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I have no experience in delivering video on the web or at all for that matter. Our department wants us(web team) to be able to deliver a documentary video through our intranet that would be around 30 minutes long and an estimated 30mg. They have no web experience, we have no video experience. What is the best way(format) to deliver this video so that multiple people can view it in the quickest time possible. I don't know anything about streaming media but we do not have that capability. Also this has to be done fairly quickly and without investing dollars or having end users downloading all sorts of crap.
Thanks for your input!
If you only need to provide the video and not necessarily embed the file in a webpage WMV is your best bet, any windows machine will play it. You only have to upload the file to your server and point a link to the file. The player client side will take care of the "streaming", the difference between it and a real streaming server is they won't be able to fast forward.
The only thing more compatible that WMV is MPEG1 but that requires 4X the file size for comparable quality. It will play on almost any platform.
If you need to embed it use .flv and a flash player.
If you post some comments here or on my blog about the required resolution (WxH) of the video, source format and re#*$!ion, and maximum filesize required, I will be happy to give you some tips to get started.
[edited by: limbo at 11:41 am (utc) on Aug. 3, 2008]
[edit reason] Links contravene TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]
30mb for a 30 minute video = 133kbit per second. This isn't enough really for a high quality video, even using a modern codec such as h.264. You'll either have to reduce size to perhaps 240x180 or less, and decrease the frame rate to avoid substantial image artefacts.
30mb for a 30 minute video = 133kbit per second. This isn't enough really for a high quality video,
You can to some degree if you tweak it extensively. What I've done in the past is drop the framerate to 10FPS. this will produce some choppiness in the video but it's not that bad. If you go to 15 it's actually quite good but for my purposes I was trying to achieve the lowest bitrate possible and still have a large resolution. The less frames you have the less bitrate you need to keep the artifacts out of it. I prefer some chopiness over artifacts anyday.
Encoding using WMV I was able to use a resolution of 320x180, original was 16:9 aspect hence the odd resolution. Audio was set to 20kbps Mono. I only needed 50kbps for the video to keep atifacts to a bare minimum. Overall was 70kbps, considering the bitrate not bad at all and it will almost stream on a 56k dial up connection.
[edited by: tedster at 9:11 pm (utc) on Sep. 19, 2008]
Flash on the other hand has much better adoption which continues to be pushed as a result of sites like YouTube, and the vast majority of Flash Players out there are already H.264 compatible, which is a superior format to even VC-1 Windows Media ver 9.
Flash also gives you better control over the player interface which might be an issue with regard to graphic design.
On our site we have a 9 minute demonstration / promotional video. For this, we have
- A 33MB 448x336px F4V (MPEG-4 encoded with X264) [Flash]
- A 20MB 320x240px WMV (VC-1) [Windows Media]
- A 20MB 320x240px MOV (H.264) [QuickTime]
So the Flash averages out at ~ 60KB/s (500Kb/s) which I think is acceptable if broadband is assumed. Quality is the priority... I'm not interested in providing heavily compressed or reduced framerate video.
As far as usage stats are concerned, the Flash gets a bit over 2/3, with most of the remainder going to WM (sheeple seeing the Windows logo or word and just blindly clicking on it).
(The site audience is completely IT-unrelated, and non-technical).
In another year or so I believe the inline H.264 via Flash will be enough on its own and the multiple formats won't be necessary.
I recommend FlowPlayer for a very well written and customizable [free or licensed] SWF player.
It has good support for webmastery things like Google Analytics event recording (play/pause/finish etc), and also has good functionality for smooth inline upgrading of the Flash player if the user's version is too old.
Lastly, IMO you should definitely provide a simple link to a downloadable file, for those that don't want to watch inline embedded in a browser, or who want to leave it downloading on a slow connection. We provide this in the format of a higher resolution MPEG-4 file, with X264 video and AAC audio. I figure that folk bothering to download the file can figure out how to upgrade their systems to handle that, so it becomes the "power user" option.
Last comment on the actual process of encoding the video: a good place to learn about this is Doom9. If you don't have the time or don't care, I would suggest that you get a good subcontractor to do it for you, as it is not that easy to do it "properly". Make sure you find someone with a good resume of technical quality - there are lots of wannabes out there who think that Windows Media Encoder, or saving out from QuickTime Pro, or the encoder that comes with Flash is how you generate good web video!
It's not correct that WMV is the most compatibl......
Depends on the context of the use, in my original post I noted if you were using it as download link. If you're providing a download link and want it to be accessible by the most people in the world and the most practical as far as file size goes then WMV is by far the best choice. Simply put there is no other codec out there that will simply play on so many machines without the user having to do anything else. WMV9 can be played all the way back to something like the 6.4 player which can be installed on win 95.
Do you know any other codec that compresses as well as WMV and can be played on 90% of the machines produced in the last 12 years out of the box?
If you're a technical site such as the one you have described then you have some more options but if you're trying to deliver a file download to Joe six pack chances are if he can't play it when he clicks the file he's going to lose interest immediately.
The other choice and much more compatible across different platforms is MPEG1 but that requires 4X to 5X the bitrate so it's not very practical.
If you want to embed video in a page then certainly Flash is the choice.
You need to use the right tool for the job.