Hope this is in the right place, just wondering what everyone thought was the best format for displaying videos on the web? Our company has just had a short video made, and it's in .wmv, the trouble being that I don't believe Mac users will be able to view this..
I'm looking for a format that ticks all the boxes, i.e.
- Max. Compatibility
- Smallest File Size
- Best Quality etc.
Can anyone set me in the right direction, there are so many to choose from!
Well being as I am not a video export ha ha, far from all accounts, I cannot say what is the best. But what I can tell you is what I have used in the past and what I am currently using. I do a lot of custom system on the web for companies and after which I make them online video tutorials to view how to edit and use the systems. So I use a lot of online video.
I have tried a lot. For one I would steer clear of WMV. It by far is the smallest I believe. But as you said, completely incompatible with other things beside IE and windows. I have users that use windows, linux and MAC. I cannot say for sure if WMV plays on mac, don't have one. But I know it will not play on linux at all. I don't think opera runs it. And I don't know about firefox. Anytime I've tried to play a video WMV in firefox off a page it opens windows media player, so maybe I am missing a plugin of some sort.
But what I have found is this. FLV is normally larger than most, better quality and you can get lower bitrates with it than other format, especially if your running resolution on your videos of 320x240. But if you up it to 640x480 video size then FLV is much larger and cumbersome. I use mostly now adays MP4 format with h.264 compression. I would suggest using this. It is, besides FLV and WMV and MOV(which is the same thing as MP4 with h.264 compression), the only one that will stream in a flash player. I use mostly that MP4 with h.264 compression. Very nice quality and small size on the bigger resolutions, also very good on smaller res as well.
Then all you do is implement a good flash video player on your site, like JW Player, this is all I use.
Now to make MP4 stream you have to use something called a quickstarter program, that moves the ATOM from the end of the file to the front. Basically, I won't get into all the technical here, but that tells the player when to start playing either at beginning or end. MP4 by default plays at end, don't know why. So you need a small program to move the play parameter from back to front to allow streaming. And front what I know MP4 with the h.264 codec is the only MP4 that will stream, I could be wrong. But it doesn't matter, the h.264 is the best codec right now for quality and size. Actually a little testing and you can see for yourself, FLV format uses the old h.263 format. So it's essentially the same thing just newer.
To use a quickstart program for windows I suggest using this one:
That way it's streamable when you play it with flash player. Best way by far since everyone just about has flash on their browsers.
Also you might want a converter program, I would try the free one WinFF. Just select the MP4 format and the h.264 subformat. Also no matter what program your using to convert it, I would try many different settings. I have had a lot of good luck using a 100KB bitrate with MP4! Surprisingly, but very good luck. So start at 100 bitrate then go up until you get the size and quality you want of the video. And this is using 640x480 resolution also.
Sidenote: over the next few years, the video and audio tags for html5 will be used more and more where most videos will be either in ogg format or h.263 or even, possibly, the new format from On2 (recently purchased by Google).
I noticed a lot of people saying the same thing about streaming it with a flash player, and I agree, but you should still have a download link to the video for maximum compatibility.
Try this flash player: http://flowplayer.org/index.html
They provide tons of support and their player is free and fantastic. I'd reccomend it to anyone for use on their site. And, just in case, maybe you should re-render some of that video into mp4 format and provide another download link if you're really afraid about a mac user not being able to view your vids. (Silly Macintosh! Didn't you learn your lesson from all the watered-down software you're forced to provide?) But flowplayer should take care of all your issues.
Oh, and in response to jfreak53, I'm running Ubuntu 9.10 and I can stream .WMVs through firefox, chrome, vlc, movie player, and RealPlayer, so to say that WMVs are incompatible is a complete farce. However, you were correct in assuming that they are not cross-compatible with Macintosh computers because of their lack of support for drivers, encoders, and, well, almost everything.
Except flash won't play on the iPod, iPad or iPhone. Does it play on Mac?
H.264 provides the best quality but, as I said above, HTML5 video runs everywhere except IE, of course. You'll have to wait 2 years for that.
Ideally, you would serve two videos--one Flash player to cover all desktop clients and MP4 H.264 for mobile devices, which is quickly becoming the standard. When you wish to switch over to HTML5, presuming Mozilla don't get their way, it's simply a matter of deleting the FLVs.