Thursday, July 14, 2005

Codec Wars

This one is for the nerds...

As you may know, some folks have been unable to view OC videos. Herein lies the story of how we decided on our preferred format. The identity of said format is also revealed.

We are using Final Cut Express 2 for editting. It supports a number of output formats. The ones of note are:
  • Quicktime - Apple's video format of choice. Using it requires download of the Quicktime player. There is no player available for Linux.
  • AVI - This is a venerable format with wide support, but the FCE II encoder does not allow you to adjust the frame size. That makes it unusable.
  • MPEG 4 - An "open" standard, if a somewhat new one. It is the guts underneath a lot of Quicktime.
For the first round of videos, we used MPEG 4. After problem reports started coming in, I discovered that Microsoft is no longer supporting MPEG 4. They dropped it in favor of their own format. Uh oh. Time to shop around for some other options.

According to most online sources, Flash video has by far the highest penetration rate for its player at about 95%. This makes it a very attractive option due to the "it just works" factor. The Flash MX editor from Macromedia is out of our budget. A company called On2 makes an alternative Flash movie encoder. Their cheapo product, Flix Lite, goes for $40, but it uses a single pass encoder. The output looks very crappy compared to the competition. The professional version of Flix (Flix Pro) goes for a pricer $140 and uses a 2 pass encoder. Tempting.

We decided that $140 is too much. That left us with a choice between Quicktime and MPEG 4. Since you can't play Quicktime on Linux, the choice was clear. MPEG 4 is the winner of the Coded Wars.

But, how to we intend users to play this sparsely supported format? The answer to all our prayers is VLC Media Player - a free, multi-platform player that deals nicely with MPEG 4.

Huzzah! Thanks to Jen C (no longer A) for the tip off.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Derek C said...

Last I checked it was Jen C, however, I understand you've only had a bit over 5 years to get used to that.

cheers

7/15/2005 4:01 PM gmt

 
Blogger Mik3 said...

Oh my. I suck. Fixed.

7/16/2005 2:31 AM gmt

 

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