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PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #160

Quality Check of Flash Files from 4 Free Online Video Hosts  


Video Hosting Providers Collage15 months ago, newsletter #101 was about 5 online 'free' video hosting services

  • Google Video
  • YouTube
  • Putfile
  • VideoEgg - converts files to Flash prior to upload
  • AddictingClips.com - streaming video

5 months ago I added another to the website page, soapbox on msn video.

A lot has happened since then. Besides YouTube's popularity, taking off like a rocket, the others have evolved.

The historic YouTube Democratic presidential candidate debate earlier this week marked a good time to take another look at these services.

On the other side of YouTube's popularity buzz are comments and questions I routinely get from those disappointed in the quality of their online videos, asking why mine look better.

I'll focus on the quality dimensions this week.

Before getting into details, here's...

... a note...


Notes...

VoxBuy...

I joined a new Flatburger online venture last month, this one about software. My first efforts were to do some software reviews about audio editing utilities. They are now starting to appear online... here's a link to the main page of...

VoxBuy...

... browse the Multimedia & Design category or use these links to go directly to the reviews: GoldWave, FX Audio Editor, and Acoustica 4.

The site is under active alpha phase development, so don't be surprised if a link doesn't work.

With today's world so steeped in marketing and salesmanship, the guidance for the reviews was refreshing 'it's your review... write what you want... tell us the positives and negatives about the software...'. That aligns with my style.

I picked audio editing software to write about first. Having said for years the sounds of a movie are at least half of the viewing experience, a good audio editing utility is a natural for your software toolbox. We know that with Movie Maker and Photo Story have minimal to no audio editing features,

Goldwave and Acoustica can rip the sound track directly from a DV-AVI, WMV movie, or WMV story file directly. Fix problems or embellish it, and then save the audio track and it'll work well in your movie or story project. Of the 3 reviewed, Goldwave is my favorite.

One of these days I'll slow down my eagerness to roll a video out long enough to enhance the audio track. Until then, my audio editing is clip by clip and only when sorely needed.

.... back to the main topic...


6 'Free' Online Video Hosts

I'll run down them, note file size limits for uploading, and check the downloaded files to see how they compare with what was uploaded.

Civil War CannonAs a test file, I'll upload the 10 minute Civil War reenactment video I finished after last week's newsletter.

Original VideoI first saved the movie as a DV-AVI file... weighting in at 10 minutes and 2.1+ GB in file size.

I then used it as the source file for the wmv file, selecting my usual Video for LAN (768 Kbps) quality choice.

The properties of the wmv file are shown at the left in Movie Maker...

- 58 MB in file size

- 856 x 480 pixels... widescreen

- audio - 64 kb/s stereo

- video - 704 kbps

- 29.97 fps

I uploaded it to each of the services, viewed them, and studied the files that came back down. Each of them converted the wmv file to Flash.

For YouTube, I'll make and upload an extra file, a wmv file made with my custom YouTube profile.


Checking the Properties of Flash Files

When I did the newsletter on this topic last April, I had to jump through hoops to see the properties of a Flash file.

Today in a split second it's open in GSpot, with more than enough info. I'll revisit GSpot in next week's newsletter. My last issue about it was #68, almost 2 years ago.


Six 'Free' Online Video Host Services

YouTube... the one in the limelight today.

Files are limited to 10 minutes or 100 MB. It and the other services converts uploaded files to Flash format. I use it's 10 minute constraint as my rule of thumb when making videos for online viewing. Here's the link to the Civil War video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVgBptkQsbs

As I view the video, I search my hard drive for files named get_video, copy the one I'm interested in, add a FLV extension, play it with the Riva Flash player, and open it with GSpot to study its properties.

Here's a typical location and file name on my XP laptop:

c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\(folder with a name such as 7PWEZTYN)\get_video(2)

As YouTube is special and I have custom profiles to use when heading to it, this newsletter is a good time to do a calibration check. I rendered a second wmv file from the DV-AVI, this one with my custom widescreen profile for YouTube.

Here's a chart comparing the four files, the two uploaded wmv files and the two Flash files that came back down.

    YouTube

    YouTube

 profile

Video for LAN (768 kbps)

Custom Profile

from 768 kbps

from Custom

 file size

58 MB wmv

27 MB wmv

24 MB flash

24 MB flash

 dimensions

856x480

428x240

320x240

320x240

 audio

stereo

stereo

mono

mono

64 kbps

63 kbps

58 kbps

59 kbps

 video

704 kbps

288 kbps

241 kbps

238 kbps

 frame rate

30

24

30

24

This validates the use of the custom profile. If you upload a higher quality file to YouTube, you get the same thing back and save some uploading time. YouTube throttles the quality such that it's about 300 kbps total, adding the audio and video bitrates.

Significant is the fact that YouTube maintains the frame rate of the uploaded wmv file.... without lowering the bitrate. Using 24 fps results in 25% more bitrate or quality available for each frame. You might have to ponder that for a bit.


Google Video

Google owns YouTube but still maintains Google Video separate from it.

The link to the Civil War file is...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4413883781498689460&hl=en

Google Video - chaptersGoogle Video converts uploadeds files to Flash. In addition to the main viewer, it provides chapters with thumbnails... a nice touch.

The Flash file downloads as you view it... a typical location and file name on my XP laptop, similar to all the services, is:

c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\(folder with a name such as 4J61BQKY)\23a0b07f494509df.wmv[2].flv

The Flash file had properties of  

- 27 MB in file size

- 320 x 240 pixels

- audio - 64 kb/s mono

- video - 291 kbps

- 30 fps


You can copy the Flash file and convert it to get it into Movie Maker, but Google Video provides a higher quality download option, a GVI (Google Video) file.

If a video is available for download, a "Download" button will appear on the right side of the playback page. However, in some cases, content providers may opt not to enable their videos for download. Users located in the US may also have the option to purchase videos for download.

It's a bit confusing when you opt for a Download... another browser window opens and the file plays in it again as it downloads a ..gvp file, a small file that is a link to the video itself.

Clicking on the .gvp file opens my Google Video Player and plays the associated GVI file... saved to the folder you select in the Google Video Player Preferences. The figure shows me using the default location.

Google Video Save OptionsGSpot can open a GVI file. It showed the properties of the Civil War file as:

  • file size of 63 MB - slightly bigger than the uploaded wmv file
  • 480x360 pixels
  • Divx encoded avi file
  • stereo audio...  128 kbps
  • video bitrate of 700 kbps
  • 30 fps

The quality of the GVI file is significantly higher than the Flash file viewed on Google Video.

Getting a GVI file to Movie Maker

Movie Maker wouldn't accept it directly. GSpot said it's a Divx encoded AVI file, so I tried simply renaming the extension to ..avi, but that didn't work.

I was able to easily convert it to a DV-AVI file using  VirtualDub, adding a resize filter to align it with a DV-AVI file size of 720x480, and selecting the Panasonic DV codec for compression. The new file worked fine in Movie Maker.


Putfile

The link to the Civil War file is...

http://media.putfile.com/Civil-War-reenactment---July-2007

I hadn't logged into this service since my first newsletter about it. It made me update my profile by uploading a picture of myself before I could upload another video, and swear the picture wasn't of me nude or pornographic. As just a facial shot, I had to think a minute about it being nude or not. I used one with glasses on.

In newsletter #101 I had said it Putfile delivers back the same file that is uploaded one. I found it today converting the wmv to Flash. The location and file name is something like:

c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\(folder with a name such as 7PWEZTYN)\file(1).flv

You can upload files as large as 200 MB and there isn't a duration limit.

Putfile is the clear winner in this group for the quality of the Flash file. It's obvious when viewing, and the properties confirm it.

- 41 MB in file size

- 864 x 480 pixels

- audio - 64 kbps stereo

- video - 514 kbps

- 30 fps

I'll show you a chart later that compares the different files.


I found VideoEgg... cracked on my XP laptop system

It advertises impressive stats... 554+ million videos uploaded last week, 155,000 videos uploaded last week, 22 million unique viewers each month.

It's amazing that with those stats, its uploading user interface (the 'classic' beta or the current beta) crash my IE7 after I select the video and click 'upload'. As I didn't have any issues with the other services, I didn't need to spend time trying to figure out why.

I'll leave Humpty Dumpty for this round and move on to AddictingClips.com... after watching the two videos I uploaded to it on April 25, 2006. They're still there and play well.


AddictingClips.com... has moved in with AtomFilms... I won't disturb them

My two uploaded files are still there, but to log in and upload another, it said I also had to sign up for an AtomFilms account.

While 3 flirting babes invited me in from the banner ad at the top of the page, I pondered opening another account, but left them disappointed as I decided to not stop, and move on to Soapbox.


Soapbox on msn

The link to the Civil War file is...

http://soapbox.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=93257ca9-4e1c-4e54-ba64-16eb87e2b937

The FAQ says you can upload AVI, ASF, WMV, MOV, MPEG ½/4, 3GPP, QT, Xvid, or DV files. The limit is 100 MB... I don't see a 10 minute limit.

It's a clean sweep... each of the four services convert the uploaded files to Flash format, even this Microsoft one. The downloaded file goes into a folder such as...

c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\(folder with a name such as CJYUQ8WC\93257ca9-4e1c-4e54-ba64-16eb87e2b937[1].flv

The file has properties of:

- 58 MB in file size

- 432 x 320 pixels

- audio - 96 kbps stereo

- video - 575 kbps

- 30 fps


Other Differences

Digging deeper into file properties using GSpot shows other differences. The YouTube and GoogleVideo Flash files use the FLV1 video codec and can play in Flash 6+ capable players. PutFile and Soapbox files use FLV4/VP62 and require Fash 8+ players. YouTube and GoogleVideo Flash files encode the audio track to MPEG-2 Layer 3, and PutFile and Soapbox files use MPEG-1 Layer 3.


Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?

For the playing quality of the Flash files, PutFile and MSN Soapbox win this round over YouTube and GoogleVideo. VideoEgg and AddictingClips dropped out.

Here's a chart showing the tally, comparing selected properties against the uploaded wmv file.

Final Tally

GoogleVideo's GVI file would be the clear winner if I was to count it. Use it if you need a file for movie-making purposes. With the extra steps needed to get it, it's not for the casual viewer.

But there are other, perhaps overriding factors. When I mention putting a video online, people are interested. But if I mention putting it on YouTube, they are all smiles. I have over 100 on YouTube and just a few on the others. Why if not for quality.

For me the playlist feature YouTube provides is a compelling feature. My answer to those who ask about the quality of videos on YouTube is '.... try my custom profile... if that isn't enough for you, then consider using other services....'. 

Here's a good exercise if you're interested in comparing the quality of downloaded files from other services. Go to this website with embedded players or links to 51 services, find the downloaded files, and check their qualities.

51 online services

Have a great week and enjoy your summer fun and video work...

PapaJohn


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie Makers.net

Have a great week...

PapaJohn

Movie Maker, Photo Story 3, DVD Maker, Expression Media - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.papajohn..org/PhotoStory2/PS.html


Products and Services

I'm involved in anything and everything that supports the users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.


Radio and Podcasting

theDVShowTheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge. 

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516

The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast was the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2. The frequency of radio Q&A sessions about Movie Maker has fallen off as submitted questions are minimal.  Maybe Vista will perk it up a bit.


Do Amazing ThingsBooks

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on www.papajohn.org ), published by Microsoft Press...

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum -  Friends of Ed

Learning VirtualDub - published by Packt Publishing in April 2005, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the introductory chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.

Virtual Dub

A large percentage of book sales are of electronic copies. The Packt Publishing Website page  for the book provides a full table of contents and chapter summaries... and a link to a full free online copy of Chapter 3, Capture Preprocessing.


Magazines

MaximumPC

A six page article Making Movies with Vista was in the Spring 2007 Special Edition (page 78). It covered the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.

The 2006 Summer Special edition included a 7 page tutorial Create a Ken Burns-Style Slideshow with Photo Story 3.

The November 2005 edition had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the article about Movie Maker, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

The Winter 2005 quarterly special had a 7 page tutorial Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2. The special edition of the video made for it is  on my website as a file download.

Microsoft Home (online magazine)

I and others you'll recognize were interviewed for an article about Movie Maker for a  Microsoft Home magazine article... here's the link.


Websites

Movie Maker and Photo Story - www.papajohn.org - the site's goals are: doing amazing things, providing a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker problems.

It's been expanded to include the version 6 of Movie Maker in Vista, along with the new Photo Gallery and DVD Maker apps.

PhotoStory 2 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - a detailed tutorial about using the earlier version. It's been a long time since I've updated anything on it, but it still gets pretty good viewer traffic.


Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

I'm a regular or moderator on many online forums and newsgroups, the key ones being:

Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay on track.

Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows Vista newsgroup - microsoft.public.windows.vista.music_pictures_video

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.plus

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos


Weekly Newsletters

Movie Maker/Photo Story newsletter. The subscription is $20 for 52 issues, and a link to subscribe is on the main page of  www.papajohn.org or the Products and Services page.

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#161 - August 4 - GSpot Revisited

#162 - August 11 (open)

#163 - August 18 (open)

Newsletters issued more than 6 weeks ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site on his Windows Movie Makers' website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for viewers to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a newsletter subject...


Software

Add-On Transitions and Effects

Transition Maker 2  (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.

I've beta tested some of the Pixelan packages , including the new packages for Vista, and think very highly of their people and products.

ProDAD's Adorage packages for Movie Maker 2 are additional sources of very professionally developed transitions and effects. Here are links

TransiitonsEffectsPackage for Movie Maker - Volume 1 

PapaJohn's Transitions - Volume 2

PapaJohn's Video Effects - Volume 3


Music

I use a lot of professional background music for movies and stories that was created by Randon Myles, and act as his agent in selling tunes individually. 

There are 62 tunes available from 4 of his many albums... at 99 cents per tune (MP3 or WMA format). Here's a Sample - 45 seconds from 'Groove 2'. The 4 albums are: In the Fields of the on-Feretin , Music for Film Volume III, the Emerald Way, and the Fourth Door.

I don't have a full set of online samples yet, but if you hear something you like in one of my videos, there's a good chance it was done by Randon. Send an email if you are interested.


Personal Database

With more info to manage, consider additional tools that help.

My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB.

To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page.

On my list of things to do is a video tutorial about how to use it.


Online Galleries Neptune Gallery

neptune Mediashare is the preferred file download service for Movie Maker users... there's a  'PapaJohn Expert Zone' where I keep many of my samples and personal videos. 

Check it at N eptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.

Mydeo... and mydeo is the preferred video streaming service. Many of the video samples for newsletter are on it.

Normal sized photo stories stream as well as or better than movies.


Training

In conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library , I offer free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop.

Classes will resume at the end of summer, when schools re-open. We'll be re-inventing the topics offered, as the subject of Movie Maker doesn't draw very many... maybe topics such as making and uploading videos to YouTube, and vacation videos to Trip Advisor... using Movie Maker as the tool rather than the primary subject.


Other fee-based services

If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of www.papajohn.org

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email -  PapaJohn@CharterMi.net and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

Wedding combo website/video packages - check the Living Projects section of the website for samples of what you can expect for the online portion of a package.


© 2007 - PapaJohn; Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from Microsoft.com
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at www.PapaJohn.org. He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.

Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index

 

 

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