Our Tips for Shooting Web Friendly Video that Compresses Well

When it comes to bringing an attractive video experience to your website, the real star is of course the video itself. If your videos look attractive, viewers will be more engaged, and less likely to navigate away. Not only do quality videos look better, they will also compress better, which helps with two important factors - you save on video delivery costs, and smaller files mean your viewers need less bandwidth to watch the videos smoothly.

Here are a few tricks for making your videos look and sound as good as possible. Web friendly video should be easy to compress, and continue to look good even after it has been encoded to a low bitrate.

Supporting Mobile Video on Your Site

One of the most often asked questions when discussing transcoding is How do I support iPads, iPhones, Blackberries and Android phones?. The goal of this blogpost is to remove some of the mystery behind transcoding for devices and present a solution that will work across a wide range of them.

The Problem

Many popular video formats, like FLV or WMV, will not play on devices like the iPhone. Even videos encoded in MP4 may not play back, resulting in the following screen:

iPhone Error
Error playing video on an iPhone

Browser Video Codec Support – Does it Matter?

The Google Chrome team recently announced it would drop support for the H.264 video codec. Dropping H264 is beneficial for Google in several ways: it may help Google's WebM format gain additional traction in the market and solidifies Google's stance as a supporter of open media formats in the WebM versus H264 debate, as most of Google's other properties (including YouTube) still support H264.

Shortly after the announcement, a truckload of blog posts popped up, explaining the impact this would have on the adoption of WebM over H264. A couple interesting reads:

FOMS: Funny Name, Serious Talk about HTML5, Bitrate Switching, WebM, and WebSRT

Last week, in the midst of our normal support requests and software development, we found a way to squeeze in a little extra time to attend the Open Video Conference and associated meetings here in New York. Everyone here at LongTail is a strong believer in open media formats, but it is rare to see so many people who are as committed to it as we are - assembled in one place.

Transcoding Best Practices

Core Wisdom

Transcoding is something of an art form whereby one must balance dozens of requirements, formats, parameters and more. Sometimes this can seem daunting for those that just want to know a little more information or want to step into the world of digital media. What follows are a culmination of best practices developed while building Bits on the Run over the last few years. This is by no means an exhaustive list but should give a good idea of some things to watch out for or remember after reading the basic Overview of Transcoding.

An Overview of Audio and Video Transcoding

This post will try to peel away some of the layers of confusion surrounding media conversion by describing how media are stored, why you might want to convert from one format to another, and tools you can use to do it.