On my site, I prefer to host WMV videos. This is because I find this to be the best option by default because:
- MPEG1 compression sucks ass.
- MPEG1 playback is hit-and-miss. The DirectShow multimedia system allows you to override the Microsoft MPEG1 decoder. This was probably a bad idea: good at the time, but now since every MPEG1/MPEG2/DVD editor/converter/player installs their own decoder and not all of them are really compatible or very good. In particular, MainConcept is kind of a pain in my ass.
- MPEG2 is for-pay. This deserves its own bullet point because people love to say “But I Gotz One For Free!”. Go check with the MPEG-LA (also see here) - people can skirt around the issue for a while, but you’re still feeding the MPEG-LA lawyers at the end of the day. Since I’m trying to reach the broadest possible market, pointing people to greyware would be counterproductive, and telling people just to suck it up and buy a decoder for random Hayato footage would be mean.
- MPEG2 decoders aren’t particularly great/compatible. Same problems as MPEG1, but more exacerbated in that there really is no great/perfect MPEG2 decoder available (see next point, though!). If you’re going to start tinkering with your MPEG2 decoders (you’ll generally need to if you accidentally install more than one), you “get” to use fun stuff like RadLight and etc. This is a stupid field. The fact that the inbox multimedia control panel on Windows sucks angers me. WMP11’s Help:About:Technical Support Information is a step forward, but you still have to use RadLight or etc to get anywhere here. :annoy:
- The Vista MPEG2 decoder should kick much ass over all those available on XP. So if you’re going to tinker with MPEG2, use that and you’ll avoid many many headaches.
- Not generally great for you to download. Lovely quality, massive use of space. High-quality MPEG2/DVD are a great choice for a secondary format. If you’re going to do a DVD-only release, it would be really kind of you to release low-quality versions in time. If you hand me off a disc of those files, I’ll put them up a year or two later (time-release footage!) if you want. I don’t like losing footage.
- An interesting choice. I haven’t really looked into the MPEG-LA’s terms on the decoder end (I’ve followed it as it went along, but that just means my memories are clouded with the early licensing plans), but it should continue to blossom in the market. Right now it’s just not really easy for everyone to play this. This should change in the next year or so. I’m not interested in pulling my hair out here right now, but respect the fans here.
- I hate Flash with a passion. Hopefully this gets better in the future, because right now I cry at night when people only host videos on YouTube or etc. I don’t like the client, and the low bitrates of most Flash videos make my eyes bleed. This is my least favorite choice. Almost anything only available in Flash video pretty much instantly becomes lost footage. :sad:
- Balkanization: There’s how many varieties of DivX/XviD now? Right. MMReg should have been able to plug this hole (which was deliberately created by very evil third parties), but it was really overwhelmed. I’ve generally fixed up the identification backends at Microsoft, so if you’re playing XXX, WMP will let you know via Web Help. But it’s still a goddamned headache, and there’s no safe way to get you XXX codec randomly.
- DirectShow problems: DirectShow generally lets you plug anything in randomly, and most codec packs (vile beasts that they are) install Voxware and the Morgan Multimedia Switcher (mmswitch.ax). If you have those, KILL THEM. You don’t want them and they’ll cause random problems during playback of unrelated files.
- If you have to use AVI, use Koepi’s XviD and … MP3 audio, I guess. That’s probably the easiest for your end user. But playback for them is going to vary wildly according to which of the ninety decoders they have on their system, and that sucks.
- I of course usually do my capturing to DV-AVI and encode from there. DV-AVI is not practical for Internet distribution, though.
- Generally locks you into the QuickTime Player, which isn’t interesting. QuickTime Alternative doesn’t count as a general purpose solution. =\
- Seems dead. Also generally locks you into the RealPlayer, which isn’t interesting. Real Alternative doesn’t count as a general purpose solution. =\
- There’s tons of interesting small formats. They don’t really work well for everyone, which is my end goal here.
- Sure it’s got its problems/limitations, but to me right now it represents the best choice available for massive broad distribution of files.
Most people tend to edit in MPEG2 or uncompressed AVI, and then deliver in WMV. There’s other options available, of course, but that for my uses provides the best solution.
That’s a pretty good starting point of where my head is at. Notes:
- You’re not a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer. If you’re going to attempt to provide interpretations of legal/licensing issues, please provide references. Otherwise you’re just going to confuse people. And that’s boring.
- I work at Microsoft, as I always have. I speak on my own behalf as I always do. I gain nothing by selling any of you out. I gain nothing if Microsoft succeeds or fails. I do “win” if ANY company provides great multimedia solutions. I work at Microsoft because, of every company in the entire industry, I see them positioned best to deliver multimedia greatness. Massive work has to be done in this field. I heartily applaud the work done by any company/competitor/friend, because it just makes my life better.
- I generally cannot discuss or take a stand on legal issues: that would be extremely inappropriate. I shall dance around them and provide relevant information or pointers where possible, but it’s not possible for me to Speak upon them. We’re here as friends having a discussion, not arguing.
This is an open discussion. The above is just how it’s easiest for me to distribute a couple terabytes of video per month without even having to think about it. :tup:
EDIT: Random good Windows Media primer here.