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Flash versus WMV

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Thomas MaCoy
Flash versus WMV
on Dec 5, 2008 at 11:04:40 pm

Hey all,
I've been doing video recording/webposting for a client in WMV for some years, and they're now making, or hoping to make, a switch to Flash. Typically the video content is all talking heads and lectures, usually an hour or so long. So far I've been exporting straight from Premiere CS3, On2 VP6, and the FLVs that come are just not holding up to the WMV's I used to do; they're much blurrier and have a lot more artifacts. Both videos are 320x240, and I've tried Flash at several different bitrates; 90 (tiny) 150 (creates a file of about the same total size of the WMV's) and 225 (creates a file of the same bitrate as the previous WMV's, and a filesize about 50% larger). The quality goes up with each step, but frankly, WMV still blows it away, even at smaller file size. It seems like to get equivalent quality out of Flash, my final files have to be about 3 times as large as the WMV's used to be.
Is there something in the Flash world I'm overlooking? Are my bitrates just too low, and the straight answer is FLV's need to be much larger to hold up against WMV's? Or is there a better way to encode flash for this kind of talking head content that I'm over looking? (Mainly I've been trying On2 VP6, also gave the Sorensen Spark codec that comes with Premiere 3 a shot, no improvement.) Any insights at all would be really appreciated. Thanks.

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Graham Quince
Re: Flash versus WMV
on Dec 6, 2008 at 8:38:08 am

I mainly use WMV unless I'm wanting swf integration. In which case, as I provide intranet resources, so size isn't a concern, I've been using this option:

On2 VP6 at 400 kps
Audio mp3 at 96kbps (stereo)

Actually I think it's just the medium setting. One example I can think of was a 5 minute, 640x480 video which ended up at about 1.2 mb per minute, which is pretty much the same filesize ratio I expect from WMV.

The quality was fine, possibly slightly better than WMV, but what I've found with all video compression formats is there seems to be that 1 Mb-per-minute quality benchmark.

Graham - Free FX for amateur films

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Thomas MaCoy
Re: Flash versus WMV
on Dec 9, 2008 at 2:35:04 am

That's interesting; it seems like the quality level I'm going for, at least with WMV, works out to just under 2 Mb/minute, and that's at 320x240. I tired a Flash of the test file I'm using at 400 kbs; definitely holds up a lot better than my previous tests, but it's also just over twice as large as the equivalent WMV file. (190 megs vs 83 megs)
If SWF integration isn't an issue, do you (or anyone else that wants to weigh in) find that meg for meg, WMV offers better image quality than Flash? Or does WMV tend to do better with longer running files (50+ mins)like I'm dealing with?
Thanks a lot for the quick response.

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Mike Truly
Re: Flash versus WMV
on Feb 3, 2009 at 2:38:49 am

I find this subject very interesting at this point.

I deliver 1280x720p WMVs to my clients via the Internet for playback on their local computer (not streaming). The files are generally pretty short (1min to 10 min long) and are primarily made up of 3D animation. I have been considering changing to delivering with FLVs because (in a side-by-side comparison with the same compression settings) the FLVs are slightly sharper and have less compression artifacts that show at certain times. Also, the interactive aspect of customizing the delivery presentation is appealing.

But although the FLVs look a bit better, I can not get a FLV that will play back without jerkiness. This is on a powerful dual-quad core system with 8GB of RAM and SAS drives. The WMVs play perfectly smooth at even 59.94 frame rate. Using Media Player Classic to play the WMVs, I can even scroll and advance at 1/60th increments.

To test the FLVs... I have even encoded directly the raw 30fps animation frames at 30fps in FLASH8 Video Encoder On2VP6 and the FLV still won't play back smoothly. It is critical that my clients be able to play back the video smoothly as the 3D animation was created.

At this point, I will stick with my WMVs until I am able to make FLVs that do the same thing.

Mike Truly

Truly Media
tel: 1.800.829.4990

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