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Old August 16th, 2010, 02:11 PM   #1
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Web Video Bandwidth & Bitrate Advice

So, I just had a meeting with the company that is designing our website New Cicero TV - Home Page . This is the almost-finished version.

They claim to have expertise in web video including having a trailer that can stream live video from events (mostly HS football games). However, they are telling us that our video needs to be encoded at 800Kb/s and 720x480 using H264. The dimension is what we want but I almost got into a heated argument with their president over the bandwidth and bitrate. Furthermore, their servers only 'Stream' the video rather than 'Progressive Download', which is what youtube, vimeo and almost everyone else uses. With their streaming, there is no way for someone to watch a decent quality video and have a good experience if their internet bandwidth isn't fast enough. So, a viewer cannot hit play, then hit pause and wait a minute or two for it to download, and then hit play again in order to have a good viewing experience - this is totally unacceptable.

Sorry for the rant but I had to get it off my chest.

So, my question is what bitrate do you consider 'acceptable' and 'good' for a website which has ONLY one purpose - provide video?

Thanks
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Old August 16th, 2010, 10:12 PM   #2
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Depends on your content

At that screen size, for a talking head video and speech only audio you need about 3-500Kbps video and 48-64Kbps audio.

But if your content is fast moving (sports for example), you have to pump 2-2.5Mbps video and 128Kbps audio for high quality.

Obviously, if you go over 1.5Mbps total, you exclude lots of viewers, everyone with slower internet (basic DSL).
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Last edited by Ervin Farkas; August 17th, 2010 at 05:14 AM. Reason: Typo corrected
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Old August 17th, 2010, 01:39 AM   #3
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I can't see anything wrong with their specs at all. They fall right in line with industry standard numbers. I do corporate streaming at my office and this is more bandwidth that we allot for 480p video (we use 768k), though we aren't doing high motion work.

And by the way, streaming video saves a LOT of headaches with digital rights so I can totally understand their decisions.

Spend some time at ESPN.com, CNN.com, and other similar sites with streaming video and check the content bit rates and sizes. I think this will be enlightening for you.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 01:56 AM   #4
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There won't be many talking heads at all. 80% or more will be events with enough motion that 800kb/s looks like garbage. The main draw will be the large concert-type events and sports related activities.

The stuff on espn and the like are highlight videos where people come to watch something short or see a quick clip as part of an article. Our site is solely a video playback site.

The reason I hate this 'streaming' idea is because there is no way for someone to easily watch an entire video unless their internet bandwidth is high enough. With progressive download, just about anyone can watch an entire video without stuttering.

Perrone, can you further explain your comment about Digital Rights and Streaming?
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Old August 17th, 2010, 02:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post
Perrone, can you further explain your comment about Digital Rights and Streaming?
If you allow progressive download, you are essentially caching a copy of the video on the end users machine. If they like, they can save that cached file for their own uses and purposes. Not really a lot you can do about it.

With streaming, it's a lot harder for the casual user to save a copy. Clearly it can be done, but it's more difficult.

In our office we stream the following:

1. "Corporate news bulletins"
2. Re-purposed TV with rights
3. Legal proceedings that originate at our building
4. Misc. other things.

Some of that information we do NOT want to live on our users machines. Either because we don't want them taking it home with them, or the information is transient and can change at any time. And we don't want to fight old versions. But I control our streaming services in house.

If you are really unhappy with your choices from these streaming folks, then use someone else. Or do it in-house like we do. Either use Microsoft's free server, or buy Silverlight, or look into Apples solution if you are a Mac shop.

I understand your arguments and can see both sides. It's your site, so take control of it.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 08:26 PM   #6
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I should get my way and have at least two choices for viewers to select - a low bitrate and a higher bitrate.



Please tell me how the 800kb/s looks 'good'.

How can I have respect for a web design company who tells me that we need only one option for video quality and its extremely low quality!
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Old August 18th, 2010, 09:04 PM   #7
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Are you sure it's 800 and 3000?

I see no difference...

Regarding 'respect'... they know webdesign, you know video. Either you put your foot in the door and tell your boss they are butchering your video and you should not be held responsible for that, or go ahead and design the site yourself and have full control.

For this same reason I never post anythign on Youtube, Vimeo or any other site, but exclusively on my own site - so I can have full control.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 09:30 PM   #8
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How can't you tell that its 800kbs? There is a HUGE difference. The 800kbs is seriously blocky. I used 2 pass VBR and Max Render Quality on both.

They 'claim' video to be an expertise and even have a production crew and a trailer capable of multi-cam live internet streaming.
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Old August 21st, 2010, 07:35 PM   #9
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Definately see a big different in quality. 3000kb very sharp. 800kb is poor quality.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 06:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post
How can't you tell that its 800kbs? There is a HUGE difference. The 800kbs is seriously blocky. I used 2 pass VBR and Max Render Quality on both.

They 'claim' video to be an expertise and even have a production crew and a trailer capable of multi-cam live internet streaming.
Here is a screen capture from both videos, exactly the same frame. Now you tell me if there is any difference. I only see a slight difference if I go full screen, nothing at this resolution.
Attached Thumbnails
Web Video Bandwidth & Bitrate Advice-capture.jpg  
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 11:29 AM   #11
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You can't compare the quality of video by taking a single frame from each. Just hit play and you will see all the 'blockiness' of the 800kb/s video. The sky looks like it is moving due to the artifacts.

Btw, this exact same problem of comparing single frames came up in the nanoflash forum where they were comparing 35Mb to 100, 180 & 220 Mb/s. Only when they hit play, some were able to see a 'sheen' caused by moving noise.

I should have mentioned that I upload the H264 video via sftp and they setup their servers to accept the video without transcoding. They are also adding direct FLV support.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 02:48 PM   #12
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Do you have a way of downloading the actual footage? You probably don't...

They may have promised no transcoding, but there should be a HUGE difference between 800Kbps and 3Mbps. The fact that a difference is barely visible is a clear indication that they did in fact transcode your footage.

Do this: clear your IE cash and on this very page start downloading both videos at the same time. Watch the slider moving - they both move in sync.

Translation: both videos are the same bitrate.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 03:15 PM   #13
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Ummm...what? These videos are on vimeo. If you have a Plus Vimeo account, I am setting them up to allow downloading of the original clips, which is what I uploaded to Vimeo.

I don't understand how or why you can't see a difference but everyone else can. Hit play and just watch the sky - the blue in the sky 'moves' only in the 800kb video.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 05:13 PM   #14
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I see quite a difference in quality (as Steve says, probably most noticeable in the sky, but look at the flags, or any edges in the images...), but I'd be surprised if the average YouTube watcher would care about the difference :-). (Not implying here that Steve's audience couldn't easily see the difference...).
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Old August 24th, 2010, 04:57 PM   #15
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OK, I concede.

I was probably looking for a huge difference... I thought that four times higher bitrate should yield differences you can spot from a mile away...
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