Sean Gilligan's Blog


Talking Heads Want Better Audio

Ryan Hodson, a talented artist and videoblogger, just posted a talking-head video comment, that she 'compressed the living hell out of'. If you ask me, she, like so many others, over-compressed the audio. Personally, I'd rather she made the video smaller and jerkier, but with higher audio quality. The most important part of this video is the sound of her voice, but the audio artifacts introduced by over-compression de-humanize human voices and drive me crazy. Am I the only one? I'm going to see if others in the videoblogging group agree with me and try to encourage people to not over-compress their audio.

Note: Since this video is a QuickTime demo it is only available in QuickTime format, unlike my other videos which are in multiple formats thanks to vBlog Central.

Ryan, being a video professional at her night-time day job, has access to and knows how to use high-end tools, like Cleaner 6. I decided to post an alternate, highly-compressed video comment for comparison. Since I don't have access to her high-quality master, I'm going to use my most recent video comment as an example. The video above was not automatically compressed on the server by vBlog Central, but was compressed 'by hand' on my desktop with the $29.99 QuickTime Pro version of the QuickTime Player and is hosted by vBlog Central.

Cleaner 6 gives excellent results with two-pass Sorenson VBR encoding that I can't duplicate with QT Pro (by itself), so I went for a really small video window. I used the same audio codec as Ryan, but decided to give more bandwidth to the audio to remove the artifacts. The table below compares the bandwidth used by this video and Ryan's video.

Rate Ryan Sean
Video Bit-Rate: 2.9 K bytes/sec 3.8 K bytes/sec
Audio Bit-Rate: 1.0 K bytes/sec 1.9 K bytes/sec
Total: 3.9 K bytes/sec 5.7 K bytes/sec

It's not fair to compare my video compression to Ryan's since she used a better tool. My point here is that if Ryan had given 0.9 K bytes/sec extra bandwidth to her audio, she would have had much better sounding audio. She could have slightly reduced her video quality or increased her overall file size by only 23%. This is why I'm asking videobloggers to not skimp on their audio quality.


  • sean
    thanks for the advice! i realize that audio is super important in this type of video.
    the "high end" tools that i used are all pirated and on my personal laptop
    (shit, i'm now going to run like hell from the internet police)
    the internet and having techie friends with serial numbers is my only advantage over people who aren't video professionals.
    the information is out there friends.
    but, however, i am still working out the kinks of quicktime pro, cleaner, compressor and anything else i can try to create a (semi-legal) and quality compression.
    so any posts like this from anyone who has info on how to compress and publish is invaluable to beginners, even beginners who do this for a living.
    thanks again for the knowledge

    By Blogger ryanne hodson, at 12:12 PM  

  • Ryanne:
    If you want to go legit, the first thing I'd recommend is the $29.99 for QT Pro. Even when you have (legit) copies of the high-end tools, as I do, QT Pro still comes in handy. It's the swiss-army knife of video production.
    -- Sean

    By Blogger Sean Gilligan, at 12:17 PM  

  • ha ha!
    i totally have QT pro
    and it wasnt 29.99.

    it's a great tool and i'm going to learn to use it more
    esp with andreas' quicktime thingy hack:

    By Blogger ryanne hodson, at 1:11 PM  

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