• United States

Ranting about codec versions

May 23, 20032 mins
Data Center

Why is it the simplest streaming project seems to turn out the most complicated? Our marketing department asked me to make an online version of short video they shot at a recent sales meeting. The video was on DV tape making it easy to suck into my editing application and cut the thing down to just the bit they wanted. The problem came when it was time to output the minute-plus clip. I first tried to encode to the Windows Media 9 format using Sorenson Squeeze. The resulting file looked great and didn’t require you to be on the LAN to view it. But, while I could view it no one else could thanks to antiquated players. Having non-techies try to download and install a new version on Media Player would be a nightmare, so I did up another version using version 8 of the Windows Media codec. That worked, but the quality just isn’t as good.

Juggling the formats is always a pain. Real and Microsoft say most of the codecs are backward compatible with older players, but that’s not always the case. Sure, using something like MPEG could work, but the file sizes are huge. MPEG-4 is better on the bandwidth utilization, but if the end user don’t have a newer version of Real or Windows Media, chances are they’re not going to have an MPEG-4 decoder installed either. For now, I guess its sacrifice some quality and go with the lowest common denominator.