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laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files

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jim brodie
laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 24, 2013 at 1:10:53 pm

Hi Folks,

I've got a series of ten 5-6 min clips I'd like to supply my client on disk so they can choose the order in which they play. My material is HD scaled down to 920 x 540 encoded into files with a 5-6 mbps bit rate.

Is there a good menu interface program I could use to make finding and playing these files effortless? Previously I have downconverted and encoded my clips to a standard mpeg2 menu driven DVD (using Apple's DVD Studio Pro) but don't want to sacrifice the HD quality. Aside from this or writing a menu in HTML are there any simple programs out there?

All the Best,

Jim


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Steve Kownacki
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 24, 2013 at 1:38:17 pm

What conditions are they playing the videos? A live event or training session? Will the videos be played on a dedicated computer or other device? Is there PPT or Keynote involved?

A simple thing I use is VLC player and use its "playlist" function. For "super-cheap" events I simply alt-tab between PPT and VLC on a single computer (in fullscreen mode, plus there's shortcuts for jumping between items & control; not really professional but cheap); better to have a dedicated computer for cuing and using a switcher between sources. Depends on how professional and seamless you need to get to your sources.

Steve





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jim brodie
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 24, 2013 at 1:55:58 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks for you quick response. The instructor would play them to a projector in conjunction with their power
point presentation.

All the Best,

Jim



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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 25, 2013 at 3:39:55 pm

Steve has a good idea with the VLC player suggestion. Another thought would be Windows Media Player. It has a very robust playlist capability, and I use it for client meetings, especially when I want to sometimes skip through a long-form piece after playing it for a short time.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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jim brodie
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 25, 2013 at 6:35:57 pm

Thank you for your comment. I'll look at the other option with Window's Media player, however, I find that VLC is the most reliable and robust media player around!

All the Best,

Jim



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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 26, 2013 at 1:59:06 am

Yes, Jim, as far as being a Swiss Army Knife of playback, VLC certainly is robust. My only complaint is that when starting it up for dog and pony shows at a clients' office, a dos runtime window shows up before the player shows up, and looks a bit clunky. That's the only reason I opt to use Windows Media Player. WMP also is really quick at setting up and changing the order of the playlist, and mp4s look just as good as on VLC. But in the office, it's VLC all the way...

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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jim brodie
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 26, 2013 at 1:34:49 pm

Hi Joseph,

What is the maximum bit rate you go for laptop playback. I've restriced my to under 6 mbps and scaled the 1080p format in half to 960 x 540. Do you feel the mpg4 (H.264) route is the best codec these days for the job?

All the Best,

Jim



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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 26, 2013 at 2:15:40 pm

Hi Jim -

What I've been doing for the approval copy to the client, is outputting a full-size version of the project in .mp4 (1920 x 1080 usually) at a very low variable bitrate, 4 - 6 mbps. This comes in small enough in size to put in my Dropbox, and the client gets it in no time. Doesn't look great, but it's adequate for content and timing, and I warn the client that it will look much better in the final version.

For delivery, and I'm going to reference a specific project here, I provide a 1920 x 1080 mp4 at 8 - 12 mbps, a 1280 x 720 mp4 at 5 - 8 mbps, and a 960 x 540 mp4 at about 5 - 8 mbps. On testing, I found - and be aware that my laptop is a Lenovo W510 workstation with 16GB of RAM - that the 1920 x 1080 played back just fine (it was about 120MB file, and of course, so did the other two, the 1280 x 720 and the 960 x 540 (at about 60mb and 30mb, respectively), as would be expected.

I also have the 960 x 540 on my Blackberry Playbook (2GB RAM), and it plays back and looks beautiful. Results on any given laptop would vary, due to processor speed and amount of RAM. My feeling is that the .mp4 is the new delivery standard. That said, I output the insurance master of the project at 1920 x 1080, Quicktime Animation codec uncompressed, and it came in at 25GB! But this was a four minute runtime. I'm looking at the possibility of outputting my insurance masters in DNxHD, but I always try to deliver something the client can view, if they have the ability to do so, without installing codecs.

If you look in Adobe Media Encoder CS6, I'm just using variations on the different YouTube codecs, but using Variable Bit Rate. They give a good starting point, then I save them as custom presets.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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jim brodie
Re: laptop playback of multiple H.264 mpeg4 files
on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:54:03 am

Joseph,

Thank you for your detailed comment. Some of my clients have awful laptops that they never do any maintenance on and I had to give them 5 mbps 960 x 540 files and they loved them. Go figure!

The projector they use turns everyone's skin colour a shade of green at times and they think everything is great! I cringe.

My favourite mode of delivery these days is to burn a blu ray file onto a plain DVD (sometimes dual layer)using Toaster. The encodes are beautiful.

My other favourite way of delivery is using ProRez Quicktime (set at a0-255 black level). My client had a basic Mac laptop and was able to play a 4 gig 1080p file from his desktop without any image stutter. It looked fabulous!

I hope the bandwith improves more so we can eventually stream everything in HD, but there will always be pockets where this is impossible.

We just played a video at a major international bank's headquarters and they didn't have a fast enough internet connection. Their firewalls and the throttling of their bandwith impaired this working for us.

All the Best,

Jim



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