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Photo to Movie Blog

Publishing Slide Shows on the Web

Posted November 17th, 2009 by Chris

Web publishing can be tricky business, requiring much trial and error to arrive at a perfect file. There are several things that make web publishing difficult, but the primary issues are the video file format, the bandwidth required to play the video, and the video size. All of these issues are related. For instance, larger video sizes require more bandwidth and take longer to download.

In order to determine how to address them you have to consider where you are planning on publishing your video (i.e., your own homepage or video site like YouTube?) and who will be watching it (i.e., Windows or Mac users, users with dial-up or broadband connections, etc.) and how (ie, on a computer screen or an iPhone?).

Unfortunately, there is no single video format that works flawlessly in all situations. However, a few different formats come close, especially if your users are using the latest browser available on their platform. Ideally, too, you can provide multiple versions of your movie in different file formats, sizes, and bandwidths — just in case.

The gold standard of video rendering on Macintosh is QuickTime, so for Mac users (and many Windows users too) this is easily the best solution. In particular, the H.264 codec (a QuickTime format) offers high quality with comparatively economic file sizes. H.264 is available to anyone with iTunes installed on their computer.

The most popular Windows video format, on the other hand, is Windows Media Video Format. This is available for all Windows users but not most Mac users — so if you’re making a slide show for a cross-platform audience, QuickTime or Flash might be your best bet.

If you are publishing to your own site, you’ll also need a player that can be embedded in a web page. These are typically written in either JavaScript, Flash, or Silverlight. See the end of this section for some possible players.

Finally, you need to decide what size and how much bandwidth to require to view your movie. This depends on how the movie will be watched. Many applications (for example, QuickTime Player Pro) have export settings with the video size and bitrate already calibrated for you.

If you video will be played on a mobile device such as iPhone, we recommend a height of either 240 or 320 pixels and a download rate of 150-200 Kbps.

If your video will be played on a computer with broadband (cable or DSL speed), you can render up to 1024 pixels tall and download rates of 1 Mbps or more.

But, we should point out that there’s no “perfect” setting. You’ll have to make size and bandwidth tradeoffs depending on your particular application. For example, standard video on YouTube downloads at about 300 Kbps.


If you’re preparing your video for YouTube, it is quite easy to render the movie using Photo to Movie.

If you’re on a Mac, render to H.264 with a size of 640×480. Then upload the resulting video to YouTube.

If you’re on Windows, render to Windows Media with a size of 640×480. Then upload the resulting video to YouTube.

For both Mac and Windows, use a frame rate of 30 fps.

Flash Videos

Flash is very useful for web publishing, since it helps provide video that most users will be able to view regardless of platform. Sites like YouTube use Flash for all their video content.

With Flash, you can publish your movies to your own site without having to rely on YouTube to display your video. This has the advantage that you can control access to the video and also your video does not get displayed with advertisements present on YouTube. The downside is that it is a more complicated procedure to get things perfect.

If you’re using Flash, we recommend rendering your movie in the H.264 format and then using a standard player such as JW Player (see below) to place it on a webpage. You will need to consult with the instructions for your chosen player to get the exact details.

Mac users can render H.264 video directly. Choose Make Movie and select the QuickTime rendering panel. Select QuickTime for the movie format and choose your desired movie settings. This will produce a video that can be placed directly on your website with an appropriate Flash player.

On Windows, it is slightly more complicated since the Windows version of Photo to Movie cannot render H.264 video files that are immediately web-ready (it can do the video, but not the AAC audio, due to licensing restrictions). However, there is a way around this. We recommend rendering your movie to H.264 video, but use uncompressed audio. To do this, use Document Info and choose the QuickTime movie format. Then choose a custom file format with the H.264 codec, the desired video size, and desired bandwidth. Then render your movie. This will produce a H.264 video with uncompressed audio. Next use QuickTime Player Pro to open your movie and re-render to full H.264 with AAC audio. QuickTime is smart enough not to re-render the video that is already in H.264 format, but it will re-compress the audio into AAC, producing a movie that can be placed directly on your website using a Flash player.

For more information on web publishing, including tutorials on Quicktime and Silverlight, visit our full article on publishing movies:

Publishing Movies for DVD, the Web, and HD

Here are some more useful web publishing links:

JW Player (Flash and Silverlight player)

Apple’s QuickTime Pro

Microsoft’s Silverlight

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