Screencasting with Google video and Youtube

23 Oct

With the H.264 codec, you get fantastic video compression for screen capture because it’s smart enough to recongnize an essentially unchanging screen. The image quality is near perfect with an under 1k bit rate for an umoving image.

So it’s quite annoying that both Google Video and Youtube (and in fact all the video hosting services) use a compression algorithm that is totally inappropriate for screencasting because it makes the text on the screen mostly indecipherable. Most annoying is that moving to something like H.264 would provide simulateously better quality and lower file size.

I don’t know what’s stopping them. I’ve seen plenty of high-quality flash video screencasts. Problem is, I can’t use this high-quality delivery without hosting the screencasts myself, and I’m not ready to push my $5-a-month hosting (though SiteGround claims I get 900GB a month! I haven’t asked if they really meant to capitalize that B or not; it’s possible they aren’t aware of the ‘b for bit’/’B for byte’ convention).

As it is, all my videos are uploaded to as h.264 avi files (in future, I’ll start posting them in matroska format as well, but I need to find the right tools for that conversion). This is not entirely satisfactory, as I have to direct users on where to find an h.264 codec, and they can’t get a quick preview before downloading the files. I personally find unnecessary downloading always a bit bothersome because I have to think of where to put the file; it just adds to the number of things I have to keep track of.

Speaking of Gootube, as far as I can figure, Google, whose interface I preferred using over Youtube’s clutter, could never catch up to Youtube because, as I found out myself, it takes days for Google to approve uploaded videos whereas Youtube takes less than an hour. That’s a perfectly rational reason to prefer Youtube. An alternative, more depressing explanation is that the masses are fetishists who cling sheepishly to what they already know. I hope this dynamic isn’t as strong as it seems, or else the collapse of MySpace will never come.

One Response to “Screencasting with Google video and Youtube”

  1. Pascal Van Hecke November 2, 2006 at 5:08 am #


    I’ve been testing several online services for screencasts and was wondering on the reasons for the varying quality…

    Revver and perform rather well.
    See my findings at

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