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Thanks for the kind words !!! The Wedding Videos are from videographers nationwide who use my service. A New Zealander and a Canadian recently started using my conversion service as I presented my products and services as a vendor at the WEVA show in Las Vegas, 2007. Yes, their work is really good; They spend their time being creative and selling this service so their clients can share this video with friends online. I transcode it for them so they don’t have to purchase software, learn it, spend time transcoding, worry about optimized file sizes or serving to the correct processor speeds like you are doing. X-D
Alright, on to the real work at hand. Being online you are trying to save bandwidth because eventually you will take this media off a public website like youTube and put it on your own branded server so you advertise yourself, not the few hundred people who are riding on your good work. You have to pay for other people consuming your media. Think of it like a telephone bill. A certain amount of minutes are free. Then after those are used up, you pay for any extra. Every kilobyte extra on your file is a kb you will have to pay for. As you begin serving gigabytes of video information your bandwidth bills will become hundreds of dollars a month, and that’s where the savings on kilobytes add to real dollar savings. If you aren’t worried about paying for bandwidth for any of this, consider your visitors bandwidth. Whatever you create they have to consume. If they can get a very similar experience without degrading quality at 1/4 the filesize you’re doing a good job as a computer developer by creating a tight, optimized file. Otherwise you get bloat. If you work on Windows then you are aware of bloatware in terms of software filesize. Like the newest versions of Windows or Vista requirements. Nice 4-8 Gb space taken for the files. Compare it to linux or any flavor of UNIX. Your user will appreciate your effort, even if they don’t realize the amount of time you put in, when they see a really fast loading, good looking file.
Starting from the left hand screen going down. Bump down the audio, to 32 kbps and make it mono. Doing this reduces your filesize. Use the Sorenson Spark Pro type of encoding to save your visitor processor speed. ON2 takes longer to encode but looks better. Unfortunately for the same settings, it also takes your visitor more processing power to DEcode your video. So to make it easier on your visitor in 2007 use Sorenson Spark Pro. Near the middle or end of 2008 when you feel the majority of your visitors have powerful enough processors that they can consume your media, burn CDs, watch youTube, check their IM, visit a few different websites on multiple tabs in their browser, have a file sharing application running, and the few dozen other things they are doing while they consume your media, play it safe for now and go easy on their video decompressing processor. While creators of media have powerful processors because they need to encode to Sorenson or ON2, most of your average visitors just want to check their email, see some good video, then get on with their life. So they don’t spend their money on getting the fastest processor.
You want dual pass to create a smaller filesize and optimized video, that’s why you purchased Sorensen’s software. Please don’t use this software and then choose 1-pass. You may as well not have the software; the major reason for spending the $249-449 is for dual pass encoding. The art of good compression is knowing how tightly you can compress. You have to play with the Data Rate, I can’t give you a solid answer on this option. For 2007 when about 70% of people are using broadband across the united states if your visitors are from the US the average bandwidth rates shared across multiple network downloads should be safely between 300 and 400 kbps. Dial up users are out of luck, they just won’t be able to consume your media at their 56kbps connections. But with the wide range of broadband available, from rural areas, libraries, shared connections, up to very high speed users, 300-400 kbps will be a good average range to meet 90% of your user needs. Some people will not be able to consume your media no matter what you do. It’s important to note that while you set separate encoding variables for audio and video, they add together to give you the total, so don’t forget to check what the top right number says, next to Total Data Rate. This is the data rate you are serving to your clients, the average your visitors need to be able to withstand, the pipes they need to have in order to view your media. If for a moment their wireless goes out or they are sharing bandwidth in the corporate office and a large Excel document floods the network or the online service is particularly slow that day and you serve a very large bitrate your file will become jittery. Play a bit, catch up, stop a bit, play some more, stop some more. So watch your total and optimize. Then check at a few dozen locations so that you’re well aware of how a differing audience consumes your media.
Another part of the art of creating great compression is knowing your user. I feel my users are average viewers. They don’t have amazing desktops or laptops, I serve media to average online video consumers who spend more time creating quality of life than quality of optimized, speedy computer. I serve media which is created for them, not for me. Height at 240 pixels. I vary my width to match the ratio of height. Corresponding to 4×3, that’s 320 x 240. If you’re using 16×9 footage, wide screen panoramic or 2.53:1 do the math and appropriately scale your pixel width to the appropriate height. For this option Sorenson does whatever you tell it, so do your fractions correctly. I think youTube is 4×3 aspect ratio; everything else is black bar’d.
Click maintain Aspect Ratio so that even if your mathematics is off Sorenson will be forgiving and at least come up with the correct aspect ratio. The frame rate should be 1:1, keep the keyframes a ratio of what your end footage frame rate is. If you’re shooting at 25fps your keyframes should be 25, 50, 100. The tighter you keep your frame rates, for example if you keep keyframes every 5 frames your file will get correspondingly larger. If your keyframes are at 100 you will save on filesize. But on the other hand the keyframes in flv media have to do with scrubbing. If you want to have your user accurately scrub across your timeline you will have to put a tight keyframe in. Again, this is art. Optimize for what you expect your user behavior. I keep my keyframes at 50 for static media or talking heads. If the entire clip is heavy motion I take the filesize hit and encode 25 frames; I’m basing my keyframe numbers on having 25fps. Using 30 frames per second for your video is 5 extra frames on the computer processor which may not add to your user experience. See if you can create your media at 25 frames per second.
I must give a great thanks to Video Maker at this point. I read one of their articles years ago on this very subject. If you can find that old issue of videomaker (sorry, I don’t recall the year or issue, probably a year or 2 years ago) they have some very good explanations for why to do these things, much better than I can give. After all, I’m no writer; I’m a practitioner of the art. I can say I am still perfecting the craft of online video encoding, but the experience and knowledge comes after having used enough variations to know what should work well.
Ah, I almost forgot. After all this, you finally have your FLV file. You can now upload it to youTube and check if it works there. If it doesn’t you have the happy job of redoing the compression settings to create your optimal media.
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