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The SmugMug Slideshow Product

In: ,
Published: 21/03/2011
By: larry

Allan MacKenzie of Brisbane, AU sent me an example of a home he shot recently. He's posted both stills and video to this SmugMug slide show format. I've seen other real estate photographers use this SmugMug slide show format which allows you to post both stills and video in the same tour.

On the surface this format looks pretty cool allowing you to include both video and stills in the same tour. However, I noticed that the SmugMug video plays jerky (you have to keep clicking the play button) on my iMac and my iPhone. Where as the iPlayer version of Allan's same video plays smoothly and continuously on every device I have. Needless to say Allan is impressed with iPlayer hosting. I think this is an excellent example of why you have to be cautious these days about choosing video hosting. Try it out and make sure what the user experience looks like before you commit. Yes SmugMug is cheaper but the end user experience for video is a problem for me. I think the SmugMug format is very useable for real estate stills but to me the video performance is too erratic.

I believe the difference between the video technology that SmugMug uses and what iPlayer uses (actually you can configure iPlayer to use progressive downloading or streaming) is Progressive Downloading vs Streaming. My understanding is that with streaming the video is metered out at the rate the viewing device can take it where as with progressive downloading the video is buffered at the receiving end. The iPlayer streaming approach makes for a much better viewing experience.

8 comments on “The SmugMug Slideshow Product”

  1. iPlayer is legal. It is a commercial streaming site. You pay. They play. It works. I've tested it. Congrats to iPlayer. No other Company in the North American market offers seamless, multi-platform streaming designed for real estate. Ok. There's HDHatand Welcome Mat. They aren't dedicated streaming platforms. iPlayer is. If you can't design a video business model around a legal platform, well, mmm, you shouldn't be doing it.
    YouTube is all well and good. If you like 101 pop-up ads. 😉
    SMUGMUG ain't a public distribution platform. It is a peer-to-peer platform, designed to present your work to your peers, or your Client.
    As is Vimeo. And EXPOSURE ROOM. And many others.
    And most of the 'others' are building audiences for pay-for-play anyway. There ain't no thing as a free lunch.
    If you build your business on free distribution platforms, you have no control.
    Best budget a great price into your business model. Cause SmugMug and VIMEO ain't real estate.

  2. I have to say for me the video stopped every 1.5 seconds all the way through - having said that it looked good and I liked the layout only the video playback for me was bad.

  3. Just played the video on my Win7 PC and it was smooth all the way through. Hmm...strange. Brett's right, of course. The only way to control your user's video experience is if you are willing to pay for it. Otherwise, you have to accept the limitations of the 'free' platforms. I don't think that many end-users expect the level of quality of iPlayer. Most are conditioned to the occasional buffering of YouTube and the others because it has been the only thing most people experience.

  4. I really like the idea behind this but remain loyal to iPlayerHD. Wes from iPlayerHD seems to be pretty good about wanting to know what his customers want and need so maybe in a future update he'll include a template to add stills.

  5. I viewed both versions and have to say, I liked the Smugmug version better. Not jerky at all on my Windows 7 machine. The iplayer version had some annoying moire? patterns seen at 00:37 just to the right of the chairs coming from the fence. However it was not seen as much on the Smugmug version (hardly at all). Must be a Mac thing Larry?

  6. @larry...I have tried videos from Smugmug on several days on both my macs, ipad and iphone and have never experienced the video stopping. I have tried both DSL and the cable connections I have. All played the same. They always play smooth on everything I have. Do you think it is possible that there were connections problems between where you live and their servers that day? Maybe some computer between you and Smugmug was slowing things down. Try again and let me know if it is still slowing up. I am still looking for the best host.

  7. Hi Larry, we reviewed the video on our end, and it looks like the jerky playback is related to a connectivity issue. We can play it smoothly on our devices. Our video heroes are standing by if you have any follow up questions:

  8. There are so many variables that are beyond the control of the ISP, iDevices only accept HTML5 and not Flash, H264 vs MP4, 3G vs wireless etc..

    Free services like Vimeo and Exposure Room encode 1280x720 @ approximately 2Mb/s which is great if you have a connection that can deliver, if your on an iPad 3G the playback at this bit rate will probably stutter.

    Pay sites like iPlayerHD encode at variable bit rates and you can choose which bit rates you want the data stream to "fall back" to if the iPad 3G, in this example, can't handle a 2Mb/s data stream. The trade off is that you may notice some compression artifacts like aliasing. If your iPad can drink from the fountain at 2Mb/s then I believe iPlayerHD will deliver that.

    So like all things technical its a bit of a trade off and it depends on what's important to you regarding your customers viewing experience. For me I have decided that guaranteed bandwidth which result is smooth playback is more important than the best image quality that in all likelihood pause playback to cache. As the mobile devices increase bandwidth I'll increase the data rate at least with a paid service I have that option.

    Also, if you use either Exposure Room or Vimeo wait until you log into you video home page to discover several of your videos have been removed because they perceived that you violated the terms of your agreement by hosting commercially available video. They shoot first and ask questions after. After explaining that the videos I had hosted there were not commercial they put them back but not an experience that I care to repeat and not all the links were reconnected.

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