So, you’ve been shooting in high definition for a while now, and you are ready to start posting HD sample clips on the web that actually reflect the quality of the footage you’re capturing in your camera and editing in your NLE. You have two options: Do it yourself or use a service. If you choose the former route, you’ll need to know which codec to use and the optimum encoding parameters. If you go with the latter, you’ll need to know how the various services compare. As they say in TV teasers—all this and more, coming up.
The Security Angle
Perhaps the first question on your mind is not how to transcode your video or who should host it but how to keep online pirates from stealing your work and posting it as their own. The short story is that if security is a priority for you, you’ll have to either install a streaming server yourself or find a hosting company that provides a streaming server with digital rights management (DRM), which will be much more expensive than the options I’ll discuss in this article.
To be clear, if you post the HD files to your website without a streaming server, it’s relatively simple for even a technical novice to capture your files in their original format. Even if it’s beyond the meager skills of the odious videographer who would claim your work as his or her own, odds are your would-be nemesis has a buddy who can handle the dirty (and techie) work. As for the inexpensive online services, they work without streaming servers to keep their costs down and offer no DRM protection whatsoever.
What would I recommend in lieu of server-based protection? There are a couple of precautions you can take. First, a well-placed watermark is always tough for a plagiarist to explain away, so I would subtly brand any video I posted to the web, HD or otherwise.
Second, consider distributing your videos in VP6 format. While H.264 is generally higher-quality, the difference is minor, and both H.264 and VC-1 files are easily editable in Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and most other editors. If you post video in H.264 or VC-1, you’re handing the virtual keys to the car thief; if you produce in VP6 format, it’s almost impossible to edit the video without time-consuming (and quality-degrading) conversions.
With that out of the way, let’s turn to rolling your own online HD videos. We’ll start with a quick overview of how HD is being used on the web today.