View Full Version : Small Screen only?

07-14-2005, 11:43 AM
I'm considering producing at least some of my projects for viewing on computer screen only, IOW not TV, not Film.

I wanted to gather opinions and advice about the pro and con about this strategy.

My thinking is along the lines of easy distribution and easiER production, and away from traditional, establishment media venues.

Some questions are technical, like what pix dimensions would be good? stick with a standard, like 720 x 480? What compression is best...etc.

Others are more along the lines of acceptance..some folks want to plop down on their leather couch and watch movies bathed in surround sound and view a 60-inch screen. For others, sitting in the Aeron, watching a movie on a high-quality LCD screen with computer speakers is just as good.

thanks for input!


07-14-2005, 06:07 PM
Some good questions. I am sure other's are more qualified to answer you. But I will give you my take on it anyways. ;)
By sticking with 720x480 it does give you the option if you later decide you wish to bring it to TV, etc. If you render higher than 720x480 then you are getting into high def area. Now you would need to worry if the viewer's system can handle the video. Down the road this won't be a problem, but right now there are still a lot of people who own and use computers that can not handle video any larger than standard def.
So I guess it would depend on how much quality loss are you willing to give up to handle the slower computers.
As far a codecs go they are debatable. Quicktime can be veiwable on both pc and Mac, and I know mp4 is available for PC's not sure what is available on the Mac. I am pretty fond of the wmv file format as it does handle high def, but there are still a lot of Mac's not installing MS windows media player.

07-15-2005, 08:50 PM
Well what kind of "transportation" will your stuff be on. Streaming/downloading through the Internet or supplied by a simple DVD or CD?

If DVD, keep your 720x480 resolution and find a free MPEG-2 encoder, and use a DVD burner. Obviously if you've played around with DVD's you know the pro's and con's and this is your best bet (well until the Blueray's and HD-DVD's are affordable, which isn't going to be for another 5-10 years).

If CD, if you want to go ALL the way back, a 300 kb/sec file should be fine. That's a 2x CD-ROM. I can't remember the rates of today's compressor's, but I'd say everyone at least has a 24x or higher CD-ROM...please anyone correct me if I'm wrong, I'm just guessing. The pro's of this is that CD's are cheap (well I mean CD-R's), and the con's are just the quality loss and the worry of people's CD-ROM's choking on their read rates.

The Internet is a whole other story. If you've been streaming/downloading video's and stuff off the internet lately you know what it's like and what you expect. Take for example Quicktime (well the player...AND the website's trailers). The "Large" sizes are I believe 480 width wise, and vertically whatever the ratio would be...for 16:9 -> 480x270, and 4:3 -> 480x360. Then of course they have their Fullscreen sizes which are I think only 640 width wise (what a great full screen huh? considering my screen is 1024x768). The pro's of this is that you can reach a TON of people, indirectly and directly, and you can also supply different versions so people can choose accordingly. The con's of course, as we all know...download speeds, and quality loss.

I think the other compressor's follow this standard as well. If anything 640x480 would be good, for the Internet and the CD...since some old computers would be still using that. It's up to you about going upwards in resolution...just keep in mind if your original resolution is lower than the quality will go down slightly (perceptably). Personally I hate extrapolated resolutions, they just look really bad and unprofessional to me.

Silkrooster pretty much said all the codecs that are good out there (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Quicktime, Indeo, DV codecs, Real Player, Windows Media, Cinepak, Microsoft AVI)...but don't forget Bink and DivX. They use Bink in some video games, and according to the website the quality/size ratio is really good. I think it is free (I didn't read the entire website)...but when sending your video to somebody or putting it on the Internet you'll have to tell your client or whomever that they'll have to install it. The same with Divx (well unless their video crazy like me).

I hope this helps.

07-16-2005, 09:12 AM
If CD, if you want to go ALL the way back, a 300 kb/sec file should be fine. That's a 2x CD-ROM.

thanks, Integrity..that too was a beefy response with great points..

what do you mean by "if you want to go ALL the way back"?..you mean in terms of reaching people who's hardware is a little primitive...5, 6, 8 years old? And those whose connection is slow?

I know not everyone has dsl or faster, but maybe there are large numbers of people who don't even have 56K if their hardware is older and still does the job they need it to do, they'd have had no reason to pop for a new box, and with the economy the way it is, perhaps not the dough..


07-16-2005, 07:30 PM
Yup, that's what I meant. I say a 2x CD-ROM is the farthest back because from what I remember, those computers were when PC's started somewhere with the public. I don't know, someone else probably know's better...but I say that since most of the (lower) computer's that are titled "Internet ready" on Ebay are somewhere in the 66 Mhz range and if at all, the lowest have at least a 2x CD-ROM. I have access to 5 PC's that range from 33 Mhz to 2.4 Ghz.

I KNOW the 33 Mhz 80486 cannot play anything above around 320x240 at 15 fps (any codec). Sometimes even at that it chokes. But this was with codec's that used a 256 color palette. Back in the day I know if I had had a 66 Mhz I could have played some at 640x480.

The 500 Mhz P2/P3 (can't remember which one) can play a Quicktime 480 width wise very well but chokes on a 640. But some Microsoft AVI's at around 640 sometimes played perfectly fine.

The 1.3 Ghz AMD I used to use could play 640 Quicktime but sometimes choked depending on the amount of compression. I used to do DV stuff on it and even though when editing in Premiere it sometimes choked, playing back DV at full resolution was no problem (720x480).

The 2 Ghz Celeron chokes on HD, but anything lower was fine.

And I don't really need to say anything about the 2.4 Ghz P4, it plays EVERYTHING all the way up to 1280x720 AWESOMELY!

Keep in mind the first four were all with integrated video cards so there was no help for the processor when rendering video's, and all were with some version of Microsoft Windows (3.1 to XP).

I'd say 28.8 Kbps is the lowest you'll find since I don't see anything lower than that on Ebay (I'm using Ebay for info here because if people are trying to sell this stuff than it must be the lowest, since those people are probably investing in a newer computer). I have a regular phone line connection at 56 and if I'm impatient I'll always download the lowest resolution. But if I'll be somewhere for awhile I'll go for the top.

07-17-2005, 03:57 PM
I'm no expert, but here are my suggestions:

1) As Integrity says, you need to set a low-water mark on what your "minimum configuration" is going to be. For example, I don't even try to support old 2X CDRs and 486 architecture, since the necessary reduction in size and image quality is unacceptable to me. It might be OK for you, though.

Along these lines, try to obtain a low-end system (by rooting through dumpsters, maybe ;-) and actually watch it on your target minimum configuration.

2) I always render 640x480 to aim for standard 4:3 aspect ratio. 720x480 assumes non-square pixels, but most computer monitors have square pixels.

3) Render big, down-convert later. I had an animation that was *supposed* to be only for web / streaming video. Then, someone at CNN saw it and wanted to broadcast it the next morning, but I didn't have time to re-render at broadcast quality due to the animation complexity. Kinda sad to see my work being broadcast from a crummy web-res source. Luckily, it was background material, so not *too* obvious!

4) Compressors are an "eye of the beholder" discussion. For example, I really don't like the fuzziness of the DivX compressor, but other people don't mind it. I usually try to get the client to look at the compressed footage from various compressors, since some compression artifacts that are really glaring to me are invisible to them, and vice versa.

Having said that, I almost always use a DVD-compatible MPEG-2 compressor. DVD-compatible systems are getting so common and cheap, that it's hard not to set that as my "standard" for a balance between size and quality.

Best of luck!


07-18-2005, 10:37 AM
Do a lot of people here create for the "small screen?" Maybe it's a mix of print, gaming, web, TV and movies?