If you’ve played with the new video element in HTML5, you’re probably noticing the power it has to release you of the flash-based bonds you’ve been held captive by. But if you’re running an older browser (anything prior to IE 9 according to this site), you’ll see a supreme lack of video playing in your browser. You’ll need to provide a flash fallback using something like MediaElement.js or Video for Everybody.
Assuming you have fixed your video tag for older browsers, here’s a breakdown of the 3 different video formats you can use with the HTML5 video element.
Quoting the WebM Project site, “The WebM project is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.” Nothing more really needs to be said about which direction we should heading for video on the web. And again from their site, “WebM is supported by Mozilla, Opera, Adobe, Google and more than seventy other publishers and software and hardware vendors.” I wonder which video format will rise to the top?!
This format is also an open source codec designed to compete with MPEG-4 and other proprietary codecs (Windows Media, Realmedia, etc.). I don’t have tons of experience with it, but it only seems to have a couple of percentage points up on the WebM format in terms of current usage support. Right now it supports all the same browsers. So I put it in just for the heck of it, but you might be able to get by without it.
The licensing on MPEG-4 is not royalty-free, so many browsers won’t support this format. Keep in mind that if you’re using all 3 formats (suggested), you need to list this one first because of a bug with the iPad. Also, Firefox and Opera have both stated they won’t support this format. Chrome currently does, but it seems it won’t in upcoming versions. This format is a ticking clock because of its closed door policy. Yes, it’s nice. But its days are numbered.
If you need software to be able to convert quickly and easily to all of these formats, check out Miro Video Converter. It’s an awesome (lightweight) tool.
ps. Have you tried the YouTube HTML5 version? They’ll let you sign up for a trial to see how it’s working for you.