The good, the bad, and the…beautiful

It’s been an exciting few weeks for video quality. In the world of the wild, wild web (www), a stranger riding into town could be good, bad, or something else…

That’s what we thought here at TokBox when Adobe Flash Player 11 galloped into the land of OpenTok last week. From a distance, the stranger looked like a bandit, triggering an old hardware acquisition bug that threatened to break the OpenTok API. But we squashed that bug right quick. After the dust settled, we realized that Flash 11 was actually one of the good guys. There was a new sheriff in town—and Flash 11 was gonna use his H.264 revolver to bring justice and a new dawn for OpenTok video quality. Thanks to Flash 11, the OpenTok API now offers beautiful images that are clearer, crisper, and sharper than ever before.

Okay, I just realized I’m still stuck at my desk and galloping my fingers on the keyboard so let’s get back to nerd world. Flash 11 provides the capability to encode at H.264, which is the standard codec for high-def videos such as Blu-ray, and most mobile devices natively support this codec. What does this mean for OpenTok? Well, you can see for yourself by looking at the images below.

Clearly, H.264 brings sharper video quality, whereas the old Sorenson Spark (H.263) generates a blurry, blocky video especially when motion is involved.

Still don’t believe us? Check out the transition between the two images below.

The motion in the H.264 stills are much more concise and clear than those in the H.263 stills.

We like our new sheriff so much that we’ve tricked him out with variable encoded video resolutions, video bit rates, and frame rates. To top it off, these bells and whistles are dynamically optimized based on each client’s available bandwidth.

The bottom-line: our video quality is dramatically improved.

Want to make sure that you’re in on the new, improved OpenTok video quality? Make sure that you’re on Flash Player 11, and if not then upgrade.

Now that you know you’re on Flash Player 11, try out a live video session for yourself.

To learn more about the new sheriff in town, ride on over here and read all about H.264 and best practices. Let us know what you think about the new video quality in our forums.