How to Encode To WebM

This is an excerpt from an article I wrote for StreamingMedia.

Even if you don’t believe all the hype about HTML5, sooner or later, you’ll need to start encoding some video to WebM format. Maybe for internal experimentation, for a pay-per-view or subscription project (where H.264 may incur royalties), because you’ve decided to jump into HTML5 video with both feet, or because Google announced yesterday that it’s going to stop supporting H.264 in Chrome. Whatever the reason, you’ll be sitting at your desk or poolside one day, and you’ll be thinking “I’ve got to encode some video to WebM format.”

If and when that day comes, set a bookmark in your memory banks for this article, because it’s all about encoding to WebM. I’ll start by looking at how WebM compares to H.264 in terms of quality, just to set expectations, and then briefly review the quality and performance of several free and for-fee encoding tools.

As a benchmark, I’ll compare the output quality of these tools to WebM files produced by Google, using its own command-line encoding tools. I’m not a command-line lover myself, but in most instances, it provides a level of control and output quality that few GUI-based encoding tools can match and is ideal for users who need to build encoding into a larger-scale workflow. As you’ll see, most of the GUI-based tools that I tested fell short on quality, producing the requested target data rate, or otherwise. But there was one tool that matched Google’s output quality and provided nearly all the controls available via WebM’s encoding interface.

Click here to jump over to, and see reviews of FireFogg (worth a look), Miro Video Encoder (too basic), WildForm FlixWebM (more issues than Amy Winehouse), Telestream Episode (getting warm) and Sorenson Squeeze (now you’re talking!).

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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