VP8/9 vs h264/5 for personal videos

Recently I needed to encode some clips taken with my phone to a web optimized format since the videos were already in mp4 my initial thought was to keep them in mp4 format h264 video/AAC Audio.
First things first to get the videos to a web optimized format a re-encode would be needed so I had to accept that some drop in quality was going to happen. That was the easy part. A little googling and I found that libfdk_aac is the best AAC codec currently to use with ffmpeg, so I uninstalled my RPM installed ffmpeg and tried to compile my own. Getting sources for all the codecs I needed to have in my ffmpeg was pretty straight forward, but the build failed with some make error gcc was having issues building for the platform. This left me with 2 options wipe the OS fedora 20 and upgrade to the latest 21 or spin up a VM and use that to do the compile. The second option seemed like the way to go but I still wasn’t sold on the idea of having to do all this extra effort just to encode some phone clips.

During this thinking period when I was trying to get some time to go with option two I came across an article about vp9 and it hit me I was willing to jump through all this hoops to use a proprietary codec while there was a comparable opensource codec I could use with ffmpeg out of the box. So I re-installed ffmpeg from RPM spent about an hour tweaking some scripts to do the conversion and rotation of the clips.
Played back the newly encoded webm files and I could barely notice a difference with the original files, they were also 50% – 70% the size of the original files. Getting my video hosting application to work with webm files took about another hour as it was not on the list of supported extensions this was uprising since it’s an open source application.

Right now am feeling pretty happy with my choice as expected safari and IE don’t support webm so for those needing to watch the clips am just telling them to use Chrome or firefox. While the video hosting application allows me to share the clips with outsiders for my internal consumption of the clips I use Plex Media Server once they add support for webm to their native clients I will be converting the whole collection of clips from mp4 to webm.

Update: I received some feedback from family members and they are able to view the videos without a problem, so looks like I will be sticking with VP8/9.

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