Here at Revision3, we’ve always wanted to embrace the widest possible viewership of our great programming. To that end, we’ve encoded in some pretty obscure formats over our five years of existence. But as our shows have grown – and as some formats have waned in popularity – we’ve regularly trimmed those formats back.
Well, as of the 24th of January, we’re going to be doing it again. As of that date, we will no longer deliver our shows in XVID or the phone-sized WMV format. And we’re also going to stop producing a 24 frames per second HD-class H.264 (aka MP4) format, although we’ll continue to deliver a great looking 720p format at 30 frames per second.
This will only impact a relative few of you, and in every case there are entirely acceptable alternatives to the formats we’re cutting. If you’re currently watching on XVID, for example, we’ll be replacing those XVID formats with equivalent MP4 formats in the exact same feeds, so as long as your player supports MP4, you shouldn’t notice anything. If your player of choice can’t read those feeds, never fear! There are at least two great programs that fully support MP4, and work across a wide variety of operating systems, including multiple flavors of UNIX, Linux, MacOS and Windows:
Miro: Miro offers a great environment to both subscribe to our shows via our feeds, as well as watch our great content. On their Miro Download All page, they currently support 9 or so different Linux/Unix variants and more.
VLC from VideoLan: The swiss army knife of video players, it plays everything! There are 9 versions of Linux supported – and they even support IBM’s OS/2!
If you currently use Windows Media, we’re not dropping our support for the format entirely. We are, though, only going to encode one WMV format going forward, a 640 pixel wide version that should work for everyone. Again, your feeds will not need to be replaced, as we’ll simply be putting that encoded version into our two existing WMV RSS/XML feeds.
The biggest changes will come to legacy AppleTV users. If you purchased one of the original AppleTVs (I know, I did), we will no longer be doing a 720p encode specifically for that unit. Because Apple included some pretty anemic video hardware into the original AppleTV, it supports HD feeds encoded only at 24 frames per second, not the more common 30 frames per second of traditional TV.
The new AppleTV, along with Apple’s iPad, will continue to support and use our regular 30fps 720p feed. But older AppleTV customers will either need to move to our lower-resolution MP4 format (designated as our “Tablet” feed), or upgrade to a more modern video settop box.
We feel your pain – no one likes to think that their hardware is becoming obsolete. But we’ve got good news for you Apple TV users. We’re giving away 5 brand new ROKU XDS set-top boxes, and offering everyone else a 10% discount – which brings the cost down to just 90 bucks. We think the Roku offers a great way to watch Revision3 content – and you can even buy a more basic Roku that supports our HD feeds for as little as $60.
To get the discount, and to be eligible for the giveaway, head over to the contest forum thread and post a picture of your old AppleTV, hooked up to your TV with a Revision3 show playing on the screen! Read the official contest rules here.
And thanks again to everyone who has supported us for so long. We don’t make these changes on a whim – but it costs time and money to do all these different encodes, and they keep us from delivering shows on time – and adding new shows too.
Plus, there are always more formats to add. We’re going to start encoding a very low bitrate version for Apple’s iPhone, and who knows what Google will force us to do – as it pushes WebM on the world!