Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5


Note to Readers: This book has been superseded by Video by the Numbers (2017) and Producing Streaming Media for Multiple Screen Delivery (2013), both also by Jan Ozer The only reason to buy this book is if you need it for a specific class or other reason. Otherwise, Video Encoding by the Numbers is probably the right book for you.

On May 3, 2011, StreamingLearning Center and Jan Ozer released Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5. 

This book is for anyone seeking to efficiently produce high quality video for playing back over the Internet or on Apple and other mobile devices. It provides detailed recommendations regarding which platforms to target and the appropriate configurations for producing streaming files and files for distributing via iTunes, with extensive comparisons of the most popular streaming encoding programs.

It also discusses considerations for choosing whether to distribute video from your own site (or the Cloud) or whether to host your videos on user generated content sites or online video platforms. There’s a chapter on choosing the best tools and workflow for live event production, along with chapters detailing how to accelerate encoding on multiple-core workstations and LAN clusters and various tools for analyzing and debugging streaming video files. 

PDF with figures from book

Interview with the Author

Download Detailed Table of Contents

Chapter by Chapter Description

See Back of Book Copy

Interview with the Author


Why did you write this book?

I was teaching three or four H.264-related seminars a year for StreamingMedia conferences in New York, Los Angeles and London, which attendees paid $180 for a three-hour seminar. The original thought was to translate that seminar to a book, which turned out to be the first seven chapters or so, which included encoding for streaming, iDevices and adaptive streaming.

Then I realized there were some significant gaps, including encoding for HTML5, so I added that. Once that was done, I took a high-level look at the content and felt that while the encoding was covered, there was a big gap on the distribution side, as in how readers could actually get the videos on their web pages. So I added a chapter that included how to choose and use a user generated content (UGC) site or online video platform (OVP) to distribute your video, which really is the best way for many readers. That chapter includes how to encode for uploading, and how to embed video into a web site.

Then I added a chapter on live distribution, since that’s getting so interesting, which covers the encoding tools and services available for live-event production. The last two chapters are on accelerating encoding on multi-core workstations and streaming video analysis tools.

There are several books out there on streaming video production; how is yours different?

Three points. First, I not only cover the how to encoding side, as in which options to choose and why, I also cover more critical issues like the resolution and data rate to use. I back this up with detailed research into how media and corporate sites around the world are configuring their video. For example, if ESPN is encoding at 800 kbps or higher, this tells you that the average viewer can retrieve and play 800 kbps video, which is significant since many corporate sites are stuck on 320x240@300 kbps. It’s not my opinion that the reader should configure their video at 640x360 resolution, it’s backed by actual statistics.

Ditto for encoding for podcasts, where I downloaded about a hundred free podcasts from leading publishers and share the data in the book. I also downloaded multiple paid music videos and SD and HD TV shows and share these results.

Beyond that, the book is very extensively researched. Again, it’s easy to simply configure encoding programs, but I tried to distill lots of disparate information into clear and well-supported recommendations. When I recommend how to configure video for adaptive streaming with Flash, I looked at multiple Adobe white papers, recommendations from Akamai, and multiple case studies from actual users, including MTV, Turner Broadcasting and Harvard University.

Finally, I tried to cover soup to nuts, encoding to distribution. No one wants to just encode video; they need to know how to get it on their web site.

Do you have a target reader in mind for the book?

Definitely. I start every project trying to figure how who’s going to use the result, and why. With this book I tried customize the content for several specific targets.

First, video producers encoding to H.264 who want to know which parameters to use for Flash, HTML5 and podcasts, why, and which encoding tool does it best.

Second, producers trying to figure out whether to use adaptive streaming and/or how to configure their streams for optimal quality.

Third, producers starting to think about live webcasting.

Fourth, producers wanting to learn about HTML5 and WebM. The book details which encoding tools work well, and which to avoid.

Finally, the newbie who’s looking to get up to speed with streaming encoding concepts like bandwidth and data rate, and wants a big picture overview of encoding and distribution.

How current is the book?

Good question. This book is self published, so even though it came out on May 3, it includes announcements made at NAB in April, like Adobe’s including iOS distribution in the next version of the Flash Media Server. The book includes results from the 6.1 update for Telestream Episode, which I got in the middle of April. This was a significant release, since it cured significant issues with H.264 and WebM encoding.

What’s your background?

I’ve encoded video since 1992, have taught video production and encoding since 1994, and have about 14 books out on various aspects video production and streaming. I’m also a video producer, and shoot for DVD and streaming production, and produce a lot of screencams for multiple clients.

I’m a contributing editor of StreamingMedia Magazine and EventDV and blog for AV Technology Magazine, and was proud to be named a Streaming Media All Star in 2010.

Chapter by Chapter Description:

This book is for anyone seeking to efficiently produce high quality video for streaming over the Internet or for delivery via iTunes. It first covers the fundamentals of compression and streaming (Chapters 1 & 2), then discusses how to prioritize between target platforms such as Flash, HTML5, Apple iPhones and iPads and other mobile devices, both directly from the reader’s website and through third party services like online video platforms (OVPs).

The book then discusses producing H.264 video for various platforms, with extensive discussions of key H.264 configuration options (Chapter 3) as presented in popular encoding programs like Adobe Media Encoder, Apple Compressor, Microsoft Expression Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze and Telestream Episode Pro (Chapter 4). This includes specific recommendations for the resolution and data rate for H.264-encoded video, backed by charts detailing how various configurations of H.264 encoded files play back on a variety of Mac and Windows platforms, and an extensive look at the configurations used by prominent US and European media and corporate sites (Chapter 5).

In Chapter 6, the book tackles producing for iTunes, again based upon research gleaned from downloading and analyzing over 100 podcasts from high-profile podcast producers. The book provides detailed recommendations on issues like whether to produce single and multiple versions of podcasts, the appropriate configurations and detailed encoding parameters for podcasts of various resolutions.

Adaptive streaming is one of the key technologies that enable web producers to provide a high quality of service to a range of viewers on multiple platforms. In Chapter 7, the book describes how adaptive streaming works, identifies the available technologies and provides highly detailed recommendations on the appropriate number of streams, their configurations and encoding details like VBR vs. CBR and key frame interval.

Chapter 8 describes the H.264 quality, encoding speed and feature set of the most popular Mac and Windows H.264 encoding programs, with a look at both x264 and other H.264 codecs, while Chapter 9 covers producing WebM, VP6 and Windows Media Video, including how the various encoding programs compare. Chapter 10 discusses distributing your video, describing how to choose between hosting videos on your own web site, hosting them on user generated content (UGC) sites or using an OVP. The Chapter then discusses how to chose a UGC or OVP partner.

Chapter 11 is the “live” Chapter, providing an overview of live event streaming, then digging in and discussing which webcast program to buy, which capture card to use, and when and how to use a portable streaming appliance. The Chapter includes an extensive discussion of choosing a third-party service to stream your live events, and concludes with a look at rich media communications, or platforms that combine PowerPoint, audio and video and audience participation features like surveys, quizzes and Q&A.

The book closes with chapters detailing how to accelerate encoding on multiple-core workstations and LAN clusters (Chapter 12) and various tools for analyzing and debugging streaming video files (Chapter 13). 

From the back of the book:

Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5 is a professional reference for producers seeking to distribute video over the Internet and to mobile devices—particularly Apple iDevices.

In this book, you will learn:

The fundamentals of video streaming and compression, including adaptive streaming

H.264 encoding parameters for a range of streaming encoders, including Apple Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze and Telestream Episode Pro

The resolutions and data rates used by US and European media and prominent B2B and B2C sites, so you can configure your streaming video accordingly

How to encode for iTunes distribution to iDevices from iPods to the iPad 2

How to encode for Android, webOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices

The critical differences between the key adaptive streaming technologies—including HTTP Live Streaming, Dynamic Streaming and Smooth Streaming—and how to encode for distribution via these techniques

How to choose a UGC site for distributing your video, and how to upload and embed video into your website

The key alternatives for producing live streaming video, and the various options for webcasting hardware and software and third-party live streaming service providers

How to accelerate video encoding on multiple-core workstations and LAN clusters

Which streaming file analysis tools provide the most important feedback.

About the Author:

Jan Ozer has produced and encoded video since the CD-ROM days (1992) and has taught courses in video and streaming production since 1994—most recently at StreamingMedia Seminars in New York, San Jose, Los Angeles  and London, and for private organizations like Cisco, Lockheed and Johns Hopkins University. Jan was named a StreamingMedia All Star in 2010.

Jan is a contributing editor of StreamingMedia Magazine and EventDV and blogs for AV Technology Magazine. He has has written or co-authored 14 books on digital video related topics, including the Hands-On Guide to Flash Video: Web Video and Flash Media Server with Stefan Richter. One reviewer commented, “For videographers, this is your bible on how to capture video for Flash. For video editors, this is your bible on how to prepare and compress the files.”

Jan shoots, edits and produces DVDs, live webcasts and streaming media for concerts, ballets and other events. He also produces training videos for local artisans, as well as screencam presentations for multiple organizations, including Roxio, ProDad, EventDV and ViewCast. He blogs at