HD and Online Video

Not so long ago, video experts would tell you that you didn’t need an High Definition camera if you were going to only upload your oeuvre to the Internet.  Compression was so bad on sites like YouTube that your video resolution really didn’t matter: it would still end up looking like pixellated hash.

Not any more.  It seems as if everyone has gotten HD religion in the last month or two: with the proliferation of inexpensive HD cameras (such as the Flip Mino HD and Kodak Zi6) and an upgrade of various video platforms.

Take a look at this Facebook video, shot on my Pentax W60 point-and-shoot camera (lousy for still images, but it’s waterproof and takes 720p video at 15 frames per second). It showed up with an “HD” icon on my Facebook profile:

(It may be even sharper on my Facebook profile as I’m not sure if the above viewer is “HD”).

Then there’s the same video uploaded to YouTube.  Unlike Facebook, which automatically recognized the HD resolution, YouTube didn’t (thought it does look better in this player than it does in YouTube itself).

I’m not sure why YouTube didn’t see my file as HD, especially since it has just launched HD video capability.  Regardless, this latest development will certainly challenge Vimeo.com — which previously held the HD advantage.

In fact, I signed up for Vimeo’s “Plus” $60 plus account recently so that I could upload 1 GB video files (still more than what YouTube allows) and embed HD viewers (can’t do that in YouTube).  This allowed me to easily share my latest film, “Rising from Ruins” with my collaborators.  I shot RFR on the $7,000 Sony 1080p EX1 — a far cry from the $250 Pentax.  Here’s the embedded HD trailer of the film, which has just been delivered to its Canadian HD broadcaster.  As you may conclude, compression, whether HD or not, is still the great equalizer when it comes to what’s sharp in an embedded viewer:

The lesson here?  If you’re serious about video — online or on TV — and you’re trying to figure out what kind of camera you should get, now’s the time to go HD.


Flash memory video cameras: Kodak Zi6, Flip Mino HD [not broadcast quality HD, but good enough for online]

Point and shoot still cameras with HD video: Panasonic Lumix TZ5 [careful with the weak audio]

Inexpensive HD Video cameras: Canon HF10 (flash memory), HV20 (tape)

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