Embedding videos the old fashion way

There was a time when I embedded web videos manually by uploading the video file to a server, and then wrote some HTML embeded code on the web page to show a video.  Then came YouTube which solved one of the biggest problems which is server bandwidth, but they insisted on transcoding the uploaded file before they’d show it.  What this meant was that I had to upload at a significantly higher bitrate so that the losses will be minimized but that is a very time consuming process on a ~400 Kbps upstream connection with HD video files.

So now I’ve decided to try a little experiment using DropBox.com’s public folder feature and some HTML 5 “video” tags.  Below is a 1440×1080 video clip I encoded using H.264 High Profile level 4.0 at 2.2 Mbps for the video stream and 128 Kbps AAC audio.  The bitrate is what YouTube would probably give me for their “1080P” stream but I would have likely had to upload at 5 Mbps for a starting point and that would take a lot longer.  Using this method, the end user sees the original encoded video with no intermediate transcode step.

You must have an HTML5 capable browser.

Unfortunately, the WordPress graphical editor will screw up the raw embed code so I have to edit the post using raw HTML. Javascript apparently doesn’t support full screen. Free solutions like Video JS will support browser full screen (you still need to push F11 for true full screen) but the video doesn’t play back smoothly in Chrome. Furthermore, this still won’t work in Internet Explorer 9 or Firefox 3.6.23 which is frustrating. The good news is that the videos are easy to download, though it’s possible to download flash video (without DRM) as well using extra plugin tools.

There is another alternative which is to go directly to the download link. Opening that link in Internet Explorer will open Windows Media Player which has the lowest CPU utilization and highest chance of smooth playback on lower end devices like netbooks. That will do full screen for sure. Or we can use the Windows Media Player plugin which is really going old school, but that too has the benefit of smooth video playback, but may not work on Macs and Linux devices.