Matching clients and HD delivery formats
I've been struggling with giving my clients the appropriate delivery formats for videos they will be playing at live events, usually from laptops. I do not know what OS, speed, software, etc. they will be using. So I wind up outputting a variety of formats, which is probably as confusing and irritating for them as it is time-consuming for me. In addition, I work on a variety of projects, including some with Power Point graphics which require great detail on the screen for readability.
How do you deal with this issue? I've been thinking of creating a folder on my FTP site with file format samples so that a client can find one that works best for them. "Please help me choose the best format for your project." Is that putting too much work on the client, who is usually not very technical?
The reason I'm posting on this forum is that it seems like more of a client-relations question than a merely technical one. Unless... there is a single magic codec out there which is "universal."
The "sample folder" sounds like a pretty good idea.
There are a few things we hate hearing...
• We're gonna play this off a laptop
• Just give us whatever, we can take any type of file
• We can convert it to whatever we need
• We might be putting this in PowerPoint, I dunno
• I have no idea
Sounds like you have heard all these before, and much more.
Like you, I try to ask a lot of questions to try to give the clients exactly what they need, that will play the very best, but sometimes it's a crapshoot.
We almost always do broadcast stuff, but every now and then there is something for a live event. We just did one for a big Chamber of Commerce group for a live awards dinner. Not gigantic, but not peanuts either... I think they spent about $20K with us. I didn't attend the event (they weren't paying me enough to sit through that), but my biz partner did. He's not a technical guy (he's the beancounter), but from his description it sounds like their playback had inverted fields. These are from files the big-screen projection AV company had tested the day before and deemed perfect (and the files themselves were perfect... I quadruple tested them).
We got to thinking, and looking back we cannot think of a single time where we produced something for a live event where it went absolutely seamlessly and flawlessly perfectly... except those where we were also hired to babysit the actual live presentation.
If something can go wrong, it likely will.
So, I'd say when it is something that you will just have to eventually turn over and say "Here... it's outta my hands now," then having test files available to them could be very helpful. The only real problem I see with that is that in the situations we've often run into, no one can (or will bother to) run those critical tests until the day of the show. Or the day before, if you're lucky.
That's a really long version of what should have been a short answer.... a folder full of test files sounds like a good idea to me.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Thanks Todd. Good to know I'm not alone anyway. What file formats would you all suggest my including in this folder?
Others may have ideas, but I'd suggest .mov, .wmv, .mpg, and maybe .mp4 for test files. I think I'd steer clear of .avi files since there are so many zillions of different avi codecs.
Taking a step from that, ideally you'd also want 486, 720, and 1080 versions of each.
And possibly one more step, interlaced and progressive versions of each.
And beyond that, I personally like knowing if a client can play a 24p file, since virtually all of our productions are 23.976fps progressive and I prefer if they can be viewed as they were natively produced, rather than converted. Although the vast majority of the time we do have to convert it to 60i.
You may get to the point of overkill though and overwhelm clients. If you need to narrow that down, I have found that almost anyone can play .mpg files, no matter what OS platform, software, or playback device they are using... so that's what we usually offer first (either for live events, or for broadcast).
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I generally send 720x480 h264 mp4 for client review unless they specifically want to see HD.
For presentation try to speak with the AV tech or someone from the AV company. Just today I was contacted about a corporate video we are finalizing. The message actually said:
Please send nothing bigger than 720p but probably send something SD for safety
I've seen AV techs get an authored DVD and explore the disc and then play the VOB files bypassing the menu completely.
Some AV techs don't know the difference between video formats while others know a lot.
Assume your end user knows nothing and is using a Windows 2000 Pentium 2 laptop, probably a Gateway!
Seriously now..ask what works best for the client and if they don't know then offer options.
This is a bit off the wall, but way back in the olden times of early DVDs - I had to deliver 5 DVDs to a show and everybody was in a tizzy about whether the plus R or minus R discs would be best, and whether the hotel's DVD player would play them.
So after an overnight epiphany - I just boxed up one of our in-house DVD players - with the disk loaded - and FedEx'd the whole shebang to the show. Problem solved.
If I had a $20k project on the line and wanted to be SURE not to fail, I could see swaddling an iPad in bubble wrap complete with a dock connector out to VGA or Display Port or whatever - (example only, or whatever would work for SURE) and sending the whole rig to the show along with a padded box for return.
At some point, you need to stop thinking of the END of the process and look at the whole chain and consider whether there might be a way to stomp out ALL the potential failure points in one fell swoop.
Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.
This has evolved into a thread about projection. I really meant it to be more about the politics of dealing with clients, but the thoughts about projection are very useful to me too.
[Bill Davis] "there might be a way to stomp out ALL the potential failure points in one fell swoop."
Sending an iPad is a great idea, Bill. Don't be surprised, though, if the projectionist turns on aspect correction ("It's 16:9, right?") and your HD becomes CinemaScope. I've had it happen both ways: 16:9 became 4:3 (local public tv) and 16:9 became 2.4:1 (international conference).
Perhaps including a file with a test pattern, in the same pixel dimension and codec as the program, would help. With a circle, just to catch the aspect ratio problems as well.
This is beyond my expertise, but in regards to projection, is there a frame rate test as well?
Does anyone know of a utility to generate test patterns? I have not found one that works on an Intel Mac.
There are scads of devices that are test pattern generators...
...but as for a utility that will do that on, say, and iPad or tablet... I'm not aware of any.
I would think that would be easy enough though to snag a simple test pattern file (.jpg or whatever) of the appropriate size/resolution to display as an image on the device. Would that work for the application you're talking about?
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I encode Windows Media v9 at 960 x 540 (medium size) at about 2200 kbps and then a 1280 x 720 at about 4200 kbps. I also do an MP4 1280x720 that I call a YouTube encode and it runs at around 6000 kbps.
So far that has been the delivery and no issues. If the 1280 WMV won't play nice they use the 960. Windows Media is the best format for Powerpoint on a PC and the MP4 can play in PPT or Keyonote on a Mac.
Some clients actually want a full 1920 x 1080 ProRes and I usually send a LT version.
Only other format is when the web person needs a specific frame size.
I have not delivered an MPEG1 or MPEG2 to a client in quite a while.
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Would it not be simpler to generate whatever file format you find you can generate at the highest quality and send along one of the inexpensive file players that are being sold everywhere? Plus, of course, a file for PowerPoint just in case.
[Bob Cole] "I've been struggling with giving my clients the appropriate delivery formats for videos they will be playing at live events, usually from laptops. I do not know what OS, speed, software, etc. they will be using. "
I always ask the clients for the specifics of what will be used in the venue. Either they get the answer from the technical folks or they put me directly in touch with the company running the event, which is what we actually prefer and recommend.
Then we usually just output two files. One 720p and one 1080p using the specs given to us by the event company so they can choose which of the two formats displays best in the venue.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media
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