Despite the year of video coming to a close, the surge of video hosting sites hasn't really stopped. Jumping into the fray is Liberated Films, a niche site aimed at bringing film enthusiasts and filmmakers together. Liberated Films takes it one step further with a charity service they intend to implement once they have a large enough user base. After-tax profits would go to user-selected charities or help organizations.
As on other video sites, films are served up in Flash with a short advertisement at the start. Videos range from short cartoons about alcoholic reindeer to full-on mob dramas. Unlike YouTube, Google Video, and MySpace, Liberated Films requires that films go through their review process (by real people) before being published on the site. This might ensure quality, but I can't help thinking it hinders would-be submitters from getting their films on there. Undoubtedly what makes other video publishing services thrive is the ability to post videos in a matter of minutes.
Liberated Films has two tiers of membership, a free level and a premium account that costs less than four bucks a month. The premium account nets you early access to new content and downloading rights to the films so you can save and share them locally. You also get access to high-resolution versions, which is pretty cool. I'm not so keen on having to pay to download the original file, but in the case of the content on Liberated Films, it's somebody's hard work--not just a Webcam video of some girl lip-syncing Justin Timberlake.
In the future, Liberated Films aims to add a monetization platform to their service. If it ends up bring anything like Revver's 50/50 revenue share model, the role Liberated Films' review board plays in promoting video submissions on the front page will be very important. I would like to see them add some sort of upcoming section (akin to Digg's) where registered users can promote what is worthy of being on the site and what's not.
I'm on the fence about Liberated Films. I like that there's a human filter to weed through submitted content. I don't think the charity angle is necessarily going to draw filmmakers compared to a comprehensive revenue-sharing model. While charity is noble, the true draw for aspiring filmmakers is an audience, so hopefully Liberated Films will focus on making the sharing and viewing process as simple and elegant as possible.