YouTube or Vimeo

Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been revised and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

So you created your short film, finished your post production, and you are now ready to post your film online. But where do you upload it?

Some might say it’s easy, upload it as many places possible. I say that’s not such a great idea, at least not for the first stages of your release. You want to try to point all your viewers to the same place, not scatter them around over 2 or 3 places. This way it will be easier to calculate stats, and if all your stats are concentrated, users will see the bigger number of likes, or plays and will be more enticed to press play themselves. After your initial launch push, and start seeing your stats lowering into a steady pace, you can upload your film onto the other platforms to maximize your audience.

The YouTube vs Vimeo Battle

Before starting I would just like to point out that there are no rights or wrongs, there are situations that can be viable for each platform. There are dozens of articles online that repeat the same thing, in our case, we are dealing mostly with artists and short films, so I will focus on these aspects.

First thing you need to think of is your main goals for your film. Are you posting the film as an artist or as a person that makes videos? If your goal is to get as many clicks and views as possible, than perhaps YouTube might be a better resource for you. But be careful, of course everyone wants the most views possible, but you need to differentiate between catering to thousands of random people, or to hundreds that actually care. Vimeo certainly has the smaller market while YouTube reaches over millions, but your audience is much more concentrated in people that are looking for creative films, as for YouTubers usually look for entertaining clips.

Quality Control

High Definition Video: The EscapeWe artists like to see our own work in the highest quality possible. In this, both Vimeo and YouTube have high respectable quality compression which keep your videos to an almost seamless loss. YouTube picked up its game since introducing HD videos, but most of the time the video is played in low 360p for faster rendering at first – with a non-obvious settings pane to turn to highest quality. You can set your player to always get the best quality somewhere in the settings, but let’s face it, your average user will never bother to go there. On the other hand, Vimeo has always put more emphasis on video quality and size, and keeping things simple with an easy to find on/off HD toggle. Loading time was considered to be a bit slower, but since the introduction of the new HTML5 player, loading times are quicker than ever.

Submission Stats

Over the years we have gathered interesting submission stats on Film Shortage, see our infograph on where our featured shorts come from.
Where are the quality shorts?

Ads & Monetization

Ads and Monetization

These days people make an honest living just by monetizing videos online. Living off short films however can be a little more difficult. YouTube offers monetization by placing ads on your videos, which can generate a few bucks if you get thousands of views, however if you are trying to make a name for yourself the monetization can backfire. If you are creating a short film your main target will always be at first short film enthusiasts, which are usually other short filmmaking artists. And artists usually tempt to grunge at interruptions or distractions. – I quickly learned my lesson when I first uploaded the trailer for my short film After The Rain, I monetized the video out of curiosity, but within 3 days I got several comments by viewers saying it was an amazing video, but the ads take some value away from it. I immediately watched my video from an outside perspective and completely agreed, so I removed all ads from my videos (I generated a wealthy 1 cent).

The beauty of Vimeo and the reason for its success is that the videos are ad-free, something that artists love. Vimeo introduced the “Tip Jar” as an un-intrusive way for artist to monetize, instead of making a percentage of revenue on ad clicks like YouTube does, Vimeo gives the viewer a chance to donate directly to the artist any amount they like. It’s hard to see how well the Tip Jar is working out for filmmakers since it is private, but Vimeo’s initiative is an insightful one.

Vimeo now also offers Vimeo on Demand, a platform where you can charge people to rent, or buy your movie. Its easy-to-use tools is reserved for Vimeo Pro members alone, and only holds 10% of the profits leaving you the rest of the 90%. Some great films are currently featured on Vimeo on Demand, but like their Staff Picks, only top-notch movies make the cut.


We are artists, designers, filmmakers, we constantly examine our surroundings subconsciously and the web is no exception. Vimeo does a great job at keeping their site clean and making your video the largest and most evident part of the page. With no visual distractions and an easy navigation viewers are more likely to watch your film to the very end. YouTube did a nice job at completely redesigning their site a few years ago for a much better user experience, however the amount of information and clutter can be greatly overwhelming. Your eyes wonder constantly through the pop up ads, suggested videos and comments, not to mention everyone’s favorite the “oh-so-lovely” ads before videos.

Aesthetics between Vimeo & YouTube

Vimeo also has, in my opinion, a much prettier video player interface. Although they both have very easy and accessible ways to share and embed videos, a Vimeo video seems much cleaner and more professional embedded on a website, compared to YouTube embeds which are cluttered with options. However, some options can be very useful for short films, like the Closed Captioning [CC] for subtitles, can easily integrate and change languages as your watching, but which is now also available on Vimeo.


The beauty of no ads on Vimeo does come at a hefty price. Limited to only 500mb of uploads a week, to get the full features you need to sign up to a Plus account (59.95$ a year) or if your a bigger studio, the Pro account at 199$ a year. The Plus and Pro does grant you full features including mobile viewing, access to monetization and full stats, which can be essential for some, YouTube on the other hand offers all of this on their free account.


So what’s the verdict? I’ve always been a big fan of Vimeo ever since I discovered it. I find more related and quality videos for what I enjoy watching, the Vimeo Staff Pick channel is a great place to find awesome videos, including shorts, which I find hard to find on YouTube. What I find much more difficult on Vimeo is actually searching for something, the results hardly ever have anything to do with what you typed, or even writing the title exactly won’t show you what your looking for. So if an external link does not bring you to your video page, there is hardly any chance of people seeing your video.

Without any surprise, YouTube excels in searches, and people stumble on your video by accident and intrigue way more often.

The Plan

What to do if you don’t have a budget for a Plus account?

Still use Vimeo, even though you don’t have all the options, an attractive video presence will give your short more professionalism. Launch your film on Vimeo, point everyone to the same link for the first few weeks, and once your first wave of hits passes, upload your video to YouTube as well, so you have a link for mobile users, and for random searches.

Ultimately the choices come from your needs, so study your situation and choose wisely. Let us know your opinion and experience with either, or any other platforms. Good luck with your launch and don’t forget to submit us your film!