Pick me a video format
April 21, 2010 3:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me find the best video format for playback on freshly-installed XP and Mac OS-es.

I have a Flash website that falls back to an HTML website for people who don't have Flash (not interested in any opinions about whether that's a good or a bad thing - it's a given).

The Flash site plays back some .flvs, which is fine. But the client wants to provide the same videos on the HTML version too. My suggestion (which was accepted) was to provide the videos for download, rather than playback in the browser, as the whole point of the HTML version is that there should be no need to install plugins.

So what file type (and what video and audio codecs) is going to be most suitable if I want the downloaded videos to play nicely with freshly-installed copies of Windows XP and Mac OS-es, and with a fairly good balance of quality and file size? The only other requirement is that users don't have to install anything extra.
posted by le morte de bea arthur to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
 
MPEG1 is the closest thing to a universal playback format that there is.
posted by jmsta at 4:00 AM on April 21, 2010


The vast majority of non-Flash browsers are going to be iPhones, most likely. So go with what the iPhone supports: h.264. Here's the spec from Apple's site:

Video formats supported: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:31 AM on April 21, 2010


jmsta is correct.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:38 AM on April 21, 2010


So, MPEG-1 video and MPEG 1 Layer 2 audio in an MPEG Program stream. Very easy to create with ffmpeg, TMPGEnc, etc.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:39 AM on April 21, 2010


You might consider throwing it up there as HTML5 video, because that will work fine for iPhones and most modern browsers (so long as you have both h.264 and Ogg versions) with a download link as a fallback ("Don't see the video? Click here to download it manually" or something similar...). No plug-ins required, and will work on Mac OS with Safari, iPhone, Firefox... anyone not using a browser with Flash or HTML5 video capability will get the download link instead. All bases should be covered. Added bonus, anyone not using Flash but running a HTML5 video-capable browser won't notice much difference between the Flash version the client wants and the HTML5 version you deliver to them.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:53 AM on April 21, 2010


MPEG-1 with MPEG 1 Layer 2 audio it is then!

Thanks to those who offered advice about iPhones etc., but that wasn't likely to be useful in this instance, due to things like user demographics (very much not an iPhone-wielding sort of audience). And again, with HTML5, in terms of browser support, I wasn't really looking to support users who have the very latest browser but have elected to disable Flash, or are using a smartphone. The HTML version of the site is primarily there for SEO purposes, but also to support users with outdated browsers/plugins.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:16 AM on April 26, 2010


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