Why reencode your video?

In TV studios and production companies, massive MOV files rule.
On the Internet with limited bandwidth and consumer grade home computers, relatively small MP4 files rule.
It is the new normal.

All files uploaded to the streaming server will be encoded by the server for Internet streaming in the server’s preferred version of the MP4 format.

While the server is very good at converting various video formats, unexpected encoding issues may arise. There is much less chance of this if the uploaded video is in the preferred MP4 format. You have the additional benefit of faster uploads than with other file formats like MOV.

Recommended Video Format

The MP4 container format using the H.264 video codec and the AAC audio codec is recommended. This is also the “native” format of our video hosting service.

If you are in control of the format (e.g. when exporting the video from your editor), we advise you to always upload videos using this format. All widely used editing, compositing, screencasting and transcoding tools support it.

If you don't have a choice, most video formats have been successfully uploaded. Examples are 3GP, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4 and WMV.

There are a few noteworthy formats that are not supported:

  • Quicktime (MOV) files that use the Apple Intermediate Codec (used in Final Cut Pro).
  • DRM protected files from Microsoft (WMV) or the iTunes Store (M4V, MOV).
  • WMV videos using the MSS2 video codec (for screencasting).
  • Videos generated by GoToMeeting.

Recommended Dimensions

  • 960x720 pixels for standard 4:3 formatted videos
  • 960x540 pixels for wide screen 16:9 formatted videos
  • 1280x720 pixels for wide screen 16:9 formatted videos – for photography categories

Note: Video files with larger dimensions will be reduced by the streaming server during encoding. For example a 1920x1080 will be reduced to a 1280x720 and you will have gained nothing by uploading the larger dimension file other than a longer wait for the upload to complete.

Video files with smaller dimensions will still work. I'd recomend around 640x480 (standard) and 720x404 (wide) as acceptable lower limits.

Recommended Audio

The sampling rate should be 44,100 Hz.
The bit rate should be between 128 to 256 kb/sec.

Recommended File Sizes

Ideal file size is around 10 to 20 MB per minute of run time.
Total file size should be less than 1000 MB and preferably less than 500 MB.

The practical issues here are the chances of upload issues and the time and frustration of waiting for the upload to complete.

Encoding tools

Some chapters have used MPEG Streamclip. For Windows and Mac. http://www.squared5.com/.
Handbrake works well and is free but does have a learning curve. For Windows, Mac and Ubutu. http://handbrake.fr/.
For Mac users, we have a recomendation from a Final Cut Pro user. He used a tool called Compressor to encode to Flash video.

I prefer using WinFF myself. It is a graphical interface for the Swiss Army Knife of all encoders, FFmpeg, and it comes bundled in a Windows installer that can be downloaded from http://winff.org/html_new/downloads.html. Choose the link "WinFF 1.5.4 Windows Installer (all windows versions)" unless you know for sure you have 64 bit Windows.

Additional Hints

There are many more settings associated with video encoding. Here are some additional suggestions to follow when exporting your video for upload:

  • Use progressive frames (e.g. 720p) instead of interlacing (e.g. 720i). Interlacing does not apply to online video and JW Platform will introduce artifacts when attempting to filter it away.
  • Use a pixel aspect ratio of 1:1. Older broadcast formats (like PAL or NTSC) use non-square pixels, but online video pixels are always square. JW Platform may have troubles converting non-square pixel aspect ratios, resulting in a stretched image.
  • Export the to-be-uploaded videos in MP4 format and not in MOV. The latter contains additional features like Edit Lists that often result in audio-video sync issues.
  • If available, select the Main or High profile for the H.264 video. These profiles support features like B-frames and CABAC, resulting in higher quality at the same bitrate.
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