This afternoon Vimeo has announced the launch of an exciting new feature—the ability to turn any frame of a video into a thumbnail.  Auto-generated thumbnails are no more on Vimeo…when will YouTube take a hint and start offering this feature as well?

Zach Goodman writes about the new feature on the Vimeo blog.  “We just introduced a new feature that enables you to take any frame from your video and turn it into a thumbnail (i.e., your video’s preview image, visible before your vid starts playing).  Our new thumbnail chooser allows you to scroll through the entire length of your video to find its sweet spot.”

He explains that, “This means you are no longer at the mercy of our auto-generated thumbnails, and your video need not be represented by someone’s face in mid-expression, eyes half-closed and mouth half-open like a narcoleptic’s driver’s license photo.”  (Offensive?  Maybe a little…)

How does it work?  Just head over to your video’s Settings page and in the Thumbnails section, click the Choose icon.  The video will pop up and you can play through and pause at any point and choose ‘Use This Frame’ to create your thumbnail.

So this brings us to the fact that YouTube (although they have opened up partnership to everyone) still hasn’t opened up access to the custom thumbnails feature that original YouTube partners enjoy.  Users have wanted to create their own thumbnails for ages and a feature similar to the one that Vimeo is announcing today would be perfect.

Earlier this year, YouTube launched a new player complete with thumbnail previews.  There was speculation that, because YouTube was not creating somewhere in the vicinity of 100 thumbnails per video, they might increase the number of options they give you when it comes time for selecting your video thumbnail.  However, unlike Vimeoans, YouTubers are still at the mercy of three (really, still only three!) auto-generated thumbnails per video.

I think we’re long overdue for an upgrade.  YouTube, what do you say?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.