Complete Guide to Digital Cameras


Video for my web site: Which is best?
Dec 16, 1999

 Q: I need to make videos for my web site. Knowing that I must make them as small as possible, which format is the fastest and least likely to crash. QuickTime?, Real Video? anything?


A: There have been a few comparisons of image quality of compressed formats. One you might check out is at New Media magazine:

This was actually a review of streaming technologies, but some of what it says applies to non-streaming video as well.

Fastest is probably best determined by "smallest file" however be aware that this isn't the only meaning of "fastest." The Sorenson compressor (one of the QuickTime compressors) does an extremely good job of compressing video, but it's very processor intensive so it's possible older computers may have trouble playing a Sorenson encoded clip flawlessly if it's a comparatively high data rate movie. That's probably not a consideration if you are distributing the movie over the web, but it does add to the complication when thinking about how to prepare your movies!

Least likely to crash? I don't know where you would get an answer to that question. From personal experience I can say that I've had much less trouble with QuickTime than with Real Video, but that's a personal experience based on two users with four machines. Hardly a big data set!

If you have the capability, you might consider encoding the same clip in two or three formats and provide it that way to your users and let them decide. You should then keep track of the traffic and over time decide whether to converge on one format, or remain supporting multiples.


Q: My web site has several QuickTime videos . Two questions:

1- Occasionally one of the videos causes my the computer to crash. What could be the cause of this? It has occurred on several different computers.

2- What is the preferred non QuickTime format. I had hoped that QT would be more universally incorporated but it still has not caught on reliably in the PC world. Which of the others would you recommend. Thanks.

I don't know why a video would be causing computers to crash. You probably need to do some tests to try and find out why; Does it crash every time, or only occasionally? (if the latter, then it's probably a memory related problem.) Does the video start playing and the machine crash half way through, or does it crash as soon as it tries to play it? Does it crash in the Movie Player application as well as in the browser? Does it crash in both Internet Explorer and Netscape? Has the computer crashed playing other videos from other sites?

I don't think there is really a preferred video format. I would recommend doing what CNN does; provide your video in three formats; Windows Media, Real Video and QuickTime. You should also provide multiple versions of the video for different transmission speeds. Then after a few months you can examine your server logs and see which clips are the most popular. If you find that a particular format or transmission size is hardly ever used, then you might consider doing away with it.


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