TandM, Please alert your c



Please alert your client that their request may be an expensive one for them. Because it doesn’t just stop at producing the file, once created someone has to pay to deliver it. Tell them it’s like telephone minutes. Most people who use an average cell phone plan never reach the monthly limit. When you do most websites, you never reach your bandwidth limits because you’re only serving images and text. However for 2 hours of media delivery you very quickly eat up bandwidth. And someone has to pay for this bandwidth. So if you are doing a wedding and 500 people come to visit then someone’s going to pay. Similarly a corporate event with a thousand employees will be expensive to deliver media. But that’s their problem.

I do up to 2 hours for clients all the time; this kind of long format deliver has its special challenges which took me a lot of painful effort to learn and no one else had been through this, so I’ll give you some best practices I have come up with over the past 2 years. The largest number of people have flash players built into their computers. While flash is consistently above 90% penetration, Windows Media and Quicktime hover about 60-70%. Delivering in flash would mean you have the widest number of people who can recieve your media without upgrading or installing something. You are looking to use Sorenson Squeeze dual pass encoding to transcode your avi or quicktime edited, uncompressed file into your final delivery flash video flv file. I like on2vp6 but it takes nearly twice as long to encode the media. In the interest of time I use Sorensen’s compression scheme, not ON2. I use between 300 and 400 kbps for video, and less than 50 kbps for audio. I keep my height 240 pixels and keep the correct aspect ratio of the original media. Your final file will be much wider if you are shooting 16×9 than if you are shooting 4×3. Also, because this is the web you do not need to encode with any black bars into the borders of your online media.

As a web developer I realize that my viewers have computer processing limitations. The files I serve are not being consumed by the most high end computers with tech savvy users. My users are average people; they check email and the occasional online video. They are by no means computer gamers or video encoding specialists. So their computer processors can’t handle the decoding requirements of full screen h.264 or ON2 vp6. I know Apple computer wants to push their codec, and on2 looks great. It’s meant for tomorrows 8 processor computers. But it’s more important for most of my users to actually experience something they can consume. If I were serving to a mostly videographer community with dual processors and multi cores I would increase my quality by a lot. And I wouldn’t worry, because those specialist users could decode it with no problems. In the end what you save by using Sorensen’s codec is time. Pure and simple, you save time during the encoding process, and your web video viewers will save time as their computer decompresses your video while they are IMing, emailing, checking youTube, doing some Word documents, downloading music, and playing a game in the background. I know your video is important. But so are all the rest of what they are doing. And most likely they will continue to do those things in the background as they watch your video. So keep this in mind and be kind to your web users as you create your amazing media delivery. Serving media online requires lowered expectations from your own files.

There are many freeware flash players which you can find online. Your users will have to wait for the flv download to watch the edges of your 2 hour file. For example, when they first get to see your media they won’t be able to click onto one of your chapter markers for a section towards the end of your media because it has not loaded yet. So your users can only click or scrub whatever has fully loaded. Please altert them about this. Some people will log on and immediately try to check out the end of your video. Unless your client can afford a streaming server, this will not be possible.

To go from Premiere don’t let Adobe Premiere compress the file if you want quality. Premiere is an editing tool, not a compression tool. Export to raw file. For 2 hours you should be somewhere around 30-40Gb. Then bring this avi or quicktime media file into Sorenson Squeeze. Again, I use Squeeze for its speed and I give up a little on the quality. If I had twice the time to do every project and peoples computers were a lot more powerful I would think about using on2. Not today, maybe in 2 years time. On average for a 2 hour file from a 16×9 aspect ratio I am somewhere between 350 and 400Mb.

Please explain the math to your client. If 10 people watch the entire 400Mb, 2 hour media piece your client will pay for 4Gb of bandwidth transfer. If 100 people watch it, they are paying for 40Gb of bandwidth transfer. Clear these numbers with your ISP and their accounting department before you promise your client all is well. Most people I meet who want to do online media feel that once the file has been created, their job is over. As a web developer I realize that payments are just beginning at this point. If you don’t plan your growth it can be very expensive.

Videographers tend to keep their bitrates extremely high when creating files for the web. Used to creating DVDs at 5Mbps, some people I’ve spoken to feel 1Mbps is a good amount and they can create media for the web that way. But the average bandwidth for DSL is less than 500kbps download. There’s a lot of places to get stuck when creating anddelivering online media, just keep to minimal standards for the web.

Let us know what your file looks like when it’s finished and online; here’s a few of my live pieces, this will show you some of the quality average users can practically consume online:






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