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Streaming Video Simplified

Oct 12, 2007
Streaming video, or audio, is media that is being continuously received by, and displayed to, the end-user while it is being delivered by the provider. These, grouped together are known as streaming media. The name refers to the delivery method of the media rather than to the actual media itself. Television and radio are streaming media but here we are talking about streaming video on the internet.

With the internet came attempts to display video but little progress was made due to the lack of technology and bandwidth. Technology has overcome these problems with more powerful computers, standard protocols and formats. More homes and computers with faster CPUs can now access broadband and we now see the expansion of video on the internet.

Businesses and websites are steadily taking advantage of this booming sector. Some sites have had video on them since the technology was available, more sites are turning to video and its advantages daily while some sites may not understand the technology and prefer to remain with the written word. Having said that it is now so easy to incorporate video into websites that there is no real reason not to.

With true streaming video the end user can start watching the file almost as soon as it begins downloading. 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 and sometimes referred to as a webcast or netcast. True streaming video must be delivered from a specialized streaming server. This type of streaming video is not used by most websites.

Progressive downloading, pretty much the same as HTTP streaming, enables the video to be viewed as soon as a portion of the file has been received. This simulates true streaming video but is not of the same quality but has the advantage of being able to be hosted on a normal server. This is the simplest and cheapest way to stream video from a website. Small to medium-sized websites are more likely to use this method than the more expensive streaming servers. For this method you don't need any special type of website or host, just a host server which recognises common video file types.

Progressive download video is downloaded from start to finish, typically delivering the entire video file to a temporary file area of the viewer's computer. After a few seconds of downloading, the video starts playing. For this reason, most viewers can't tell whether they're seeing progressive or streaming video. Most of the time, the download will go faster than the playback, so the media player will easily be able to keep up. If the internet connection is slow or suffers traffic congestion, then the player pauses until it once again has a few seconds of video ready to play.

To create a progressive or HTTP streaming video all you do is the following.

1. Create a video file in a common streaming media format
2. Upload the file to your web server
3. Make a simple hyperlink to the video file, or use special HTML tags to embed the video in a web page or blog post.

When the day comes that your videos are popular then you might have bandwidth issues with your hosting provider and you may need to upgrade or move to a different host and server. Hopefully that day will soon be here.
About the Author
Bruce Walls writes about using video on your website to increase traffic. You can read this article and more at WebsiteVideoGuide
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