Tutorial :What video format is the smallest without losing quality?



Question:

We have a new client that we will be hosting content for. The client is producing a lot of video content. They have asked us what format we would like the files to be in.

Now this video content will be uploaded and stored in our web based CRM. The client's customers will have access to this content for direct download (no streaming) through the browser.

What file format would produce the smallest files while still preserving good quality and is common enough to play in most media players (Winamp, Windows Media Player, etc)?

UPDATE: I should have been a bit more clear. First of all we are not streaming the videos. They are only available for download. They have to play in common media players like Winamp and Windows Media Player. Some of our client's customers are large corporations so deploying new codecs to play the content is not a favorable option. It needs to play out of the box so that rules out Flash and Xvid.


Solution:1

I prefer XviD, but it requires a third-party codec.

If compatibility supercedes compression, I would recommend ASF, which is basically just a container for WMA and WMV.


Solution:2

Why not look at what the big players are already doing on the web? This Wikipedia page describes what YouTube uses for its video format (FLV using various codecs depending on target, etc.).

The best quality video is the one your end users can actually see, so going for maximum compatibility is the approach to take when building for the web, unless there is something compelling enough about your content that users are willing to go to extra trouble to install codecs or video players that they may not have.

You can't beat Flash for market penetration. You can do quite good quality video with Flash at the cost of increased file size - this is a trade-off you must decide on yourself, based on the market you are targeting.

EDIT: Based on your update, it sounds like you are targetting Windows. So, you probably need to go with .WMV, and which version depends on the version of Windows in use by your client's users.


Solution:3

The smallest with the best quality is flash video. Is this something you can support?


Solution:4

This is a loaded question, are you asking which codec's are supported by media players and which offer the best quality to compression ratio.

If you can deploy codecs to the clients great, if not you are kind of limited and will probably end up with a flash based solution like youtube.

If you can get them to install codecs then use xvid:

http://www.codecguide.com/download_kl.htm

If not a flv media player:

http://www.longtailvideo.com/players/jw-flv-player/


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