HTML 5 and a Better Video Format / by Chris T

It's possible that you've breathed a sigh of relief at one point or another that streaming video has mostly replaced uploaded media to your own servers. Services like YouTube, Vimeo, etc. take some of the bandwidth costs away from your sites, and that's a good thing, right?


By doing that, there's a whole host of ways others are monetizing your use of such services that net you merely a pittance for your content, along with some strange licensing issues. God forbid you ever decide to license music from a major label for your ad, presentation, or other video; you'll be locked in negotiating hell for weeks.

However, HTML5 has brought with it new container files and compression standards that will hopefully free you of this: WebM. WebM is a format that can give you 1080p (or higher) video at 60 frames per second in a filesize that works on mobile—which is great, given that it already works on all Android devices newer than version 2.3.

The container format uses Ogg/Vorbis audio tracks with a much more intelligent video compression to bring video file sizes down quit considerably. Most of the files I've published in WebM for work wind up being ~1/10th the total file size, allowing the smart use of video content without being beholden to external bullshit.

If your site uses HTML5, you can easily embed it using the <video> tags! Easy right? Well, unfortunately encoding the video in the first place is a little less than straightforward at the moment.

Despite being backed by Google, Adobe, Mozilla, and most of the more forward-thinking web devs (i.e., not Apple or Microsoft), WebM isn't an option in many of the video content-creation software for encoding. But there is a shortcut.

VLC media player has an option to convert video files into WebM that runs the command-line conversion for you using its somewhat Byzantine GUI.

Step 1. Install the latest version of VLC Media Player

Step 2. click Media > Convert / Save

Step 3. Add your file (preferably MP4)

Step 4. Select your new encoding (WebM)

Step 5. Select your destination folder, and hit start!

This particular file didn't compress as well as I'd hoped, but it's still an appreciable filesize reduction. 

Now you've got video that you can upload on your own that not only has a reasonable filesize, but also can have YOUR ads in it, on it, whatever. No third party, just you.