Vimeo overhauls its video player, introducing closed captioning and better HTML5 support

I’m a little slow in noticing this announcement from January 7 on the Vimeo staff blog. But it’s exciting stuff, with big consequences both for filmmakers and publishers who rely on Vimeo for video hosting.

A lot has changed since we launched the last all-new version of our player, two and a half years ago:

  • Browser innovation has brought new HTML5 capabilities (full-screen viewing is now available on every major desktop browser).
  • Smartphones have gotten more powerful (and in many cases, bigger), and the variety of smartphones has increased tremendously (three years ago, when we debuted the HTML player, there were only a handful in existence.)
  • Firefox added support for H.264 on mobile, Windows, and Linux (with OS X support on the horizon).
  • The introduction of devices that support multiple kinds of inputs (e.g., touch, mouse, and pen) at the same time.

With all these advancements, it was clear that we needed a more flexible and accommodating base for our player. So we did the only thing that made sense: we rebuilt the whole thing from scratch.

The player may look (mostly) the same on the surface, but behind the scenes we rethought everything from the ground up. Our re-engineered back end means that videos load twice as fast, and we simplified the front end to make it compatible with way more devices.

New features outlined in the post include faster playback, in-player purchasing, a redesigned share screen, new accessibility features, HTML5 by default (about time!), more responsiveness, and perhaps most significantly, closed captions/subtitles support.

This last is especially important for poetry films, I think, because many of us have tended to feel that putting words on the screen by default when the poem is already included in the soundtrack is redundant and distracting… for people who don’t have hearing problems. But those who do haven’t been very well served by this approach. It should also be a lot easier to reach readers in foreign languages now (given good translations, of course).

Read the whole post, and check out the new FAQ page on Captions and Subtitles.

Dave is the founder of Moving Poems, and posts videos for his own poems (along with lots of other stuff) at Via Negativa. Here's a bio.