Video Encoding – What makes my video look best online?
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the bitrate, the higher the quality of the encoded video. Of course, we all want the very best quality for our videos and we want our viewers to derive the maximum value from them. However, this should not compromise the performance of the video.
Performance or quality – is there a happy compromise?
Bitrate is defined simply as bits-per-second. It makes sense that, in order to achieve the utmost quality, we should select the highest possible bitrate. However, this is not always the best option.
Before we decide on the ideal bitrate, lets first recognize two things:
- That an ultra-high quality video with an ultra-high bitrate will be an enormous file. This can cause problems with encoding and hosting. Also, the video may not be playable across some connections.
- That the highest possible quality may not suit your purposes. It is likely that we will be able to achieve the desired effect at a much lower bitrate.
So which bitrate should we use? To understand this, we must understand our needs and those of our users.
If your video is going to be used in a limited capacity – for example, somewhere there is a great WiFi / internet connection – bitrate is not too much of an issue, provided you can store and send the video to where it needs to be. However, if the video is for mass public consumption, this needs to be taken into account.
As of 2016, the average download connection speed in the USA was 54,970 kilobits per second. This means that, if you want your video to be viewed seamlessly – the bitrate must be below this value. Furthermore, it is important to understand that connection speeds vary greatly from state to state.
Traditionally, areas like Delaware, Washington D.C., New Hampshire and Vermont have led the way, with Arkansas, Alabama and Kentucky bringing up the rear. In some cases, connection speeds at the top of the pile have been between three and four times faster than the average at the bottom. With this in mind, try to pitch your bitrate as low as possible when your video is intended for a general public audience.
There are ways to reduce the bitrate without losing out on video quality. Again, understanding this requires understanding your users’ needs first.
One way is to reduce the resolution. If your video is not designed to be enlarged or zoomed in on, and instead is embedded into a larger page, you may be able to significantly reduce the resolution of the video to make it less data-intensive.
Similarly, you may want to reduce the frame rate. The human eye cannot pick out more than 24 frames per second – to appear smooth – a video must have a frame rate higher than this. In summary and to answer the question – there is no point in using an excessively high frame rate because the human eye will simply not notice. One idea ( and suggestion ) would be to reduce an unnecessary high frame rate and reduce the size of the file in the process.