A little under a year ago, Flickr began hosting video alongside its online photo service. One of its shortcomings was that it did not support high-definition video, which in the past year has become a major feature on point-and-shoot and digital SLR cameras, as well as popping up on major video-hosting services like YouTube. Video was also only available to Flickr users who were subscribed to its US$25 annual professional membership.
This week, both of these limitations have been lifted. HD is now available to paying pro users, whose previously uploaded clips will be reprocessed to fit inside the new 16:9 HD player by the end of the week. Flickr is also opening up its video feature to free users, although their HD videos will only play in the SD player.
Flickr's pro members will be able to upload HD videos and view them in an updated 16:9 player.
While beautiful looking, two large limitations remain: videos must be 90 seconds or less in length and be under 150MB in size. With standard-definition videos this size limit is fine, but in a 1:30-minute test clip we did on a Nikon D90, the file was well above that limit at 252MB, meaning whatever we were shooting in HD would have to be much shorter, or be compressed in a third-party piece of software before uploading. For most people, neither of these options is ideal and Yahoo should really address them in a future update. We have the feeling many folks will simply continue to go to YouTube, Vimeo or another service to offload that footage instead.
Along with the bump to HD, Flickr is rolling out a new feature as part of its explore section called the Flickr clock, which will let viewers browse videos by the time of day they were recorded. The company opened up a special group for video submissions back in late January, and the process involves users manually adding a special "machine tag" to their clips to let the system know when it was taken. The clock was designed by Stamen, who is also responsible for Trulia's real-estate visualisations and more famously Digg's live activity visualisations.
The new Flickr "clock" lets you view videos by what time of day they were taken. (Credit: Flickr)