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Streaming or Progressive Download?

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Tom LaughlinStreaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 5:18:22 pm

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to know more about Streaming or Progressive Downloads: the Pros, the Cons, what's better or worse? which is more easily accessible to majority of people? what are they industry standards? Best encoders? Best settings for "640x360" video, my video is coming from 1440x1080(60i) source, 29.97fps.

Any thoughts appreciated,

Tom

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:24:18 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "Just wanted to know more about Streaming or Progressive Downloads: the Pros, the Cons, what's better or worse?"

It's this simple:

With progressive download (PD), you, the compressionist, gets to choose the video quality.
With Streaming (RTSP etc) the connection speed decides the quality.

With PD even a viewer on a slow bandwidth connection can enjoy high quality and large frame sizes, they'll just have to wait longer for the video to download.
With RTSP a viewer on a slow connection may not see anything at all.

With PD, security is an issue, not with RTSP.

Forget about delivering 640x360 RTSP unless all your viewers are on very very fat pipes.



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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:35:00 pm

Ok, so, in this case, if I'm dealing with large amounts of schools and school districts, our viewers are educators, teachers and administrators, and to my knowledge there are a lot of schools out there with very poor internet or internet that is shared with hundreds of other users and computers, so.

I know this was thought about when they did this, but one of the main concerns is that our thousands of viewers out there will not be able to handle the h.264, not just because it takes up a lot more CPU power to load, but from what the Flash guys here are saying, we have to be able to reach people with small "pipes" as well, also people have to be able to access our videos on very old computers desktops and laptops. Is this a shared concern about this, or is this a video guy interferring with a IT guy's routine or his way of doing things.

And why fear h.264 in general, it seems like there are so many concerns about accessing content, the lower the band-width and bit-rate the better, and more accessible the media is, and faster the progressive downlaod will load, is this all correct and true?

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:45:21 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "but one of the main concerns is that our thousands of viewers out there will not be able to handle the h.264"

Look, Flash is crap, it's a total resource hog. H.264 done right is less decode resource heavy than VP6 for the same quality (see attached screen shot for 'fast decode = easy to decode).

[Tom Laughlin] "but from what the Flash guys here are saying, we have to be able to reach people with small "pipes" as well"

That's why Flash dominates - 99% of Flash video is progressive download.

[Tom Laughlin] "also people have to be able to access our videos on very old computers desktops and laptops"

Qualify 'very old'. I have a Powerbook from 2001 that out performs a Dell laptop from 2005 when it comes to video (not Flash video mind you!)

Less powerful computer with fast connection beats fast computer with slow connection when it comes to online video (to a point).

It's up to you as the content owner to deliver what you want for the customer. There is no one size fits all, even with YouTube.





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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:47:08 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "but one of the main concerns is that our thousands of viewers out there will not be able to handle the h.264"

Look, Flash is sh*t, it's a total resource hog. H.264 done right is less decode resource heavy than VP6 for the same quality (see attached screen shot for 'fast decode = easy to decode).

[Tom Laughlin] "but from what the Flash guys here are saying, we have to be able to reach people with small "pipes" as well"

That's why Flash dominates - 99% of Flash video is progressive download.

[Tom Laughlin] "also people have to be able to access our videos on very old computers desktops and laptops"

Qualify 'very old'. I have a Powerbook from 2001 that out performs a Dell laptop from 2005 when it comes to video (not Flash video mind you!)

Less powerful computer with fast connection beats fast computer with slow connection when it comes to online video (to a point).

It's up to you as the content owner to deliver what you want for the customer. There is no one size fits all, even with YouTube.





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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 9:49:31 pm

Sorry - forgot the image:





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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 10:16:38 pm

Is this screenshot from Episode Pro?

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 10:22:40 pm

No, x264 exporter in Quicktime Pro but you can access it via Episode as well.

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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 10:15:18 pm

I'm just tired of seeing my videos compressed down so far that we lose quality past the point of no return in order to be able to reach everyone in our market, making sure everyone can access the media. 8 minute clip (1440x1080p 60i HDV) compressed down using AME (Main Concept codec) to about 39MB 640x360, how much lower can we go? It sucks. I wish it looked like Apple.com/trailers, or close to that cleaner look. Thanks for your response.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 28, 2010 at 10:23:57 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "to about 39MB 640x360"

You should know by now that we only talk about data rates, NOT file size!



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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 29, 2010 at 4:53:13 pm

But in this case, my Flash team doesn't care about data rates, they are more concerned about file size, so that the people we are trying to reach through Progressive Download, with small pipes, can still access with media that way, and by keeping the file sizes to a certain size is all that concerns them. I think 8 minutes at 39MB 640x360 is not bad. I wonder if Episode Pro would encode better than AME with the same settings.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Daniel LowRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 29, 2010 at 6:33:55 pm

And what if your clip is 1Mb/sec for 75% and then finishes off at 400Kb/s?

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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 29, 2010 at 8:40:13 pm

I think they do VBR, so I can't tell you what is what on this, only what the final size is right now.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Martin CurtisRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 30, 2010 at 11:33:23 am

I think they need to quantify things like how small the pipes are, what is the lowest Flash version running, what is the lowest CPU, lowest OS and so on. Flash Player has been able to support H.264 video since December 2007 (Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3 (version 9.0.115.0) ).

At work we are using JW Player to get around the fact we don't have streaming server or any co-operation from the IT department.

Note that the latest JW player supports HTTP Pseudostreaming and also bitrate switching - if you have multiple versions of the file available, the player will choose the fastest for the connection.

HTTP Pseudostreaming is said to be better than RTMP streaming because it is able to tolerate breaks in connections better.

This really is a job for a web person who knows what they are doing and can work with the IT department if you are to complete this project successfully.

JW Player offers the ability to embed multiple versions of the same video and they will fallback to what is playable on the other end. It's a nice piece of work but it requires someone who knows what they are doing.


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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jun 30, 2010 at 5:12:54 pm

Yes, but what I don't understand is, the Flash team is saying that they cannot use our .mov files encoded H.264s, that the files have to be in a .F4V container, is this a preference thing in the way things have been built out, or they do not want to have to go back and do a huge amount of work on their end, like re-tagging, or adding new, or re-embedding new or additional code? Everyone is saying that Flash 9 supports H.264, but the Flash team says that they cannot support .movs with h.264, it has to be in a F4V container. It is the way they have built out their media player? Like the media player only accepts flvs and f4vs? And if so, why could you not re-build this? They sent out an update stating everyone needed to update their Adobe Media Player to the latest version for Flash 9, so if then everyone updates their Flash player, would the h.264 .movs not work still? Do h.264s eat up more CPU power, is that a concern for Flash?

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Martin CurtisRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jul 1, 2010 at 10:49:55 am

Flash doesn't actually care about filetypes - it looks inside the file to determine how it plays it back. Quote from Adobe Flash engineer: the Flash Player will not look at the file extension when loading files.

The file extension they would like you to use is F4V. This is to prevent confusion on the part of people, since a MOV could have any one of a number of codecs. The other reason for not using MOV is so the web server doesn't get confused when serving up a file - it may be configured to indicate that MOV is QuickTime. Understandable really :-)

I create MP4 files using the H.264 codec via MPEG Streamclip or QuickTime Pro and everyone is happy with that. If anyone cared, I would simply rename it .f4v .

You could grab the JW Player and have a play around with this. It's not hard to knock together a basic page and the JW site even has a wizard to generate the code you need to embed the video. Well worth the money if you ever decide to deploy it commercially - I think it's free for non-profits.

As to the problem of how to deliver it, someone needs to pull all the parties together and discuss strategies. Sounds like that's not you, and probably not IT either. It should be someone with the power to make IT sit down and experiment with delivery methods. At the very least, they could put links to low, medium and high bandwidth versions on a page.

H.264 requires more CPU than FLVs (the On2 VP6 codec is based on H.263 IIRC) but looks better for lower bandwidth requirements. It's a balancing act.


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Tom LaughlinRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jul 1, 2010 at 4:58:50 pm

What would it take to show them that h.264s work inside their Flash player? There was a test a while back, and they said the file size was way too big, and no sound. Another test, we encoded it to mp4, and they said it wouldn't work either.

Does this have to do with the way the file was encoded to h.264?

Does this also have to so with if the file is played within a SWF player?

Are there codes that can be added or re-written so they can use .movs?

What would be the hardcore reasons "not" to go with .movs and stick with F4Vs?

We are trying to encode and satisfy IT's needs, but we are also trying to match the old flv file sizes we are now replacing with new files re-encoded to the new F4V file extension for them, we want to work and make them happy. I'm just watching a lot of our quality shifting here. IT needs it to be very low file size and bandwidth for progressive downloads to reach our market with out problems, people with small internet pipes.

Other thing is, we are now shooting in HD, so naturally the files are bigger, not like the older media shot in SD 4x3. We are exporting out of FCP as an "8-bit 853x480" QTs, then we are encoding these 8-bit QTs to "640x360" using Adobe Media Encoder, and we've got files down to as low as we can go, where now, the quality is really taking a beating here. Whereas our previous content with the same settings applied using Sorenson Squeeze, these files still looked good as fLvs in 4x3, the same res. The settings we are currently surviving at for our 16x9 content is "640x360" the bit-rate low set at .05, and the high set at 7 for bit-rate, with a (VBR) 2-pass.

I tried Episode Pro to see if we could get any quality comparisons or quality improvements, and at the closest settings to the same AME settings, it was giving me about "2.8MB per 30 seconds", whereas with this AME we're using, it is giving us an 8 minute clip = 39MB, which it extremely tiny.

Should we try and bump the bit-rate back up and cut the file size down, like in half? Right now it is at 29.97, same as source. Change it to 24p or 15fps?

Where are other areas we can re-think our compression, in terms of where to add to and what to cut back on? Any further insights? Thanks!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Martin CurtisRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 3:14:35 am

Do they have any written file requirements? Have they specified anything in particular, like bitrate or image size? If they were happy with FLVs and you were happy making them, could that still work? Can you get details of what Flash player is distributed to these computers? And it would have to be an exact version number because Adobe added H264 playback at some point in Flash Player 9's life cycle.

How are they delivered on the web page?

What would be the hardcore reasons "not" to go with .movs and stick with F4Vs?
I'd say how the server handles mime types.

Dropping framerate is certainly a useful way of reducing filesize, but it would be helpful if they could supply a desired bitrate.


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Martin CurtisRe: Streaming or Progressive Download?
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 9:38:10 pm

Further thoughts...

The SWF frontend they are using may determine what filetypes they can deliver. The standard player that comes with dreamweaver, for example, is pretty picky. DW CS4 only wants to insert FLVs, in spite of Flash player being able to play MP4s.

JW Player is much more easy going. Remember that Flash is still doing all the work in the background, the frontend is just handling what gets displayed on the page and how it gets thrown to Flash.

As an example, I have made this page for you to compare different filetypes and encodings.

Shot on an HFS10 (camera work shared by my 5 year old and myself) as AVCHD, edited in FCE as an AIC sequence. Exported as a MOV then manipulated as follows:
1. Encoded using AME as FLV
2. Encoded using AME as MP4
3.Encoded using AME as MP4, 800 kbps
4. QT X encoded m4v. Share -> iTunes -> iPod setting It's about 900kbps.
5. Same file as above, renamed as F4V. That's it: just a renaming.
6. The M4V file in (4) opened in QT X and "Save as..." to put a MOV wrapper around it. Apart from the MOV wrapper, it is identical in every way to the M4V.

Note: I am really impressed with the default encoding of QT X. I opened up the M4V in MPEG Streamclip (because it has the ability to jump from keyframe to keyframe so I can see exactly where it has put them and how often) and QT X seems to have put keyframes in areas of high complexity and at scene changes. Way cool. Other compressors just seem to put them in "regularly" or at a rate you set, but this seems way in excess of what I would expect of a freeby. Can't adjust anything but the settings seem pretty good just as they are.

Note 2: thoroughly sick of Roy O now :-)

Hope this helps, or at least doesn't add to the confusion.



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