The new video player is nice, its fast and simple and does what it needs to do displaying videos with what appears to be dynamic scaling, as there is no option to select quality manually. The videos play up to 1080p and look great, they’re all filmed with white backgrounds and are clear and brightly lit. At times I found it frustrating that they would play a repetitive generic electro song for almost the entire video rather than having the educator speak; and I’m afraid this is where MHD really comes up a little short. There are other sites with video content, both free and paid, where the educator will describe in great detail exactly what he is doing and why it is important. This is surely one of the cornerstones of education in my eyes. It’s not simply enough to see what someone is doing, without knowing why they are doing so. This does differ from video to video and some are better than others, but it is a very strong argument to make that a website like Factory.tv ran by DJ muldoon (who by the way, we interviewed here…) has far fewer videos, but a much deeper level of education than MHD. MHDs videos are for the most part the length of the cut or service, have a short introduction that offers some insight into the cut and then has very few insights into the ‘why’ thereafter. Whereas factory.tv, although having less, have haircut videos which run anywhere up to three hours and contain DJ non stop explaining every little step, exactly what he is doing and why, why, why he is doing it. I don’t mean to be too down on MHD here and whilst this doesn’t detract anything from using MHD as a tool in an education environment, I feel it is an important point to make, especially for those potential subscribers who are like me and like to ask a million questions or plan to do a lot of extra-curricular work by using the site (as I did during my time at school).
This does segue rather nicely however into a few concerns I have with this new look MHD. There is currently a robust library of content, however anyone that paid attention to one of the original emails sent out to current subscribers concerning the reluanch might have picked up on the following:
Rather than weekly videos, we’re working with the biggest names to release exclusive seasonal trends, collections, celebrity looks, business and marketing advice and much much more throughout the year. Our last weekly video will be January 1st.
For new subscribers, this isn’t going to be a problem for a long time, however for old subscribers, I am concerned how much value this new system will have to me, now that I’ve more or less done the old content to death. Then there was the next revelation I bumped into upon testing out the new video player, lets talk advertising to subscribed customers shall we? I loaded up a video to check out the new web player and up loads an MHD splash screen, no problem, a lot of web video services use a splash screen as a pre-load, a way to buffer the upcoming video behind the splash screen so that it appears to play instantly, very subtle, no problems. I did notice however, there was that line, you know the one: “Advertisement, your video will resume shortly”. Now given that this new look MHD only launched today, it got me thinking, is this just a line of code that accompanies a pre-load video, or are they actually planning on getting advertising revenue from this? So of course, I had a look and unfortunately, I didn’t have to look very far.
In 2016 MHD and MHDPro.com will launch with a newly developed platform, set to take advantage of the growth of video advertising across desktop and mobile devices with a fully integrated high definition video player incorporating pre-roll advertising before our tutorials start, giving you the power to reach our growing number of site visitors and subscribers. – http://www.mhdproductions.com/advertising/
There is nothing subtle about that and it’s pretty clear where they aim to go with this. I’m a little queasy at the thought to be honest. Now don’t get me wrong, not all advertising is inherently bad. This is a very targeted website, the ads are only going to be relevant. Exactly how relevant remains to be seen and frankly I’m more or less against the concept of being shown adverts on a platform that I already pay for. So this is a tricky situation. MHD have made quality videos with some really amazing educators, however, It does offer me a note of caution when coupled with the previous announcement that weekly videos are being replaced by ‘seasonal’ videos. I have to be careful not to be too speculative here, but what this new content will contain remains to be seen, the quote above from the email is vague and could quite easily be read as “We will be making marketing videos for big companies. Oh yeah, and some marketing and business advice”. I will now be watching the level of output and quality a lot more closely. As an old subscriber I’m starting to feel like something of a loser in this situation, but I will give it a fair crack and I hope for the future content to be solid and frequent enough to retain my subscription. Not everyone will feel like this about advertising on pre-paid content and new users are unlikely to feel the pinch of not having enough new content with such a large archive, but I think it’s a legitimate concern.
All in all this is a long overdue update to the website, its quick, clean and easy to use. For new subscribers, students and even for many old subscribers MHD is going to offer great value for money and provide hours of great education. As a third party tool it will continue to shine. There are definitely things to be concerned about for older subscribers however and we will have to wait and see how both the new seasonal content and advertising is to be handled.