How to use Google Drive as a video library system.
We currently run a popular video library system in our school, but felt that our current usage did not justify the outgoing costs. We wanted something much more flexible without the management overheads involved with editing and converting video. After looking at a range of video library systems the solution came in an unexpected form.
What we want from our Video Library
- Teachers and students to be able login with their Active Directory accounts.
- As little administrative overhead as possible — we didn’t want to be micro-managing video uploads, chaptering etc.
- Automatic conversion of videos to suitable formats.
- Able to view videos through a web browser and on mobile devices.
- We wanted to easily get our content out if we decided to move to a new system in future.
- Control downloads.
- Address copyright and data protection concerns.
- Keep costs low.
Previously we employed a member of staff solely to import and manage all of our video content. This worked well, but due to cost reductions we no longer have this luxury. We needed to distribute management of the system to allow teachers to upload their own video content.
We spent a lot of time looking at market leaders as well as open source options, most notably Clickview, PHPMotion, and Mediacore, but none of them really addressed our concerns of cost and management overhead.
It quickly became clear that we needed a system that was simple and far more flexible than the above options. After a bit of tinklering around one day I realised that Google Drive could address many of our problems. It allows users to login with their domain accounts, converts and scales video automatically, and is mobile friendly.
If you require a full video library system with chaptering, editing, etc. Google Drive isn’t for you, but as a way of quickly, cheaply, and easily uploading, storing, and sharing video content it works very well.
Using Google Drive as a Video Library
First create a Google Apps account specifically for your video library. You’re potentially going to be storing a lot of data, so it’s wise to keep it separate. By default you get 15GB of storage in your Google Drive account, depending on how much storage space your videos take up you may need to purchase more. Find out more about Google Drive storage costs here.
Create a folder in Google Drive and upload your videos. It’s useful to organise them into folders to make searching easier.
Video files can be uploaded through the web browser or, if you have Google Drive desktop sync enabled on your Google Apps domain, you can upload all your videos from your computer.
Depending on the type of content you’re storing you may want to prevent users downloading videos. You can do this by right clicking the relevant files and selecting “Prevent viewers from downloading.” This means that viewers can stream the video, but not download and edit it.
You can then share your video library folder with your school. Choose the “People at organisation who have the link can view” option.
It’s not a good idea to share this folder publicly unless you can guarantee that you have the right to freely distribute the content and that the videos meets all data protection requirements. Requiring your users to login to your school’s Google Apps account ensures that the viewer is a member of your organisation.
The shared link will display videos in Google Drive’s folder view. This gives the viewer a really nice, clean view of the video library and makes accessing videos very simple.
There is also an option to “Open in Drive”, which adds the video library folder to the user’s standard Google Drive view and allows for search and normal folder browsing.
Uploading and Converting Videos with Google Drive
Google Drive supports upload and conversion of the following video formats:
WebM files (Vp8 video codec; Vorbis Audio codec)
MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files – (h264 and mpeg4 video codecs; AAC audio codec)
AVI (MJPEG video codec; PCM audio)
.MPEGPS (MPEG2 video codec; MP2 audio)
.FLV (Adobe – FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio)
Google Drive automatically adjusts the resolution of playback to meet the viewer’s requirements, but you may want to use software such as Format Factory to reduce the storage space videos take up.
Use free services, such as Pixorial, to edit your videos within Google Drive.
Each file in Google Drive that isn’t shared publicly can have a maximum of 200 simultaneous viewers — if this is a concern for your school this may not be the system for you.
This system is reliant on a good Internet connection. The advantage of having a locally hosted video library is that any video will just be being streamed across your network. Google Drive streams all video via your Internet connection, so make sure you have sufficient bandwidth to meet the needs of your users.
If you’re hosting more than 30GB of videos you will need to pay for additional Google Drive storage. It will cost significantly less than buying in a system or the overhead of managing an open source option, but it’s not free.
Google Drive will only allow files under 10GB to be uploaded. If you’re uploading videos greater than 10GB in size you’re probably looking for a professional system!
You, of course, need to be cautious of copyright restrictions and that you are meeting your ERA licensing requirements.