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Media Data Storage The Internet

Video Formats for non-Windows Users? 749

ccdotnet asks: "I look after a small web site for a rising sports star. We have a small number of short videos in .WMV (9) format available for download. These .WMV files are typically 3-5 MB in size (we do a "low res" and a "hi res" version). Each video is typically 1-2 minutes and 320x240. The site gets maybe 100 visitors per day. Our outbound hosting bandwidth is _very_ limited, so although we are keen to cater for non-Windows users (around 7% of our visitors), I've struggled to find a suitable video format which doesn't blow the size of the file right out. Ideally I would like to keep these files at a similar size but at the same time want to maintain a reasonable video quality. Are users of other platforms just out of luck? What non-Windows/Mac video formats can people recommend so that I can deliver this content to people who can't play .WMV for one reason or another?"
A few years ago, playing .WMV files might have been problematic for users who didn't use either a Macintosh or a Windows-based operating system. Now, with MPlayer and its derivatives making strides, it's not as much of an issue. Of course, there are still .WMV files that don't play well in Mplayer, but what suggestions would you have for creating Mplayer-safe .WMVs as well as other, more cross-platform friendly formats?
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Video Formats for non-Windows Users?

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  • Xvid (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:20PM (#11481725)
    What's wrong with Xvid [xvid.org]? It plays on Windows and Linux (and other things).

    If you're concerned about bandwidth, why not Coral Cache [nyu.edu] things?
    • Re:Xvid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JohnnyBigodes ( 609498 ) <morphine@@@digitalmente...net> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:30PM (#11481920)
      Maybe, just maybe, because it isn't supported out-of-the-box, and since most average users can't even double-click without help, they won't take the time/effort to install an external codec, much less one they never heard about (maybe you could get away with RealPlayer or something like that, but anything less known and it's pushing it).
    • If I'm not seriously mistaken, MPEG-4 is only good for high resolution videos and not so good for 320x240 videos.
    • Re:Xvid (Score:2, Informative)

      Well the problem with Xvid is that its generally not standard on most computers. You'd have to let your customers install xvid codec before they could view the videos. But in this case I don't see a problem.

      So yeah Xvid is not bad choice at all, I would suggest looking into Quicktime though, since its more ubiquitous.

      If you are working with Xvid I would also suggest using vdub [virtualdub.org] for editing/encoding your movies. Check out Doom9 [doom9.net] for several guides/faq's and general help for working with these videos.

    • Not legal (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:58PM (#11482311)
      Xvid is an MPEG-4 implementation which, while an open standard, is patented and requires a license to use. Xvid itself is protected as a source-only distribution, which is considered an academic work. However to compile and use it, you need a license. What's more, MPEG-4 has use fees, you have to pay per hour per viewer for media.

      Now while they don't know (or likely care) about home usage, something like this will draw their ire if you don't pay the fees.
    • Re:Xvid (Score:3, Interesting)

      by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) *
      I work with a small web-based company which distributes media files in audio and video formats, and we've decided to go with ogm (xvid video, ogg audio) video files and ogg audio for our audio/video content that doesn't require extremely high quality. If you're presently using WMV, quality is clearly not a concern.
  • XVID (Score:2, Redundant)

    by pestie ( 141370 )
    I'm thinking XVid - open source, tight compression.
    • Re:XVID (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I love XviD, but while your average slashdot geek has the latest codec installed, your average net surfer, I'm afraid, does not. I'd say stick with the big three--wmv, quicktime, or real. But don't use real. It's evil.
      • Re:XVID (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It's 2005, a LOT of people have DivX or Xvid (or something else compatible) installed. ATI includes DivX with all of their video cards.

        Plus, he's trying to cater to Linux users (ie more technical ones). Xvid is perfect for that. You can also easily provide a link to Xvid binaries for Windows users, and they just need to run an installer.
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:20PM (#11481736)
    Quicktime might be the best compromise. It's cross-platform, has reasonable file sizes, reasonable quality, etc.
    • As a windows user I prefer QT to WMA/WMV files. Mainly because I despise Windows Media Player so much (why should a #%$%# update to a movie player require a reboot!). With QT I can transfer and send the links anywhere and know they will work. Plus, when you blow up the pictures there aren't many artifacts compared to others. (Look at redvsblue)
    • I agree that quicktime should be used, but I'm going to 1-up it by saying that even though the quality to file size ratio is a little larger than say, mpeg, the quality at the high end of the spectrum is far greater than any other format for web.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:29PM (#11481899) Homepage Journal
      it's also nagware - that costs 30 bucks.
      also they don't offer version for xp without itunes anymore(on their site at least).

      and officially cross platform if you count windows and mac os(x) as the platforms that exist..

      xvid, and give them a link to videolan client or something, put up some googleads and go look for some cheap bandwith or a sponsor.
    • I dunno.. I might have missed it, but last I checked you had to run through whine.
    • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:51PM (#11482215) Homepage Journal
      Quicktime might be the best compromise. It's cross-platform, has reasonable file sizes, reasonable quality, etc.

      I'm a big QuickTime fan. It's probably the best container format out there.

      But that's the problem -- it's a container format, and not a Codec.

      I think what the requester needs is a good cross-platform container format and Codec, in which case MP4 (which is based on QuickTime's container format) is probably the best bet for cross-platform access.

      Or, as much as I hate to say it, Real format. I'm not a Real fan, but their player does run natively on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, and can be made to run on OS/2 systems if you're so inclined.


    • by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @02:40PM (#11482844) Homepage
      ...But... what if I'm running Linux on a non-x86 computer????? What then?

      Xvid works just fine---none of the binary codes work. I can't even get Acrobat Reader.

      Now, open source on the other hand, works just fine. Just download, recompile, and it's all up and running.
  • by nounderscores ( 246517 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:21PM (#11481747)
    mpeg. or quicktime.
  • by PincheGab ( 640283 ) * on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:21PM (#11481748)
    Why don't you try what others have done: Istead of a straight download, provide a BitTorrent seed? There was a recent story about this on ./ IIRC...
    • by ahecht ( 567934 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:23PM (#11481781) Homepage
      Many people, especially those on certain univeristy or corporate networks, cannot use BitTorrent.
    • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:25PM (#11481819)
      It's a small site too.

      How would you explain to your cousin to download Azureus, update JVM, download the file, put it in Azureus, and leave it running for a few days?

      Direct download is the better solution than torrent in some situations.

      • By using Blog Torrent [blogtorrent.com]! Sets up a simple tracker, allows even the most novice to seed files, and bundles the bittorrent client with the torrent file in one single download. They have versions for mac and windows, and allow for the download of just the .torrent file for Linux users.
    • LOL (Score:3, Informative)

      by PincheGab ( 640283 ) *
      Ok, if so many people are anti-BitTorrent then modify my reply to read: "Why don't you provide a BitTorrent seed as well, and ask people to use it instead of the straight download, if they can?"
      • Re:LOL (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )
        It's not a question of being "anti-BitTorrent", it just isn't the right tool for the job. I like BitTorrent, but it only works for files for which there is a sufficiently high demand that there will be enough users online that have the file. It's perfect for the latest Linux distributions, but rubbish for obscure video files.

        In this case, anyone clicking the "Torrent" link is going to have to wait for hours or even days to get their file.
    • Good thought, but how much of the general population is using BT? I have to explain the concept to everyone I know, and they still don't get it, even after I install it and show it to them. Yeah, BT rocks, and yes it's the cause for 33% of internet traffic, but it's still just one-step too technical for the masses. As this is a sports site, I don't think you are talking about the most 1337 group of visitors to it.
    • That's ridiculous. The site only gets 100 users a day. Not all of them are going to be downloading the videos. The torrent is going to be basically useless since it'll take forever to download a small video. Torrents are not meant for this. Not to mention they're enough of a hassle that casual visitors to the site won't bother watching the video.
    • bittorrent probably isn't a good option for them with so few hits a day. the biggest advantage of bittorrent is when lots of users are running a specific torrent at once.
  • Mpeg. (Score:4, Informative)

    by sharkb8 ( 723587 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:21PM (#11481752)
    Seems to be more of a standard than .wmv. And every player seems to support .MPG files.
  • lots of choices (Score:4, Informative)

    by supersuckers ( 841107 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:21PM (#11481759) Homepage
    The two that come to mind the quickest are xvid and divx. Beyond that, check out http://www.videohelp.com/ [videohelp.com] for a lot more info on video codecs.
    • Free IPod/MacMini (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Take anything this guy says with a large grain of salt. Look at his sleazy sig.
    • Re:lots of choices (Score:3, Informative)

      by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 )
      Yeah, I'd go with xvid or divx. The codecs are available for any OS, so regardless of your player, they should run without problems. Not to mention that these formats give you so many options in terms of quality settings you can have any filesize you want.

      On a side note, WMV files have problems playing in Windows as well. I'm still running Win2K on my laptop, and I did not want to upgrade to WMP9 from WMP6.4 because of its bloat and DRM, but I installed the WMP9 codecs. All WMV files will play, but some re
  • You could always create a torrent for the larger files, that way the sports fans get to help each other download the file.
  • Come on, AVI+DIVX!! !ITS EASY!

    It keeps the size down and the quality high. There are divx clients for every OS, even Linux.
  • by dj245 ( 732906 )
    Anyone knowing enough to know that they don't want to be using Windows Media Player will eventually need the Xvid codec sooner or later. It the same quality as Divx5 (or perhaps better) but without the spyware associations. And its open source and works in Linux so it must be made of solid platinum according to most slashdot moderators.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:24PM (#11481795)
    I look after a small web site for a rising sports star.
    Did anyone else read it as
    I look after a small web site for a rising pr0n star.

    This could have been a real great story!!
  • by TPoise ( 799382 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:24PM (#11481813) Homepage
    Try DiVX [divxnetworks.com] or the open source codec that competes with it called XViD [xvid.org]

    These produce very high quality along with very good compression.

    For some intro how-to's, check out Doom9.org [doom9.org]

    XViD is on:
    - Win32 (MSVC, cygwin, mingw)
    - GNU/Linux x86/ppc/sparc/ia64
    - MacOSX
    - *BSD
    - Solaris 8 Ultra Sparc
    - BeOS

    That covers most of the major operating systems that your users will encounter.

  • A tangential question - what's the status of MP4 in various OSs? I can play it fine in OS X by default, I'm assuming various Linux players cope, but what about Windows?

    Last I checked WMP could't do it, but that was some time ago. Oh, and I mean an ISO .mp4 file, not just the codec.


  • I don't care for WMV files - they are a small step above Realmedia files, but mpegs almost always look better (whether because mpeg is better or because users of the other formats over-compresss, I don't know). You might as well NOT show movies if the quality is too low - it's just frustrating to look at dancing blurry squares - offer hi-res images instead.

  • Real Player (Score:2, Insightful)

    by redwoodtree ( 136298 ) *
    Works on linux(Helix Community [helixcommunity.org]), mac (www.real.com) and windows of course. And if it is a pay-site and you can afford to buy the encoders you can get professional support as well.
  • Quicktime using sorenson compression may be your best best.

    Its annoying to users to make them have to download another player to play your content. Using native players is the best way to go.
  • QT or MPG (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:25PM (#11481828) Homepage
    I did some video work for a very well known media company... one 99% of slashdotters here would likely recognize.

    Here was my analysis:

    QuickTime had the best quality, bandwidth, compatibility for the largest target audience. The player is of equal quality on platforms, and performs very well.

    RealPlayer supports more Platforms that QT, but it's player is at different levels on different platforms, so customizing the appearance of functionality may cause some funny behavior on some operating systems.

    If you want to make sure 100% of the audience can see the media, mpg is still the best format... though be aware that it's not exactly prefered.

    IMHO if you want to get your entire audience, push towards quicktime, and give the option for real player (alternate).

    You'll get most of your audience that way, with the greatest quality video, and the least bandwidth.

    QuickTime pro is only $29, realPlayer producer basic is free. Players for both are free, and widely installed.

    It's very easy to get going on that platform. IMHO it's the best bet this day and age.

    If Apple would support Linux with Quicktime, I would push QuickTime 100%.

    QuickTime's plugin on Windows and Mac OS X is very stable, and reliable. The media quality is also very good.

    Real has compatibility problems on non-windows players. Not everything is implemented on them. Hence they are 2nd class.
    • Via Crossover Office 4.1 [codeweavers.com]. I use it all the time, it integrates into Firefox and the standalone works great (and it's pretty fast!) BTW the forums are pretty old there, the best place to look for compatibility is with the advocates.

      I'm not sure how well the new quicktime 7.0 will work with crossover office, as I don't have access to the prereleases (I don't think it's been publically released yet).

      But it does provide me with the option of using quicktime in linux, which is great. In addition to that, I

    • Use QT for MPG (Score:3, Informative)

      I would go with QuickTime created .mp4 files. They have excellent quality for the file size, play well in QuickTime, and can be viewed in VLC on most platforms if you object to the QuickTime player. Or don't have it, in the case of Linux. The size/quality is better in my estimation than the DivX codec.
      YMMV, but I do know that this will work multi-platform.
  • I'd say
    1. MPEG
    2. RM (Real Media)
    3. AVI
    in that order with a strong pref for MPEG.

  • but if you want easy crossplatforming, real player runs fine on linux and on windows and mac too.
  • There's lots of suggestions for MPEG...but any MPEG-1 encoding will probably be much larger than the file sizes you're currently using to maintain quality. It does have the advantage of being cross-platform.

    You could create some good quality, small size movies using MPEG-4. Older systems might not have the codecs to play that back installed. But, as an alternative in addition to WMV, your Mac and Linux visitors will probably be able to deal with MPEG-4.

  • Video Format (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gallenod ( 84385 )
    Mpeg4 or divx would be good. Most players/platforms can handle them.

    I have a fondness for Quicktime, though, because releasing something in QT just flat-out annoys both Microsoft and Real.

    (Yeah, I'm bigoted. But at least my bigotry is based on honest hatred and distrust, not hypocrasy.)
  • Flash Video (Score:5, Insightful)

    by modeps ( 731250 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:27PM (#11481866) Homepage
    Convert your files to Flash video. As much as Macromedia kinda stinks, most people have the Flash plugin installed. Crossplatform and cross brower friendly. http://www.wildform.com/ [wildform.com] has a cheap converter. Quality and size dont change much.
  • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:28PM (#11481869)
    I use Discreet's Cleaner (was Media Cleaner) here to compress videos taken of cells through a light microscope. While we save our videos in Quicktime format as we are an all-Mac lab (with one or two unavoidable exceptions) and as the QT Player is free and can be downloaded easily by Windows users, Cleaner can also process other formats as well -- it can create RealPlayer files (but not read them, which drives me crazy when I want to do personal conversion projects on the side... WTF?), MPEG streams, QT files (of course), and so on. It is very good at optimizing video for different kinds of uses (you'd be tuning for web use) and is quite good at compression. It will work with any QT codecs you drop into the appropriate folder, should you be using a Mac; I've never used the Windows version, so I can't give advice there.

    It can also do batch conversion -- we set up an entire batch of files to convert overnight, set it going, and walk away. When we return in the morning, it's ready and waiting.

    If you encode on a Windows box, use cleaner XL [discreet.com]. If you use a Mac, like we do, use cleaner 6 [discreet.com].

    Be sure to provide download links for appropriate players on your page, if you don't already. Users are likely to not know about vlc and other appropriate players.
    • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @02:24PM (#11482670) Homepage Journal
      I've found Cleaner to be somewhat less userfriendly and stable than Sorenson Squeeze [sorenson.com] - Squeeze also costs about $100 less. Its does realplayer, quicktime, mpeg files as well as flash SWF and FLV files which are good for cross platform no brainer plays-in-a-window video files. You can also set it up as a watchfolder renderer, so all you have to do is drop new videos into a watched folder and it will automatically render all your set formats.

      I see a lot of suggestions here for torrents, divx, etc which are not as wide spread and userfriendly as WMV / QT / FLASH /MPEG options. your best bet is probably to provide multiple format options to hit the widest audience, which can be batch rendered with Cleaner or Squeeze.
  • Ogg Theora/Dirac (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:28PM (#11481887) Journal
    How is the Theora codec doing?


    And the BBC's Dirac codec?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/dirac/index.sht ml

  • Although I would never recommend producing RealMedia content for Windows users (I really hate the RealOne player), it's a different matter if your audience is UNIX! Never thought I'd be saying this, but it's actually quite pleasant playing Real videos on Linux/UNIX/Solaris using RealPlayer [freshmeat.net] which actually comes out of Real's open source Helix project [helixcommunity.org]. The only platform I know of where there isn't a good player for Real content is Windows.
  • MPEG-4 (Score:5, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:29PM (#11481902) Homepage Journal
    MPEG-4 (aka mp4) is the standard everybody's running towards. The wildly popular divx is really a MPEG-4 pre-release spec but their current players handle the release spec. Quicktime on Mac or Windows will play it as will mplayer on linux. Quicktime Pro ($29) will encode is and there are some free encoders on Linux (patents are an open question).

    Moreover next-gen DVD's will use MPEG-4 as do cellphones with 3GPP support so you're heading in the right direction for future work.
  • by LeiGong ( 621856 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:30PM (#11481912) Homepage
    The best choices are Quicktime or mpeg. I wouldn't recommend DivX or XVid simply because the user has to install a 3rd party codec. More often than not, they're just going to skip over it and move on to another page. The hassle of installing the codec will outweight their interest in actually seeing the video. Sure QT is proprietary, but it has the highest market penetration next to standard Windows video codecs. So if you must have a cross platform codec that isn't mpeg, you should go with QT. Also keep in mind, ofthat 7%, the majority will be using Macs and very few will be using *nix. Desipte what the demographic on /. maybe, you'll need to think less like a geek and more like a sports agent. :)
    • Um isn't Quicktime a 3rd party codec? You even say it is proprietary in your post. So if people can download and install Quicktime(which you can't do anymore on XP unless you also get iTunes) why can't they install xvid? Seriously it is even simpler than installing iTunes/Quicktime given the correct link.
      • You missed my point. QT (and Real) are 3rd party codec has the most market penetration next to WMV. So if you are posting a video w/ a 3rd party codec, it should be the one which you can assume a majority of the people will already have. That way, they wouldn't have to goto another site to install it just to view a short video. I can say with 100% certainty that more people have QT installed on their system than DivX, XVid or any other more efficent codecs. See? [itfacts.biz]

        Again, the answer to the original question i

  • Why don't you deliver it in flv? There are a lot of flash players and flash is now supported in near all platforms.


    http://www.flvplayer.com/ [flvplayer.com]
    http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/mx/flash/video.ht ml [macromedia.com]
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:32PM (#11481952) Homepage Journal
    ASCII animation.

    If these guys [ascii-art.de] can do it, so can you!

  • Streaming (Score:3, Informative)

    by hendridm ( 302246 ) * on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:32PM (#11481953) Homepage
    Wow, talk about some lousy responses. I'm guessing you want to avoid making users install extra software, right? So BitTorrent and DivX might not be the most favorable solution. Although I think DivX would work well, I think you'd best be served by creating HTTP streamable videos with either RealPlayer or QuickTime. I think most Linux users are savvy enough to play any format, and Mac users will be comfortable with either format. Real has a player available for Windows, Linux, and Macintosh. If you think Real is evil like 95% of the Slashdot community, Quicktime would be a great alternative.

    And Real does have an annoyance-free version of their player available for Windows:
    http://forms.real.com/rnforms/products/tools/red/ [real.com]
  • mplayer plays WMV just fine (or as fine as possible, anyway), so, at least for Linux and *BSD on x86 and x86_64 it isn't really a problem.

    None the less, for maximum crossplatform happiness, I'd say one of MPEG, DivX or XviD would be your best bets. MPEG is most portable -- it's available every-damn-where, but is showing it's age in both file size and image quality. DivX and XviD are nearly as available, and better in virtually every aspect.

  • I run 64 bit gentoo, and Xvid is really the best way to go. All the rm/wmv/qt codecs haven't been properly ported yet for 64 bit. Xvid runs on pretty much everything. I can't watch any rm/wmv/qt stuff with mplayer (yet).
  • Shameless plug here, but Dijjer works great with video, and should significantly reduce your bandwidth requirements. Unlike BitTorrent, it can start playing back the video as soon as it starts download it because it downloads from the beginning. It can even embed videos in a web browser because Dijjer just acts as a HTTP proxy, rather than requiring a dedicated download GUI client. Lastly, distributing a video over Dijjer is dead simple, just make a minor change to the URL you use to link to the file.
  • by DebianDog ( 472284 ) <dan@NoSpAm.danslagle.com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:36PM (#11482016) Homepage
    Comparing different export formats (DivX, Real, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, 3ivX, Sorenson Pro, Windows Media, etc..) [danslagle.com]

    As you may imagine I am a QT/Sorenson fan but, a good MPEG compressor is nice and only a little larger if you cut the bitrate down.
  • Common guys think about it.. "Oh... look at this web site I found! Oh cool! They have videos! What? They want me to download this DiVX thing to play video? Screw that." Seriously. Stick to things that work with the OS out of the box.
  • If you have a higher-quality source that you can re-encode from, you can use DivX and the quality will be just as good. If you only have the low-quality WMVs to encode from, there is no point in re-encoding them because the quality will be crap. It sounds to me like you tried this already and then discounted DivX as too low-quality, then came to Slashdot. The fact is that re-encoding already compressed files is pointless, might as well leave them as WMV. DivX is actually better than WMV, if you encode f
  • by dmoore ( 2449 ) <david...moore@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:47PM (#11482153)
    I went through a similar process encoding streaming some videos from my recent wedding. My requirements were this:

    - Playable by 95% of Windows, Mac, and Linux users without installing additional software.
    - Streamable and seekable
    - Decent quality and compression
    - Encoded and streamed completely using free software (or at least freely-downloadable software)

    The answer was the MPEG4 video codec, AAC audio codec, contained in an MPEG4 wrapper (.mp4 file extension). I could encode video using mencoder (ffmpeg might work too), audio using faac, multiplex using mjpegtools, and stream with darwin streaming server. All these are free. Recent versions of the quicktime player support .mp4 files (both playing them and streaming them). This also works with the quicktime browser plugin. Also, Linux users get to use mplayer without even needing the binary quicktime codecs, since MP4 is an open standard.
  • How about Real? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:55PM (#11482259)
    Is seems that a lot of /. users hate Real from past actions. However, IMO they really cleaned up their act. No more nag/spy-ware. You can easily turn off options you don't want now (like not starting at boot-up).

    Real Player 10 works on Windows, Linux and Mac. You can just dump WMV and use only Real Format. Also Real 10 now has browser plug-ins for Mozilla/Firefox and IE.

    If you are _really_ against using Real, then IMO the next best would be just standard MPEG-1 videos or divx. With divx, you will have Windows, Linux and MacOS X support with no problems.

    If you don't go with Real, them IMO go with divX or MPEG-4, and have a blurb on the video page that directs users to the download page for VLC [videolan.org]. There are versions of VLC for Windows, Linux, Mac and others. VLC will play tons of content on all platforms out-of-the-box.

  • RivaVX (Score:5, Informative)

    by oneishy ( 669590 ) <jczebota@oneish y . c om> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:56PM (#11482271) Homepage

    RivaVX [rivavx.com] has a great free tool for encoding FLV (flash movie) files for distribution on the web. It took a 3 MB mov file of a rally car race and reduced it to 300 KB, and the sound / picture quality is pretty good.

  • Flash? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chipster ( 661352 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @01:58PM (#11482303)
    I know I have seen sites offer vids/demos/peresntations in (small footprint) Flash movies. The quality of the movies were more than satisfactory.
  • by NothingToSeeHere ( 784682 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @02:00PM (#11482333)
    You must be careful to differentiate between container formats and codecs:
    Containers combine encoded audio and video, and possibly metadata. This usually means interleaving audio and video according to their time in the movie, so during playback your disk doesn't die from constant seeking between the audio and video portions.
    Codecs are used to compress the raw audio and video to the desired size, usually reducing the quality (lossy compression).

    As a container format, you mainly have the following options:
    • .AVI (AudioVideoInterleaved): a really old format that just interlaces audio and video data (even mp3 audio is basically hacked into working with this - badbadbad)
    • .WMV/.ASF: Microsoft stuff. Don't use, if you want compatibility with anything but Windows.
    • QuickTime .MOV (MooV actually): Apple stuff. Officially supported on Macs and Windows, but still proprietary - you're not being nice to OSS users.
    • RealMedia .RM: proprietary (see QuickTime)
    • MPEG-4: New standard by the people who brought us MPEG-1 (crappy low-res by todays standards) and MPEG-2 (DVD video). It's based on the QuickTime container, but it's a public standard (not proprietary). Costs developers to get a license, though.
    • Ogg: Open/Free container format. Great for OSS people, but less known than MPEG-4.
    I'd recommend looking into using MPEG-4 or Ogg containers.

    For video compression, whether you use MPEG-4 or Ogg, go with XVID. Theora is still in development, and everything else is a mess by comparison. (flaming ensues ;) )

    For audio compression, with MPEG-4 you will want to use AAC or MP3 (not sure about the latter), with Ogg containers go with Ogg Vorbis (best quality at low bitrates, IMHO) or MP3.

    By sticking to a standard, but non-proprietary combination, such as MPEG-4/XVID/AAC, you might even be able to cater to all platforms without maintaining multiple formats...
    • By sticking to a standard, but non-proprietary combination, such as MPEG-4/XVID/AAC, you might even be able to cater to all platforms without maintaining multiple formats...

      This, of course, is the usage of the word standard that linux people get all wet over, namely published specifications and open source.

      This has no relation to the usage of the word standard that means "will run on Aunt Nelly's computer by default."

      I'd suggest, that since (a) MPlayer does a pretty good job of playing .WMV files, a

  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @02:01PM (#11482339) Journal
    WMV files can have trojans embedded in them that activate as soon as you try to watch the video. They abuse a security problem in Microsoft's DRM crap. I have all the security patches, anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc, and a WMV file installed several different trojans on my Windows computer.

    I will not open WMV files any more.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @02:42PM (#11482863)
    We recently went through the same exercise. Our requirements were:

    - Reasonably high quality at a relatively low datarate.
    - Video and audio formats should be open standards.
    - Primary target is Mac OS and Windows, but would be nice to play on other OSes, such as Linux and Solaris.

    We found everything we were looking for in MPEG-4 (Part 2) video [apple.com] with AAC audio [apple.com].

    We recommend two solutions for players:

    - QuickTime Player [apple.com], for Mac OS and Windows
    - VideoLan Client (VLC) [videolan.org], for Mac OS and Windows, but also many other operating systems

    This has the advantage of providing a free, supported, full featured player for the vast majority of visitors (i.e., Mac OS and Windows), but also offers a reliable free open source player for many other platforms, in addition to Mac OS and Windows.

    Soon, we'll be switching to H.264 (AVC or MPEG-4 Part 10) [apple.com], for which free playback support will be available in QuickTime 7 for Mac OS and Windows. Playback support will no doubt be added to the likes of VLC.
  • RealVideo 10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by rgammon_real ( 738651 ) <rgammon@real.com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @03:14PM (#11483406) Homepage Journal

    Disclaimer - I work for RealNetworks on Helix Player / RealPlayer for linux

    RealVideo 10 [realnetworks.com] is definitely worth a look. There are players for Mac, Windows, Linux desktop, Linux Embedded, and Symbian. People can create additional players for new platforms in the Helix Community [helixcommunity.org]. RealAudio 10 comes in several flavours, including lossless and multichannel.

    The producer apps [helixcommunity.org] page may be a good place to start if you want to try out the encoder.

  • by gsfprez ( 27403 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @03:24PM (#11483536)
    When H.264 becomes widespread - read - when Quicktime 7 comes out - you'll be in the pink.

    It scales very well, and looks more better than anything else at any rate. Its quite the codec.

    I've seen first hand files and worked with betas on QT7. It hands down pimp slaps Sorenson and WMP 9 files.

    Plus, anyone can watch it on anyplatform.

    Until then, I suggest you use DivX or 3ivX - and provide download links to both. 3viX is great quality and its every platform compatible and its free for the playback component.

    Windows users are happy - your 3ivX files play in WMP, Mac users are happy, your 3ivX files play in Quicktime, and Linux users are happy because it plays in XAnim

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!