not starting after pausing play, seeking all the way to the end, etc. it works sometimes, and at other random times it doesn't work. youtube looks ugly but at least it works

January 9, 2014 at 2:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Vimeo search engine suck!!

January 9, 2014 at 3:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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About search: Try to find: "girls" or "erotic" and you will find zero.... But if you will google girls+vimeo or erotic+vimeo you will get a lot of links. All of them have a tags like "girls or "erotic"... But VIMEO could not rank it.. And more other words....

January 9, 2014 at 3:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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So that's what you do on vimeo?

January 9, 2014 at 3:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Henri De Vreese

Pahahaha!

January 9, 2014 at 8:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

So, we still have the old two choices:

- Horrifyingly ugly and ad-intrusive youtube

- Elegant but underperforming vimeo

Hmmm...

January 9, 2014 at 4:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Somnik

I'm always having problems with Youtube. Video loading for 10% and then hangs... And if I'm watching some kind of instructional video and want the resolution at least 720p 3 out of 4 times it won't and I have to reload the page to try again. At the same time I can watch 720p and 1080p videos on Vimeo fine.

A big issue with Vimeo was that you couldn't skip to an unbuffered place in the video. Tried it again and now it seems to work.

The search functionality on Vimeo was crap (but seems it got a bit better) but Youtube (obviously) has the better hand in this.

The CC option is great and long overdue. I would like the option to have users contribute to it (like Youtube)

January 9, 2014 at 5:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Sam

One of the main reasons why I went with Vimeo for hosting my instructional vids.

Never had any issues with the player and the quality is fine - not sure what folks are bitching about. Then again, I only do instructional vids..

January 9, 2014 at 8:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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The in-player purchasing feature is a welcome addition, although as far as I understand if a non-Vimeo user wants to purchase a video embedded on the filmmaker's website she would have to register to Vimeo first and then fill out all the payment information, a lengthy process which might put a lot of people off.
It's hard enough for us to find our audience in the first place, perhaps we should try to make it easier for people to rent or buy our work.

January 9, 2014 at 6:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Search functions is still broken, anyway, and that's awful for audience...

January 9, 2014 at 10:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I wish Vimeo had some kind of categorization structure. It's great they improved the search function but I would love to see videos broken down into categories similar to Netflix's structure.

January 9, 2014 at 12:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mark

Well maybe, Vimeo could introduce the option of selecting lower resolutions in the settings for each video - this option would be ideal for those who wish to make alternative resolutions available for their audience.

January 9, 2014 at 1:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Reign

I still can't believe there is no batch delete feature (or any batch actions for that matter). I inherited a bloated vimeo pro account at my job and spent days going into each video, finding the delete button, and entering the password authorization. Good Lord...

January 9, 2014 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anna

I couldn't agree more re the need for more resolution options. If Vimeo want to be successful in the mobile space (and the non-US desktop space for that matter), they have to put multiple res options into the player.

January 9, 2014 at 4:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Peter Gell

No idea on whether they might move to a next generation codec a la VP9 or HEVC?

January 9, 2014 at 5:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

I can't believe how much the new player(s) have ruined my vimeo experience. Videos often require downloading more than once. No more doing something else while videos download. :~( Sad day at vimeo.

January 9, 2014 at 7:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rusty

Great to hear they've fixed the search. I used to search for videos shot on specific cameras and always ended up with thousands of totally unrelated results. Thankfully though, I discovered that I find what I was looking for just by using Google, typing vimeo at the start of my search term, and then selecting videos only.

January 10, 2014 at 4:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Vimeo has never been slower for me... the videos just stop loading most of the time, I can barely watch anything.

January 13, 2014 at 6:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Grant

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to add captions and subtitles with the new Vimeo player: http://www.3playmedia.com/how-it-works/how-to-guides/captions-and-subtit...

February 21, 2014 at 4:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Hi,

I cannot find anyone anywhere mentioning this, but it is big for me. is there a way on Vimeo to see the total length of the video like youtube does it. ex. 1:17/6:29

I know we all look at that total time to see how much we need to invest etc. I am so surprised Vimeo has not done this and if I have to mouse over the end to see I am sticking with YT, Thanks for any reply!

March 3, 2014 at 10:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Barry

What's up, I just noticed that occasionally this site renders an 403 error. I thought that you would be keen to know. Thanks

March 8, 2014 at 8:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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yep, IOS still sucks!

Kludgy, difficult to move around, as far as I can tell you cant download anything any more....maybe its just me, but doubt it..

April 16, 2014 at 9:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jeff