Now Playing on a Website Near You

If you haven’t seen it already, check out our new video page at We feel like it’s a pretty big step forward, but as always, we want to hear what our users think. Video page

We’ve heard you loud and clear over the years — in  mail, tweets, and other communications everyday from every corner of the globe. And one of the most frequent complaints has been the way we presented videos.  The biggest challenge has always been how to deal with multiple formats produced by various video teams at NASA Centers all across the country. 

Just a few years ago, we simply opened videos using the “native player” — a .mov opened with QuickTime, a .rm with RealPlayer, a .wmv with Windows. There was no context; videos were presented one at a time and not grouped with other videos.

A few years later, we developed a standard video player that at least grouped our videos together and automatically detected a users settings, but still required various browser plug ins to see all the videos. We still weren’t quite there.

So we pulled together a working group made up of some of the agency’s web editors, technicians, and video professionals to gather requirements. It was pretty clear from their work and from your comments that we needed a single format for all videos. So we evaluated several commercial off the shelf technical solutions, made a selection, and began the transition to Flash-based video.

Now, visitors to can finally view our videos without the need to install multiple plugins — all you need is a Flash player. The videos are displayed in several ways, from recent uploads to topics such as “Solar System” or “Earth.” Users can search for a video without leaving the video page, or browse by most popular and top rated. In addition to rating, viewers can also comment on videos, download them to their local computer, share with a friend via e-mail and social networks, or copy the embed code to post in their own blog.

Many of these features will be familiar to you if you look at any video sites on the Web today. While video may seem like an easy thing to fix in the age of YouTube and other video sharing sites, it can get pretty tricky for a large organization like ours. We certainly wish we’d gotten here sooner, but we’re glad to be here now. 

As always, we’ve still got a few things on the drawing board, and we’d love to have your feedback.

5 thoughts on “Now Playing on a Website Near You”

  1. Any chance we can instead get those in an open format? HTML 5 and an open video format would be awesome!

  2. Why would you choose a format that requires a plugin at all, over something like HTML5 video?

    You can use H264 video with Flash, using the HTML 5 video tag by default, and flash as the fallback; for those that don’t support it (IE > IE9). This would allow iPhone, iPad, WebOS clients, as well as providing a better experience for desktop users (and especially mac users)

    – Davey

  3. I’m sorry to pile on, but I must agree with what the others are posting. It was what I was going to mention before I saw the other comments. Flash is fine but dated, doesnt work on mobile devices.

    Can you tell us why HTML5 was not used? I’m sure it was discussed.

  4. I have to agree with the other comments here that using an h.264 video that can be played by Flash & non-Flash players would have been a better choice. Especially since it looks as though the platform provider you chose, VMix, has an HTML5-ready solution:

  5. Since I was a small boy I supported and followed NASA with great anticipation, amazement and enthusiazem. I was born the same year NASA was founded. (1958) I am currently deeply concerned and fearful in reguards to the future of NASA’s manned space flight program. With that said I do really like the new page layout. Sad NASA’s manned space flight missions will soon be missing from the new page. I do wish however there could be a high definition option for the remaining video feeds. I wish the best for all of you at NASA.

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