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Old December 2nd, 2004, 12:59 PM   #1
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Question re problems with .wmv for Macs

Has anybody encoded .wmv and had success with it playing (i.e., without a hitch) on the Mac version of Windows Media Player? Here's what I'm having trouble with:

On my Powerbook I got audio only, no picture. I upgraded to the latest Player for Mac, and voila... I had picture. Until, about 30 seconds into it. Doesn't matter which of my trailer versions you open (I have three diff. file sizes up), everything freezes. I tried changing buffer settings around, but it didn't help.

On my desktop (PC), all the versions play beautifully. But owing to the nature of the documentary, I may well have famlies with old PC's or Macs trying to view it, in addition to (hopefully) those I'm trying to market it to. So I wanted both platforms to be able to watch.

I was going to throw up a Quicktime version, but I've had trouble getting one that was a small enough file size and didn't look horrible.

Suggestions?
Marcia
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Old December 2nd, 2004, 02:31 PM   #2
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Have you tried RealVideo? How does that play? I don't have a Mac so I can't test it myself, but you might want to try it.

And I'm with you on the QuickTime file size. I have experienced the same thing. A QuickTime file is about four times the size of a similar bit rate Windows Media or RealVideo file.
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 05:50 PM   #3
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the quicktime 'net codecs are all inferior to wmp9, but it shouldn't be by anywhere near a factor of 4... the problem with qt codecs like sorenson is that you have to pay $$$ for the software to be able to encode their best quality... but you can get wmp9 for free from microsoft.

the bottom line here is that pc operating systems make up around 96% of the desktop computers on the 'net, so worrying about macs on the 'net isn't worth the effort, unless your target market is, say, college students, or a group of people using more macs than average.

when encoding web video on a mac, be careful of the gamma settings, because macs use different gamma than pcs do... and it gets a lot more complicated with all the lcd vs crt monitors on the market now.
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 06:40 PM   #4
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Dan, I'd be careful about the 96% of net users stat are PCs. First, if you encode a file requiring WMP9, you won't be even hitting all PC users as this is a really recent version. Second, if you compare home user percentages of Mac vs. PC instead of all (which includes businesses), the percentage of home Mac users is somewhere around 15%-25% of people on the net (depending on what study you look at) as there is a huge percentage more of Mac users on the net at home than PC users. Third, if your target audience is very media savvy and in a related field the percentage of Mac users goes up even higher.

So to say that a group isn't worth the effort can be a dangerous assumption to make. Who is your target audience?

I don't use the encoder you are talking about, but you might try making the file more backward compatible and you will have more luck on the Mac side. Windows Media Player on the Mac really doesn't get much attention from Microsoft as it is a free piece of software, so you might be better off tweaking a QT file. Try adjusting the key frame rate and see if that help keep your file size down with decent quality.
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 07:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
it shouldn't be by anywhere near a factor of 4
My mistake. The problem is the data rate adjustment in Premiere Pro seems wildly inaccurate when encoding to QuickTime, so I was doing it by trial and error, encoding a file, then opening it in QuickTime to check the data rate. I wasn't paying attention that QuickTime was reporting the data rate in Kilobytes per second, not Kilobits per second. There's quite a difference, as I discovered once I researched the matter.

I'll have to do some more testing now.
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Old December 4th, 2004, 03:03 AM   #6
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When looking to put web video clips on our site, I too came across the problem.... WM9 vs QT...

Well a quick look at the connection stats on our website showed that only 2% of the people viewing it did so on a Mac...

I was Mac based for 15 years and still prefer them... but you have to go with the evidence... it's a PC world. So I got a PC.

The biggest hassle I had was getting the videos to stream.. QT done on a PC just wouldn't have it, yet the same file streamed fine off a Mac... Same the other way round Mac generated WMV files just downloaded before starting to play..

Finally the other issue seemed to be file size. QT from a PC produced much larger files than the same film compressed in WMV....

For 2% viewing Mac was unfortunately dropped.

All my vids were compressed with PremPro as WM9 and even play on my dad's Windows 98 PC.

Regards

Gareth

Still longing for a G5
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Old December 4th, 2004, 09:32 AM   #7
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Gareth,

Get the G5 :)

Any way, I use Macs exclusively and produce material for users who mostly use pc's. I'd be interested to see if anyone posting to this subject using a pc has trouble viewing the videos at indecisionthemovie.com.

They are all QT files produced on an FCP/Mac edit station for a client that has no Macs. I've found QT to be the most cross platform compliant media player thus far.
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Old December 4th, 2004, 12:03 PM   #8
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Hi Dave

I agree.... I'm a Macintosh man... and if I worked alone I'd be on a G5...

Unfortunately there are other compatibility issues witrhother than video.. articles in word, graphs in XL etc... now the Mac handles everything no problem... but try outputting an XL graph or word doc for a PC and emailing it... 9 times out of ten the pc can't open it..

So here I am on a PC... and let's face it XP has ripped so much from Mac that Mac users aren't lost on modern Pc's any more... And Premiere Pro is a cool editing software....

Oh! by the way..... the quality of your clips was excellent on my PEE CEE played perfectly and looked better than my WMV files. Loved the Hammond organ.... LOL

But I always knew you were right but it's still a PC world .mediocrity rools....

LOL

Cheers

Gareth
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Old December 4th, 2004, 02:16 PM   #9
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mark, this subject was discussed out here months ago, and we posted all the relevant stats info... you need to do a search, and update yourself on the state of the internet in 2004.

i realize that the reality of overall mac o.s. penetration on the 'net is a bitter pill to swallow for mac fanatics, but the present situation is a direct result of steve jobs stopping the licensing of the mac o.s... the incredibly successful microsoft business model was right there in front of him, but he chose a different path.

i personally like the way qt functions from a web video standpoint, but it is rather invasive at the user level... when you install qt on a pc, it automatically executes "qttask.exe" every time you start up the computer.

you can get rid of that function with spybot, but every time you use qt, it'll re-install that program to execute at every bootup.
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Old December 4th, 2004, 04:18 PM   #10
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To answer Marcia's question, forget the .wmv files and use QT which is easy to encode in a format that's cross platform.

To do so, either open your FCP movie in FCP or QT Pro and choose File Export. Choose Movie to QuickTime Movie in the Export dropdown and DSL/Cable - Medium in the Use dropdaown.

Next select Options and under video click the Settings button to open the Compression Settings. Choose MPEG-4 Video (this does NOT create an MPEG-4 file), Quality-Best, frames per sec 15, keyframe every 150 frames, Limit data rate to 50 KBytes/sec. Click OK and then under Size set it at 320x240 for 4:3 or 428x240 for 16:9. Audio settings can be set low if you desire. Click Prepare for Internet Streaming and choose Fast Start-Compressed header.

This works for me and my windows friends as well.
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Old December 4th, 2004, 04:20 PM   #11
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Thanks all for the responses. Interesting reading. But all this .wmv and .mov stuff brings up another question... where do you get the little miniature icons people use on their web sites to link to their files (like my trailer)? The only things I've found on the Apple and Microsoft sites are the larger ones that you're required to link directly back to their software download pages.

Pretty amazing when you start reading what Apple and Microsoft have up for "use" requirements. For example, I had just typed (under my "Download" button) .wmv or .mov But it turns out that Microsoft specifically forbids "simply referencing the file's three-letter extension," and says you must refer to it as "a Windows Media-formatted file." Gee, that's not wordy or anything.

So that brings me back to tracking down the little icons to click in place of their long winded mandate.

Anybody?

Marcia

P.S. Dave, really like both your web page and trailer. No problems on my PC either.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 01:01 PM   #12
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are you referring to some sort of license agreement? i don't recall seeing that before.

what dave has failed to mention is that windows pc's do NOT come with quicktime installed on 'em... but all windows pc's do come with windows media player installed.

so every single person who wants to see the qt files on dave's website will have to download qt first... unless your content is really compelling, a lot of people will leave before having to go thru that hassle.

dave is looking at what's easy to encode for mac users, but that is a poor choice of priorities... the only thing that matters is what it will take to get your message across to as many people as you can.

you might want to consider putting both formats out there, but don't ignore windows media.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 01:55 PM   #13
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Many windows pc's do come with QT installed. It's not acurate to say that none do. Many people install QT when installing other windows apps as those apps rely on QT to opperate and is included in the installation.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 04:29 PM   #14
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I use both Macs and Windoze machines but vastly prefer my Macs. As soon as I buy Logic I will retire the P.O.S. PC's. Originally purchased to run Maya, Authorware and Cakewalk Pro Audio, but now I have Maya for Mac, switched to iShell (because of Macromedia's stupid licensing requirements) for OSX and am switching to Logic because of stability problems with Windoze (but don't know if I need Express or Pro). (all of my video work is done on the Mac with FCP and yes I have tried tons of PC programs as well)
I hate WMP because it is so unstable, meaning, not only does it not work very well on the Mac but I even have problems with it on different PC's. As a professional who at times needs to look at Demo Reels and samples on the web, if there isn't a QuickTime version, I'm gone to the next one.

Just keep that in mind. Who's your audience? Sure you might have 96% of your viewers on Windoze machines but if the other 4% are people in creative fields (ie: distributors, studios, talent scouts and so on) and they don't want to hassle with another half-ass working WMP, you just wasted your time.
So if all you want to do is make the masses have an easier time by using WMP, then you're on the right track. If you are making this available on the web to help with funding or promotions, you might want to look at it a little closer.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 07:33 PM   #15
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Looking at the install base of a platform or of visitors to a site is flawed. If you were honest and acted based on install base, you would have to use Flash because it's on as close to 100% of computers on the web as you can get.

Just because a visitor to a site is running Windows doesn't mean they don't have Real or Quicktime. You have to look at the installed format of your visitors which you can't. Inferring the format based on platform is erroneous.

What you can look at is data on how many player downloads there are and what formats are actually streamed on the web (i.e. what formats are actually used).

Last numbers I saw where in June that showed QuickTime and WM at about 38% of the streamed media market (i.e. streamed content on the web) with Real being the rest. WMV9 was some portion of the WM number and as others mentioned a poor performer on some Windows machines as well as Macs. There's more streamed QuickTime than WMV9.

From what I know of player installs, there's more QuickTime for Window players out there than there are Macintosh computers. But of all the formats, Flash is probably the most pervasively installed player on the web.

We produce 40 minutes of web video a week. When we used a standard web server, we used Flash. Now that we have a streaming server, we use MPEG4 because it delivers the most reliable and uniform performance without regard to a visitors choice of platform. This becomes even more important for streaming to wireless devices where format is dictated by the ISO standard (which is MPEG4).

The Sorenson Squeeze tools are very good at making great looking MPEG, QuickTime, Flash, and others. There are inexpensive versions for specific formats that are worth every dollar so if you want to kick it up a knotch, get Sorenson Squeeze.
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