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Thread: One year later - still confused over streaming compression settings - please help!!!

  1. #1
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    Default One year later - still confused over streaming compression settings - please help!!!

    Hi there

    I have now been pulling my hair out for about a year!!! I cant believe it. Somone put me out of my misery.

    I have HD footage taken directly from my camcorder and edited in Final Cut. I want to be able to compress this footage (about 10 mins for each separate video) to be streamed on my server via a streaming software.

    I have compression programs like Final Cut Pro, Quicktime Pro, Mpeg Streamclip and Adobe CS4 Media Encoder and still cant for the life of me compress a video and make it look good at a reasonable bitrate.

    My videos can look OK using a bitrate of about 1200-1400 kbps but anything lower and they look poor and pixelated. When I try to stream these files, they are very jumpy and try to buffer alot. When I ask advice from people, they all say that my bitrate settings are too high and should be about 600-800kbps!!! Surely not. At that bitrate, my videos would look horrendous. Please someone tell me what on earth I am doing wrong.

    My videos will be 960 x 540 frame size, encoded with H264 into a mp4 file.

    Im sure this is such a basic thing for someone, but its eluding me. Please help me figure this.

    Thank you

    Dan
    Last edited by lorddlm1; 05-04-2009 at 12:51 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi, Have you tried FLV files I see when you down load to Vimeo they always convert the video's to FLV, I don't know anything about streaming video so might not be what you want.
    Bryan

  3. #3
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    If the content of your video is ' lively ' then anything below 1 ish mbit / sec will look very poor.

    I find H264 is good at higher bit rates but very prone to compression blocks at low bit rates. I am suprised people have a problem with 1 ish mbit for streaming.

    I often upload at 3 mbit and find most people most of the time only have to buffer for a short acceptable time.

    Maybe your server space supplier can up your b width, or maybe they are not great at atreaming media ?

    For moderate / low bit rates I find wmv performs better then 264 - it is also one of the most portable players. Default PCs will always play them and the player is available free and fully functional for macs from m soft.

    WMVs tend to get softer at lower bit rate with less obvious clutter.

  4. #4
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    Hi there Mark

    Thank you so much for responding to my post - I really appreciate this.

    I am so confused by people saying that low bit rates are the way to go. My streaming software advises a bit rate of 300-500 kbps!!! Surely not, they would be unwatchable in quality. Do lower bit rates use less bandwidth, or put less strain on the server than higher bit rates? Please excuse my ignorance, but I have never understood how bit rates relate to the encoding process and to how the viewer streams or downloads them.

    I am seeing very nice videos that have low bit rates yet still look so much better than what im producing at much higher bit rates and file sizes.

    Our streaming server is only able to stream Flash files of those that have been encoded using H264. We chose mp4 as they seem to be streamed and downloaded easily.

    If you can shed any more light on this, I cant tell you how appreciative I would be.

    Dan

  5. #5
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    I am no flash expert but not all encoders are created equally. There are some snazzy and v clever hardware encoders that do a much better job at a huge price.

    A bit rate of 500 is very low, you tube is now up to 1 to 1.5, the BBC iplayer is similar. The worst that can happen at higher rates is a bit of buffering.

    Compression always works best on good source material - manic hand held video with a fast chagning picture is the worst. This effect can even be seen on DVDs if you are fussy like me. Also again - great lighting will pay dividends after compression as compression always seems to make the video feel less vital and vibrant.

    BUT - compression ALWAYS impacts on quality.

    The bit rate of a video is just the speed that the stream needs to d load at to play smoothly.

  6. #6
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    Hi there Mark

    This is fascinating! So when I select a bit rate of 500kbps that would mean that my target viewer would need to have an internet connection minimum of half megabit to stream this successfully?

    If thats the case, then surely even compressing to 1.5mbit would stream fine for most users now.

    So am i right in thinking that the only negative aspects of higher bit rates are:

    1. Higher draw on server bandwidth (the server will have to allocate more bandwidth to each user's connection for each video)
    2. Larger file sizes.

    Is this correct? Are there any other negatives i should know about?

    Once again Mark, so sorry for bombarding you with all these questions but you have helped me more in your two emails than I have had in the last 6 months!!!

    Thank you so much

    Dan

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    Lols - glad to be of use.

    Yes - if the bit rate os 1.5 meg bit that is the speed the person needs to connect at to avoid mid play buffering.

    Most people have 2 mbit and even from the us at busy times i find my server can supply that to the uk.

    The far east from europe / US may be a problem in my expirience and b marking. The internet gets slow from eu to aus and far east.

    Depends where your server is.

    High bandwidth means similarly large video file. Streaming and storing big files will increase your server costs. Sometimes you tube hosting is a good option but it can also look ' cheap ' in my view and unlikely to impress customers.

  8. #8
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    Thank you so much Mark

    For the first time in about a year I can go ahead and start trying to compress at your suggested bit rates with the confidence to know what I am doing now. I cant thank you enough!

    I can see that you have a superb dedicated website to your video endeavors and wanted to know if you have any suggestions for good frame sizes for streaming HD widescreen that will fit into most people monitor screen sizes? I have heard that multiples of 16 are the best ratios to go for? Is there any size you recommend?

    Again, my full appreciation goes out to you

    Dan

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