Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chosing the right FLV Media Player - Flowplayer vs JW FLV Media Player

Now that you've created a video in a format that over 97% of all computer users can view, it's time to make the player for that video. When you use a program like ON2 Flix or Sorenson Squeeze, that program creates a file in a .flv format. See my previous post for more information about chosing a video format.

In order for computers to play this on the web, you need to get a wrapper for that .flv file called a .swf (shockwave flash)

I need to prefice this entry by telling you that I am by no means an expert at html, web design or even graphic design. There are people out there that do this for a living and know way more then I do, however like the true independent filmmaker, I try to do as much myself as I can.

I have limited knowledge of dreamweaver and html. Javascript scares me and I know when to call an expert. My journey of creating these files for our film lead me to three places.

The first was with the .swf players that came with dreamweaver. I was able to figure out relatively easily how to embed a movie and load all the proper files on to our web server. There are two problems with the players that come with dreamweaver.

To see the original video click here.

The first as you can see is the volume control. It's default is in the middle so depending on the computer, the volume is too low. Initially I had to crank up the volume in the original video which seems to be a backwards way of doing this.

The second problem is that you can't view the video on full screen.

I've seen players on the web with volume controls that are defaulted in the high position as well as players that allow for full screen access so I looked for these.

The two that I have had some experience with is flowplayer

& JW FLV Media Player

Summing up the differences, Flowplayer allows you to do a lot more things that are useful including things like adding google analytics, have the option to embed your video with the code generated for others to post you video to their site, e-mail to a friend, etc.

JW FLV Player is super easy to set up and with the setup wizard that they have on their site, almost anyone with basic html skills can get this player going.JW FLV Media Player Setup Wizard

By simplying filling in a form, the code is automatically generated for you and you can just copy that code into the appropriate part of you web site and you are done. Setting up this player took only a matter of minutes and you are set with a player that is slick, allows fullscreen and is relatively inexpensive.

Both players are free to try but if you are going to make money from it (which is our goal right), they require a commercial license, flowplayer is $75 for one website, JW FLV Media Player is 20 Euros (about $27.86 at the time of this writing).

I chose JW FLV Player for Slow Down and Fast because it was the easiest and cheapest to set up. I wanted to get our video up for fullscreen watching and I wanted the player to disappear once the video started playing for a couple of seconds. JW FLV Media Player does both of these.

I'm sure Flowplayer is a great player but he extra money that is needed to buy a commercial license didn't seem worth all the extra work and time for this particular project.

Until then,

Happy Promotion
Blind Lyle Films

See the film I'm promoting now for only $3.99 and support my journey. The more success I have, the more I can share!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Video Formats for the Web

Video Formats for the Web

Today I wanted to touch on the various types of video formats for the web and why ultimately I choose the one format I did for our film.

As many of you know there are many different ways to compress your film for the internet. It seems like there are new ones coming out all the time.

The top formats are Flash, Windows Media Player (WMP), Real Player, and Quicktime. Your final choice should depend on your market as well as your goals for distribution.

As I learn more about various formats for mobile media, I'll post a blog telling you about what I've learned. At this moment, I'm experimenting with some but our film isn't available yet on an iPod or iPhone.

As tempting it is to have many different choices to get as many possible viewers, simplicity for me ultimately won and I chose the most universally available player Flash. When customers have too many choices, they short circuit. They want the best and most obvious choice available to them easiest.

Most of us as filmmakers have the ability to create .mov files (quicktime), .avi files (quicktime or wmp) as well as many others depending on your editing software. The problem with these formats is that not every computer user has the appropriate software loaded on their computer. Yes it's hard to believe that every computer user out there doesn't want the best experience possible and isn't spending all their time watching everything on the web.

If you are on a PC, there is a good chance that your computer doesn't have Quicktime. (I don't know what they are doing without Apple Trailers).

If you are on a mac, you need either flip4mac or you may need to download windows media player from the darkside in order to view .wmv files.

The bottom line is that if your audience needs to install software to watch a movie/video, there is a really good chance that you will decide to pass on that film and do something else (Example: In order to watch the 2008 Olympics Online users had to install Microsoft's Silverlight)

Thanks to youtube, just about everyone has flash video player installed on their computer. If not, chances are that person isn't going to watch your film or their computer is so old that they can't.

The problem is that most of us don't have a way to compress our movies into that format.

The two best solutions I found out there are

1. ON2 Flix Pro

Buy On2 Flix Now! $249
On2 Flix Affiliate button

Trust me, you'll need to buy the Pro version in order to get all the compression tools that you'll need like 2 pass video encoding and the ability to deinterlace your video. I'll try to cover some very basic video compression settings in another post. If you buy from this link, I get a couple of bucks, thanks.

2. Sorenson Squeeze $499 but I think you need to spend more to get the plugin that will allow you to convert your video to flash. This is a great program that allows you do a lot, but it is more complicated and more expensive. I believe this program is the program of choice for video compressionists. Honestly, I don't have as much experience with this program.

I've searched for free programs that will allow me to convert a .mov to .flv (flash file) but was unsuccessful.
Once you've created a .flv file, the next trick is finding a .swf wrapper to play the file. In my next entry I'll talk about the various players out there and the one's that I've used. Each one has different pros and cons and I'll help you sort through the choices.

Until then,

Happy Promotion
Blind Lyle Films

See the film I'm promoting now for only $3.99 and support my journey. The more success I have, the more I can share!