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Old January 9th, 2009, 01:41 PM   #1
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A dilemma mpeg4 vs WindowsMedia

I sit at an odd crossroad and I'd like some thoughts from the users here.

My dilemma is whether to standardize on mpeg4/AVCHD for my work, or go with Windows Media. Both have numerous pluses and minuses.

For work purposes, we stream both live and on demand with Windows Media Server, so at least for work purposes, I am in bed with Microsoft. However my home projects are another matter.

Mpeg4 is all the rage right now. Everything seems to be swinging this way. So why even think about WMV?

WMV Advantages:

1. The VC-1 codec is a true SMPTE standard, and Windows Media 9 codec is compliant.
2. The Windows Media Encoder is a true professional tool and it's FREE.
3. I could encode multi-rate files OUTSIDE of my NLE. And I could do it in batch.
4. WMV has FAR more market penetration right now than mpeg4. There's a TON of PCs out there and they all have WM Player on them.
5. No compatibility games. Either you can play wmv or you can't. Mpeg4, well maybe maybe not. Maybe you have mpeg4 wrapped in .mov, or maybe it's a .mp4 file, or maybe even AVI.
6. The codec is VERY clean when you give it adequate bandwidth.
7. The VC-1 codec has been used on some of the best looking BluRay's out there. It's good.

The drawbacks obviously is that it's Window's native and windows centric. Mac's can't see it natively, but with Flip4mac, it's a non-issue.



Going to Mpeg4 offers a few advantages:

1. It's platform agnostic. Encoders and decoders are available freely for both Windows and Mac, and perhaps even Linux and others.

2. It makes really nice files!

3. Many cameras are using it natively which could reduce transcoding.



So what are you guys doing who deliver on the web?? Have you fought these battles? Have you seriously considered Windows Media or just run with the herd and gone to mp4?

I am going to be doing some low, medium, and high bitrate tests next week to see what I get, but I'd love to hear from others on this.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 03:22 PM   #2
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As a mac user I think WMVs are evil. I have flip4mac now, but they stutter most of the time (they are better in VLC but still slow to respond). And then with mp4, I don't even know why I can play those -does that come with quicktime or did I install a codec? At least they are less prone to stutter for me during playback.
Also if you have the pro version of flip4mac, when you open a wmv you have to watch some status bar and wait a while for it to open. That's really lame.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 08:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
So what are you guys doing who deliver on the web?? Have you fought these battles? Have you seriously considered Windows Media or just run with the herd and gone to mp4?
For me, the overriding concern is audience compatibility. I have no hard data, but anecdotal information tells me that Flash is the player most commonly installed on desktop and laptop computers of the world. Second is the QT player. It's for crap with large size files on the PC. But it works well with highly compressed h.264 files.

If you want to reach the widest audience, h.264 is the ticket.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 09:06 PM   #4
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If you want to reach the widest audience, h.264 is the ticket.
You know, Tripp, I never got so many complaints from my Windows friends as when I started using H.264. "Your video won't play". So I upload wmv, and silence. No one has trouble.

I don't want it to be true, cause I love the quality of Quicktime files with H.264, but I just don't think the penetration is there for it yet. Perhaps for Flash files using the H.264 codec. I'll have to try that next.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #5
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You know, Tripp, I never got so many complaints from my Windows friends as when I started using H.264. "Your video won't play". So I upload wmv, and silence. No one has trouble.

I don't want it to be true, cause I love the quality of Quicktime files with H.264, but I just don't think the penetration is there for it yet. Perhaps for Flash files using the H.264 codec. I'll have to try that next.
funny, about a year ago i would have agreed with you, but lately no one has complained, i have flip4mac pro studio or whatever they call it for the odd request for a hd wmv file, but i haven't used it much lately.....
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Old January 10th, 2009, 01:32 AM   #6
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It's a sticky problem no doubt. Obviously at work it's WMV. We have no Macs in the entire organization. For BluRay delivery, no one would know the difference anyway. But honestly, WMV penetration outstrips quicktime by quite a large margin. It's different with us video folks, but every joe blow with a Dell or HP or Vaio has Windows Media Player.

Flash is more prevalent, but there are no solid encoders for free that I can find. The delivery of h.264 inside Flash is wonderful though.

I guess I'll try both for a while and see how it goes. I'm editing in quicktime which is a paradigm shift. It just seems I NEVER hear about WMV/VC-1.
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Old January 11th, 2009, 01:21 PM   #7
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If people can watch apple videos they should be able to watch your .h264 right? That audience is wide enough if you like the codec. What I hate is the .mp4 extension instead of the .mov.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 02:36 PM   #8
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For online playback, best option is mp4 playing behind the Flash player - no platform compatibility problems, but it has it's own issues on older computers, since the local computer has to do some pretty hard work to decode the H.264 file, especially if you go HD.

For download it's a different story.

Which one do you need, Peronne?
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Old January 12th, 2009, 02:55 PM   #9
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Honestly, I was hoping to standardize on just one.

Download, streaming, upload to Youtube/Vimeo/ExposureRoom, etc. H.264 seems to be a bit more problematic in that regard. With the WM Encoder, I could set up a 768k SD version and a 5Mb 720p and call it a day.

I was just hoping that WMV playback on the Mac was reasonable so that Mac users could use the files. I am staying away from flash because I don't have a decent encoder for it, and I am not about to buy one. The WMV seems the next most prevalent in terms of users who could see the videos. For youtube/vimeo/etc., the file will be converted anyway so not too much to worry about there.

Is WMV a showstopper for Mac folk, or just not optimized?
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Old January 12th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #10
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I would then stay with mp4/H.264.

- If you want to stream yourself, mp4 plays fine behind the Flash player.
- For Youtube etc upload, mp4 works also very well, as I am sure you've seen my post on the topic.
- Dowload - chances are, the people who want/need to use your video file for processing, or even for just viewing, have the right setup regardless of their computer platform. On the PC, QT Alternative and the included MediaPlayer Classic works wonderfully.

And batch conversion is what MPEG Streamclip does at it's best, so you can set it up and go home... and have all of your files neatly put in their folders in the morning. To me, it's rock solid and the highest quality, as proven by my own tests. Oh, and it's free too.

As of January 2009 I strongly believe this is your best option. I personally got calls from people having issues with WMV on the Mac platform, and I don't expect either MS or Apple to fix compatibility issues any time soon, as both are trying hard to push their own product. Yes, the players are out there, but WM is a hit-and-miss on the Mac just as QT is a 'now it's here, now it's not' on the PC...
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Old January 12th, 2009, 03:15 PM   #11
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It's just never simple is it?

*Sigh*, I'll either live with the mp4 conversions or provide both.
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