Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, September 28, 2009

On-Demand Video Encoding: Guide To The Best Cloud-Based Services

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Are you looking for an on-demand video encoding service? Do you need a cloud-based alternative that works seamlessly across any type of hardware or operating system? Are you looking for an easy way to convert videos to publish on your web site or watch on your iPod?

Photo credit: Robert Mizerek

On-demand video encoding services allow you to convert and encode video files or raw footage of your camera into any kind of video file. All with a cloud-based approach that saves you from installing software on your computer.

Let's go into more details to better understand what these cloud-based video encoding services can do for you:

  • Encoding is the process of taking your original video, either recorded by your video camera, web-cam or whichever capture device you use, and preparing it for delivery in a particular medium.
  • Cloud-based services live and work entirely on the web with no software, plugins or any other stuff installed on your machine.

To use these cloud-based video encoding services, all you need to do is upload your video file, specify the output format you need and then sit back while the encoding service does the rest. When your file is ready, you are notified and given a download link to save the converted file on your computer.

On-demand video encoding services allow you to convert and encode your video files from / to most popular video formats like 3GP, AVI, FLV, MOV, MPG, MP4 or WMV. Professional video encoding services will also convert the ratio of your video (from example from 4:3 to 16:9 or vice versa), preserve the quality of your clips if you are converting high-quality or HD videos, and support de-interlacing, 2-pass encoding and H.264 encoding.

What is cool about these on-demand video encoding services is that you do not need a brand new machine nor the fastest Internet connection in the world. Any type of hardware, operating system and broadband connection will do just fine.

To help you better understand the characteristics and to facilitate your job, let me share with you the key features and traits that characterize these on-demand video encoding services:

  • Free:

    • Web-based: Encode your videos without downloading software on your machine and with any type of hardware or operating system you are using.
    • Web video encoding: Download and convert videos from YouTube, DailyMotion, Vimeo and other video-sharing sites.
    • File conversion: Convert from / to not only videos, but also text documents, image files or audio files.

  • Professional:

    • 2-pass encoding: Get better video quality and reduce the encoded video file size using multiple passes.
    • Custom presets: Use ready-available settings to choose the optimal encoding package for web streaming, iPods, mobile phones, etc.
    • Real-time monitoring: Keep track of all your video conversions using a web-based dashboard.

Besides these key general features and traits, I have used some additional characteristics for both free and professional on-demand video encoding services to prepare a set of comparative table and individual reviews to put all of these services through their paces.

The comparative criteria I have selected include:

  • Free:

    • Input formats: File types supported to submit your video.
    • Output formats: Resulting file types to encode your video.
    • Max file size: Maximum file size allowed to upload your video.
    • Custom presets: Ready-available encoding settings for different destinations (mobile phones, iPods, web streaming, etc.).
    • HQ / HD support: Availability to encode videos while retaining high or HD video quality.

  • Professional:

    • H.264 support: Availability of the H.264 codec for video conversions.
    • 16:9 support: Support for 16:9 ratio for encoded videos.
    • De-interlacing: Prevent odd and even lines of a video frame to be drawn alternatively to smoothen the perception of motion by the viewer.
    • Distribution: Send your presentation automatically to multiple video-sharing sites.
    • Price: Cost of the on-demand video encoding service.
    • Premium features: Key advanced features available in premium paid accounts.



On-Demand Free Video Encoding Comparative Table


On-Demand Free Video Encoding Services

  1. Zamzar

    Zamzar is a free on-demand conversion service you can use to convert and encode your videos. Without even registering, you can start converting videos from / to the following formats: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, FLV, GVI, M4V, MOV, MP4, MPG, RM, RMVB, VOB and WMV. Each video must not be larger than 100MB. If your video is already on the web, just provide the URL and choose one of the supported formats to start your conversion. You will receive a message on your e-mail inbox with a link to download the encoded file. No custom presets nor HQ / HD support are available.

  2. Media-Convert ***DEAD

    MediaConvert is a free service that performs on-demand conversion from / to different file formats like text documents, images, audio files and videos. Registration is not necessary. For online videos, you have a wide range of supported formats available: 3G2, 3GP, AMV, ASF, ASX, AVI, DV, DPG, FLI, FLV, GVI, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPG, NSV, OGG, OGM, RM, RPL, SWF, VOB and WMV. You can customize different options to enhance the conversion (or encoding) process like: video resizing, audio quality, video quality, video length, and more. MediaConvert supports files up to 200MB. To speed up your conversions, you can also choose a custom preset with ready-available settings for popular mobile phones or iPods. To receive your converted file, wait for the on-screen notification or provide your e-mail address to get a download link when your file is ready.

  3. Media Converter

    Media Converter allows you to convert media files online, free of charge, including videos. Registration is not required. Supported video formats are: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, FLV, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, OGG, RM, WMA and WMV. Files uploaded for conversion or encoding must be under 100MB. You can also provide a URL from a list of popular video-sharing sites and encode a video in FLV format. Files to convert can also be queued. You have 5 free conversion per day without registering to the service. No custom presets, nor HQ / HD support.

  4. YouConvertIt

    YouConvertIt is an on-demand video encoding service that helps you convert your video files to any format, without spending a dime. Registration is not mandatory. Supported file formats are: 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, RM, SWF and WMV. Maximum file size for converted files it is not clearly specified. You can also convert online video directly from video-sharing sites like YouTube by copying and pasting the URL inside YouConvertIt. The service will then encode the video and give you a download link when your video is ready. Custom presets and HQ / HD conversions are not supported.

  5. MovAvi

    MovAvi is a free on-demand video converter and encoder that works both with uploaded files or online videos. Without registering, you can submit a file from your hard-disk or a URL from a video-sharing site, choose an output format and wait for your conversion to take place. Supported input formats are: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, MOV, MP4, MPG and WMV. Output video formats are instead: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4 and MPG. Each video file must be limited to 10 minutes and 100MB in size. You also have a list of custom presets to speed up your conversions with ready-available settings for popular devices like mobile phones or iPods. HQ conversions are fully supported, but HD videos cannot be converted.

  6. OnlineVideoConverter

    OnlineVideoConverter allows you to convert video files from / to major popular formats, free of charge and without registration. Supported formats are: 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MP4, M4V, MKV, MOV, MPG, OGGì and WMV. Files to convert must not be larger than 100MB. You can either convert a file on your hard-disk or an online clip available on a video-sharing site like YouTube. You also have several customization features to choose for optimizing your conversions like: video codec, audio codec, video quality, audio quality, video resolution, etc. To facilitate your conversions, you can use one of the ready-available presets with customized settings for popular devices like iPods or mobile phones. HQ and HD conversions are supported.

  7. UEncode

    UEncode is an on-demand video converter that allows you to encode and convert video files in multiple formats. Registration is necessary. Free to use, the encoding service supports the following formats: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, MOV, MP4, MPG and WMV. You can convert any type of video file, no matter how big is the video. To start your video conversion, upload a file to UEncode, choose your preferred settings and then wait for an e-mail with a download link to your encoded file. your You can either choose your settings or use a set of custom presets to obtain the best results for popular devices like mobile phones or iPods. HQ encoding is supported, but HD encoding is not available.


On-Demand Professional Video Encoding Comparative Tables


On-Demand Professional Video Encoding Services

  1. HeyWatch

    HeyWatch is an on-demand video encoding web service. The service supports conversions from / to the following video formats: 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, DVD, FLV, MP4, MOV, MPEG, MPEGTS, MJPEG, MPEG2, PSP, RM, SVCD, VCD and VOB. HeyWatch allows you to customize several options while encoding your video, like: de-interlacing, conversion from 4:3 to 16:9 video format or vice versa, H.264 encoding, HD support, 2-pass encoding, Theora for HTML 5 support, watermarking, and more. The service also makes available a REST API to externalize your encoding tasks while focusing on your core business. HeyWatch works with a pay-as-you-go philosophy. The price for each video you encode or convert depends on the length of the video itself and the type of conversion you make (standard quality or HD). You pay for the service by purchasing credits which cost $0.10 each. Each time you use HeyWatch, you spend one or more credits. No distribution nor premium features are available.

  2. BetterEncoding

    BetterEncoding is a free on-demand video encoding solution. The web service claims to convert from / to any video format with no limitations neither in size, nor in the length of your clips. BetterEncoding uses a proprietary algorithm which operates a particular type of compression that is capable of shrinking the size of your videos by a 40% - 60% less than other similar encoding services. All without sacrificing the video quality. Each conversion can be customized on your specific needs by selecting options like: de-interlacing, H.264 conversion, 16:9 support, 2-pass encoding, and more. BetterEncoding does not make its API available for easier customization of your video encoding processes. No distribution nor premium features.

  3. is an online service that allows you to convert and encode your videos on-demand. The service recommends the following input formats for optimal conversions: 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, M4A, M4V, MPG, MPEG, MJPEG and MJPEG2. Other video formats may be accepted but are not tested to work. lets you customize your conversions with different options like: de-interlacing, H.264 conversion, HD conversions, 2-pass encoding, 16:9 support, audio quality, video quality, and more. The service also provides an API to integrate the conversion engine into your web service or online publishing platform. To speed up your conversions, you can also use one of the custom presets, which are ready-available settings for web streaming, mobile phones, iPods, and other media. pricing starts from $19/month for maximum waiting time of 30 minutes before video processing, 1GB of monthly encoding bandwidth, 5GB of max encoding bandwidth per hour and email support. Premium plans start from $49/month and give you the following privileges: maximum waiting time of 10 minutes before video processing, 10GB of monthly encoding bandwidth, 15GB of max encoding bandwidth per hour and email / phone support.

  4. Flix Cloud

    Flix Cloud is an on-demand video encoding service which is completely web-based. Flix Cloud supports the following input / output formats: 3GP, 3G2, AVI, DV, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPG, MPEG, MJPEG, OGG, RAW and VOB. The service also supports several customization options to get the best out of video conversions: 2-pass encoding, HD conversions, de-interlacing and H.264 encoding among the others. Flix Cloud also makes available its API for easier integration of its conversion engine into your web service or online publishing platform. Flix Cloud is priced by how much video data you transfer in and out of the service (source video size and converted video sizes). The costs are: $0.00175 / MB for input data and $.00225 / MB for output data. No distribution nor premium features available.

Originally prepared by Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on September 29th, 2009 as "On-Demand Video Encoding: Guide To The Best Cloud-Based Services".

Daniele Bazzano -
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Monday, September 28 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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