Eenie Meanie Minie Moe- Pick a Video By The …

On a few project front I am wrestling with trying to pick the “best” web video format. Some have boiled it down to selecting the “elusive” best format.

In my previous work at Maricopa, e.g. for our digital storytelling collection, I had settled on providing video as streaming Quicktime, .mov, (we had an X-serve server running QuickTime Streaming) and streaming Windows Media, /wmv, (one of our colleges provided us some streaming space on their Helix server). Late in the game, we added as an addition, iPod video versions (.m4v) as a podcast. Long, long ago I was also encoding video as Real Video, but that n was dropped with nary a complaint.

SO now on my new Second Life project for NMC and looking at our other NMC video content, i am trying to sort out the best strategy, finding it as clear as Mississippi mud. Most people have a preference based upon what they currently are using. I am in that camp, and would just as soon use QuickTime, since it does produce high quality video that runs on both platforms. Yes, Windows Media can play on Macs, though I still stumble across web pages with embedded WMVs that cry for a plugin that does not exist on a Mac. Others suggest MPEG-1 as the most widely available, or MPEG-4 (.mp4) as the future. Or is it really time to go down the Flash road, as most of the major web video sites play back content?

And my experiments with the QuickTime export to iPod formats result in movie files that are triple the size of my .mov. Initially, I was trying to set up my site so QuickTime and maybe WMVs were available as download links, while the m4v would be the file referenced in the podcast feed. But since iTunes and iPods can deal with .mov and .mp4, I am wondering why I would bother creating the .m4v files? Especially when they end up fatter and no better in quality.

When I was at Maricopa, I had a copy of(what is now) Autodesk Cleaner, a nifty package in its day for batch converting video across many formats. The bad news is a new copy will set you back $599, quite a chunk of change. For work that needed doing immediately, I have tried a copy of Popwire WMV-9 Component, which adds WMV playback and export capability to any app that uses QuickTime, so I have been able to convert some .dv and .mov video to .wmv (but now wondering am I hurting anyone’s playback by using WMV-9). It seems to work well, and works as a Universal app on my MacBookPro. And Popwire cost my only $49, quite a savings. With a bit of Automator effort, I can have it batch processing files. Sweet.

From things I read elsewhere, I am hearing that Popwire is not as versatile as Flip4Mac, which is still not ready for prime time on the Intel Macs. I’m ready to take a peak when it is out.

I am far from a video expert, and the nuances of co-decs, frame rates, and other obscure settings are beyond me now. I am curious as to what some more knowledgeable folks out there have to say. Is Flash video the best direction?

So many acronyms, so little time.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.