AOL is shutting down its user-generated video site, originally known as AOL UnCut but now known as “AOL Video Uploads”, on Dec. 18th. The usual warning follows (this should be old hat to returning visitors): If you don’t download all of the videos you uploaded to AOL by Dec. 17th, they will be deleted – poof! – gone – by that night.
The good thing is you probably uploaded any videos AOL is hosting for you from your own computer. As long as those videos are still on your computer, you won’t lose anything when AOL deletes the copies they possess. If you lost your copies of those videos, though, you better get cracking.
AOL will be sending email out to all users sometime this week to discuss the shutting down of the AOL UnCut site (I’ll refer to it as “AOL UnCut” throughout the rest of this article to save confusion). In the meantime AOL has released a FAQ that you can read here (scroll down a bit to see it).
AOL uses the Flash 9 video format (FYI, the latest version of the Flash Player technology is Flash 10) for videos uploaded to their site. The Flash format powers most videos and many advertisements on the Web these days, so it’s an easy format to download, upload, and work with.
How to download AOL UnCut Video directly from the site…
AOL UK, as usual, offers much more helpful advice on how to save your AOL UnCut videos than the US version of AOL Help does. Their instructions (no longer available) are as follows….
3. How do I save my videos to my computer so I do not lose them?
A: Go to uncutvideo.aol.com/my/videos (UnCut Video is the old name of AOL Video Uploads) or by clicking on the My Uploads button from uncutvideo.aol.com. You will have to sign into the AOL account, AIM account or the email address that you uploaded the videos to. For example, if you uploaded videos using a non-AOL email address, such firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org you will need to log in using the same email address and password.
Once you have loaded the My Uploads page you will see all of the videos that you have previously uploaded. Each of the videos has a green ‘Download’ button that will initiate a download. The videos are downloaded in Flash format and can be saved on your computer, and then uploaded to another video site. Most video sites support uploading in Flash format.
On transferring your videos to MotionBox…
AOL is offering UnCut users the option of moving their videos to MotionBox, a new video site that they have partnered with to help AOL users more easily move their videos (they promise that a switch to MotionBox can be done in “just a few clicks” – details are here). I do not personally recommend moving your videos to MotionBox, so if you decide to do just that, do so with caution.
1. I have never heard of MotionBox before, so I cannot speak to their technology, uptime, reliability, popularity, or their chances of not going out of business within the next year.
2. AOL users, generally speaking, crave a sense of community, and like to make close ties with one another. I cannot say if Motion Box will fulfill these needs for you.
My suggestion is to use YouTube or MetaCafe as a replacement for AOL UnCut. If all you are interested in is uploading and storing your videos safely (not a sense of community so much) Photobucket allows for video uploading, storage, and sharing. I wrote more about Photobucket here.
Using other methods to grab and play back your AOL UnCut videos…
You can also use an external downloader and/or external players to grab and play back your videos. My suggestions are as follows…
Downloading AOL UnCut Videos with IE 7 or Firefox…
For IE 7 users, FlashCatch [download page] is a tiny IE plugin that works with IE’s built-in download manager to grab flash videos and save them to the folder of your choice on your computer. I tested it in IE 8 Beta 2 running in Compatibility View for IE 7 and it downloaded UnCut video from AOL flawlessly.
For Firefox users, your options for downloading flash videos are, as you may already know, almost endless. I suggest using Firefox to download your videos without the use of add-ons, or using the VideoDownloadHelper or FlashGot add-on (more tips for new-to-Firefox users are here).
Playing back AOL UnCut Videos…
There are tons of Flash Players you can use to play Flash videos right from your computer. Using C|Net’s “sort by free” link, I found 182 of them.