Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Christos Gates and Video Encoding

How to encode video ? Yikes so many not always delicious options. It makes you wish that all these competitors in the player wars would decide like in that 60's song,to try " to smile on your brothers," and " get along with each other right now," with one set of specs. But hey, Woodstock's peace and love wavey gravy days are long past as the player wars heat up. Sigh says this aging hippie trying to adjust.

Full Disclosure

A full disclosure is maybe in order here. I sang Kumbaya but didn't do drugs.

Christo's Gates Encoded for Quicktime using reference movies

Above you'll see a " Streaming Message" (TM) clip I produced last year in a few hours after seeing Christo's Gates in the snow up in Harlem. I compressed it for three bandwidths and then created a reference script. I guess how it works is it pings your computer to see your bandwidth before playing. It doesn't seem to work if you have a Firewall however. And it looks funky in places. Tonight I will re-encode the clip using QT 7 and post the results for you to compare.

iTunes:One Billionth Download

Suddenly there's money in the arena of downloaded content. When big bucks are at stake the kids in the sandbox start duke it out in earnest rather than share toys. They're looking at Apple which announced that music fans to their iTunes Music Store

" have legally downloaded one billion songs from the iTunes Music Store since it launched less than three years ago. The billionth song “Speed of Sound” was purchased as part of Coldplay’s “X&Y” album by Alex Ostrovsky from West Bloomfield, Michigan."

Encode For All Three Players?

For the moment, I believe the short answer is " encode for all three" players...Flash, QT and Windows Media if you want to reach the largest number of folks. Take a look at this player skin Aquent uses for messages from one of its recruiters. They have encoded for Flash, Windows & Flash.

I like to compress my Quicktime movies using Flip 4 Mac so it can play on Windows Media players. Granted the video doesn't look as great as Quicktime but you can bet more people will play it and you will reach the largest amount of users with your video content. On my website the clip is encoded for both players and the Windows users far out number the QT users. In fact after looking at Aquent's player skin here, I have decided this is the way to go, all three.

Some say Flash indeed is the way to go, even if perhaps it's not as great as QT. I'll write about that later.

Ken McCarthy Weighs In
I opened up Ken McCarthy's always informative newsletter next. He was trying to answer this query. I had asked him the same question earlier, as have others in what he calls a real " horse race"...

Every format has enthusiastic fans who claim their way is THE way to encode video for the Internet.

If only it were that simple.

Flash and Apple have made impressive strides, but according to Jan Ozer, the author of a recent detailed study comparing online video formats, "rumors of the demise of other codecs have been greatly exaggerated. Here's his answer Jan Ozer's Press Release for Streaming Video Report

You can subscribe to Ken's great newsletter " Looking at Video On the Web" at his blog.

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