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Encoding Files for Any Client Computer

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John Collucci
Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:01:46 pm

Hello all.

I'm sure everyone has dealt with the toils of digital file distribution at some point. For me it has always been in sending rough cuts for approval, and final copies of work for clients to keep as reference / archival purposes - often DVDs are requested as well as "mpegs" (a seemingly generic term to most clients, that refers to video files as a whole). Seeing as the onus of knowledge is obviously on us as the content producers, we are the ones that have to be confident that our provided files will play on everyone's computer. Got it. Not a problem. Moving on...

Typically with commercials I send standard MPEG-1 files, since I can be sure that this ancient file format will play on both Windows and Mac media playing software. It's also often emailable, though the quality leaves much to be desired.

I've tried in the past (unsuccessfully I might add) to transition to a fully MPEG-4 workflow when providing screening copies of edits to clients. The issue always seems to be with Windows Media Player, and it's many variant updates & codec installs. Can Mac software even create a truly generic MP4 file that will play unequivocally everywhere?

MY QUESTION TO YOU, THE KNOWLEDGEABLE COW COMMUNITY:
How then, do YOU go about providing files to clients, or to the masses? My clients like files that I can email, and we all like files that look good. MPEG-4 has always teased itself as an evolutionary step beyond the tired old MPEG-1. With an increase in quality at far smaller file sizes, I just wish that I could get them to work for everybody.


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Alan Okey
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:11:38 pm

A word on Windows Media player and MPEG4, taken from Microsoft's Windows Media Player support pages:

"Windows Media Player does not support the playback of the .mp4 file format. You can play back .mp4 media files in Windows Media Player when you install DirectShow-compatible MPEG-4 decoder packs. DirectShow-compatible MPEG-4 decoder packs include the Ligos LSX-MPEG Player and the EnvivioTV."

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/316992

Microsoft only pays lip service to supporting open standards. In actuality, they want the whole world to use Windows Media formats. As long as you play by Microsoft's rules, they're happy.

Probably your best bet at this point is to encode everything to Flash video, as it is supported on both Windows and Mac OS. Unfortunately Flash is not an open standard either, but but's the closest thing we have to a de facto open standard because so many people have never installed Quicktime on their PCs.


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Shawn Bockoven
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:14:28 pm

We provide Windows Media and QuickTime for clients.



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Alan Okey
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:16:43 pm

The ideal web delivery codec is h.264, the latest revision of the MPEG4 standard. It provides great image quality at small file sizes. Unfortunately, Windows Media player doesn't support it.

I've given up trying to please Microsoft. I just encode all of my videos as Quicktime .mov files using h.264 and tell the client to install the freely downloadable Quicktime Player on their PC. I've never had anyone complain about doing this. Your results may vary.


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Alan Lacey
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:36:29 pm

I still use old faithful (mpg1)

Alan

FlashXDR,XDcamHD,XDcamEX,D9 etc
FCS,AE,Combustion,LiquidSilver,Vegas,Edius,
G5,MBP,Vista64,XP


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Shawn Bockoven
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 26, 2010 at 11:07:39 pm

You are very lucky if you have had no problems. We experience pigheaded IT departments most every week. Installing new software at institutions, and medium to large companies, can be a challenge and that's saying it nicely. Delivering both codecs has lead to piece of mind and happy clients.

Thank you Telestream.



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Josh Olenslager
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:58:42 am

I've also had the mish-mash of Windows / QuickTime problems. Generally I've let be known early on that QT is the preferred screening method, and if that won't work have asked to be informed more up-front in the process. I've also, more frequently, devoted a dedicated "preview" web page that I can upload a flash file to and simply send the link. It's never been perfect, but it's made it easier knowing early on what type of software they (and here's a real sticky point) INTEND to use to view any preview files. I've also used the old DVD fall back many times. But yes, thank you Telestream.



Josh


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Rafael Amador
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 27, 2010 at 6:25:17 am

Make your H264.mov, and for the PC clients change the extension to .flv.
Will play with Flash Player.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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todd reid
Re: Encoding Files for Any Client Computer
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:52:25 pm

I use a company called Xprove.

provides streaming or download, for a small monthly fee.
if your client has a browser and internet connection, they should have no trouble viewing it.
The more savvy ones can download it and watch it without internet delays.

they allow for comments, your logo is on your page, password/userid protected.

Todd Reid
Senior Editor
Digitized Media, Inc.


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