Re: Can Attachments be mp4 videos?

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4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

I would like to include a video as an attachment. The videos are not currently hosted anywhere online, they would be uploaded from my phone.

31 Replies 31
5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

I fourth it. This functionality is absolutely imperative to my workflow within Airtable. Otherwise there is no point in having assets across multiple services.

5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

I couldn’t agree more. Having the ability to preview a mp4 upload would really help communication between our internal and external teams, as both have their own naming conventions for each file. Is it unrealistic to hope for a solution in the near future?

4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

I agree. The entire functionality of Airtable just sank when I tried to upload video. Where are others hosting their videos to link to Airtable?

4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

I agree. Uploading videos is vitally important. I cannot use Airtable if it is not feasible.

4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Please notify me when this video upload feature is added. It now stands as my single and singular disappointment with Airtable. And video uploading is reasonably important to what I do — I have 80M video views of short videos at FB alone, but I cannot assign finished content to my team around this series. Please. Help. Is there a short term work around?

Thank you.

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator


Let us play our vids! :slightly_smiling_face:

4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Same here. I just spent days perfecting my Airtable and now I can’t view / preview my videos. WTH!! What good does it do to me that the videos are in Airtable but I can’t view them unless I re-download them on my PC? It’s insane!!!

4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Also need to preview\play videos. In hurry :))

On the one hand, I feel empathy for all of you who have gone to great lengths to upload videos and need to play your videos as well. But on the other, your expectations fall into the unreasonable category because no database platform provides 100% free live streaming of videos.

Making the assertion that this is somehow Airtable’s responsibility is completely unreasonable. I recommend you all learn more about the nature of streaming video over the web and what is required to create a performant streaming/playing solution.

At the outset…

Just because you can upload a specific type of document into Airtable, there are no guarantees or implied warranties that the document type will render or play. Airtable is a place to put stuff; not play (or render) stuff.

For video streaming, this is largely gated by player technology; not the database or the storage platform per-se. You can upload Lucid Chart documents as well - but they only render with – wait for it – Lucid Chart!

Let’s chat a little about video file types:

  • AVI (audio video interleave) and WMV (Windows media video) …
  • MOV and QT (Quicktime formats) …
  • MKV (matroska format) …
  • MP4. …
  • AVCHD (advanced video coding, high definition) …
  • FLV and SWF (Flash formats)

Each one of these formats requires different player technologies that Airtable would have to license for every user.

Now on to bit-rate…

As if this is not complex and costly enough, each player must be hosted in a manner that supports dozens of bit-rate consumers. iPhones process and render video streams very differently than a Windows desktop. If Airtable tried to host all y’alls videos, they would need a vastly larger infrastructure for streaming servers and support for variable bit-rates because none of you want to see pauses in the streaming output when using 4G vs LTE vs 1GB connections, right?

The remedy…

If video is so important to your business and professional work, you need to think carefully about the nature of storing files by reference or by value.

By uploading a video (indeed, ANY file) as an attachment makes a copy of the file (i.e., by value) and presents it as an embedded object with a new URL. If you modify the original file, now your documents are out of sync. Imagine updating a video - the original is still in Airtable. This is a bad approach if you care about future changes, maintenance, and the cost of sustaining two copies of everything.

If, instead, you store the files (videos as well) in an environment where they can be referenced (i.e., by reference) as a discrete and unchanging URL, you can change them anytime and your Airtable data will always link to the latest version.

There is no workaround to Airtable’s constraint concerning video (or ANY document type that it may not choose to render). But there are approaches that work well and are commonly implemented for video streaming. Vimeo, for example will charge you to stream your video collection (regardless of original encoding) and they will provide embeddable players because they have paid all the licenses and fees to make this possible. They also offer a free tier.

If you really care about contributors uploading video into Airtable, you should also design your solutions to automatically deploy these videos into a streaming platform that can host and live stream them (if it matters).

Store your videos in a streaming platform of your choice and embed them in Blocks or link to them from records. But do not expect Airtable to provide you - free of charge - a comprehensive streaming content platform.

Thank you for the reminder on how complex this problem actually is to solve, Bill.

That said – if the files are readable by the browser (I can certainly drop an .mp4 in Safari and it’ll play the video), it would be nice if there was some logic in Airtable to, say, open a new tab pointing at the static URL to that file if they don’t have a built-in viewer for it. BUT, I certainly see the validity of your point for not asking Airtable to build the streaming solution.

Really for a lot of us it comes down to – we pay for storage as part of our plan, and being able to access the files in that storage is not an unreasonable ask…we should just be more eloquent in how we ask for it :slightly_smiling_face: Thanks for the reality check!