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!

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