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Vimeo video optimisation

A potential issue identified during my final BoW tutorial was the quality of my video stream from Vimeo (particularly noticeable in the slide transitions). At the time, I was uncertain whether it was related to the video being streamed through a Zoom connection, which would have applied its own compression, or if there was a problem with the way I’d encoded the video for Vimeo upload. Either way, I have looked for solutions to both the video quality on Vimeo itself, and for ways of showing the video to a live audience through Zoom; something I want to do as part of my practice development.

Vimeo optimisation

I looked carefully at a) the original .mov file exported from Garageband in comparison with b) the compressed .mp4 file I’d previously uploaded. Size: 703MB vs 400MB; when I watched the two carefully, there was a degradation in the audio quality from the original and a slight pixelation during the transitions. This degradation may have been amplified during the streaming process.

I found Vimeo’s compression guidelines here: https://vimeo.com/help/compression. But also are some specific guidelines for using the ‘handbrake’ application I use for compressing video: https://vimeo.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/224978308-HandBrake. I wasn’t aware of these when I previously uploaded and just let the standard application settings for Vimeo. I also noticed that Vimeo accepts uploads of the .mov format – so I could potentially upload the original file as it is not huge.

I first uploaded as the original .mov file. After upload the file size was 670MB, so Vimeo must have applied some of it’s own compression to the original file. The quality seemed better than the original mp4 file, but I could still see some pixelation in the transitions.

Next, I used the encoding settings for handbrake specified in the Vimeo guidelines – they are technical and I don’t understand what all of the settings mean! These resulted in an 812MB mp4 file (so larger than the original .mov file). However, the quality was spot-on; there is a noticeable different in sound clarity and I could see no pixelation in the transitions. The upload to Vimeo was 812MB, but after processing, the file size showed 774MB – so there is additional compression by Vimeo to the mp4 file. There seems to be a slight degradation in the transitions but not too noticeable and the sound clarity is retained.

Showing video through Zoom

I searched Google for tips on sharing HD video over zoom. I’ll test myself, but it seems that best results are obtained by sharing a full screen video from the desktop and checking the Zoom box ‘optimise for full screen video’. This will apparently allow for HD streaming. Another suggestion is to kick others in the household off the internet while streaming to protect bandwidth. When I shared videos for tutorials, I’d shared them from the Vimeo feed – so this would have been taking up bandwidth; an obvious error in retrospect.

One difficulty with the free Vimeo account is the 40 minute time limit. This could be a little tight for an intro, a 10 minute video, plus Q&A. A pro-plan is £11.99/month, presumably plus VAT. These things soon add up, along with paid Vimeo accounts etc, but if activated for months when needed, it is not an ongoing cost.

Zoom alternatives

My online research turned up an number of Zoom alternatives, with one that seems worth investigation:

Kast – describes itself as a creating virtual parties with online screening for up to 100 people. It apparent acquired Rabbit.it in 2019. Premium / ad free and HD screening is $4.99 per month.

There are a number of others but they seem to be more focused on sharing of existing online content and often have interfaces that look slightly juvenile.

Published inP4: research & preparation

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