PapaJohn's MVP LogoMovie Maker 2 and Photo Story
Newsletter #66 - Aug 20, 2005

neptune and mydeo... video hosting
It takes a special working arrangement with Microsoft for a hosting service to show up in the drop-down list in the Movie Maker 'Save Movie Wizard'. You can trust that whatever service is listed is a reputable and quality one.
Since day 1 of the initial release of Movie Maker 2, neptune was the only choice in my list... until mydeo surprisingly appeared a week or so ago. Although I had some advance info about it from Microsoft, seeing it in the drop down surprised me... I thought they were working in other countries but not the US.
Pick List
Emails and posts that I read from others who didn't even have one option led me to think that neptune was only available in the United States.
As I worked on this newsletter, I learned the two services are really choices for many people using different language versions of Windows XP and in many countries. Neptune, being more established at this point, is available in 60 countries. If you're using Movie Maker in Taiwan, you can use neptune in traditional Chinese characters.

I'd been working with neptune for a long time. When I flipped the priorities of my website upside down at the start of this year, I added a link to his service on the main page of the website.
To flesh it out a bit, I added the Distributing > Neptune page to the site, and they setup a PapaJohn Gallery at neptune. All galleries are available for open viewing but it takes a member to submit one. 
Here's the link that takes you directly into the videos I currently have there... 22 of them at the moment
The topic of sharing movies via such an online service fits perfectly with my current priority of doing amazing things with Movie Maker... it's my normal method of distributing my personal videos. 

Mydeo LogoMydeo is the new service in the pick list. I have a new page on my website for it, which I'll be expanding... Distributing > Mydeo. I don't much there yet, so I'll go into some detail here.
It supports or will soon support 11 languages and 34 countries.

To check it, I took out a trial subscription and posted the same Grand Canyon video I have on neptune, so I could compare the two. I posted a link to it on the newsgroup and a forum.
I ran the viewing count up to the free trial limit of 50 to see the automated notices you got when you're getting close to or at the limit.

There are some significant differences and the choice will depend on your needs... and you could subscribe to both services and use the appropriate one of a particular movie.
Neptune uses a file downloading process and its own viewer, while mydeo streams the video to your Windows Media Player.
Neptune has a fixed fee for a period of time while mydeo is more a 'pay per view' service.
Anyone can save a copy of a video from the neptune service, but not from mydeo... ease of distribution on one hand versus protection from unauthorized copying on the other.
... before getting into them more, here are a few notes...

I finished moving the website from my son's server in the Lansing, Michigan area to the 1&1 service in London, U.K. The change went without a blip and I've gotten feedback of much faster access. With the move, I changed from the domain forwarding service of Domain Direct to the domain maintenance service of 1&1... the name and the website server for are now together for the first time.
There's another new page on the site... Editing > the Persian Page. It's only been a month since the Persian Poet Gal joined the forum at WindowsMovieMakers, and in that short time her 75 posts show that she has high computer skills, a deep knowledge of Movie Maker, a zest for learning about the amazing things that can be done with xml code, and an energy applied to helping others learn about that specialized area...
The page is a joint one... but mostly hers. We'll be trying to bridge the gap between Movie Maker users who are seriously interested in the WOW factor that custom XML code offers and learning about doing it themselves.
Persian Page
.... on to the main topic

The Distributing > neptune page of my website has lots of info about using the service...
Free Trial and Pricing
Neptune offers a 3-day free-trial service with 15 MB of storage...
Storage Level OptionsWithin a minute of applying, you'll get an automated email welcoming you, and inviting you to upgrade to
one of the normal storage level plans.
I have the 1 GB service and my 22 videos are using 625 MB of it.

Uploading Movies
You can use the picklist in the saving movie wizard of Movie Maker to upload a newly rendered movie directly to neptune
... or you can log into the service, select the  upload feature and use either 'easy upload' or 'single file upload'.
Your storage space is the only constraint. You can upload movies and stories of any size and quality (bitrate).
When I started with neptune a few years ago, I was using the 300 kbps bitrate level as my rule of thumb, but I've moved it steadily upwards to a current level of about 750 Kbps. 
As more and more of my viewers are using broadband, the older 300 kbps needed 320x240 pixel sized movies to look good; today the 640x480 ones at the higher bitrates play fine.

Bandwidth LimitsSharing Movies
Once they are online, you can share or not share your movies.
You and anyone you give your access link to can see them all. To share one beyond that, you need to create an album for it. It's one video per album.
Although the price per year is fixed by your storage space option, there's a limit on viewing usage... bandwidth. Here's a copy of the current table of limits.
My 1.0 GB storage limit account has a daily limit of 2 GB of bandwidth and a monthly limit of 4 GB. I've never seen a notice about being close to a limit, so I can't share what it looks like or says.

Saving a movie from neptune isn't an intuitive easy process, and you need your Windows Media Player in addition to the neptune player. I just added this info to the website page the other day.
SaveIn the window where you view an album, the control panel includes an option to 'Save Video'... it'll be grayed out and non-functional until the video is fully downloaded (watch the buffering progress under the monitor).
Once fully down, the 'Save Video' option changes to being bright and functional. Selecting it opens your Windows Media Player and starts the video playing in it...
With it playing in WMP, use File > Save As to place a copy on your hard drive.

Free Trial and Pricing
I signed up for a free trial account... which expires at the end of December.
Mydeo - uploadingIt allows you to upload a .wmv video encoded at less than 1000kbps, up to 5 minutes in duration, and gives you 50 free streams.
I tested it with a copy of my Grand Canyon PiP video on August 8, posted the link to a forum and newsgroup, and looked at it a number of times myself. Within the first hour of my testing, the meter was up to 10 views... by August 18 it was at 34 viewings.
To see the automatic notices that mydeo sends out, I drove it up the rest of the way to 50.
Here's an extract from mydeo's website about its 3 pricing packages for this Grand Canyon video, with some guidance about who they are appropriate for. The prices are in pounds and a pound is about $1.81 U.S.
Price per minute of video uploaded How many times can it be viewed each month?
Basic package £3 Up to 200
Medium package £10 Up to 1,000
High package £75 Up to 10,000

NB: If your video is compressed above 550Kbps the number of views allowed per package is halved.

Choosing your package

Mydeo’s Basic package is ideal for assigning to videos that are likely to be seen by just your friends and family. The package allows more than enough views for even the most popular home videos and you keep your costs down because the package price is the cheapest.

Mydeo's Medium package is ideal for small businesses who may want to distribute a promotional video to several hundred customers, or who have websites that generate good numbers of hits each month. The medium package will allow hundreds of viewings each month and the cost will work out cheaper than buying hosting and bandwidth directly from a network, and you don’t need to sign a long contract.

Mydeo's High package allows thousands of viewings of a video each month. This package is suitable for content that is intended for distribution to as many people or customers as possible. An example of this might be an amusing viral email campaign.

When my Grand Canyon sample video reached 50 streams, the limit of the free trial, I looked at the options... how much would it cost to keep this almost 5 minute video online? Here's the monthly rates in pounds, with US dollar figures annotated.

Sample Pricing

Uploading Movies
Mydeo - Upload File
Uploading a video is done by logging into your account and selecting the 'Add video' tab.
Browse to the file, give it a name, and add personal notes about it. The notes are for your use, not seen by viewers.
Once uploaded, you need to assign a package of terms and pricing to apply to it. The free trial package choice can be used once and will be in the drop down list of choices if not yet used. If a package isn't assigned within 2 days, the video is deleted from the server.

Sharing Movies
Once online, you can use these options... per mydeo info:
Generate link - If you would just like the link to your file you can use the 'HTML link' option. This will give you a simple link to your file which you can use as you wish. You might want to send the link in an email or you can use the link on your website.

Create an HTML email - The 'email' option will create you an HTML email, including a thumbnail from your video, which you can customise with your own message and signature. The email will be sent to the email address given by you at registration, you can then forward this email to as many people as you like.

Easy code - Easy code will generate you code which you can use to create a pop-up window to play your video, or code which you can use in your webpage to embed the player - for that really professional look.

Saving a movie from a streaming server such as mydeo can't be done. The process protects you from unauthorized distribution.

Conclusions and Closing
The two services are different... I could extrapolate a hypothetical 'what if', but I won't. Everyone's distribution needs and goals are different. I just want to give you enough background info to use when making the choice...
From a pricing standpoint, neptune is more like a cell phone... you subscribe to a service and get lots of usage over the course of the subscription period, with total usage limits that usually suffice. Mydeo is like a pay phone, a good bit more per call or minute, but less if you only use it once or twice a year.
The file downloading of neptune lets you truly distribute your videos to others, for online or offline viewing, or for further distribution. The streaming of mydeo limits viewing to those online and protects you from unauthorized distribution.
For viewers with less than broadband connections, higher quality videos can be downloaded and viewed when playing back locally... the playback experience of streaming video is more determined by the connection speed. Those without the newer faster broadband connections can't experience the higher quality, no matter how new or powerful the computer. 
The quality differences can be considerable. Contrast the suggested 340 kbps of mydeo to the 750 kbps of neptune. If the viewer's connection isn't sufficient they could be seeing nothing when video is streaming... waiting a bit longer is all that is needed for a downloaded file.
Mydeo guidance suggests using 320x240 pixel videos for a good viewing experience... neptune guidance is for higher quality 640x480 and pushing the quality (bitrate) up.
You would like to think that streaming gets the viewing started quicker, but it isn't the case. Both will start playing when their buffer is satisfied, and the buffer for the download process is smaller than for streaming. Mydeo's website suggests that 'streaming' results in being able to view a video right away, without having to download it first... my experience and info from neptune says that the file download process starts quicker, unless you choose to fully download it first before playing locally.
If streaming, only those with a download bandwidth equal or higher than the video bitrate can watch the video. If you ever try to watch a streaming video with a bitrate too high... you get nothing, no matter how long you let the video buffer.
The neptune service includes photos in addition to video... the mydeo service is limited to video. Although not a factor when considering mydeo, it's a plus if you consider neptune for more than just video.
Neptune includes public galleries to exhibit your videos... with viewings in the galleries not counted as part of your limits. If you have a video that becomes a sensation, the millions of viewers won't be running up your meter.
... and my final comment... I typically put my videos on my own website server. These two hosting servers are not the only options you have.

Have a great week...