Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link Just in time for the holidays – Fullscreen video arrives at Phanfare

I am happy to announce that we now show video fullscreen when you play Phanfare slideshows. Fullscreen video is a popular feature request. We debated for a while whether to offer this feature because the video must be stretched and hence will be pixelated. But the consensus is that full screen video is more immersive and when you watch slideshows, you are often further from the screen and don’t mind some pixelation.

You can still watch video unstretched (non-fullscreen) by watching it within the album context versus the slideshow.

To review how video works at Phanfare, we keep multiple renditions of each video uploaded. We keep your original video (or a 4 megabit per second MPEG4 version) that you can download through the “download high quality” link on a page. We also keep three h.264 versions, the highest bit rate being 1.3 megabit/second. The lowest bit rate we encode in is 512 kilobits/second. And, we keep two Flash 7 compatible version for viewers who don’t yet have a version of Flash that supports h.264.

When a viewer first watches a Phanfare video, we measure their CPU speed and the bandwidth between them and us, and based on our measurements, we select a video that is appropriate for the situation. The goal is to give the viewer the highest possible bitrate that their computer can play without stuttering.

Hence, the degree of pixelation will depend on how high a bitrate video you are viewing. You can override our choice of video bitrate if you believe that a different version will work better for you. You do this in the right bottom corner of the video in album context. The slideshow respects this setting.

Our videos are not HD, but most users can’t support high enough download rates to show true HD video. Most videos shot with point and shoot still cameras are 640×480 (not HD) and we do support showing that format at original resolution and high quality.

So gather around the the biggest monitor you have this holiday season and enjoy our full screen slideshows with music and video.

As part of this release we also improved the downloadable version of the slideshow with full-screen slideshows. You can download a Phanfare slideshow and show it offline in all its glory, great for situations where you are not sure you will have a network connection when showing the slideshow. The downloadable slideshow for the Mac is now a universal binary, no longer running under Rosetta, and hence is much snappier on Intel-based Macs.

  • Steve

    Do you include the ability to display at “native resolution” as well? Can you store the resolution you prefer as a preference?
    I haven't tried this feature yet, but I really like the HD capabilities offered by Vimeo and by Exposure Room. XR has the best quality that I've seen so far for a video service. If your capabilities can rival theirs, I say Rock On!
    Happy New Year!

  • erlichson

    you can't specify the resolution we use. 640×480 and 1.3 megabits/second is the highest resolution and bit rate we show today. that can look a little pixelated when stretched full screen, but if you sit back and enjoy the show, it usually looks pretty good. we would need to go higher than 1.3 mbits/second to do a bigger video and have the quality be adequate. we might do that in the future as broadband speeds increase. we retain a 4 megabit/second version accessible under “download original” that we could use to make higher quality renditions.

  • golfman_story

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

  • sanader

    hah i knew this wud happen, thanx.

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