Vimeo is now offering 4K video downloads, but staying away from streaming them

by on December 8, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – December 8, 2014

Following at least partly in the footsteps of its much bigger counterpart YouTube, the video sharing service Vimeo is now going to allow its Pro subscribers to offer their viewers 4K ultra HD downloads of the movies of the same resolution that they upload.

Furthermore, anyone who wants to sell their own UHD films in the Vimeo VOD platform will be able to also offer that content for download to consumers in 4K.

However, Vimeo, unlike YouTube, is not offering the option of direct streaming of 4K content to users or viewers. According to the company, the reason for this is that, “It’s pretty early for streaming”. These are the words of Andrew Pile, Vimeo’s CTO, who explained during an interview las week that there are simply not enough devices out on the consumer market which are even capable of handling 4K content that’s on offer for streaming. Furthermore, there are no low priced devices capable of 4K playback and as far as 4K screens go, only a minority percentage of the consumer population has them, as either TVs or 4K monitors.

Given these continuing factors, Vimeo doesn’t believe that the trouble of investing in the heavy duty job of streaming 4K videos over the web is yet worth its reward.

So in effect, this is actually quite a bit different from what YouTube offers and is geared towards a more professional, specialized base of videographers and other users who want to spread their 4K content in a format that’s guaranteed to be viewable even by people who don’t have internet connections of 15 or more megabits per second (Mbps), which is the minimum necessary for Ultra HD streaming.

With a downloadable 4K service, users will be able to set up the process of downloading the movies and then leave their computer to do so over night or during the day, and with any sort of slower internet connection, this is what it will require, given that even a single minute of 4K video weighs in at roughly 2 GB.

the RED cameras used to produce many 4K movies uploaded to Vimeo

the RED cameras used to produce many 4K movies uploaded to Vimeo

Despite most viewers not being ready for 4K or 4K streaming quite yet, Vimeo has decided to proceed with its 4K download option mainly because many filmmakers have already been using 4K video to film for some time now and were already uploading 4K movies to the video sharing service. As Pile explains, “a lot of these things [Vimeo Pro users’ movie uploads] are captured on Red cameras”. The main difference now is that instead of transcoding users’ 4K uploads to lower resolution, Vimeo now leaves their UHD quality intact for ready downloading.

The company will eventually move towards streaming as 4K PC screens become more common and other devices, along with internet connections, catch up on the speeds needed for UHD streams.

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