Advice to posting binaries

By Chris Brizon 20©02

The following is simply a guide to the best ways you can post your work to the lightwave binary group, alt.binaries.3d.lightwave. Their not rules, but as you'll see they do maximise the amount of responses you will get.
A few notes
1) Dialup users out number broadband 10/1. We must all remember the terrible speeds dialup users have, we've all been there. Lets not forget those who are still using 56k or slower connections. Your 1mb file might be a drop in the ocean for a broadband user, but its 20 minutes downloading on what is often an expensive internet connection for dialups
2) Keep in mind this one thought "Everyone is lazy" make your work as accessable as possible and as simple to view as you can and you will find a great many more users will get to see it

The Do's

  • Images
    The recommended way to post your images are as standard Jpeg files. While Lightwave can save jpeg format images itself, its often a good idea to take the image or images into Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro and save them out with higher compression. This wont effect the quality of your work as much as you may think. You can easily convert a 200k Jpeg to 50k with little or no loss in quality. So why do this? Well consider the following, one image at 200k isn't a problem to anyone, but your not the only person who might be posting binaries at the time. Try avoid formats such as bitmap or Targa which are often large.
  • Movies
    You have a few more choices when it comes to your animations.
Mpeg - This artists personal favorite. It offers plenty of options, good compression and good quality. Just about everyone can view mpeg files, even on basic operating systems. You'll get few if any replies from people unable to view this format. Please note though, try to use mpeg1 rather than mpeg2. This is because mpeg2 often requires hardware to decode. There are software decoders but due to the nature of the mpeg2 format, their not as good as the hardware alternative (which many may not have access to)
DivX - While not a favorite of mine, I do recognise this as a good codec, its also free. It produces good quality and compression, sometimes better even than mpeg. But be warned, the DivX format is known for not being compatible with older versions, also some users may find DivX format animations simply refuse point blank to work on their system for whatever reason. When posting as DivX its a very good idea to also make a note as to which version was used to compress the animation. Also note DivX is a "hack" of Microsoft's mpeg4 format. While both freely downloadable, you may find many programs are not happy working with DivX. But it is a popular codec
Mpeg4 - Confusing name for something closer to DivX than standard mpeg. The encoder/decoder software is available free from microsoft. But its not real mpeg. It does however offer very nice quality and compression. its file extension is .avi so make a note in your post that its in this format.
QT movie - While great on the Apple.com website. It really isn't recommended for posting in binary groups, it creates rather large files, and the various compression codecs available within it can be incompatible with other users on different and the same platform as you.
Exe (bik) - On paper this is a great idea, a self running exe file that contains the correct codec and whatever options you wish to give your animation. Unfortunately you will find very very few people willing to download and view any type of executable, even from trusted sources. It is still an option though, and the bik codec does do a very nice job, and is free. Also take a look at the smacker codec, similar to bik though is made for 256 color animations. With both codecs you have the option of executable or standard (standard requires a user to have the software installed to view it)
Avi - Really not recommended. There is no real "standard" codec to use. Some like Indeo, some like MS mpeg4 (not to be confused with genuine mpeg) Your best staying clear of .avi formats for binary posting, many may not wish to download loads of different codecs (some of which are't free either)
  • Scenes, objects etc.
    It's probably a good idea with scenes and objects and scripts, plugins etc. to package them all up in a zip file www.winzip.com avoid converting them to executable for obvious reasons, most can unzip a file anyway. The reason you want to zip them up is simply for convienience, it will keep all the files used in the scene, or textures in an object, in the correct directory structure. If you use the content manager within LW you can create a directory with all required files, zip it up, post it, and other users can simply unzip and use it straight away. Very useful and very easy for everyone... It'll also make your posts smaller :-)
  • Post a link!
    If you've got a large animation or very large high quality image, post a link instead, just because its a binaries group doesn't mean you -have- to post a file. You may find more people will view your work if you post a link and give them a choice. If another user can simply click on a link in your post and see the image, video or whatever, they'll probably do it, even if its a large file

The Dont's

  • Multi-part posts
    Try where possible to avoid multi-part posts. Why? Well you want as many people as possible to see your work don't you? So why give them more work to do. Look at it this way, if you and another guy wanted to show off your work to a prospective employer (yes people do get work via NG's) then the one who makes it as simple as possible for the employer to view stands a better chance than the guy who makes it more complex than it should be
  • Large files
    Try avoid posting anything larger than 1MB. Remember the dialups? Also many users don't wish to pay for specialist news services, especially if their just a casual viewer or already paying for their ISP. Posting large files will spoil their experience, put people on slow connections off from viewing your work, and push out other files (more a problem with ISP provided newsgroups - which many use) You'll also get a bad name for yourself and once that happens.. your kinda screwed
  • Not so well known archive formats
    Winzip is well know, winrar, winace, lha etc. are not so well known, and most probably wont have them installed on their machines, avoid those formats unless you want few people to see your work