After much experimentation, Richard and I have decided to officially move to the Theora/Vorbis format for all past and future screencasts. This comes right on the heels of the new Firefox 3.5 release which supports the HTML5 video tag allowing one to watch Theora/Vorbis videos (and audio) in the browser natively…without any plug-ins installed (I think I’m the king of run-on sentences).
What this means is that we will no longer provide H.264/MP3 – AVI videos and Flash videos. OGG is the only video type that we will provide. Nothing will change on the viewers end. You can still download a video to watch offline or you can choose to watch a video directly in your browser for online viewing, provided that you use a browser with HTML5 video support (Firefox 3.5, Safari 4, Opera 10, Chrome SVN). VLC is still a pretty good media player for watching our screencasts offline but it’s not a requirement. Use anything that supports Theora and Vorbis playback.
We understand that this change might be inconvenient for some, especially those who enjoyed watching our Flash versions. Flash remains very popular and has its benefits. On the other hand, if we can do everything with just one format then we save time. This will hurt the Microsoft Internet Explorer users the most. If you are using this browser then you’ll have to download the videos to view offline. That is unless Microsoft gets it’s act together. We highly recommend using Firefox 3.5.
We’re sure there will be some growing pains but overall we’re pretty satisfied with things. The quality of our OGG files is slightly less than our AVI and FLV formats (EP001-EP090). There is some pixelation but that is only because they have been transocoded. Our new episodes, EP091 and EP092, had not been converted to AVI first before being converted to OGG. The quality of those two episodes is much better. Furthermore, the file sizes for all past and future screencasts will be much smaller now…as much as 30-40% on some videos. Who doesn’t like smaller file sizes? If you raised your hand then Richard will give you a Canadian head-butt. 🙂 We also dropped our video size from 912×684 to 880×656. It’s an odd size, we know, but it has more to do the Inkscape application window.
Our intros deserve some attention especially when the OGGs are played online. They need to be tweaked so that they play smoother. Things are a little choppy at the moment. We may or may not work on a new intro that works better with Theora and is a little less CPU intensive…but we’re not making any promises.
We’ll continue to keep past episodes posted in the AVI and FLV format for some time in our video repo but we will no longer offer new episodes in those formats. Eventually, we will remove the AVI and FLV videos to save space on our server. EP091 will be the debut screencast for Theora/Vorbis. It’s posted already so check it out. Please give us your feedback…but send all bad feedback to Linc from The Linux Link Tech Show. 😉