Vimeo (s IACI) has always set itself apart from the chaos of YouTube (s goog) by nurturing the experimental side of its user community, even creating an entire film festival to recognize the community’s artistic accomplishments. But now it’s hoping to broaden its creator base beyond that core user group even further with the Vimeo Video School, a massive offering of video tutorials for a wide range of potential creators, especially those who are just picking up their very first cameras and want to discover their inner Fellinis.
Vimeo is launching this project specifically to coincide with the holiday season, as an IDC study indicates that this Christmas more than 22 million digital devices will be given as gifts, including new phones with video capacity and digital SLR cameras. Accordingly, the Video School’s initial focus is on how to optimize each of these devices, including a series on video basics, a series on all of the iPhone’s (s AAPL) video capabilities and a series focusing on the DSLR.
In addition, a collection of 20 “lessons” focus on specific techniques and tricks creators might be interested in incorporating into their videos. These techniques on represent the sort of visual tricks that prove to be popular within the Vimeo community, including time-lapse photography as seen in this look at last summer’s Iceland volcano as well as the sort of stop-motion animation behind viral hits like Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. The lessons all end with a challenge that users can attempt and then upload to a specific part of the community.
These lessons incorporate Vimeo-produced tutorials as well as those already created by Vimeo users. Those user-created tutorials, in addition to being included in lessons, have also been indexed and curated into a database sortable by level of difficutly and area of interest. Vimeo General Manager Dae Mellencamp, via phone, estimated that there were a thousand tutorial videos currently available.
That number will only grow, as Mellencamp says that this project will be an ongoing initiative for the Vimeo team over the coming months. That’s a big commitment for a project with potentially high overhead but no direct monetization: While this project would clearly be a potential branding bonanza for consumer electronics manufactorers, the only brand associated with the project is Vimeo, with a heavy emphasis on what Mellencamp categorized as the Vimeo editorial voice: light-hearted, with a touch of “heart and soul.”
“Vimeo’s a happy place, it’s a respectful community, it’s an inspiring place to be,” Mellencamp said. If Vimeo Video School is successful in its goals, that means a whole new influx of amateur users into the community. Hopefully, the artsy-fartsy old-timers won’t mind, enabling Vimeo to bring in more users, potentially even ones who upgrade to paid accounts.
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