Monday, March 24, 2008

Publishing Video

Everyone is posting their video these days, how hard can it be?

I shot some short video clips of a school of dolphins on my Canon SD700 IS.

The first hurdle was to combine them together. I fired up iMovie for the very first time and managed to put in the clips, crop them, and add transitions. So far so good.

I exported the movie and uploaded it to YouTube. The QuickTime mov file was about 100mb for 30 seconds so it took a long time (almost 2 hours) to upload it over the hotel DSL. It would be nice if you got some progress feedback - I started to wonder if it was working or not.

Finally I can play the YouTube video. Yuck. Shrunken down from 640x480 to YouTube size and highly compressed, it looked like crap.

I start looking for alternatives and I decide to try Google Video. One of the reasons is that it recommends 640x480. I try the Google Uploader this time. It still takes forever. And the Google Video version still looks like crap and it appears to have shrunk it even smaller than YouTube (pick "Original Size" on the pop up menu).

The most recommended format seemed to be mpeg4 so I started to look for a way to convert the file. One of the suggestions I found said to use iMovie. Sure enough, although it is far from obvious that iMovie can do this, there are instructions in the help. The key is to choose "Expert Settings". I guess only experts would want something other than QuickTime! It took some trial and error experimentation to get a file that looked decent. I ended up choosing Lan/Intranet, even though that isn't what I want. (I hate it when the "right" settings are obviously "wrong".) This mpeg4 file is under 6mb, a little better than the "default" QuickTime file.

Next I decided to try only because I'd recently seen some videos published there. Their FAQ doesn't really say much about resolution or compression, but then again, neither do YouTube or Google Video. Their web upload gives good progress feedback - very nice. (And I'm at the coffee shop this time and the upload rate is better.) I watch the video and, eureka, it looks good. But it says it's still being processed (converted to Flash). When it finishes I watch the Flash version. But at least you can choose the format and if you pick the MPEG4 version the quality is better. I'm not sure if that's a limitation of the Flash format or if they just choose a higher compression. At least even the Flash version is the full 640x480 unlike YouTube and Google Video.

Google actually has a third option - uploading to Picasa Web Albums. But you have to use Picasa to upload video and they don't have a Mac version. I could have installed Picasa inside my Windows VM in Parallels but that seemed like too much hassle.

I'm a newbie at publishing video, and probably pickier than most people. But it seems like this technology is still pretty rough around the edges. Maybe there are ways to make YouTube or Google Video work better. Oh well, in the end I accomplished what I set out to.

No comments: