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flash video vs windows media vs quicktime vs realmedia

Which does the best quality for the smallest file size?

     
4:23 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi there,

Does anyone know which video format out of flash, windows media, realmedia & quicktime does the best looking video (pixel based not vector) for the smallest file size?

I just heard about the new On2 6 codec for flash 8 and they claim it is better than all the other video formats as far as quality vs. file size - does anyone have any real life experience with this?

4:34 pm on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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i have encoded with all of 'em, except for flash 8... they are all good right now, even quicktime has stepped up the quality drastically with the h.264 codec... just don't believe marketing hype, or garbage you read on the 'net about which one is best... it takes professional encoding software, and an experience compressionist to really tell the difference... for instance, can you encode all the standards with things like variable bit rate, two-pass encoding, etc.

there are many caveats to web video, but these days, video quality isn't the deal breaker that it used to be.

11:41 pm on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would stay away from Quicktime. Their players are not Firefox friendly, and may annoy the hell out of your Firefox users. Flash is good because it is cross-browser friendly, and you won't need an additional plugin.
11:47 pm on Jan 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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ErolinDesigns, what kind of problems have you experienced with Quicktime in Firefox?
2:16 am on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Flash, Quicktime, etc all need plugins for Firefox. However, Quicktime needs to have a manual download from iTunes. Why would a developer ask a user to go out of their way to go to another website, sign up to download a plugin, and then manually install the plugin? As I see it, use the plugin that is most widely used between multiple bowsers--in most cases, it is Flash.
12:02 pm on Jan 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Danimal,

I have had experience compressing for disc-based and local PC delivery, and am quite fussy on getting my compression right, for several reasons.

Even if a lot of people cant tell you that there is a difference, many small things make the difference between something looking ok and looking great.

If something is slightly better quality and downloads faster, I believe it is more effective.

If people are paying me money to compress their video, I want to do the best job possible and feel i should worry about VBR vs CBR and 1-pass vs 2-pass, and yes I can tell the difference between them, so I guess that makes me experienced enough. I can even tell you about keyframes, gamma, luminance and chrominance to throw a few more random terms out there.

If it was just my personal video blog, I wouldn't worry, but I'm venturing out on the web (professionally) after coming from a mostly video background and I think attention to detail is very important. Its better to know the ins and outs and choose to provide a lower quality for whatever reason, than provide a lower quality because you don't know better.

4:04 am on Feb 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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there are indeed subtle differences in quality, and i know what a lot of 'em are, but the point is that "good enuf" means that you can make recommendations based on factors other than just the video quality.

for instance, if audio quality is a priority, windows media should be at the top of your list... if you need a professional video server, it's windows media again... but the drawbacks to wmv include major issues getting it to work right with firefox, because of activex, and with macs as well, for that matter.

absolutely nothing looks better in an embedded video window than flash does, tho... or maybe you're partial to quicktime, but unfortunately h.264 has a lot more player overhead than wmv does, at the same bitrate... etc... many things to consider... whatever you recommend, give a lot of priority to format penetration(aka player availability)... wmv gets my nod there.

i use canopus procoder for wmv and mpeg2 encoding, and nero for h.264 encoding, if that helps any... i have used sorenson squeeze, but it's a bit buggy as an app.

thanks to erolin for the qt tip, i'll check it out!

12:38 pm on Feb 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yeah i use procoder too. i downloaded the trial of sorenson squeeze and the interface is nowhere near as easy to use i think. plus I like the filters procoder has. Nero lost my approval when they started trying to do too many things at once.

I understand what you mean about audio quality etc, I tend to steer towards good old mp3 as i mostly do voice stuff and sound coming out of pc speakers can only sound so good no matter what source you use. Running a lot of streaming isn't a priority (yet), its mostly embedding stuff in web pages that I'm looking at.

The reason for my initial question was partly because I wanted to know whether the new flash compression does a better or worse job in video compression than the others, and whether my opinion of which codec does the best job was correct - not that I can recall what i decided, I think I liked mpeg-4 the best.

I know what you are saying re that video quality isn't the be all and end all (god knows how many mpeg1's I've grudgingly made just to make sure a govt. depart. can even see the video on their prehistoric computers), but I'd still like to know what y'all think, especially about flash vs. the others (eg. mpeg4).