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Web Video Guidelines


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The demand for delivering video over the World Wide Web is increasing dramatically. This document is an effort to educate and provide video creators with general guidelines to assist with the activities of producing and distributing video on the Web. One important aspect in this endeavor is to provide realistic expectations. Web video is not TV quality. Bandwidth limitations often make creating quality desktop video a challenge. Tradeoffs will have to be made between file size, image quality, frame rate, and audio quality. Compression affects the look of the video at a given bandwidth. This document offers the opportunity to experience different types of videos at different compression rates in different formats.

The compression/decompression routines developed for Web video are improving everyday. Use these guidelines as just that -- information to guide you in the creation and distribution of video on the World Wide Web. The creation of high-quality video begins with the "big picture" approach. Keep the whole production process in mind while carefully planning each step. There are essentially 2 places where picture quality can be lost.

  • Video captures two-dimensional images of a three-dimensional world. Some of the detail found in the colors, sounds and images may be lost. Using a high quality camera, good lighting and audio equipment and professional production practices are ways to minimize that loss.

  • Compression of the video is necessary to deliver it over the Web. Compression reduces the amount of data or information in the video again. Using the proper compression is another important step in producing quality video. The old saying "Garbage in, garbage out" is as true with video as any other computer process.

Video technology can be exciting and frustrating. The technology is often on the cutting edge and there are varying standards to go by. Different equipment and software can create challenges. Get to know others on campus who are engaging in these activities. Join the UT Digital Video Producers Group by contacting Diane Gierisch at

These guidelines will address the 2 major types of video on the Web: streaming versus progressive download.

  • Streaming media is live and/or archived audio or video content, delivered in almost real-time to an end user's computer via the Internet. It's also called video-on-demand. For large files, streaming is preferable to downloading because you do not have to wait for the file to download before viewing it. Downloading a video file can greatly increase the amount of time it takes to view a presentation. In addition, many computers do not have the storage capacity to store a long presentation. Streamed presentations are experienced as they are downloaded, and generally not stored on the clients system. Viewers do not need to wait for the entire file to download to experience it. Further, it allows the consumer to jump forward or backward to the section of the content of interest.

  • Progressive downloads are files that are downloaded to the viewers computer. The files do not have to be completely downloaded before viewing begins (some media players have a "quickstart" feature) but the final result is that a copy of the movie exists on the viewers computer. For longer (larger) movies and smaller bandwidth versions or users, this may not be desirable. Determine your audience and their method of Internet connectivity when planning your video.

NOTE: The Video on the Web Guidelines will be reviewed and, if necessary, updated bi-annually.

  Updated May 04 2007
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