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Archive for encoding

Here at vzaar support, we see a lot of videos! I’ve noticed recently that a lot of videos we’re delivering for customers are much bigger than they need to be which can lead to playback problems and uses up bandwidth faster than needed. Using the wrong encoding settings can actually increase the size of your videos, so let’s take a look at why that can happen and how to avoid it…

Source video vs. target video

When you upload your video to vzaar, the video you are uploading is referred to as the ‘source’ video. In most cases, we’ll re-encode your video for online delivery (because the quality and size of video used in desktop editing and viewing can be too high and too big for viewing over an average internet connection).

Once your video is encoded, that’s the version we deliver to your viewers and we refer to it as the ‘target’ video. In some cases (if you’re using iOS Optimized Streams or Dual Encoding) we’ll create more than one target video – we call those different renditions.

Bitrates and bandwidth

Like any other digital media, video is made up of bits and bytes of data. The bitrate of your video is the number of bits that are conveyed per unit of time. In online and desktop video, you’ll normally see it measured in Kbits per second (Kbps).

Very generally speaking, the higher the bitrate, the better the quality of the video. However, you can’t add quality to a video after the fact. If your video is recorded at, say, 2,000Kbps, you can’t just re-encode it at 4,000Kbps and make it look twice as good – you’ll just end up with a much bigger file which looks the same (or worse) and eats up bandwidth twice as fast!

Playback bandwidth is the data streamed – from us to your viewer – when a video is played. For example, if you have a video that is 10Mb and it is watched from start to finish once you would have used 10Mb of your monthly playback allowance (actually, you’ll have used just a little more than that because we have to deliver a player and the poster frame for your video).

vzaar Encoding

When you upload your source video using our upload page, you’ll see that you have the ability to change the size and bitrate of the video:


The settings under “video dimensions” such as ‘Small’, ‘Medium’, ‘Large’ and ‘High Definition’ are pre-sets for convenience. ‘Original’ will use the original settings of your source and ‘Custom’ let’s you set the width and bit rate for your target video explicitly.

It’s important that you always choose a Kbits value which is the same or smaller than that of your source so that you don’t increase the size of your video during encoding.

If you look under the title of any of your videos on the video manage page, you’ll see “Content storage”. Click on the small, green downward arrow and you’ll see something like this:


In this case, I chose a bitrate – 4000Kbps – which was significantly higher than that of the source. Now the target file is 3 times the size which means we’re using 3 times as much bandwidth as we need to!

And it looks no better.

The source video in that example was encoded at 780Kbps. If I upload the file again and choose 512 for Kbits, you see this:


Now we have a smaller file size which uses less bandwidth, less money AND still gives your viewers a great quality video.

Here’s the two examples so you can compare the difference for yourselves:

512Kbps: smaller size & less bandwidth

4000Kbps: large size & more bandwidth

What if I don’t know my source file bit rate?

If you’re creating and editing the video, you’ll normally set the bitrate of the source video in the final export settings. In Adobe Premiere, it looks like this:


If somebody else creates the video or you’re just not sure of the bit rate you can use a tool like Media Info or Media Inspector to find it out.

In summary

Find out the bitrate of your source video and, when uploading to vzaar, set the Kbits rate to a number which is the same or smaller.

Experiment with different bit rates to find a setting which makes your videos look great during playback and keeps the target video size as low as possible. That way, you’ll provide your viewers with a great viewing experience (and save yourself some money while you do it).

Categories Tech Tips, Video Management, vzaar FAQ
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New Encoding Settings Control

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vzaar Encoding SettingsEncoding is an important process when uploading video online. We encode your video from the many formats out there to the MP4 video format. We also offer the option to encode to the FLV format but MP4’s play on the iPhone and iPad and is widely considered a better quality format so we default to this. The FLV option we offer uses the h.263 codec, an older codec that was the used when YouTube first launched and preceded h.264. A full list of the video formats our encoders support can be found here. There are two factors to consider when encoding online video; video quality and video file size. They are both connected, just like a see saw. Increase the quality and you increase the file size and visa a versa.

We have a default setting we apply to your video on upload. This default setting is one that we tested and selected on the basis that it was the right balance of quality and file size. It also takes into consideration the player size you select. As we encode to these dimensions ensuring optimal quality. (We do not stretch the video) This week we rolled out a new feature that gives you the option to control your encoding setting. You don’t have to, as its always reset to our default settings, but if you want to increase the quality of your videos or reduce the file size then you can.

Read more about this feature here on our help page.

Tip! If you are concerned about your monthly bandwidth usage then one thing to consider is reducing the file size of your video(s). You can do this by re-encoding the video and adjusting the encoding settings to a smaller file size. This will also reduce the quality but it in some cases it may not even be noticeable to the naked eye. This is ideal for recorded video webinars that are long in length.

Categories vzaar updates
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Encoding Video for the Web

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For those of you who missed the webinar on video encoding for the web you are in luck as it has been recorded and the video can be seen below. I have broken it into two parts. The first part was presented by Larry Kless and his piece is about 20 minutes long covering the fundamentals of video encoding. This includes all that you need to know about video compression as well as offering some tips and best practices for shooting video for the web. Want to know the difference between a codec and a container or learn about video formats then hear what Larry has to say.

The second part presented by Robert Reinhardt is being dubbed “Advanced” as Robert goes into more detail about video codec’s and goes into why he thinks x264 is important.He also gives an awesome demo of Handbrake a free downloadable desktop encoding application which is a handy tool to have. I personally use Handbrake all the time and I still learned a few things I did not know from Robert. This section also includes coverage of the Q&A session we had at the end of the webinar where some intersting topics were covered such as html 5 and the future of flash.

Also included is an iTunes podcast link for those who want to download the video podcast and a download link for those who want to download the actual video. Special thanks to Mark Robertson of Reelseo for all his help in not only making the Webinar happen but for his time in cutting the actual video. Reelseo is a great resource for all things related to video and online marketing. Last but not least a special thanks to Larry, Robert and Stella (Roberts Dog) for sharing their extensive knowledge on video encoding. Top notch chaps!!

VIDEO PODCAST DOWNLOAD VIDEO: Encoding Video for the Web Webinar Basic DOWNLOAD VIDEO: Encoding Video for the Web Webinar Advanced

Categories Video Production
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REGISTER For Free Webinar May 5th 2010 11AM Pacific

Everything you need to know about encoding video for the web.

We have teamed up with Reelseo, the leading video marketing & video SEO news website, and are sponsoring a Free Webinar about encoding video for the web.

If you have questions about encoding video for the web then this webinar is for you. Sign up for this free event hosted by Reelseo, and presented by Larry Kless , and Robert Reinhardt two well respected online video specialists.

At vzaar we provide a video hosting service, and as part of the end to end solution we encode videos to a pre-set range of parameters. We also have a feature that allows you to by pass this encoding process so we publish the video you upload. This gives our customers the freedom to encode the videos to their specification. This webinar will provide you with all the information you need to know so you can feel confident enough to encode your own videos.

Here are some of the topics on the agenda: • What is video compression? • What is bit rate? • Video codec’s vs. container formats? • Format considerations • Shooting tips for web video • Why H.264? • How to create high quality H.264 encoding settings

See you on the 5th and come prepared with your questions.


Categories Video Production
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