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Old March 18th, 2009, 12:04 PM   #1
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Poll: Best HD codec for Web

What codec/settings do you use for HD over Web for customer downloads (not streaming or Vimeo) but for clients who physically host the clips on their site for their customers to download. I've been doing MP4 (H.264) since I figured more people would be able to play the files. A 6-7 minute video usually clocks in around 120 MB using the settings below.

I encode H.264, 2200 kbits/sec, 1280 x 720, Current frame rate, and I do single pass (for speed and smaller file size) right out of Final Cut using Quicktime conversion.

Everyone so far seems happy with the results, but I am curious to see how others are addressing similar situations. It always comes down to quality of the video vs. the size of the file and I want to make sure I am on track.

Thanks in advance.
Jeff
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Old March 18th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jeff Krepner View Post
I encode H.264, 2200 kbits/sec, 1280 x 720, Current frame rate, and I do single pass (for speed and smaller file size) right out of Final Cut using Quicktime conversion.

Jeff
I do the same only I use 5Mbps. Are you getting good quality with 2.2Mbps? What are you shooting with?

-Steve
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Old March 19th, 2009, 02:29 AM   #3
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H.264 is the best CODEC to use for quality/size reasons. The HD videos hosted on SmugMug. use 3.2 Mbps for 1280x720p & about 7 or 8 Mbps for 1920x1080p. Barkers Videos- powered by SmugMug I use multi-pass, I didn't notice overly longer processing time versus single pass but also I really didn't notice any difference in video quality either but figure that it is supposed to be better so I may as well use it.

Don't go for too high a bit rate otherwise your viewers with slow networks or slow computers will struggle to view the videos. For computer illiterates it gives a better impression with a smaller lower quality video that plays smoothly rather than a large pin-sharp one that stutters & is jerky.

Cheers

Nigel
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Old March 19th, 2009, 10:12 AM   #4
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Steve,

As the editor, I normally get 1080i HDV and 720p DVCproHD. The 2.2 Mbps 1280x720 yields an okay picture. I think I'm going to increase the data rate to see how much larger the files get and see how that effects work flow.

Do you use the MP4 wrapper or Quicktime? (is that the correct term--wrapper?)

Nigel,

Nice videos... I really want to go visit. Perhaps the lower airfares will get me there. I like the SmugBug interface, it makes it very easy to switch between low, medium, and high res videos. I assume you upload and then they convert to Flash for streaming?

In broad terms, do we see Flash video being streamed more and more as opposed to actually downloading files one at a time for viewing? In other words, sure a 250MB file looks great, but the download time can be off-putting. Does high quality (HD) streaming Flash ultimately provide a better experience for the end viewer vs. downloading files?

Thanks
Jeff
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Old March 19th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #5
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Nigel,

Nice videos... I really want to go visit. Perhaps the lower airfares will get me there.
Jeff, thank you for the kind words. I will pass it on to my wife who is the creative force & does all the editing. I am the technical side of the operation & worry about things like CODECs & bit rates so she doesn't have to:-) The videos are HDV shot on Canon XH-A1s.

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Originally Posted by Jeff Krepner View Post
I like the SmugBug interface, it makes it very easy to switch between low, medium, and high res videos. I assume you upload and then they convert to Flash for streaming?
It's actually H.264. Modern Flash players including the ubiquitous JW Flash player can all handle these variants of MPEG4 like .MOV, .MP4 etc. You upload whatever format you want as they can convert automatically just about anything. They have a upload limit of 500MB per file & in any case a smaller file is quicker to upload so I upload material at their target bit rate of 3.2Mbps for 1280x720p although I have as an experiment uploaded video using much higher rates.

I too really like SmugMug it is a very slick service that is not free but is designed for video/photo professionals. It's a far more impressive means of delivering our HD videos than using Vimeo or YouTube & worth the money ($150/year to upload & stream unlimited HD with a maximum length of 5-10 minutes. AFAIK they are the only place offering to host 1920x1080p & have the servers & infrastructure to handle it reliably. Offering the different video resolutions is important to us. I was with a customer yesterday who because of their network & computer cannot stream even 320x240 & we had to wait for the file to download before viewing. This morning I visited a customer who could easily stream the 1280x720p content. We need to cater for both extremes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Krepner View Post
In broad terms, do we see Flash video being streamed more and more as opposed to actually downloading files one at a time for viewing? In other words, sure a 250MB file looks great, but the download time can be off-putting. Does high quality (HD) streaming Flash ultimately provide a better experience for the end viewer vs. downloading files?
Streaming is definitely the way to go. Everyone expects it to work like YouTube & the days of waiting for a file to download before you could view it are long gone. I think that you want to stream in the highest quality possible that is realistically possible for your target audience. You can in addition offer the option of downloading an even higher quality file but this can cause needless confusion for those who are not tech-savvy.

Cheers

Nigel
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Old March 19th, 2009, 03:47 PM   #6
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Thanks again Nigel. I'll keep SmugMug in mind, that might be a good thing to have just for my own clients to proof videos. I agree the day of waiting for downloads is pretty much dead. I guess people would rather have the video pause here and there while buffering rather than actually downloading and then viewing the file.


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Old March 20th, 2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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We use the Telestream Flip4Mac WMV Studio Pro HD Quicktime Plug-In. When ever your in a Quicktime enabled program, you can simply export to Windows Media (WMV).

For the web, I choose one of the various presets that comes with the Plug-in. There are presets for Presentations (high,med, low), Broadband (high, med, low) and much more. From within Final Cut Pro, I can use Batch Export to convert a bunch of clips or a bunch of sequences to WMV. Or I can use Compressor if necessary. But most of the time, I just choose Export>Quicktime with Conversion within Final Cut Pro.

We've been sending WMV's to our clients for about 6 years now and not once has one of them not been able to play them. The only issue we have is that a few clients are now switching to Apple, so we either show them there they can download the free Flip4Mac WMV player or just send them an H.264 file.

Quality is great. Very close to the same quality as H.264 but slightly bigger files. 30 second commercials are small enough to simply email to them for approval. Longer format productions we upload to our server and send them the link to where they can view them within their browser (don't have to download and view).
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