HTML and CSS Reference
In 2010, Google released a new container format called WebM. WebM files use the VP8
codec for video and the Vorbis codec for audio. VP8 was originally created by a com-
pany called On2, which was acquired by Google, who then released the codec to the
public without any licensing requirements. WebM is supported by Google Chrome and
will also be supported by Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Adobe Flash.
Currently, if you want to encode your video only once, you can use H.264/MP4 and play
it natively in browsers that support it using the <video> tag. Other browsers can play the
same video file using a Flash video player. If you want to avoid using a Flash-based
player, the safest bet is to encode your video using Ogg Theora, as well, so that it will
play in Firefox.
One of the nicest features of video hosting services is that they free you from worrying
about codecs and container formats, because they do the conversion for you. It's up to
you to create a video file with the desired resolution, but they take it from there. If you're
hosting video yourself, you'll need to convert your video to MP4 and perhaps Ogg
A number of tools are available for dealing with video, but when it comes to converting
video from other formats to H.264, there's only one you need to worry about:
Handbrake. Handbrake is a free, open source application that enables you to convert
video stored in pretty much any format to H.264. There are versions for Windows, OS X,
and Linux that all work basically the same. You can download the Handbrake at
If you just want to convert your video to H.264, you can open it in HandBrake and click
Start. However, you'll probably want to tweak some of the settings to optimize your
video for use on the Web. Check out the interface for HandBrake in Figure 12.6. I'll
walk you through the options you'll want to set to optimize your video for the Web.
First, choose a filename for your video using the Destination field. You'll also want to
stick with the default output format, MP4. The four tabs at the bottom enable you to
optimize the video output for your purpose. First, though, check the Web Optimized but-
ton for your video. It enables your video to start playing immediately as it's being down-
loaded and makes it easier for players to skip around in the video. The only cost is
slightly longer encoding time.