Placing a Video on your WebSite

October 16, 2010

With the advent of  broadband, video has become mainstream. The appeal of video among Internet users is undeniable. Video portals like You Tube (#3 in the world) are among the most popular websites globally and with the expansion of broadband in every continent, the trend can only go upwards. Add to that the fact that online attention spans are notoriously short, and you’ll understand why video will help you attract and keep more visitors in your website.

The technology involved in putting up videos on the Internet has also evolved, and now it is possible for the average user to  film a video, process it, add some effects, upload it, and post it on your own website. However there are several things that must be taken into account when hosting your own videos.

First of all, due to their inherent size, video files should be compressed before uploading them onto a web site. Using some advanced compression techniques of audio and video digital data and converting the video files to formats such as MPEG-4, its size can be greatly reduced.

Most video compression techniques operate under the premise that much of the data that compose an image is redundant and not really necessary for achieving a level of quality that is good enough for the human eye.

Video compression is a trade-off between disk space, bandwidth and video quality. There are some advanced compression programs like Sorenson Squeeze that will compress video files to the maximum without any noticeable loss of quality. It is very important to choose the right software for the compression, because if the video is not properly compressed, visible artifacts may appear.

A video codec is the software that enables the compression and decompression of digital video. There is a complex balance between the video quality, the bit rate needed to represent it, the complexity of the encoding and decoding algorithms, robustness to data losses and errors, ease of editing, random access, the state of the art of compression algorithm design, end-to-end delay, and a number of other factors.

Among the most widely-used software codecs are:

Lossless codecs

  • Huffyuv: Huffyuv (or HuffYUV) is a very fast, lossless Win32 video codec written by Ben Rudiak-Gould and published under the terms of the GPL as free software, meant to replace uncompressed YCbCr as a video capture format.
  • Lagarith: A more up-to-date fork of Huffyuv is available as Lagarith.

MPEG-4 Part 2 codecs

  • DivX Pro Codec: A proprietary MPEG-4 ASP codec made by DivX, Inc.
  • Xvid: Free/open-source implementation of MPEG-4 ASP, originally based on the OpenDivX project.
  • FFmpeg MPEG-4: Included in the open-source libavcodec codec library, which is used by default for decoding and/or encoding in many open-source video players, frameworks, editors and encoding tools such as MPlayer, VLC, ffdshow or GStreamer. Compatible with other standard MPEG-4 codecs like Xvid or DivX Pro Codec.
  • 3ivx: A commercial MPEG-4 codec created by 3ivx Technologies.

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codecs

  • x264: A GPL-licensed implementation of the H.264 video standard. x264 is only an encoder.
  • Nero Digital: Commercial MPEG-4 ASP and AVC codecs developed by Nero AG.
  • QuickTime H.264: H.264 implementation released by Apple.
  • DivX Pro Codec: An H.264 decoder and encoder was added in version 7.

Microsoft codecs

  • WMV (Windows Media Video): Microsoft’s family of proprietary video codec designs including WMV 7, WMV 8, and WMV 9. The latest generation of WMV is standardized by SMPTE as the VC-1 standard.
  • MS MPEG-4v3: A proprietary and not MPEG-4 compliant video codec created by Microsoft. Released as a part of Windows Media Tools 4. A hacked version of Microsoft’s MPEG-4v3 codec became known as DivX 😉.

Other codecs

  • VP6, VP6-E, VP6-S, VP7, VP8: Proprietary high definition video compression formats and codecs developed by On2 Technologies used in platforms such as Adobe Flash Player 8 and above, Adobe Flash Lite, Java FX and other mobile and desktop video platforms. Supports resolution up to 720p and 1080p. VP8 has been made open source by Google under the name libvpx or VP8 codec library.
  • libtheora: A reference implementation of the Theora video compression format developed by the Xiph.org Foundation, based upon On2 Technologies’ VP3 codec, and christened by On2 as the successor in VP3’s lineage. Theora is targeted at competing with MPEG-4 video and similar lower-bitrate video compression schemes.
  • Schrödinger and dirac-research: implementations of the Dirac compression format developed by BBC Research at the BBC. Dirac provides video compression from web video up to ultra HD and beyond.
  • DNxHD codec: a lossy high-definition video production codec developed by Avid Technology. It is an implementation of VC-3.
  • Sorenson 3: A video compression format and codec that is popularly used by Apple’s QuickTime, sharing many features with H.264. Many of the QuickTime movie trailers found on the web use this compression format.
  • Sorenson Spark: A codec and compression format that was licensed to Macromedia for use in its Flash Video starting with Flash Player 6. It is considered as an incomplete implementation of the H.263 standard.
  • RealVideo: Developed by RealNetworks. A popular compression format and codec technology a few years ago, now fading in importance for a variety of reasons.
  • Cinepak: A very early codec used by Apple’s QuickTime.
  • Indeo, an older video compression format and codec initially developed by Intel.

All the codecs above have their qualities and drawbacks, and comparative benchmarks for each format can easily be found in the media. The trade-off between rate of compression , speed, and quality is usually considered the most important figure for ranking higher on those comparisons.

The most popular video compression formats at the moment are Sorenson 3, DivX, MPEG-4, XviD, and 3ivx. However, the individual choices may vary depending upon, and with the advent of new video compression formats, which are under development at the moment and provide very good quality at increasingly lower bitrates, the choices are ever endless.

And last, but not least, before posting your videos online, you must understand the concepts of bandwidth and transfer that apply to your particular hosting plan. Failure to do so could end up inflicting some unexpected and quite high charges on your web hosting account.

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RackNine can help you place all kinds of multimedia material on your website, hosted on our own servers or the ones of your choice.

For more information please Contact Us.