A video conversion decision

After pondering the question of hosting my own videos time and time again (and I’m sure there are other brief mentions of the quandary scattered about), I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it’s time to make the leap.  It’s not that I mind hosting them here as standalone files.  It’s not that I think the quality problems with a hosting service are acceptable.  It’s not that I think having some stupid hosting logo stuck on the screen during playback is okeydokey.

It’s just that hosting them myself consumes a tremendous amount of bandwidth.  This site has increasingly moved uphill in bandwidth usage, and no small part of that stems from video downloads.

Also, I’ve continued finding the videos posted to other sites around the net without proper attribution or linking, something that is a copyright violation, theft, and downright spiteful.  So no more.

I’m beginning the process of migrating all videos to Google.  I thought about YouTube but can’t honestly see a difference between the two at this point.  Quality issues and conversion artifacts appear to be consistent on both platforms, and Google owns both anyway.

I suspect it will take some time to get all the videos moved over.  That’s because I have no correlative index to guide me from what’s been posted to what’s in the camera archive.  So it’ll be a hunting expedition.  But it doesn’t end there.

Many of the videos I’ve uploaded have been altered.  In order to get the best quality from Google when I convert them, I need to go back to the original AVI versions.  For those videos that I’ve cropped, lightened, or otherwise manhandled, I’ll need to perform the same steps on the original AVI file before uploading and converting it.

So this will be an ongoing process for some time.  I don’t consider it urgent.  That means I’ll work on it as time permits.  I’ll also be doing the conversions in reverse chronological order—from newest to oldest, the same as the typical blog chronology.  You’ll see the most recent videos change first, and slowly all the remaining videos will follow.

[Update] As luck would have it, embedding Flash in an XHTML document is totally fubar.  There’s no simple way to do it, the default methods aren’t even valid HTML—let alone XHTML, and nobody has quick, simple, standardized code that works across all browsers on all platforms while retaining its W3C validity.  Yet my decision stands.  Since I don’t post videos all the time, I think the intermittent XHTML validation errors are acceptable—painful and frustrating, but acceptable.  I’ll continue to investigate ways to resolve the bastardized code and validation errors without letting it inhibit the video conversion process.  It’s never easy, is it?

Also, for the sake of convenience, I’ve now split out the video category so it’s easier to find specific groups of items.  You can see the updates in the sidebar.

[Update 2] Well, it didn’t take long for me to change my mind about Google versus YouTube (or GooTube or YouOogle or whatever it’s called now).  Google Video gave me all sorts of fits and problems.  Some videos wouldn’t even convert for inexplicable reasons (their site offers NO HELP WHATSOEVER in that regard).  When I went over to YouTube, those issues vanished without a single look back.  So you’ll now see the videos are posted from YouTube instead.  Just sayin’.

8 thoughts on “A video conversion decision”

  1. Hey Jason – how do you edit your videos? I just started investigating videos yesterday, loading two on YouTube because YouTube works with WordPress users who host on their own website. My files are .avi, but they recommend .mpg. How do you convert from .avi to .mpg?
    P.S. I enjoy your blog, even though I don’t comment to everything.

  2. Pam: I use QuickTime to edit AVI files and convert them to MOV, and Movie Maker to convert AVI to WMV. But QuickTime can also convert to MPEG4, although I tried that once and wasn’t happy with the outcome (mind you, I tried it only once and didn’t tinker much with the settings, so I’d chalk that up to me being a novice and not knowing what I was doing). As I just noted in this post, I switched over to YouTube after having some problems with Google. I’m uploading AVI files and they seem to be working fine. I might eventually try an MPG in case there’s a major difference. You’re welcome to glance through those I’ve converted thus far to see if the AVI conversion is satisfactory before you start going that route.

    Eric: I’m with you. I usually upload one video per week. That’s been happening for the last few years. Golly, it sure added up awful quick . . .

  3. Thanks for the information Jason! I like YouTube because everything was a piece of cake. I don’t like how my video looks (in .avi format) there as compared to on my computer. I’ll look through your videos!
    The think I don’t like about YouTube is to add a link to my blog I had to make it public. Not true with Flickr – I can keep my photos for my friends and still add them to my blog.

  4. One thing you can do with YouTube is set the video to private and embed it in a post on your site. It’ll be visible that way, but no one except you will be able to view it from the YouTube site. Of course, the other option is to ask everyone you know to get a YouTube account so you can authorize them to see the private videos.

    Also, on uploading AVI files to YouTube (and Google and every other video service), they get upsized during conversion. As with all graphics files, that degrades them (as opposed to downsizing, which does the opposite). While you can’t control the size of the finished product, you can control the size of the embedded viewer. That’s what I’m doing to get the videos to look like the originals and to work around the loss of quality. They’re still not as good as the originals, but they’re comparable to the WMV and MOV files I was generating.

  5. Thanks Jason! There’s two sets of parameters in the embedded code. What do you set both of these sets of of parameters to? I like the size of your YouTube viewers. Thanks!

  6. Since my videos are originally recorded at 320×240, I did the math to resize the YouTube viewer to that size. If you set the width to 320 and the height to 264 in both sets of parameters, that will resize the window like mine. But if your videos are recorded at a different size, let me know and I’ll figure out the correct parameters for you to return them to their normal dimensions.

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