Finally I can present you one of my newer interface experiments that has grown to something quite nice in the meantime. With the transition from small movieclips to longer and bigger full length flicks, sites like Youtube still don’t really get the idea that the movie player has to give the user space, feel a bit like a theater for a overall greater experience. What we still receive is a bloated page with thousands of comments below, tags and whatever – things the user really doesn’t need or want to see while watching. This is why I started a new experiment – building a movieplayer for the web that doesn’t suck.

Shows only what’s needed

The first idea of the interface was that everything that’s not required during movie playback will simply not be visible. This effectively means that if the video is playing, nothing else should be shown. Under that requirement, I thought it will also need at least movie information somewhere, and a search interface.

The Uberplayer has slide-in elements for controlling the video. Every function or visibility can be controlled through either the mouse or the keyboard. At initialization and pause, all controls are automatically shown, since you’re not focussing on the video. During video playback, move your mouse towards the bottom and the search slides in – move it to the top and you’ll see current video information and the search bar.

Coverflow

I can also proudly state that this is the first time I actually integrated my experimental Coverflow plugin into an actual application. After you entered a search term and pressed return, the bottom view slides in and presents the search result thumbnails in a really nice flowing coverflow like view if you are using a webkit enabled browser. If not, don’t worry – the fallback looks nice nontheless! Additionally, the click-through rate is minimized by switching coverflow states on mouse over – clicking opens the new movie.

Integration with Youtube

I choose to integrate with Youtube because it allows me to do searches to their API’s through their JSON API. What does that mean? It means that the Uberplayer is completely backendless, therefore doesn’t need any server software / logic. It’s all JavaScript, baby!

The second reason was that Youtube has a nice chromeless player, which worked really well for my kind of interface. The only drawback is that the chromless player doesn’t support HD playback at this point, but I hope they’ll give us that feature eventually.

Feature overview

To get an idea, here’s a quick walk through all features that are probably worth mentioning and explain how the player works.

  • Full-screen playback at all times (toggle full screen mode on your browser for a better experience)
  • Fluid slide-in interface (move your mouse towards the bottom or top to blend in controls)
  • Click on the video to toggle pause state and blend in all controls
  • Rich keyboard interaction
    • down‘ toggles the search results view
    • up‘ toggles movie information and search bar
    • space‘ toggles pause state
    • s ‘ focusses search bar and let’s you type in a new search (‘escape’ cancels)
    • left‘,’right‘ let’s you navivate through search results when the search results view is active
    • return‘ opens a new movie when the search results view is active
  • Automatically generates hash urls that you can bookmark or send to someone – they will not only open the movie, but also the attached search results
  • Completely backendless through Youtube’s JSON API

What’s left to do

This is a very early preview release, so please be merciful. Some things I would like to do for the next version is a playlist manager (sliding in from the left), and if I only could get access to a chromeless Vimeo player, that would totally kick ass.

Anyway, check it out, and leave a comment!