Choosing Video Output Formats for the Web

Deciding which video formats to support when creating a Web video project is confusing. Whether you’re video blogging, posting video how-tos online or sharing your short film with an online audience, you need to offer video in formats the audience can handle. At the moment, this means publishing in several formats to a number of different services to make sure the widest audience possible can watch your video creations. One video maker with a massive online viewing audience is my pal Bre Pettis who makes video for Make Magazine and for himself. Bre recently posted a detailed list of all the formats he outputs for the Web, including the reasoning behind why he choose the formats and resolutions. While not everyone has available bandwidth to distribute a 1280×720 HD version of their video project online, it’s great to see he’s looking to the future and offering a high res version that should look great both on computer screens and on television. The rest of the formats are definitely good common sense and should be emulated by anyone making video for the Internet.
As Bre says,

“What’s the workflow on something like this? Well when I finish the video I output it 4 times: HD (which is an mp4 that is 1280×720), 624×352, 500×281, and teeny 3gp. Except for the 3gp file, I use mp4 files because they are universally accepted on all computers and can play on the psp and archos. Then I upload the HD, 624×352, and 3gp up to the O’Reilly servers. Then I upload the 500×281 to and use their share function to cut and paste code into the blog post to embed the video into the page so people can play it right there. The secret trick there is to change the dimensions of the video when you do the cut and past into your blog. For this you want to know how wide you can post things in your blog. I want it to be as big as possible on the Make: blog and 500 pixels is the max here. For most people 320 pixels wide will work just fine for embedding on the page and that’s the default setting on blip, so you can just cut and paste and end up with that size of embedded file and be happy. A lot of people just want to click and play instead of subscribe and so I’m happy with this “click to play” functionality.”