How To Deliver Video Product Via Download

14 replies
I'll try to be not too wordy with my request, but provide sufficient detail here...

I've put together an instructional video lesson program and want to give my customers immediate access to the lessons and permanent ownership of the videos. I'm having trouble finding a way to deliver the lessons without days of downloading files.

My best thought so far is to give customers immediate access to a password-protected page (Wordpress) with embedded video (FLV) for each of the lessons. Beside each embedded video I'll offer 2 download options - one lower quality and one higher. The password would then expire after giving the customer sufficient time to download all 15 videos. But the file format/size is still an issue.

I edited/rendered the video files in Movie Maker at the 720p, 5.9 MBPS bitrate (WMV, of course - the only option with WMM), 1280 x 720. The video episodes run 10-15 minutes and are around 500 MB in size. Even one is a big file to ask customers to download, but this is a set of 15 videos, and I'm looking for options.

I can achieve immediate accessibility to the lessons via embedded video in the web site, although I'm having trouble playing the wmv files. I tried running them through a PHP script but the "buffering" stage was endless and the video didn't play. I'm assuming that's because either my script was wrong (I did get it to play a video from someone else's site) or my bitrate is too high. I've already been successful running some free lesson/promo videos on the site by converting them to FLV and running through a player. On these I used bitrates ranging from 800 to 1600 kbps. Can't say that I see a lot of difference in quality, & I'm not sure about speed of delivery. But I get decent play after just a short buffering time & it's good enough for the free content.

My issues are
  1. I don't mind giving customers immediate access to the videos embedded on the web site, but the product is not a membership format and I can't promise the customer long-term access to these videos. Also this format is too easy for unscrupulous customers to share the URL and password access to the page with potentially everyone online.
  2. Size of downloadable files. Creating .RAR files seems to compress the file just a little, but I still have huge files that take a long time to download.
Looking for recommendations for best file size, file format, and bitrate that I should aim for with each option. I don't know the tradeoffs for reducing the 1280x720 to 640x360. Actually I don't even know the relationship between dimensions and bitrate. I assume that larger dimensions demand higher bitrate, but that's about as specific as my knowledge there gets...

Any suggestions regarding the specifics of my issues or even ideas about the general approach are greatly appreciated.
#deliver #download #product #video
  • Profile picture of the author SageSound
    Have you considered delivering one or two videos to get started, then deliver the rest via a CD or DVD shipped from some place like Kunaki? You're making it sound like it will take longer to DL the files than it would take to deliver them on media.

    Personally speaking, I'd much prefer to get a ton of files on CD/DVD than have to download them.

    And just remember, not everybody who might buy from you is going to have unlimted bandwidth or a high-speed connection. Which means you're likely to have to do some manual burning and shipping anyway.

    So what's the problem with both?

    BTW, the highest bandwidth pipeline is STILL a bunch of media shipped in a box via FedEx.

    -David
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  • Profile picture of the author John Waits
    Banned
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    • Profile picture of the author mangozilla
      Thanks for the input. I don't want to overexaggerate the size of my files and download time. A download speed of 50-60 kbps takes about 2 hours for a 500 MB file. There are 15 files.

      I've made some progress through trial & error converting to MP4 format. Using a bitrate of 800 and cutting the scale in half I get a file that looks decent (at least to my untrained eye) and yields a size about 15% of the original wmv. I'll probably have to direct customers to download a player that handles MP4 files, but that should be reasonable. I might be able to bundle all the files in a zingle zip or rar file with reasonable download time.

      Then anyone who wants DVD quality can order the physical disks.

      This is all my first stab at a project like this, & I'm not sure what "industry standards" are for video information products. I hope I'm on the right track, and I appreciate any suggestions.
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      • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
        Hi there Mangozilla. I'm also working on a project that will produce videos for download, so much of the trial-and-error info that you've given here has been very informative.
        Originally Posted by mangozilla View Post

        This is all my first stab at a project like this, & I'm not sure what "industry standards" are for video information products. I hope I'm on the right track, and I appreciate any suggestions.
        Just as a starting point, standard-def YouTube videos appear on the screen at a resolution of 480x360. But in fact, they are 320x240 res videos that are scaled up by 50% by the Flash player in your web browser. So if the quality that you've seen on YouTube vids is adequate for your presentation, then you'll probably be able to export at 320x240 and let the customer stretch the player by at least 50% without an unacceptable loss in quality.

        IMHO, it's encouraging to experiment with the smaller resolutions and to be pleasantly surprised by how good their quality is. Trying to figure out how customers can download fifteen 500MB files might give you one heck of a headache...
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  • Profile picture of the author Popstar
    You might consider "chunking" your video information into a series of smaller steps (and therefore, smaller videos) so that they're faster and easier to download.

    Just a thought.

    Debbie
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  • Profile picture of the author samstephens
    1280x720 is quite high resolution for downloadable videos.

    Try converting it to a smaller resolution and see what the file size comes out as, because that's where your size is coming from - the resolution of your video.

    cheers
    Sam
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  • Profile picture of the author Diver's
    Well, we are in the same boat. my current projects involve 14 video's. What i do is split them into 14 different files, then zip it. this should reduce the size and download time. To ship inthe box...well, that's to much work.

    But the option of shipping, can be done, by request for customer who cant tolerate the loss of quality.

    I remember Sam (DLGUARD) mentioned about membership site for this kind of video/product. That is a good option, but not in your case as you mentioned.

    But, Ewen Chia for example, once i bought his product with like 30 video's in it. He set his video for zipfile download with some php script that protects the download link. some php redirect i think.., i believe it is also secured from theft.
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    • Profile picture of the author mequad
      Hey Mangozilla... Doctor Quadlander here...

      yeah, video files can be a real pain.

      Take 4 Advils and call me in the morning!

      The smallest resolution that's much good is 320x240.

      The biggest you want for online files (at present)
      is 640x480 (4:3) or 720x480 MAXIMUM...

      You're going Spielberg on us with monster 1280 (online) files.

      As Mr. T says, in a deep bass voice ... I Pity The Fool who tries to download (and upload) a 1280 video file! :rolleyes:


      I use 640x480, and also some at 600x450, which is still 4:3,
      and a smaller file, and they look and play great.


      The best video player out there is the VLC Media Player.

      Just Google VLC player... also at VLC media player - Open Source Multimedia Framework and Player

      Windows and Mac versions... and it's FREE!

      This is a fantastic media player... plays ANY media file, mp4 video also...
      plays at any speed while keeping the voices well modulated...
      starts fast... installs easy... and is totally FREE!

      Tell your viewers to download and install and use it to play
      their downloaded files.

      This software plays any file I have thrown at it, and I love the
      advanced speed play control without chipmunk voices!


      As for on-site embedded web players I use 3,
      but recommend 1 as my favorite.

      They are all FREE to use... open-source...
      They have advanced paid versions as well, but not necessary.

      My FAVORITE is Flowplayer at Flowplayer - Flash Video Player for the Web

      Flowplayer also has a nifty WordPress plugin for your blogs.


      My 2nd choice is the BitGravity Player at
      Video Source | BitGravity Player 6 Setup Wizard

      Very cool software and options.


      My 3rd choice... look at JW Player at LongTail Video | Home of the JW Player

      You can easily make some beautiful custom online players with
      the first 2 choices... custom sizes, controls, and colors...

      You just need to spend some time with each software's
      tutorials/instructions to learn to customize.

      They are real simple to use, however, if you use the
      standard templates that come with the different softwares.



      As others have posted, zip/compress the files for download.


      Bitrates of 500 all the way up to 5000 are useful.

      I usually use 500, 700, 1000, and 1500 bitrates.

      I am usually surprised that a 500 bitrate is good enough...


      Mangozilla, a few words about video files.

      Stick with .flv or .mp4 or H.264 mpeg-4

      These are the common standards.

      QuickTime files (Apple) are great, but a ton of viewers DON'T have
      an updated version on their computers, so stay away for now,
      unless you love customer support. :confused:

      So, get some Sony Vegas Platinum, or Sony Vegas Pro,
      and/or latest Camtasia software to produce the right video files!

      I like FREE... but in this case Windows Free Video editing software
      ain't gonna cut it.

      Okay, listen closely...

      Most people don't know this, but you CAN edit some video file names
      on-the-fly.

      Specifically, you can simply edit/rename
      your-video.flv to your-video.mp4 and vice-versa.

      mp4 is just a special type of flash file.

      Windows will squawk at you, warning that the file may not be
      viewable if changed like this... are you sure?

      It is perfectly safe, so don't worry... click yes dammit, I'm sure!

      Now, WHY would you want to do this?

      Because some online players may not work well
      unless it is a .flv file. Other players work well with .mp4 files.

      Also, some video editing software won't produce .mp4 files,
      but that may be what your video PLAYER needs.

      If your file extension names are NOT visible when viewing
      your files, then you CAN'T edit the file name.

      By DEFAULT, Windows HIDES these type of file name extensions
      in your folders... what were they thinking!

      The SOLUTION... go to your Tools menu... Folder Options... View...

      Go down the list and make sure
      -Hide extensions for known file types- is UNCHECKED.

      Click Apply To Folders... Click OK...

      And voilla!

      You should now see your .flv and .mp4 file extensions
      appear in your folder files. Other known extensions will now be
      visible also...


      Okay gang, that is some real in-the-trenches tips & tricks
      that you should be able to put to use, and really shorten
      the ol' learnin' curve.

      Good Luck.

      Now I gotta go see who answered MY Question about inserting
      Pay Buttons on my WSO offer.

      ... from Teacher to Learner, and back again...
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  • Profile picture of the author GopalG
    Hi,

    I think the resolution of your video is the problem. While editing in the movie maker, select the standard ntsc dv preset. While you save the movie, you can change the size ,in the movie settings (this will be the second tab in the movie making wizard),there just below the (best quality for the video play back recommended) you will have a tab "show more options". There you can change the size and the format.Regarding delivering the video files you can use file sharing sites like mediafire where you can upload the file and you can send the private link to the customer. Hope the explanation is clear.

    cheers.
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  • Profile picture of the author mangozilla
    Thanks for all the input! I had actually thought the thread was dead...

    I'm having some luck converting the files to mp4 and reducing the dimensions and bitrate. When people use the term "resolution", I'm not sure which of these factors they're referring to - or if they mean something else entirely...

    As far as zipping the files, I can compress a 96MB file to a zipped 94 MB RAR file. Not thrilled with that. Watched a couple Youtube vids comparing Winrar, etc, and they get about the same. With such modest gains is there any reason to zip the files? I guess it provides the convenience of a single download, but with all combined, that's a monster file.

    Doc Quadlander, thanks for the specific bitrate suggestions. Also for the mp4/flv tip. I didn't know they were the same.

    GopalG, good tip to the mediafire option. Just took a look and that just might be the call. At least to start with.

    I'm using the Super video encoder, to try different formats. I use the high quality wmv as my source rather than going back to Movie Maker. Edits are already done, so the software upgrade will wait 'till my next project. This one was waaay more work than I had thought, so that upgrade might be a while in coming....
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  • Profile picture of the author Kate Davies
    Hi Mangozilla - I know you have your source files in WMV now, so this may be a little irrelevant now. But I thought you could also create AVI files in WMM. That is a better format for creating source files - with AVI files as your starting point you could send then on disk to a professional video editor to output in any format you like; in fact they could provide a many variatons of size / speed & resolution for you.

    If you expect people to download at 50-60 kbps, then you shouldn't be creating files at 5 mpbs. That just cannot work, it's like trying to pour 100 litres of water in to a 1 litre container without losing any.

    It sounds like you have put hours in to the creation of your product, and probably just as many hours in trying to get thge right format. I think I would suggest outsourcing the formatting / packaging.
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    • Profile picture of the author mangozilla
      Originally Posted by digileaf View Post

      Hi Mangozilla - I know you have your source files in WMV now, so this may be a little irrelevant now. But I thought you could also create AVI files in WMM. That is a better format for creating source files - with AVI files as your starting point you could send then on disk to a professional video editor to output in any format you like; in fact they could provide a many variatons of size / speed & resolution for you.

      If you expect people to download at 50-60 kbps, then you shouldn't be creating files at 5 mpbs. That just cannot work, it's like trying to pour 100 litres of water in to a 1 litre container without losing any.

      It sounds like you have put hours in to the creation of your product, and probably just as many hours in trying to get thge right format. I think I would suggest outsourcing the formatting / packaging.
      Good thought, Digileaf. I forgot that WMM can create AVI format, but the file is so big I dismissed it. My smallest 4 minute video produced as AVI would be just over 1 GB. Although I'm getting close with my trial & error approach, you're right - sending my best quality files to someone who has the equipment and experience may be time & money well spent on my part. Any specific recommendations?
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      • Profile picture of the author Kate Davies
        Hi, just sent you a PM.

        Kate
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  • Profile picture of the author troy23
    If you are streaming them over the net you should put them into MP4 (the replacement for FLV) and let the users download the Adobe plug in.
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