What is streaming? Streaming media consists of sound and video, continuously “streamed” over the Internet
Streaming media (continued) Streaming media may be either video or audio, or most commonly a combination of both. There are two categories of streaming, pseudo and genuine streaming Pseudo streaming allows for immediate playback as the file is downloaded whilst it is playing. Pseudo streaming uses pre-compressed data Genuine streaming requires a specialised server and compresses the data on-the-fly, delivering content in an efficient format
Limitations on Streaming types Because video and audio data can be quite large, compression is an integral part of streaming Pseudo streaming uses pre-compressed files and only allows users to view media sequentially; you cannot skip to a set point in the stream Genuine streaming allows a user to navigate to any point in the stream, but requires a dedicated server to do this. Genuine streaming files must be prepared specially for delivery
What’s going on behind the scenes on the servers?
Formats of Streaming There are many formats of streaming available. Some of the more common formats are: RealPlayer Windows Media Player Quicktime Flash
What do the different formats do? Each format uses a different algorithm for compressing and embedding the streaming data Different manufacturers place emphasis on different aspects: video, sound, speed, bandwidth Because of the competitiveness of the different manufacturers, each format represents a different means of achieving effective multimedia streaming
Different formats (continued) Common to virtually all formats is the MPEG compression algorithm MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) develops standards for the compression of digital video and audio The actual compression is often referred to as a codec (coder/decoder) Common MPEG standards deliver video at up to 8Mbps and audio at up to 96kbps
Why use streaming? Streaming allows for the delivery of high-impact, engaging and often interactive content Streaming is typically very flexible and can be distributed widely in a variety of formats Standard video and audio content is too large to deliver via traditional formats. Streaming formats offer incredible compression and very effective delivery.
When to use streaming Multimedia content in any fashion is a two edged sword. It can quite literally make or break a website Users of a website must be able to efficiently and effectively navigate a site. Use of extraneous multimedia can be detrimental. Not all users have access to high-speed internet connections. Multimedia can very quickly chew up a users available bandwidth, frustrating them if they cannot see multimedia as the author intended.
When to use streaming (continued) With correct application, relevance and attention to issues such as performance, multimedia can be used to enhance any website. For example: Multimedia streaming can be used as a self-serve sales tool. Instead of a customer waiting to receive literature of a product, they can view a video clip advertisement.
Considerations for streaming Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth! Multimedia streaming in almost any format will take up a significant portion of a user’s available bandwidth. Some players will wait until a buffer of data is received before playback commences. This can result in a constant stop-start effect in the stream. This can be very annoying!
Adding streaming to your website Streaming can be inserted into your website using either an Anchor tag, or using an Embed tag
Decision: Pseudo or genuine streaming? You will need to decide on the best content delivery system. Pseudo streaming will require sufficient bandwidth from the hosting server to deliver content Genuine streaming will calculate the optimum bandwidth delivery to the client.
Don’t forget to test, test, test… Check the delivery of your content over a variety of connection speeds and conditions; remember your target audience will judge the value of the streaming on it’s performance as much as anything else! Make sure that you are delivering a common format. Obscure formats won’t win you any friends. Consider whether the target audience will need to download new codecs to see the stream
Other directions Streaming is not just limited to delivering video and audio over the Internet. New developments include multi-casting, pod- casting and live streams. Streaming is constantly changing, and in an ever-competitive world, the technology is being driven to deliver more and more. Always remember, that while technology changes, your multimedia must still be relevant and efficient for it to work.
Live Streaming: What’s happening behind the scenes?
And now… Vividas delivers broadcast quality video and audio real-time without the need for end-user software or players. Explore some of the videos on showcase at the following site: http://www.vividas.com
Some final considerations Legal issues are very important to consider when streaming Make sure that you have the permission of a copyright owner before streaming someone else’s content Don’t forget to protect your own work See a legal professional for the best ways to protect yourself and your multimedia work
Streaming References How Streaming Video and Audio Work http://computer.howstuffworks.com/streaming-video-and- audio.htm Embedding Streaming Video Files http://www.free-video-hosting.net/embed.php Acknowledgements This lecture was further developed from previous lectures by Sean Kelleher and Peter Somerville