New Feature: “Scrubbing” Scene Thumbnails

Hey, VideoBoxers!

This is Bob, the user interface engineer here at VideoBox, and I’m so excited about one of the cool new features we rolled out today that I jumped at the chance to update the blog with a rundown on it. Before I do that, though, let me say that I am an avid reader of this blog, and I am thrilled that we have such a vocal group of users offering up feedback, questions and tons of good suggestions. I see it as my job to provide the best possible user experience for all of us (I’m a VideoBox user too, of course!), and I look forward to every chance we get to present a feature and get your take on it.

On to the goods: we call this new feature our scene scrubbing UI (UI = User Interface, for those of you outside the web development world).

If you’re like me (and given that you’re reading the blog on a porn site, it’s safe to say we have some interests in common), you probably find that there are big portions of many scenes that don’t interest you at all. Sure, you could click on one of the later screencaps on the DVD details page, but then you might need to move the filmstrip back a little to check what you missed. With this new feature, you can skip the stuff you don’t want to watch and zero right in on the place you want to start, without missing a thing. Here’s how it works:

scrubbingExample

Scrubbing the Search Results

Let’s start with the search results page, which is one of the two places you can find this new feature as of today. When you hover your mouse cursor over one of the thumbnail images in the search results, a timeline now appears across the bottom, with a timepill above it showing the point in the scene for the initial thumbnail. If you leave your mouse cursor there for a brief moment, a set of images is downloaded that spans the entire scene. Once it’s done loading, you can move your mouse across the thumbnail and see a quick preview of the entire scene, which progresses from start to finish as you move the mouse from left to right (in other words, you can “scrub” the scene). The time updates as you go. If you stop moving the mouse briefly, the timepill disappears so you can see the thumbnail without obstruction. At any point, if you like what you see, you can click the image and you’ll be taken to the player page, where the scene will start right at the point that you chose. You can watch it from there or start a custom clip from that moment, right in the player.

I can already hear some of you who responded to Jeff’s post about the new Custom Clip mode saying, “But what if I want to set the scene up for download instead of streaming it?” No problem — we’ve got you covered. If you liked what you saw while you were scrubbing, click the title of the scene right below the thumbnail and you’re on the Original Custom Clip page. And for those of you who like to kick off a bunch of streams in individual browser tabs, no problem there either: right-clicking the “scrubbable” image will allow you to open the link in a new window or tab, and when it appears in that new tab it will start playing right at the spot you picked. Pretty sweet, huh? But wait: there’s more!

Scrubbing on the Player Page

Remember that Right Hand Navigation element that we told you about recently? I call it the Right-Hand Element – insert your own “My Right Hand” joke here — or, “RHE” for short. Well, we’ve made some cool improvements to it, and my personal favorite is the addition of scene scrubbing on all the thumbnail images in that area except for the clip images. (Scrubbing clips will have to be handled in a different way, but we didn’t want to deprive you of this awesome new capability while we sorted out that piece of it — so, enjoy the scrubbing, and no fair flaming me in the comments below about how much you hate that you cant scrub clips! :-)

Tell Us What You Think

We take your feedback to heart, so please let me and the other folks here know what you think. We believe features like this one make the VideoBox experience easier, more fun and more engaging, and help you to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for. If you agree, disagree, or have questions or suggestions, speak your mind in the comments section.

Yet More On The Way…

Things are still heating up here, so stay tuned as we continue to incorporate your feedback, brainstorm on the ultimate online porn experience we would want to see, and tinker in the labs to make it all a reality.

Best Regards, and Happy Scrubbing!

- Bob

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31 Responses to “New Feature: “Scrubbing” Scene Thumbnails”

  1. AquaGlide Says:

    Greate job! I love it… my opinion: I want it too for the main page for the “Recommended Scenes” section.

    And one more, that is for me very important => Short use case description: I come to Videobox each day and look for new DVDs. If I think one is interesting, I have to click on it and have to watch each scene.

    My desire: I want the new scrubbing for all scene’s for a new DVD. At the moment, I just can workaround this usecase:

    First, I have to go to the first scene for that new DVD and play it. Than stop the playing and click on the right “scenes from this DVD” … here I can use the new feature.

    Maybe, you can put the scrubbing for each scene down to the cover, just before the first scene … so, “insert a new row” there ;-)

    What do you think about it?

  2. Bob Says:

    AquaGlide: Glad to hear you love it! And thanks for letting me know where else you want to see it.

    As for your “new DVDs” use case — if I’m understanding you correctly, I believe there is already a way to do what you want on the site:

    1) Click the “New DVDs” link on the top navigation bar

    2) Once you have your DVD results, which are ordered by most recent, click the link at the top that says “Switch to __ Scenes” (The scene number updates as more DVDs are added). Or of course you could just click the link in this comment. :-)

    3) You now have all the scenes from every DVD on the site, sorted by most recent and laid out in a series of search pages, grouped by DVD and in numerical order. You can page through these results, and each one of the scene thumbs is scrubbable.

    You can also sort the results by name, popularity, and comment count, and adjust the time period within which you search.

    Does this provide what you are looking for? Let me know.

  3. AquaGlide Says:

    Hmmm … yes, I think this is okay :) Maybe better, because I can check ALL new DVDs for last 24h (or last week etc.) on one page :) Thank you!

  4. Bob Says:

    Great. You’re welcome!

  5. njw Says:

    Great things coming out of the videobox gods but I have to ask have you gods of porn ever considered the idea of a videobox community forum. I think it would be a good idea myself.

  6. Bob Says:

    njw: actually, the idea of a user forum is something we have considered — but there are so many things vying for attention and development, and only so much we can get to each week, that it never quite seems to make it to the top of the priority list. It’s still on the list, but I don’t expect we’ll be adding it anytime soon, especially given all the cool stuff we already have on our plates!

    Thanks for the request, and thanks for the kind words.

  7. Bronty Says:

    FANTASTIC!!! I noticed the update first, then came to the blog.

    Some suugestions / my two penneth:

    - The scene being scrubed, it would be nice were it enlarged…
    1) Mouse over thumbnail
    2) Scrub button appears
    3) Click button, thumbnail enlarges
    4) Scrubbing possible

    - If enlarged, an ‘Add to List’ button would be great.

    Personally, I am big on downloading, The quality of the picture is butter. Moreover, all of the streaming options produce jerky video (stop /start) for me. My connection is good. Comcast High Speed. I’m on ethernet. Other streaming sites (like You Tube at 720P) stream just fine. Your tech depertment once commented to me that there may be other network factors involved out of the control of either of us.

    For those who stream…or on those rare days when I can stream…a playlist function would be great. That is another advantge of downloading to a standalone player.

  8. rclay83 Says:

    whoah! How did he know about my multiple tab habit?

  9. dgporn Says:

    I’m totally amazed by the features you’ve rolled out in the past month or two. I already thought VB was the best porn site on the web and now you make this giant leap forward in usability without ruining the simple straight forward presentation. I’m a UI guy myself so my hat’s off to you! BTW thanks I’m really enjoying the new features.

  10. Butt_Watcher1 Says:

    To all WD TV HD Media player users – Be sure to use H.264 (MPEG4 640×480) format files, since WMV files are not supported and will not work on this player.

  11. bobsipod Says:

    @Bronty- I had a similar problem with my old computer. It cleared up considerably when I upgraded to windows 7. I’m not enough of a computer geek to pinpoint whether its a better processor speed, video card, or router that provided the necessary improvements, but streaming works great now. As for a playlist, Ive been using the “right hand element” as a playlist of sorts. For one thing. I can access all the lists I have created since I joined. For instance, before we had the favorite stars list, I used to add scenes to list I made up. So when Im checking out one of the 250 sunny lane update over the last few days, if I want to check out my “skinny chicks” list, its there. there’s your playlist.

  12. Sam M Says:

    great addition, very impressive. I, like the others appreciate the new features, but don’t forget the basics. Why is the H264 quality down? It used to be better. Now smaller resolution, lower bit rate, no meta data in the files, used to have that. Please don’ forget the file downloads when you are adding things. Either improve that quality or add another option for H264 please so we get the full resolution available in wmv and quality. That said keep up the great work!!

  13. ophuzzah Says:

    Is this going to be the replacement for the “Quick Preview” option we used to have on each movie’s page? I’m dying to get that back.

  14. Bob Says:

    Thanks again for the comments and feedback. I’m so glad you guys like the recent changes as much as I do.

    Some responses:

    Bronty: I appreciate your suggestions. As for the streaming issues you described, I’m glad you have contacted Support about that, and I’m sorry the issue isn’t fully resolved. Our Flash player is necessarily pretty complex, and therefore demands a bit more from your system, so bobsipod’s suggestions regarding hardware improvements (such as more RAM, an upgraded video card, greater processor speed) may have a positive effect. Personally, I’d start with the video card.

    rclay83: great minds think alike. :-)

    dgporn: always love to get kudos from other UI guys, so, thanks! Much credit is due to our design genius, who obsesses over usability details and generally makes us engineers look good.

    bobsipod: love the playlist idea. We also have cool enhancements to the RHE and content discovery/organization planned for the not-so-distant future.

    Sam M: I wasn’t aware of a change in H264 quality. Since that’s not my area, I don’t have any info about it, but please fill out this form and your feedback will go to the proper channel. Thanks.

    ophuzzah: Yes, this feature will soon appear on the DVD and scene detail pages to replace the Flash-based “Quick Preview” option. I’m sorry to the folks who miss that option; I can tell you that there were many considerations that went into this choice. One big advantage of the new method is that it is not reliant on Flash — so, it’s more lightweight, and it enables our users who prefer downloading and do not use Flash to have a way to preview the scenes too. Also, since the scrubber allows you to preview the entire scene, we feel that it trumps “Quick Preview,” which only showed 10 seconds of the clip per screencap. Our goal is to present features that are not only easy for us and our users to support technically, but that have the greatest value for the greatest number of users. We believe that is the case with this scene scrubbing UI.

    As Jeff said previously, we made an error in judgment by removing “Quick Preview” before this was added to the site. That’s not a mistake we intend to repeat.

  15. lorddork Says:

    Wow, i love Love LOVE it! Such a timesaver, Just scrub the image and Bob’s your uncle. Awesome!

  16. Bob Says:

    Disclaimer: I’m not really your uncle. :-)

    LOL, lorddork, I hadn’t heard that one in long enough that I had to look it up.

  17. lorddork Says:

    hehe, caught that one up on some internet forums. I knew it would come in handy some day :)

  18. Josh Says:

    We recently reencoded all our H.264 files with more highly-tuned encoding parameters. You *should* see roughly the same quality with the new H.264 as with the WMV DVD resolution, with much smaller file sizes. Also, the flash player now serve the H.264 videos, so you should experience similar video quality regardless of whether you download or stream. Please let me know if you are not seeing this.

  19. wcfields Says:

    Hi Bob – Love the new features, you guys have obviously been working hard. However, I’d like to suggest that there is no single improvement you guys could make that would make more of a difference to the using experience than fixing the tagging system for scenes and standardizing things like stars’ names, etc.

    There are lots of different ways to do that, many of which have been suggested in various blog posts. Allowing users (maybe trusted users) to change tags or change spelling would be one great way to start, and would get you guys a ton of free labor to improve the site. Any chance we could see something like this in the future?

  20. Sam M Says:

    Bob, thanks for the reply. Ok compared some H264 to wmv from today and quality is as good, sorry, Noticed the small size and lower bit rate and assumed, oops. One thing tho wmv still gets 720 by x where H264 is usually 640 by x no dvd resolution, see Goin Deep 3 from today for example. Also I miss the meta data in the files. Every once and a while a file has it… no underscores in the name of clip, girls names, studio etc. Nice touch. Overall love the site. No complaints just requests. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  21. josh Says:

    Sam M — the old WMVs were 720×480, but the new ones should be 640×480. The 720 width is actually a bug, and it really should be 640 — the difference has to do with TVs and monitors having different aspect ratios for their pixels. It’s annoying, but the upshot is native DVD resolution is 640×480 on a computer monitor. As for meta data, you’re right — that is missing from the H.264s. We’ll look into if we can add the meta data. Thanks for mentioning it.

  22. Strangepork Says:

    I was going to comment that this new feature is kind of neat, until I saw that this is intended to be the replacement for the Quick Preview feature. While it is nice to be able to see a thumbnail image of any point in the scene, still images do not always adequately represent the action in the scene. Just from a short video clip, you can often tell how into it the performers may be, how the action is paced (a still image can’t tell you how fast or slow someone is moving), in addition to giving an idea of the audio (is there moaning, screaming, banter, annoying music, dead silence?). I don’t see this scrubbing feature as being anywhere near as helpful as watching 10 seconds of reverse cowgirl when trying to decide if I want to view a scene or not.

  23. Jeff Says:

    wcfields, just a quick nod and a wink your way, but no… not that kinda nod/wink. One acknowledging your points, and indicating that we are indeed aware of and trying to coordinate a solution for stars names. We’re thinking along the same lines as well… something user enabled, where you can edit or append data. Like wikipedia I guess. What’s that be here… clitipedia? whipipedia on the BDSM side, for sure.

  24. deadip Says:

    Hey Bob,
    I have been here on and off, since VideoBox used to be called Climax Corner. wcfields and njw bring up two improvements that I feel should be given more priority. There is NOTHING MORE FRUSTRATING to go to PORNSTAR Celeste Star and find 3 Scenes of Straight Sex, CumShots, and etc. to find out it is Celestia Star, which are two different Models. Then you have Models that have two different spellings of her name, for example, Bree Olsen … Bree Olson and also there are models that the Production Companies given a couple of names to, for example, Faye Reagan AKA Faye Valentine, … Capri Anderson AKA Alexis Capri A re-organization of PORNSTAR NAMES is in store here otherwise, it makes you all look like you don’t know your A-Hole from a hole in the ground. No Disrespect intended meant when I say that, but this PORNSTAR NAME thing has been here for years already and the fact NOTHING has been done about it puts you all in a bad light, especially, if I was writing a Review of your Site. Do you understand my frustration here??? Some Members here like to come here and look up certain PornStars and see what Scenes they have here.
    Now, the other subject or Improvement brought up was a FORUM. The BLOG is NICE, but you have to go back and read EVERY BLOG ENTRY to find what someone suggested. Whereas a FORUM you can divide in Sections and have some ORGANIZATION to what Members say. A FORUM you can ORGANIZE by TOPIC, where in a BLOG, you are always going to have a Member Posting Off Topic, because there is NO OTHER WAY for someone to make a POINT or SUGGESTION about something they feel important to address.
    Your improvements to your Site thus far, I think are great for those that use them. You have over 8000 DVDs now, which is another BIG REASON you NEED to CHANGE the WAY a NEW MEMBER even can come here and SEARCH FOR THEIR FAVORITE PORNSTARS or DVD TITLES. The SERIES LIST needs UPDATING, the STARS LIST needs UPDATING. This should be TOP PRIORITY, then the OTHER IMPROVEMENTS you all are currently working on.

  25. ophuzzah Says:

    I’m cool with a new and improved option from the Quick Preview thing, but just so I’m clear – will the new Scrub function allow any sort of quick preview beyond just sliding through screenshots of the whole scene? I like having the option of watching a real-time snippet of a scene before going through the trouble of loading the player. My hope would be that the Scrub function would allow you to start that snippet in the thumbnail from any point in the scene you scrub to, but is that too pie-in-the-sky to ask for?

  26. ophuzzah Says:

    Basically, I agree with Strangepork and hope the Scrub feature will include that functionality in some form.

  27. al Says:

    basically agree with strangepork and ophuzzah-

    scrub feature is very nice, but does not make up for loss of quick preview which simply hasnt been replaced… if we could get what ophuzzah suggested it´d be great!

    anyway…good to see you trying to improve the site!

  28. anon Says:

    These changes are a serious disruption of the user experience at Videobox! Just mousing over these images starts a scrubbing action? WTF?! And if I want to open a series of scenes in the 6-up thumbnail mode in multiple tabs in the browser, it takes tons of clicks to do this (and the default is to take the user directly into the flash player). This is a real pain in the ass if you find yourself behind a slow connection (read: every goddamn hotel). So, while you guys are excited about new changes to the UI, I don’t think you fully appreciate the range of uses that your users have and how these changes can completely cock all that up. While videobox is nice for having so much choice and versatility to it’s UI and UX, you’re starting to make real decisions for users in the name of novelty that are more frustrating, often, than useful.

  29. snafu918 Says:

    regarding multiple tabs I use firefox and consistantly see some very odd behaviors when opening clips in multiple tabs. I dont like to be a bandwidth hog so I always open them into a tab via the custom clip link so they aren’t streaming in the background. The use case I would suggest you try is to open 2 tabs pointed at individual scenes then open a single tab to an actress. then open one or two more scenes. No before you do anything else navigate to the tab that you opened for a specific actress. click on the button on the top right that adds that actress to your favorites. 10 out of 10 times this page fails to add this actress and sends me back to the home page. Just an oddity I noticed.. Great new features

  30. Bob Says:

    Hey, sorry for the lag time. Here’s a round of responses:

    wcfields, deadip: The star naming issue has been moved up in priority and there will be a release that addresses it in the near future. I can’t say how much time we’re talking, since the work doesn’t involve front-end code yet (or possibly at all, depending on the solution). But, I figured you’d be glad to know that we have heard you and all the users who have brought this up, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    deadip, I want to reassure you that we hear you and we don’t disregard or ignore any feedback from users, regardless of what channel is used to send it. I can’t even remember the last time I was at work and didn’t mention user comments or feedback during a discussion of some feature or another. As for the user forum suggestion, my response to njw earlier in this comment thread still holds: it is on the list but not likely to happen soon. Please continue to send feedback via forms on the site or on the blog; we are listening.

    Strangepork, ophuzzah, al: We’re revisiting the conversation on how the “quick preview” functionality will work. So, unfortunately I don’t have an answer to your questions about it yet, but I can say for sure that your suggestions will be part of that dialogue. Either Jeff or I will post again when we have more info.

    anon: If you want to open a series of scenes in the 6-thumbnail page in multiple tabs, right-click on the title of the video immediately beneath the thumbnail. If you click on the thumb you go straight to the player, but your use case is exactly why the text link was kept the way it is. If that doesn’t work for you or doesn’t address your use case, let me know.

    snafu918: I couldn’t reproduce the problem you reported in Firefox 3.5.8. Can I trouble you to copy/paste the issue into this form and submit it? That will give me a bunch of helpful debugging info, including which one of our servers you are hitting when you make the request. Thanks.

  31. Sean Says:

    I AM A AVID FAN, AND LOONG TIME USER OF THIS SITE, I FOR ONE LOVED THIS SITE THE WAY IT WAS, YA KNOW, COME ON, GET OFF, AND GO ON ABOUT YOUR DAY, I NEVER REALLY FELT THAT ALL THESE UPDATES AND TECHY ASS FEATURES WERE NECCESARY, BUT AS THEY ROLL OUT, I FIND MYSELF ENJOYING MOST OF EM, ONE THING ID LIKE TO SEE THAT IVE SEEN ON OTHER SITES, IS AN ADVANCED SEARCH, LIKE, BROKEN DOWN INTO AS MANY CATERGORIES AS MANY VERY SPECIFIC CATERGORIES AS POSSIBLE, THAT WAS MY FEEDBACK, THANKS VIDEOBOX FOR THE MANY MANY MOMENTS OF SATISFACTION OVER THE YEARS,