Video and the Internet
has been talking about video on the Internet lately, which got me thinking a bit in a retrospective manner. Long before I became a code monkey and author, I was a broadcast monkey. I was one of those rare types that did it all, from air talent to engineering.
When I made the professional transition around 1999, broadcast video was really just starting to make a widespread conversion into the digital world, and even then that was only with regards to acquisition. Sony had its DVCAM and Panasonic had its DVCPRO (what I used in my facility), and consumer miniDV was catching on, if a bit on the expensive side. DV-based video editing more or less sucked, because the only thing any normal people could afford was Adobe's horrible Premier. To really get things done, you needed something from Avid
or Media 100
Today I use Avid's Xpress Pro HD, which is a fabulous product that shares the same interface as the stuff used right up to feature films. They're stubborn about hardware compatibility, but really no one can touch what they have. It's hard to believe a software-only solution is really this good. Ditto for Apple's Final Cut Pro, which I haven't done anything more than play with but it certainly seems really solid.
Figuring in the Internet has always been an interesting process. Video distributed over the Internet is still of marginal quality (in my broadcast eye), and because of all of the compression, you can't edit or remaster it without killing the quality. Anything under native DV isn't usable for further production.
Of the various formats out there, Windows Media is OK for talking heads, Real blows if for no other reason than the player is a bloated piece of crap, and QuickTime, in my experience, still gives you the best bang for the buck. You can do simple HTTP streaming with it, and the Sorenson codec is still at the top of the heap. There's a reason most movie trailers are released in this format. People pay me money to encode video, and I always get them the best quality in QT with Sorenson.
Broadband penetration sure has made things easier. You can do really nice stuff on the Internet at a resolution that can actually be seen as something more than a low-resolution slide show. Thank God that old modems are becoming more rare with each passing year. Access and bandwidth are probably still the biggest limitations to distribution of video, but I'm encouraged by lower pricing for the connections and computer hardware. We've still got a long way to go.