Or, Taming of the Video File (Prepare for submission…)
By now, you have heard of an internet web-display format known as flash video, or flv – this is the web’s most popular display format for videos. A progressive download of a large video becomes more manageable… yet many viewers will find hiccups – starts and stops - with any progressive download format. No matter what file type you use, a viewer with less than perfect internet bandwidth connection can have a very frustrating experience.
MP4? MOV? WMV? RMV? H.264? SWF? SWV? AVI? MPEG2?
So many video formats … so much to learn … why does everything have to be so DIFFICULT?
Well … that’s because … well … just BECAUSE. Sorry it’s that way, but until there becomes a single universal video format, we just have to … ahem … deal with it.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad. If you’re preparing video for submission to SOSA, we can make the task a little easier. In this article, we’ll outline the format used for our videos on the SOSA website, and fill you in on what you can (and CAN’T) send to us for your submissions. We hope that will make your job (and ours) a lot easier and a lot less stressful.
The taming of large files comes from a special format +special servers that offer a true “streaming” experience. That’s what you want from us. And that’s what this article will give to you: A complete guide to file preparation, so that we can offer YOUR video for a high-quality streaming experience.
FREE BONUS: If you are developing content for video signage, most of this information will be invaluable for you!
SOSA Streaming Video
The videos broadcast on the SOSA website are formatted specifically for streaming, allowing the host server to communicate with the viewer’s computer to determine the best rate at which to send the data. The videos are encoded in MPEG-4 (or MP4) format, which uses H.264 encoding. It is agreed by virtually all hosting services that this is the most universally viewable and stream-able format, while allowing a very high quality image and sound. Basically, that means virtually anyone can watch our videos, whether they happen to use a Windows-based PC or a Mac, provided they have a reasonably fast Internet connection (cable/DSL or better – sorry old-school phone line modems won’t cut it). The resolution for our standard videos is 448×336 pixels, and for widescreen it’s 512×288 pixels. These resolutions have been chosen using a very complex mathematical formula to determine a proper multiple of 16 pixels, which seems to result in better execution of the H.264 encoder. Whew. All you really need to know is … these resolutions work … they keep the video clear, and allow a stream rate that can be viewed by almost everyone out there in inter-web-land.
We Covertly Convert
Behind locked and hidden doors, during the dark of night, in a padded room … we will convert your video submission to the SOSA broadcast format. We add our title tags and watermark for security, to avoid illegal copying and such. It will then be uploaded to our server, added to our catalog, and made available to the waiting masses for purchase via on-demand viewing. We call the entire process “SOSAfication”. Yes, we SOSAfy your video project!
So what do we need from you in order to make this happen? We need one of the following:
- A video file in an acceptable format (see below).
- A video tape from your camera (see further below).
- A DVD Video disc (see even further below).
Once we have your video, we’ll get to work.
Acceptable File Submission (take that! And that! and that!)
Although we can work with virtually any file format, there are some that work well, and some that work … well, NOT so well. Given that premise, here are our preferred formats (not in any specific order) … which means if you want to send anything different, you need to contact us first and do some explaining:
- WMV (or Windows Media Video)
- MOV (QuickTime)
- AVI – this makes for HUGE files, so only use this if nothing else is available!!
- CAMREC (native Camtasia Studio file – with audio, please!)
Frame size, or resolution, for standard 4:3 aspect (non-widescreen) video must be AT LEAST 448×336. You can also send any larger multiple of a 4:3 aspect ratio (width to height). For example, you could send a video with resolution of 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high, which maintains the proper width to height ratio of 4:3. Got it?
Frame size for widescreen video uses a 16:9 (width to height) aspect ratio. Your video submission in this format must be AT LEAST 512 pixels wide by 288 pixels high (512×288). As with standard aspect video, you may send files with a larger frame size, as long as it maintains the same 16:9 proportions.
PLEASE NOTE: We can scale your videos DOWN in size and retain the quality … but quality will be lost if we have to scale them UP!
Compressed Video Bitrate (for applicable formats) should be AT LEAST 800Kbps … or higher!!
Compressed Audio Bitrate should be at least 80Kbps, preferably 128Kbps or higher. Either Stereo or Mono modes are fine. The Sample rate should be 48KHz. If the audio in your file is uncompressed, make it 48KHz-16bit. Please keep in mind that uncompressed audio will result in much larger file size, so it may not be the best choice for longer videos.
All files may be submitted in one of the following storage formats:
- Data CD
- Data DVD
- Portable Hard Disk
- USB Flash Drive
- Upload via Client FTP
We will not take responsibility for any damage to your storage device during shipping. Portable Hard Disks and Flash Drives may be returned upon request. (Shipping charges will be applied)
Video Tape Submission
If you don’t have the hardware/software to prepare your own video in one of the above file formats … or if you don’t have the desire and time to learn the process and do it yourself … or if you don’t have a friend, family member, or distant cousin thrice removed who “does it all the time” … but you do have video you’ve shot on your digital camcorder, we can likely help if you send us your video tape.
We can accept ONLY the following:
- Mini DV tape – Standard 4:3 aspect ratio (sorry, no widescreen tapes)
Please understand there will be additional charges for capturing your video tape, editing, and converting to our broadcast format. It is a much longer process than starting from a prepared video file. Please call if you have any questions.This SOSA site has price guidelines – see Studio SOSA pages.
DVD Video Submission
If you have a video already produced on DVD, you can simply send us a copy! We can generally … which means ALMOST always … extract the video files from the disc and convert them to our broadcast format. In some cases, this may not work, but most standard DVD video discs will yield good results.
Your DVD must be in an NTSC compliant format, either standard or widescreen aspect ratio. Sorry, no PAL DVD videos accepted at this time.
Please be aware that if you have special menus or other navigation features on your DVD, these will not be a part of the converted video for online viewing. The online format does not allow for those functions straight from your set-up. However, individual chapters or titles/segments from your DVD can be made selectable in our online menu!
If you have any questions regarding acceptable formats or how to submit your video, or just a technical question and want help, feel free to drop me a line. If I can help, you can buy me a cup of coffee