Video on webservers

Bill Moran wmoran at
Sat Apr 1 17:22:13 UTC 2006

On Sat, 1 Apr 2006 07:42:40 -0600
"Darryl Hoar" <darryl at> wrote:

> <snip>
> >
> > "Darryl Hoar" <darryl at> wrote:
> >
> > > Greetings,
> > > I have my own freebsd box that is a webserver (running apache).
> > > My wife has a family oriented website on this server.  She
> > has videos
> > > that she has taken with dvd camcorder.  She used Ulead on her
> > > windows machine to create mpg files but 6 minutes generates 200MB
> > > files.
> > >
> > > What is a good technique to provide video's on a website ?
> >
> > Putting it on the webserver.
> >
> > However, I expect that there's another, hidden question here.  What is
> > the problem that you're having?  Perhaps I'm slow today, but it seems
> > like you're saying: "I'm going to do this, is that OK?"  If that's the
> > case, then the answer is "yes".
> >
> What I mean is that the video files she is generating from the dvd camcorder
> are huge for just a few minutes of video.  Since these files are huge, you
> can't realistically view them from the links on the webserver.
> Since I am not a video guy, I was wondering if there was a better method to
> provide these videos from our webserver.
> Is streaming video the way to go?  Or some variation of what I have tried ?

Streaming video is only really _necessary_ when you have a video that has
no logical beginning or end, such as a live feed.

Most media players I've seen will "simulate" streaming media by starting to
play the video as soon as enough has been downloaded to do so.

In any case, in order for this to work, you have to be able to transfer the
video data _at_least_ as fast as you're playing it.

> I know it can be done as I view video from websites all the time.

Taking the "at least as fast" rule into account, there are two ways to
accomplish it.  1) Get more bandwidth 2) Reduce the amount of data you're
pushing across the network.

#2 is probably your best bet at this stage, unless you can afford more
bandwidth for these videos.  In most video formats, there are 3 ways to
reduce the digital size of a video:
1) Reduce the resolution
2) Reduce the color depth
3) Compress

#1 is very popular and can reduce your filesize considerably.
#2 is not as popular because it's difficult to do without making the video
   look awful.
#3 is almost always done.  In fact, many softwares compress without even
   asking you.  The issue with #3 is twofold:
1) There is a big difference between high-quality video compression and
   low quality video compression.  Low quality stuff will either not compress
   very much, or ruin your video quaility while compressing.
2) Most video compression is lossy, meaning the more you compress the
   video, the lower the quality of the result is.  Most softwares will
   allow you to choose what level of compression/loss you want.

The upshot is this:
1) Make sure you've got good quality software to use to prepare your
   videos for distribution over the web.
2) Take the time to understand what options are available for compressing
   your data.
3) For each video, get a mental idea of how much quality you're willing
   to sacrifice when you distribute your video.
4) Experiment with different levels of compression vs. lossiness until you
   find a good mix of file size vs. quality.  This may vary from one video
   to the next.
5) Find a mailing list or other online community more specialized in the
   area of videos, and ask the question there.  While there may be some
   digital video experts on this list, it's not a primary focus of the
   FreeBSD community.

I'm not a video expert, but this should get you started.

Bill Moran
Potential Technologies

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