Introduction – How to Create Streaming Video
NOTE: the MOST common and easiest way to introduce video to your websites is to use an online video service such as Youtube or Vimeo
…and “embed” your videos to your web pages. These services even provide the proper embedding code for you.
For more detailed info on video streaming read on…
This primer covers the different types of video streaming on the internet and introduces the two main methods of streaming video: Streaming servers (true streaming) and HTTP streaming.
When creating streaming video, there are two things you need to understand: The video file format and the streaming method.
There are many video file formats to choose from when creating video streams. The most common formats are:
1. Windows Media
4. MPEG (in particular MPEG-4)
5. Adobe Flash
There are pros and cons for each format which cannot be discussed in this article, but in the end it comes down to personal preference and performance in the application the video is used for.
There are two ways to view media on the internet (such as video, audio, animations, etc): Downloading and Streaming.
When you download a file the entire file is saved on your computer (usually in a temporary folder), which you then open and view. This has some advantages (such as quicker access to different parts of the file) but has the big disadvantage of having to wait for the whole file to download before any of it can be viewed. If the file is quite small this may not be too much of an inconvenience, but for large files and long presentations it can be very off-putting and less than ideal.
The easiest way to provide downloadable video files is to use a simple hyperlink to the file you upload to your site. A slightly more advanced method is to embed the file in a web page using special HTML code.
Delivering video files this way is known as HTTP streaming or HTTP delivery. HTTP means Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and is the same protocol used to deliver web pages. For this reason it is easy to set up and use on almost any website, without requiring additional software or special hosting plans.
Note: This is not technically “true” video streaming — the best it can do is a passable imitation.
Streaming media works a bit differently — the end user can start watching the file almost as soon as it begins downloading. In effect, the file is sent to the user in a (more or less) constant stream, and the user watches it as it arrives. The obvious advantage with this method is that no waiting is involved. Streaming media has additional advantages such as being able to broadcast live events (sometimes referred to as a webcast or netcast).
True streaming video must be delivered from a specialized streaming server.
Progressive “on demand” Downloading
There is also a hybrid method known as progressive ….or “on demand” download. In this method the video clip is created in an optimized format and downloaded, but begins playing as soon as a portion of the file has been received. This simulates true streaming, but doesn’t have all the advantages.
Which Method to Use?
The method you choose will depend on your situation and budget, but most people will opt for HTTP streaming (download or Progressive “on demand” download). This is the easiest and cheapest way to get started. If necessary you can upgrade to a streaming server later.