One of the things we pride ourselves on at TripleWide Media is making sure that we provide every piece of media in the best codec possible. Our team spends a lot of time in Apple Compressor working out kinks so that your media is delivered in the most flexible codec for any presentation software. So we thought it would be fun to expose our secrets and share what we think the best video codec for presentation software is:
The answer isn’t as simple as you may think.
One of the things we’ve learned about presentation software over the past few years is that there are features that allow you to modify specific properties of the media once inside the presentation platform. These features include color, speed, texture, blur, saturation and brightness. When you begin to modify the characteristics of a piece of media, you leverage the power of your video card.
By changing these characteristics, your computer has to perform, in real-time, a mathematical formula on the key frames (or pixels to keep it simple) of your video file. So the first thing you want to take a look at is:
Best Codec for Presentation Software: Keyframes
The keyframe is the number of specific frames that are exact during render. Every frame in between is interpolated (or calculated) between these key frames. So when you render something as “all keyframes” then every single frame is a “picture” that is stored in the data of the file. This is a direct reason as to why the file size of a “key frame every frame” export is significantly larger than that of the “automatic keyframes” export. But it allows for very little frame interpolation (or math) between frames, because there is no reason for math. Too many keyframes and your file size is extraordinarily high, and too few keyframes puts too much pressure on your graphics card.
At TripleWide Media we stick with keyframes every 5-10 frames. This is more than half, which relieves the pressure on the graphics card when you want to change speed, color, saturation, etc. but allows for smooth playback when you control these attributes in a real-time environment.
Best Codec for Presentation Software: Quality
The second thing that is misleading when exporting is the quality level. Most export programs give you a sliding scale from bad to best. Most of us think that choosing best is what we need to choose, however the reality is that the quality difference between best and high is so negligible, that the chance of anyone noticing is extremely rare. All “best” does is complicate the mathematical formula that has to process when playing back a clip.
At TripleWide Media we set all our exports to high and we promise you would never notice the difference either. At the end of the day, a motion background that plays back smoothly is better than the file that jumps but may have a slightly better clarity in pixel detail.
Best Codec for Presentation Software: Bitrate
Bitrate is one of the most contested elements of export. Many of our friends and partners recommend setting a specific bitrate however we’ve found that setting a quality level is more important over the bitrate. There is actually evidence that backs up both sides of the argument.
At TripleWide Media we set all of our exports to auto on the bitrate setting, so that our quality setting determines the correct bitrate needed in order to maintain the quality we desire in all of our media.
Best Codec for Presentation Software: Format
Lastly, the format of the export is really important. We have searched high and low for the most versatile and universal export. Since day one, we’ve never sold a format beside the Quicktime H.264 (.mov) format. There’s never been a reason. We had a few customers who preferred a .mpeg format, but we knew that the future of video playback would forever lean toward the quicktime format.
Furthermore, we knew that multiscreen playback would be on a machine and likely a platform that currently supported the quicktime wrapper. Though there were a few presentation softwares that used the Windows player primarily, we still stuck with Quicktime, and it’s proven to be the best decision long term.
We pride ourselves on providing the best quality media for the best price available. As we offer multiple sizes (up to 6 in fact) for the same price, there’s no better place to get media that’s formatted and exported in a manner worthy of VJing or custom media modifications on the fly.
If there’s anything we can do to help you make sure your entire media library is prepared in the best codec for presentation software in your environments, please don’t hesitate to contact us.