SD or HD for web? Compression vs Quality vs Viewer

will-3 wrote on 10/17/2013, 11:03 AM
Just returning to video stuff after an extended absence and need to catch up.

Some questions:

1 - When shooting video for the web streaming or on-demand... is there a noticeable difference to the "typical viewer" between SD and 720p HD and 1080p HD

1a - when viewed in full screen mode on the typical computer with say a 19 to 24 inch screen?

1b- Ditto if the computer monitor is a large screen LCD... say 32 to 50 inches?

1c - Ditto if viewed on a typical tablet and/or smart phone...

2 - For web video of a talking head reporter or interview... shot in the studio or on location... with frequent transitions to "b-roll" footage... is the standard for to use wide format or what? (Seems like wasted bandwidth in most cases)

We have the ability to shoot in either SD or HD but I really wonder if when properly done... that the "lay viewer" can tell much difference...

It would seem that HD would require a lot of compression and de-compression... and in that process could loose some quality... not to mention the potential extra bandwidth you have to pay for to stream HD...

Or are the current (H.264?) codecs so good that there is no visible loss of video quality for HD viewing... and little if any additional bandwidth needed for HD?

Thanks for any comments and help in catching me back up.


Steve Grisetti wrote on 10/17/2013, 11:18 AM
One important question.

When you say "for the Web", do you mean for your own personal web site or do you mean a video site like YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.

Video sharing sites all re-encode whatever video you provide rather than streaming your original video. So there is an optimized format for these sites -- but know that there is a limit to the quality of the finished video.
musicvid10 wrote on 10/17/2013, 11:24 AM
To reach your largest audience with a quality viewing experience, 720p is still the best compromise. That's just my opinion, of course.
Here's a couple of ways to get there:
dlion wrote on 10/17/2013, 12:03 PM
+1 720p HD
Warper wrote on 10/21/2013, 3:11 PM
+1 720p
SD is noticable for full screen and most of natural SD material is interlaced. Unfortunately, interlaced material doesn't look great here as streaming video in web doesn't generally have deinterlace filter.
You won't get real 1080p anyway unless you spend a fortune.
As for h264, you I feel ok quality for material as 2.5Mbit/s for SD, 6.5Mbit/s for 720p and 11Mbit/s for 1080p.
Wide screen doesn't take much bitrate if it's static. If you put a trembling tree on each side it might be another story. And as a viewer I prefer wide screen video just for the sake of wide screen monitor
robwood wrote on 10/21/2013, 3:20 PM
720p is still the best compromise. That's just my opinion, of course. - musicvid, dlion, warper

+4 for 720p.

haven't used SD in a while now and 1080p seems like overkill on a computer screen; when desktop resolution goes 3K+ i'll probably switch, but til then...
mudsmith wrote on 10/22/2013, 3:32 PM
Look at this in- depth methodology from a couple of years ago:

I, too, had been offline for about a year and was pointed in this direction a couple of weeks ago. The DNxHD/Handbrake method worked extremely well for me in bringing my 1080p trailer to a manageable 720p small file size that seems to hold up well on Vimeo for the folks other than myself who have looked at it. The instructions in the link above are quite specific, and the resultant file size was amazingly small, and looks a lot closer to the original than I thought it would. The 720p (1280x720) looks good and streams well.

I think the difference between SD and HD on the web is truly noticeable if you are doing anything that is at all serious, and lots of the cheap handycams make reasonably good looking HD files for YouTube, so that is the world we are living in.

In the year of my absence, by the way, Vimeo has gotten massively more friendly and complete to use, so I heartily recommend it as a place for your demos to live and be pointed to. Quallity seems way better than YouTube to my eyes, and the Pro membership gets you some pretty interesting commercial usage. Even the free membership gives a massive tool set to help and high ease of use.