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As a prelude to the Grammys tomorrow, we're highlighting the importance of the arts in society on the homepage today, with top user-created videos about arts organizations that make an impact.

Many of you accepted Dr. Phil's Video Volunteers challenge to demonstrate how arts nonprofits are changing your community for the better, and you sang, danced, vlogged and even tapped your appreciation for your charity of choice.

As Video Volunteers heads into its fifth round (we'll kick off February's installment on Monday with the issue of health, featuring guest curator Jesse McCartney), we'd love to know what issues you'd like to see in the future. Are there topics that are important to you that we haven't addressed? Famous philanthropic faces that you'd like to see as curators? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

And if you're a health organization that needs help creating video, you can sign up to find a Video Volunteer here. You might even see your nonprofit's name in lights at the end of next month.

Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits & Activism Manager, recently watched "Follow the Money."

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On Monday afternoon, as a follow-up to his State of the Union address, President Obama will give a live interview to YouTube from the White House -- and every single question will come from you. You can submit your questions in video or in text, and you can vote on which questions you think should be asked on CitizenTube. Your votes will determine the top questions posed during the discussion with the President. The deadline for submission is Sunday night at 8 p.m. EST.

What makes a good question? That's entirely up to you. We would love to see as many video questions as possible, so if you can, record your question on camera and upload it to YouTube. Be sure to keep it under 20 seconds, and make sure the video and audio quality is crisp and clear. The Moderator platform allows for text questions, too - so if you don't have time to post a video, feel free to simply type your question. We'll use a mixture of both in the interview.

If you're considering what your question should be, but missed the President's State of the Union speech, here it is:



Don't be afraid to ask tough questions - this is your opportunity to have direct access to the President. Though we obviously won't get to each of the thousands of questions that have been submitted, you'll have a say in which questions are asked by voting on your favorites - so come back to CitizenTube and vote often.

Steve Grove, Head of News & Politics, recently watched "GOP Response to State of the Union"

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This year's iteration of The Davos Debates culminates tomorrow as Julia Lalla-Maharajh, the winner of the “Your Pitch to the World” contest, joins Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, Kathy Bushkin Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, on a special panel moderated by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The session will delve into the issue Julia pledged to address with world leaders at the World Economic Forum: female genital mutilation (FGM).



A difficult topic in just about every way, FGM affects an estimated 130 million women around the world, and tomorrow's panel will be the first time it's been brought to the table at Davos, not to mention the first time someone chosen by the YouTube community has had a seat at that table.

You can participate, too, for the first time. Nicholas Kristof will incorporate the questions you've contributed and voted up using the Google Moderator tool on the Davos YouTube channel into the panel discussion.

We’ll be streaming the panel live on youtube.com/davos at 3:30 pm CET (9:30 am EST) on Saturday, January 30, 2010. As your watch, please continue to add your thoughts to the discussion using the Moderator tool.

Also, be sure to watch Julia's video diary of her time here at Davos. She's spent every waking minute talking with the influential world leaders, corporate executives, and global movers-and-shakers at the World Economic Forum, raising awareness about FGM and spreading her message about the importance of ending it now.



We’ll see you at youtube.com/davos tomorrow to watch Julia represent the YouTube community!

Olivia Ma, News & Politics Manager, recently watched "Bill Clinton talks to Julia Lalla-Maharajh"

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If you've ever wanted the chance to share your ideas about how to change the world with officials in the Obama Administration and filmmakers at Sundance, here it is.

We're bringing the Film Your Issue competition to YouTube this year as part of our Video for Change program. Film Your Issue is a contest for the next generation of global thinkers and social entrepreneurs (ages 14 to 24) to share innovative ideas for improving society. All you have to do to enter is create a three-minute video outlining a front-burner issue and proposing a solution to that issue, and submit it to the Film Your Issue channel. Learn more here:



Prizes include having your winning video shown to senior Obama administration officials in D.C., flying to L.A. for an awards show with Sony Pictures, a Student Pass to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and Apple products like a Macbook or iPod Touch. Winners will be selected by a VIP Jury, including Tom Brokaw, our own Chad Hurley, Yoko Ono and Nicholas Kristof, and by public voting on YouTube.

Visit www.youtube.com/filmyourissue to enter before April 19 and peruse past finalist videos, including last year's winner, which tackled Hurricane Katrina's aftermath:



Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits & Activism Manager, recently watched "2010 State of the Union."

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Starting today, when you upload a video to YouTube, you'll see a rapid-fire assortment of thumbnails from the video after it begins uploading to the site. Aside from being fun to watch (it's kind of like a flipbook of your video!), this visual representation of the process gives you further peace of mind that the video is indeed processing and will soon be live on the site.

Shortly after the last thumbnail arrives, your video is ready for viewing and sharing.* If you see the flipbook soon after you begin uploading, this means your video will be processed faster and you won't have to wait long for your video link. Read on for recommendations on how to optimize your video file to do this.






If you're uploading in the .mov or .mp4 (aka Quicktime) format, and you produced your video using Final Cut Pro, iMovie or QuicktimePro, click here to learn how to optimize your files. By ensuring the "index" of your file is in front, we can process your video faster. This is referred to by some as "flattening" a file or creating a "fast start" video file. If you're using FLV, ASF or WMV formats, you're fine. If you're using AVI, we'd want that index in front of the file as well. Most digital cameras producing AVI or MVI formats are fine.

How can you tell if your file is a "fast start file" or not? If you start getting the thumbnails before the upload has completed, then this is a fast start video file. If you get the thumbnails after the upload has completed, then your video file is not a fast start video file.

Dima Broyde, Software Engineer, recently watched "Арефьева Ольга "Театр," and Slave Jovanovski, Software Engineer, recently watched "Pomplamoose Covers Makin Out by Mark Owen."

*Remember, you can always check the processing status of your videos by mousing over your username in the top right and then clicking "My Videos" in the dropdown menu.

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Tonight at 9 p.m. ET we'll be livestreaming the President's State of the Union address on YouTube. As we announced yesterday, not only will you have the opportunity to watch the speech live online, you'll also be able to submit your questions for the President during and after the speech, and the President himself will respond to a collection of your top-voted questions in a live interview at the White House next week.

When the State of the Union address begins at 9 p.m. ET, we'll open a Google Moderator series on CitizenTube (youtube.com/citizentube) that will allow you to submit and vote on questions (in text or on video) for the President. Be ready to submit your questions right after the speech as we'll only keep the platform open for a few days.

How will we know which questions to bring to the President in the interview? You'll tell us by how you voted. After the votes have been cast, we'll assemble a shortlist of the top questions, ensuring that we cover a range of issues, minimize duplicate questions, and include a mix of both video and text submissions. This is your opportunity for an exclusive interview with the President, so be sure to submit great questions and vote for the ones you think should be asked.

If you're submitting your question on video (which we prefer), please be sure to keep it short (20 seconds or less) and use the highest video and audio quality possible so that we can hear you loud and clear.

After the speech, we'll highlight the video of the entire State of the Union address, so those of you who aren't able to see it live can still watch and participate afterwards. We'll also feature Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's official GOP response to the President's State of the Union, in what promises to be a lively and important discussion of our nation's future in 2010.

See you tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CitizenTube.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "NEWSWEEK & YouTube: Nouriel Roubini on the 2010 Economy."

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Every year, the President of the United States addresses a joint session of Congress to deliver his State of the Union address. Required by the U.S. Constitution, the address is the president's chance to take stock of the current condition of the United States and lay out his political agenda for the new year. Presidents have long used new technology to share their message directly with the American people. Calvin Coolidge was the first president to broadcast the State of the Union over the radio in 1923, and President Truman made history in 1947 when he became the first to deliver his address to a live television audience.

This year's State of the Union speech will also make history. It will be the first time that citizens will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions during the speech -- and to hear the president's response to those questions. On Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET, during our live broadcast of the State of the Union on Citizentube, we'll open up a Moderator series for you to submit your questions for the president in video or in text (if you have the time, we'd prefer video). Over the following few days, you'll be able to submit additional questions and vote on your favorites too. Then next week (we'll announce the exact timing soon), we'll bring some of your top-voted questions to the president in a YouTube interview from the White House, which we'll also broadcast live on Citizentube. As always, questions are subject to YouTube's Terms of Service.

Already, discussions on YouTube about the State of the Union have been lively. Tomorrow on our homepage, we'll spotlight the responses of four experts to your ideas on the State of the Union. Check out those clips in the lead-up to the speech, then tune in tomorrow night to ask the President your questions. We'll also feature the GOP response to the president's address, in what promises to be an engaging discussion on the direction of the country in 2010.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "One Year In, a Closer Look at the Obama Presidency."

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With just three days remaining until President Obama's first official State of the Union address on Wednesday, we continue to see great ideas coming in from people about how we can address the most important issues facing the nation in 2010. If you haven't already, check out CitizenTube to vote on the submissions and make your own State of the Union commentary. In addition to highlighting the top-voted submissions from the community, we've worked with Newsweek to bring in four experts to respond to your ideas leading up to the big speech.

General Wesley Clark, the retired Army general and former presidential candidate, will take on your top ideas on national security. Nouriel Roubini, a professor in economics at NYU who has been called a "sage" by Forbes for predicting in 2005 that the speculative wave in housing would lead to the recession of 2008, will address your ideas on jobs and the economy. Jim Hansen, a NASA climatologist who has raised awareness for global climate change throughout his career, will weigh in on your top ideas on energy and the environment. And Fareed Zakaria, acclaimed author and international editor of Newsweek, will discuss your top voted ideas in education.

We'll feature each of these four expert videos on the hompeage of YouTube on Wednesday, January 27, before President Obama delivers the State of the Union, which we'll be streaming live at 8 p.m. EST, on CitizenTube (youtube.com/citizentube).

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched, "Your State of the Union, Submit Now"

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We live in a time of rapid technological and political change. Groundbreaking technologies give more people more access to information than ever before. Citizens have the means to broadcast their ideas to the world with the click of a few buttons. And increased adoption of the Internet by citizens and political and media leaders have made our public dialogue more diverse than ever before. Amidst all this change, the question of, "What is Democracy", is more relevant now than ever before. And there's just one week left for you to upload your answer, in YouTube's partnership with the State Department's Democracy Video Challenge.

As we found out during the first Democracy Video Challenge, the answer to that question of just what democracy is varies greatly depending on where you're from. Over 900 people from over 95 countries weighed in with their definitions of Democracy - here are the videos from the finalists:

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Just like last year, the winners in 2010 will be determined by an international jury, and then by votes from the YouTube community. The prize is impressive: six regional finalists will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles to meet with filmmakers and government officials for conversations and film trainings. Here's a clip of the meeting the winners had with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.



Join the discussion on the definition of democracy by January 31st.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched, "Zambia: Democracy is..."

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For the past three years at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, YouTube has partnered with WEF to give YouTube users the chance to send videos to world leaders. Fom a special production booth up the Swiss Alps, presidents, CEOs, and global change-makers respond directly to those videos throughout the conference. This year, we're opening up the conference even further by allowing you to share your ideas using our new Moderator tool which will be incorporated into three different panel discussions at Davos. Go to the Davos channel (youtube.com/davos) to submit your ideas and questions.

Loic LeMeur will bring your questions to his panel on the growing influence of social networks; Rima Maktabi of Al Arabiya will use your ideas on her televised panel on the balance of power in the Middle East, and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times will include your thoughts in the debate over female genital mutiliation, a panel which will feature the winner of our "Your Pitch to the World" contest, Julia Lalla-Maharajh.

And as usual, we'll be streaming your questions at our YouTube booth at Davos, too.




One value of the Moderator tool is that it allows you to engage via video and text. You can also vote up the most important ideas and questions submitted by others to help determine which issues you want the panelists to address. We used the same platform in Copenhagen for the CNN/YouTube Debate on climate change, and will continue to use it in 2010 as a way to bring your participation to televised events.

Go to YouTube.com/Davos and join the discussion now. Here's more information about each panel, including the deadlines for submission:


January 20: The Growing Influence of Social Networks
  • Host: Loic LeMeur (Seesmic), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Reid Hoffmann (LinkedIn), Owen van Natta (MySpace), Gina Bianchini (Ning), and others

January 21: The Balance of Power in the Middle East
  • Host: Rima Maktabi (Al Arabiya)

January 30: YouTube Debate on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Host: Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times)

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "Al Arabiya Debate"

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On Wednesday, we announced our partnership with the Sundance Film Festival to make five films – three world premieres at this year’s festival and two audience favorites from last year’s – available for rent on YouTube starting today, January 22, and running through the end of the festival on January 31. 

We’re writing today to let you know that these five films are now live on the YouTube homepage, just in time for your weekend viewing.  You’ll also be able to find them throughout the next ten days by visiting YouTube Movies or through search.

Of course, you’re probably still wondering how this rentals business works. When you click on the thumbnail of the film you want to watch, you’ll be taken to a regular YouTube watch page where you’ll find a YouTube Rentals window over the video player. If you’re not signed in to your account, you’ll be prompted to do so. You’ll then need to complete your account setup by signing up for Google Checkout. Once complete, you’ll be taken back to the YouTube watch page where you can watch a trailer; if you decide you want to purchase a rental, click on the yellow “Rent” button and you’re ready to go.

To see an overview of the process, watch this quick demo video.

Please keep in mind that this product is an early beta, which means you may encounter glitches during your rentals experience. Help us build a better product faster by sharing your feedback through our help center.

If you’re ready to start browsing the films, read the descriptions below and click on the links to see more.

"Children of Invention" explores the American Dream as seen through the eyes of a Chinese American family living in suburban Boston.

In "Homewrecker," a prisoner on work release and a live-wire kook take a day-long ride in a seemingly stolen vehicle that neither of them will soon forget.

In "The Cove" an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Japan, and shine a light on a dark and deadly secret.

When humble Linas, kicked off of his friends couch and spurned by his lover, finds a forgotten van on a llama farm outside Seattle, he begins lurching east with nothing to lose in "Bass Ackwards."

In "One Too Many Mornings," Fisher and Pete are two dudes with dude problems -- one drinks too much and one just got cheated on by his girlfriend -- and few prospects of helping each other out.

Enjoy some of the festival without the cold,
The YouTube Team

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Over the past week, citizens and organizations from around the world have rallied around Haiti, offering tremendous aid for the relief effort currently underway. But even though tens of millions of dollars have been raised online via sites like YouTube, Haiti's road to recovery will be long, and more financial support is desperately needed.

That's why tonight, in partnership with a variety of media companies, we're live-streaming "Hope for Haiti Now," a benefit concert for earthquake relief. Hosted by George Clooney, Wyclef Jean and Anderson Cooper, the event will feature performances by Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Shakira, U2, Coldplay, Taylor Swift and many more.



The concert starts tonight at 8 p.m. ET on www.youtube.com/hopeforhaitinow, and it will be available to a global audience. Donations from the event will go to a number of different organizations, including the Red Cross, UNICEF, the UN World Food Program, Partners in Health, Yele Haiti and Oxfam. After the show, you can continue to donate money and get the latest information coming out of Haiti at our Crisis Response landing page.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "Solidarity with Haiti, a worldwide response."

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Yesterday, it was feature films for rent.  Today, it's shorts for free.

Every year, the shorts programmers of the Sundance Film Festival have the privilege of selecting the creme de la creme of the world's short films for their official selection.  This year, we're proud to announce that we've partnered with the Festival to bring a selection of these films to your YouTube player, courtesy of Verizon.

For the next six weeks, you can watch this eclectic mix of comic, tragic, documentary, animated and experimental shorts in the Screening Room. The first four films cover a wildly diverse range of subjects and stories, including a very out-there take on opera; a celebration of a man's life on his hundredth birthday; a young wolf who decides to confront his father; and a coming of age tale for two high school graduates.

More films to come, so stay tuned.

Nate Weinstein, Entertainment Marketing Associate, just watched "Glottal Opera"

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From the Queen of England to the queen of your 'hood, from aspiring filmmakers to Hollywood studios, from high school graduation videos to citizen reports of revolutionary moments in Iran, it all has a home on YouTube. This creates a really big challenge: how do we design a site that reflects so many different users, experiences and videos? This is a question we've thought about a lot since we launched in 2005. The result of some of this thinking (some might say over-thinking) is a video page chock-full of features that reflect a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but can feel cluttered and a little overwhelming. We've spent a lot of time over the last 10 months asking ourselves some tough questions about this page and posing some of those questions to you in blog posts, roundtable discussions, one-on-one conversations with the community and even on forums like our Product Ideas for YouTube page.

Today, we're excited to unveil the first major example of our efforts to simplify and streamline the video page to offer the best possible watching experience to you. To check out this new look all you have to do is opt-in. Click on this link to try it out (anyone can opt-in, but for now page elements are only in English). To revert back to the old video page, use the opt-out link at the top of the new video page or opt out here. We'll be making the opt-in more easily accessible soon, but we wanted to give our most passionate users a chance to experiment with it early.

Below are some highlights of some of the things that have changed and why. You can also check out our "Getting Started Guide" in the Help Center.

Streamlined look and functionality -- the video is the star: This concept is at the heart of the redesign. YouTube is about creating and watching the world's biggest video collection; therefore, the design should make the video the star. To that end, the new look is more subdued, stripped down and simple than before. The design should help ease users into advanced features, while providing power users with all the functionality they want.

New "next up" video list: We'll be smarter about queuing up other videos for you to watch on the right side of the page that will take into consideration how you found a video. For example, if you arrived at a video through Search, the rest of the search results will follow you to the playback page so your can continue to browse search results on the video page. The same goes for playlists and recommendations; if that's how you found a video, then that's what will show up on the right side of the page. Again, this is about creating a consistent viewing experience -- and a relevant one when we include context about your viewing intentions.

Description and stats areas united: More specific information about the video you're watching is now in one place on the page: underneath the video. Click on the "Description" snippet or the Views to see more. This new expand capability works on multiple elements of the page so you won't have to learn a new trick to view each piece of data. The result: less clutter, especially on the right side where you look for the next video to watch.

Cleaned up actions bar: Actions like sharing, rating, saving or flagging a video are now all grouped in one place, with a cleaner, simpler "button bar." We thought a lot about practicality here, choosing to expose only the most commonly used actions and language for you. And, "Playlists" can now be built via the "Save to" pulldown menu.

Simplified binary ratings: As we noted in an earlier blog post, the rating system on YouTube doesn't really work that well (e.g. only the 1 and 5 star ratings were ever really used). So we moved towards a simpler "Like / Don't Like" model. Liking a video will also save it to your Favorites to make it easy to find those videos again.

New player sizing and video quality controls: We're adding a new size control into the player that allows you to pick a larger size to watch your video (formally above the player). When you pick the size, we'll serve you the ideal quality. For those of you hungry for more control, you can pick the specific video quality (for example, SD, HD or 1080p) in an associated drop-down menu. We'll warn you when we think there may be a better quality choice, but the control is in your hands.

Search results within the page: Now you can now search while you're watching a video and results will appear on the right side of the video page, without interrupting the viewing experience.

More prominent channel/subscriber placement and a new "see more videos" feature: Subscriptions are important to many of you, so we've made it more noticeable by moving the "Subscribe" button to the top of the video right near the title. This also gives anyone the ability to quickly peek at more videos from the creator's channel. (Just click on the arrow next to the number of uploads on the person's channel to see more videos from that user.) You've told us that making you hunt for this information on the page is confusing and many of you wanted this data in one place. This should make it easier to discover more content from videographers you like.

So those are just a few things you'll find in this new video page experience. As with all things on the Web (and in life?), change is hard and can take some time to get used to. That's why we did a lot of research, talked with so many of you and incorporated your thoughts into this latest back-to-basics playback page. So go on and "opt-in" to give it a whirl, and let us know what you think either in comments down below or enter feedback via this survey. Who knows -- you might see some of your own suggestions in future iterations of the page down the road.

Julian Frumar, User Experience Designer, recently watched "WTF Collective," and Igor Kofman, Software Engineer, recently watched "Zion-I featuring K. Flay - "Coastin'" [The Takeover]."

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A while ago, YouTube launched a simple demo of an HTML5-based video player. Recently, we published a blog post on our pre-spring cleaning effort and your number one request was that YouTube do more with HTML5. Today, we're introducing an experimental version of an HTML5-supported player.

HTML5 is a new web standard that is gaining popularity rapidly and adds many new features to your web experience. Most notably for YouTube users, HTML5 includes support for video and audio playback. This means that users with an HTML5 compatible browser, and support for the proper audio and video codecs can watch a video without needing to download a browser plugin.

Our support for HTML5 is an early experiment, and there are some limitations. HTML5 on YouTube doesn't support videos with ads, captions, or annotations and it requires a browser that supports both the video tag and h.264 encoded video (currently that means Chrome, Safari, and ChromeFrame on Internet Explorer). We will be expanding the capabilities of the player in the future, so get ready for new and improved versions in the months to come.

To try it out, go to the HTML5 page via TestTube or visit this page and join the experiment. This will enable HTML5 video for your browser, provided that it's one of the browsers mentioned above and fits in with the parameters we already referenced. (If you've opted in to other experiments, you may not get the HTML5 player.) You can also enable Feather watch (visit http://www.youtube.com/feather_beta) along with HTML5 video for an even simpler, faster YouTube experience.

We are very excited about HTML5 as an open standard and want to be part of moving HTML5 forward on the web.

Kevin Carle, Engineer, recently watched "Paranormal Cativity," and Chris Zacharias, Engineer, recently watched "Amsterdam Acoustics - Erlend Øye."

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Today's blog post comes from the chilly slopes of Park City, Utah, where we’re getting ready to kick-off our sponsorship of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. So, why are we here?

Independent filmmakers have been critical contributors to our platform ever since we launched our site, almost five years ago. In that time, we’ve increasingly come to understand some of the challenges facing these filmmakers: technology has made it easier and cheaper than ever to produce films; more films have led to more competition for audiences; more competition for audiences has led to more films needing massive marketing budgets to cut through the clutter. And these high costs have made it difficult for independent films to compete, leaving too many films going unseen. 

While YouTube has offered an easy and economical way for filmmakers -- as well as content creators of all kinds -- to instantaneously connect with fans around the world, many of them have told us that the ad-supported business model doesn't always meet their distribution and monetization needs. And so, we are excited today to announce our partnership with the Sundance Film Festival to make five films from the 2010 and 2009 festivals available for rent for U.S. users on YouTube starting this Friday and running through Sunday, January 31. In addition to these five films, a small collection of rental videos from other U.S. partners across different industries, including health and education, will be made available in the weeks ahead.  We’re also excited to put out the call for more independent filmmakers to join the rental program as part of our "Filmmakers Wanted" campaign at the festival. 

These are early days and in the coming weeks we'll also invite a small group of partners across other industries, in addition to independent film, to participate in this new option. Anything that brings more content to the YouTube community is a good thing. And making content available for rent will give our partners unprecedented control over the distribution of their work -- they can decide the price of their videos and the rental duration; they can decide when and where their content is available; and they can keep 100% of their rights.

But enough talking! You want to watch movies! To prepare for Friday's debut, take a minute to set up your Google Checkout account and watch the trailers below to decide what to rent.  On Friday, we'll post another blog to walk you through how to find and start watching some of these independent films.





 

Grab the popcorn and Swedish Fish,

The YouTube Team

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Exactly one year ago today, Barack Obama took office as President of the United States -- and what a year it's been. From the economic crisis and the battle over health care, to the global challenge of climate change and the threat of terrorism at home and abroad, 2009 was a challenging one for the country, and most Americans would agree the nation is facing some of our biggest and most complex challenges in decades.

Today on our homepage we're featuring analysis of the President's first year from Fox News, PBS News Hour and Agence France-Presse. We're also asking you to weigh in on which issue should be the top priority for the country in 2010, and what you think should be done about it.



With our new Google Moderator tool, you can submit your ideas in both video and text on CitizenTube and vote on your favorites submitted by others. We'll promote the most popular submissions on YouTube in the lead-up to the President's annual State of the Union address, which we'll be streaming live on YouTube next Wednesday night, January 27, 2010, at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "President Obama's Inaugural Address"

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"Guerrilla Filmmaking" is the art of making really cool videos on a shoestring budget, using simple or unconventional materials and a skeleton crew to tell a story in a compelling way. Our friends at Howcast know a thing or two about this. The company commissions filmmakers from all walks of life to make instructional videos about everything from "How to Quit Smoking" to "How to Kiss Someone With Braces."

As a special treat for YouTube users, Howcast Studios is gathering some of its most talented, innovative young filmmakers to share their tips and tricks with you, for free. On January 20, 2010, at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET, Tripp and Jenna Trouchet-Watt, Keith Heyward and Michael Sanchez will come together at Howcast's NYC location for a live-streamed conversation during which they'll reveal the secrets to being a self-reliant filmmaker known for maximum creativity on minimum budget. They'll talk about the supplies and skills needed to be a great DIY filmmaker, how to film and star in your own video, ways to use everyday objects for special effects, and how to choose friends to appear in your videos. They'll save the last 20 minutes of the hour to take your questions live. You'll be able to tune in to the roundtable via Howcast's YouTube channel.

Please register for this free event here so we know to expect you. The form also gives you an opportunity to submit questions now for the filmmakers, whom you can start getting to know by watching clips of their work:

Tripp and Jenna Watt



Keith Heyward



Michael Sanchez



Mia Quagliarello, Community Manager, recently watched "Easy Video Project Ideas."

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Dr. King, one of the United States' most beloved national heroes, led the nation through the struggles of the civil rights movement with great courage and impassioned oration. Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the Washington Post is inviting people to share videos illustrating which of Dr. King's words inspired them most. We're showcasing videos on the YouTube homepage today that feature portions of his speeches -- both the familiar and the lesser-known -- as performed by users.

User baratunde recites a section of a speech delivered by Dr. King at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, condemning the Vietnam War:



Just about every schoolchild in the United States, and many around the world, has heard Martin Luther King's speeches and listened to the messages within. Do you have a favorite section or phrase that you find particularly moving, inspirational, thought-provoking or even controversial? What are you memories or impressions of Dr. King and the words he left behind?

The Washington Post is still collecting videos from its readers and the YouTube community, which they will feature on washingtonpost.com. Visit the Washington Post site to submit your own using YouTube Direct.

Olivia Ma, News and Politics Manager, recently watched "Nov. 2, 1983: Reagan Approves MLK Day."

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In the three days since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, we've continued to see hundreds of thousands of people using YouTube to share information and donate money to help those suffering in one of the worst tragedies in recent memory. Since Tuesday, the American Red Cross has been featured on our homepage, collecting donations through videos like this one, which encourages people to give via a Google Checkout link next to the video. The International Red Cross just posted an update to YouTube (embedded below), detailing the situation on the ground. Their message? Goods are on the way, but more money is needed. Oxfam, Concern Worldwide and UNICEF have uploaded similar pleas.


Others have come to YouTube with personal appeals. First Lady Michelle Obama, Jimmy Buffett and Lenny Kravitz are just a few of the figures who are rallying support on YouTube. And people on the ground continue to put a very personal face on the tragedy, filming their experiences with shaky hand-held cameras.

Journalists are also uploading videos that bear witness to the devastation. Reporters like Dave Price at CBS and Rich Matthews of the AP are uploading individual vlogs from the streets of Port-au-Prince, and clips like this one from the AP give a bird's eye view of the damage (warning: this is difficult to watch):


On the ground, videos like this one give us just a glimpse into what life is like right now for Haitian citizens -- through the eyes of a person struggling to make sense of the destruction:


We're keeping CitizenTube updated with the latest clips and are contributing videos to Google's Earthquake Relief landing page as well. Though it could never match the resolve of Haitian citizens struggling to survive in the streets of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, the outpouring of support on YouTube and elsewhere is encouraging in this time of great crisis.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "Haiti: Essential staff and good are on their way."

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Happy new year! Our holiday "less-atorium" is long over -- we put a freeze on all but essential site pushes during Christmas and New Year -- and we're back in the business of enhancing the site and launching new features. There's lots in store for 2010, including these things which went live this week:

More subscription news: Last week, we made multiple subscription-related announcements and we have another to add to the list: now, shortly after you subscribe to someone, their older videos will start showing up in your subscriptions feed. (Previously, you had to wait until they started uploading videos after you subscribed to them.) Conversely, when you unsubscribe from a channel, the person's videos will promptly disappear from your subscription feed, making more room for the clips you actually want to watch.

Product Ideas for YouTube: A YouTube mantra is "launch and iterate." What this means is that we push out new features, see how the marketplace (you!) responds to them, and then make adjustments as necessary. None of this would be possible without your feedback, which we gather from how you use the site as well as from what you say in places like this blog, the forums, and Twitter. In order to help streamline the feedback-gathering process a bit (if that's possible!), we just launched a "Product Ideas" page where you can share your thoughts about how to make the site better and vote on ideas others have had. Right now, we're especially interested in learning what you think should be removed from the site in our fit of pre-spring cleaning. Click here to participate.

youtu.be links for one-off sharing: We announced youtu.be links before the holidays, and people who've connected their YouTube account to their Twitter, Facebook or other social media profiles via Autoshare have already been disseminating these shortened links around the Web. What is new is that now, any video distributed using the "Share to Twitter" link on the playback page will contain this shortened link. Here's what it looks like when syndicated to Twitter:




YouTube Partner Program opens to users in the Netherlands and Italy: Our partnership program, which recently celebrated its second birthday, just launched in the Netherlands and Italy, so if you are a talented videomaker living in those countries, we encourage you to apply to become a partner and turn your hobby into a full-fledged career. Click here for more info.

The YouTube Team

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OceanKing97 is a 15-year-old using video to raise awareness about the plight of dolphins. His videos are earnest...and a little awkward (but who wasn't at 15, right?). Unfortunately, some people have picked up on his awkwardness and have posted negative, even hateful, comments on his videos.

Ever seen a situation like this, or been involved in one yourself? We thought we'd take a moment to share a few tips on what you can do if people post negative comments on your YouTube videos.

1. Delete harsh comments and think about blocking the user who posted them so they can't view your other videos or leave more comments. It's easy -- just use our Help & Safety Tool.

2. Report comments that insult your race, gender or a disability you might have by clicking on the "hate speech" button.

3. If specific threats are made against you and you feel unsafe (for example, if the person might know personal information about you like your name and location), tell your parents or teacher and consider whether you should call 911.

4. Avoid making negative comments and encourage your friends to keep their comments respectful too.

Thankfully, OceanKing97 isn't a real user -- he was invented by the National Crime Prevention Council to help teach YouTube users about cyberbullying. Check out his video and do your part to keep YouTube safe and fun for everyone.

Victoria Grand, Head of Community Policy, recently watched "Haiti at Risk"

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As reports of unimaginable devastation continue to come out of Haiti in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday, footage of the disaster has been streaming onto YouTube, along with calls for help from nonprofit and aid organizations working on the ground. Haiti's president Rene Preval told the Miami Herald that the death toll is likely in the thousands, and images of collapsed buildings, a dilapidated presidential palace, and enormous piles of rubble in the streets bear witness to a truly catastrophic earthquake -- the worst in 200 years in the region.



We're keeping a running playlist of the video footage coming out of Haiti on Citizentube; there's a broad collection of citizen reports and news wire clips. We're also promoting videos from nonprofits who can help. The American Red Cross is asking for donations via a call-to-action overlay in this video, and Oxfam is using annotations in this one to direct you to their donation site:


As personal stories of the victims of the earthquake continue to pour in, our thoughts go out to all Haitians in this time of great need. We'll continue to update Citizentube with footage from the ground as events progress.

Steve Grove, Head of News & Politics, recently watched "Haiti Earthquake Aftermath."

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Update: Reminder: Please enter feedback here, in our new Product Ideas page.

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The excitement of the new decade and our upcoming fifth anniversary has the YouTube team itching to make the site experience better than ever before. We have all kinds of ideas about new things we could build and launch, but we are also taking some significant time in the coming months to do some early "spring cleaning" on the site design and user experience.

What will this mean to you? Well, it means you'll see some things about the site design evolving to be more consistent across the site. And some things that haven't worked as smoothly as we would have liked them to will get the attention they deserve. Lastly, we may determine that some things we tried out just didn't fly and remove them from the site.

We'll be using a number of inputs to build our "to do" list: usage data that shows the things you use the most versus things that very few people use; usability testing that can help us understand what's broken that needs fixing; and, last but not least, we'd like to hear from you directly...

What would you want to see fixed on the site? What would you remove completely, if you had your druthers? We'll use your feedback to help prioritize what we focus on, so we can all experience a cleaner, easier-to-use YouTube.

Please enter your feedback here and/or browse and vote on ideas others have had. We'll take a few weeks to digest your comments and will respond directly to the ideas you're most excited about.

Margaret Stewart, User Experience Manager, recently favorited "Christmas Tree Rocketry: The Art and Science of Holiday Recycling."

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The subscription system delivers videos from content creators to eager viewers and has become such an essential part of YouTube that that "subscribe" button is clicked over 1 million times every day. That's a lot -- which is why we're especially focused on improving the reliability, usefulness and transparency of subscriptions.

First off, you've told us that you want ways to message your subscribers. Now, the bulletins you write on your channel will appear on your subscribers' homepages, in their "Recent Activity" module. If you go to your channel -- let's say it's celebrityplaylists -- you should see an area to write a bulletin and attach a video:



...which looks like this when your subscribers see it in their homepage feed:








Note that these bulletins will only show up for people who subscribed to you after September 2009. If you subscribed to someone before September and want to receive their bulletins, simply visit their channel, click the "Edit subscription" link, and choose "Subscribe to all videos uploaded, rated, favorited, and commented on."

We've also heard from many of you that after you upload a video, you'd like to feel more confident that it's actually made its way to your subscribers' homepages. Recently, we rolled out a new indicator that shows the syndication status of your video after it's been uploaded; once it reaches 100% you can rest assured that all your subscribers have received your video. Here's an example of what this looks like:



















Please keep in mind that after your upload finishes processing, it starts getting sent out to the
people subscribed to you, though it can take up to an hour to reach everyone. (In rare cases, it might take longer than an hour.) This short delay helps us fight spam and preserve the overall integrity of the system.

Finally, you can now delete individual items from your subscription feed. Click "edit" options for the subscriptions module and check "Exclude videos I've already watched" (see below). Once you've done this, hover over videos in the module to see a small "x" that will allow you to remove it from the module, making way for more videos from the people you follow.






We'd love to read comments below about other subscription system improvements you'd like to see.

Brian Glick, Product Manager, recently subscribed to 73368's channel.

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The entries are in and the finalists have been chosen. Now it's your turn to determine who should go to this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Judges Arianna Huffington, Paolo Coehlo and Muhammed Yunus watched all of the entries in our "Your pitch to the world" contest and have chosen the five finalists who will vie for the opportunity to fly to Davos to take their issue to the world leaders at the forum. You can vote on the videos on the Davos YouTube channel. All votes must be cast by January 15, so vote early and often (you can submit one vote per video per day).



In the wake of the worst global recession in decades, the organizers of Davos have given a poignant title to this year's annual meeting: "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild." Let's make sure those gathered in Switzerland hear your thoughts about how we can improve the world in 2010, and stay tuned for other opportunities to get involved with this important conference.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "Vote in the 2010 Davos Debates."

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is in full swing right now in Las Vegas, and that means that gear enthusiasts are getting their fill of the hottest devices coming to the market. In anticipation of all this electronics buzz, the folks at phonedog created a tutorial video last month sharing everything you need to know about being a successful gadget reviewer on YouTube. They then asked all you budding tech reviewers out there to try your hand at making gadget review videos, with the promise that a few of you would be featured on our homepage.

Well, we've arrived at that moment: phonedog's selected the three new reviewers -- samkeem, modview and kbradnam -- who grace our homepage today, talking about products dear to them. (OK, kbradnam's is a spoof, but he definitely captures the passion and attention to detail required to be a tech reviewer.) Honorable mentions go to AlexMarckReviews, vizbug, gadgetexperts, tehkseventechHazardVideos, akatsukigaraa, elSerg3000 and BeforeandAfterTV for submitting insightful, thorough videos reviewing phones, cameras and even an app. Of the entries, Noah from phonedog says: "I was impressed with so many of them, and it was hard to choose. The winners combined product know-how with eye-appealing visuals and even humor, making for videos that kept me watching. Thanks so much for participating and keep it up! You provide an important service by telling people about products they may want to buy."

Mia Quagliarello, Community Manager, recently favorited "Julian Smith - Techno Jeep (Original)."

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One of our most popular advertiser-supported programs is AdBlitz, which asks you to vote on the year's best Super Bowl commercial. For 2010, we've beefed up the channel with extensive NFL playoff coverage, travel videos for those going to Miami for the big game, Super Bowl party planning tips and recipes, and more. The AdBlitz Pre-Game channel, brought to you by Kia Motors, features videos from a diverse array of partners, including Fox Sports, Yardbarker, JR Sport Brief, Fitzy, The Dallas Cowboy Show, CowboyTD, The Travel Channel, Foodwishes and The Food Network.

Here are just a few examples of what you'll find:







Check back regularly for updated coverage and prediction videos. Once the Super Bowl begins on February 7, return to view and vote on all the ads, which are always a main topic of conversation in the days following the event.

Andrew Bangs, Sports Manager, recently watched "Griner Dunks Twice."

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The YouTube mobile experience on Nexus One, the newest Android-powered phone, is smoother and faster than ever before. You can shoot a DVD-quality video and upload it to YouTube with just a few taps, as well as search millions of YouTube videos and watch them in seconds.

For example, the day I received my very first CD-ROM game, “Star Wars: Rebel Assault,” is one of my more vivid childhood memories. Today my nostalgia was satisfied in exactly 17 seconds: with just three clicks I was able to watch "Rebel Assault gameplay video" on the 3.7 inch AMOLED display of my new Nexus One -- that's less time than it used to take to load the game on my PC. I simply tapped 'Search' on the new YouTube home screen widget, hit the microphone icon and said "star wars rebel assault" -- the first video found was the very same video I had seen at a computer expo back in 1993.

To learn more about Nexus One, visit google.com/phone or head to the Nexus One YouTube channel. You can watch a preview of YouTube on Nexus One here:



Andrey Doronichev, Product Manager, Mobile, recently watched "Star Wars: Rebel Assault - Gameplay part 4" on his Nexus One phone. 

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With awards shows like the Golden Globes, Grammys and Oscars just around the corner, it will soon be the season to celebrate some of the world's most high-profile artistic achievements. But on YouTube, many of you celebrate the arts every day -- for example, you might favorite a video that features a grade-school chorus, watch a film in the Screening Room, or upload a video of your recent dance performance.

At the same time, organizations that support the arts -- from museums to orchestras, ballet companies to musical education programs -- are sorely in need of funding and promotion. That's where you can help. YouTube Video Volunteers and guest curator Dr. Phil want you to create a video that shines the spotlight on an organization that advances the arts in your community or on the national stage. The top three video creators will see their name in lights on the YouTube homepage at the end of the month. Watch this video to learn more and hear how Dr. Phil is supporting the arts himself:



We hope you'll use your artistic talents to help your favorite organization. You could write a song in favor of your city's modern art museum or make a short film about a nonprofit that supports music in schools. Use your creativity to make sure that the arts continue to flourish.

Submissions are due on January 23 and can be entered at www.youtube.com/videovolunteers.

Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits & Activism Manager, recently watched "Good Transparency: Cost of Food."

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The new year can mean change and a fresh start. It's when many of us hit our reset buttons and commit to resolutions we hope will transform our lives -- even if just for a few months. Often these revolve around getting healthy: losing weight, eating better, and going to the gym more often are common pledges made. The BetterYou channel, sponsored by Pfizer, is brimming with videos from partners like Livestrong, Diethealth and Exercise TV to help you meet those goals. Here are just a few examples of what you'll find there:















Browse the channel for videos with a hefty dose of instruction and motivation; the collection is geared toward helping you power through the year.


Sadia Harper, Howto Manager, recently watched "How to Diet Like a Man."