These days, any website worth its salt will be able to support video streaming. The only thing standing in the way of most amateur web developers is a little bit of knowledge on how to apply the technology. Here’s a basic understanding…
When video is streamed online, moving images are compressed via the internet and displayed to the viewer as they arrive, rather than requiring the viewer to wait for an entire file to download. The user will require media software to decompress and then play the audiovisual data. Many browsers will have integrated media software. Equally, it is possible to download software from the web.
Among the major video streaming software available is RealSystem G2 from RealNetwork and Microsoft Windows Media Player. Where Microsoft employs the MPEG compression algorithm, most other services use a variety of algorithms, each requiring compression and decompression by a program called a ‘codec’. Let’s take a closer look at codecs.
Codec is a portmanteau of ‘compression/decompression’, the concept of which is a cornerstone of computer technology. Using algorithms, codecs can minimize the storage space required for complicated files (such as videos). The algorithms reduce (or ‘compress’) the number of bytes required by large files, by eliminating redundant data. Once a 15MB video has been slimmed down to 150KB, it requires a decompression algorithm to ‘undo’ the compression.
There are numerous codec schemes on the internet. While their use can certainly be applied to maximizing data storage, for streaming purposes, we are interested in minimizing file transfer time.
Applying streaming to your own website does not require an in-depth knowledge of codec technology. It is simply a matter of copying and pasting a text file into your site. However, it always pays to have a grasp on technology beyond what you need on a day to day basis – that way you’re not completely in the dark when something goes wrong.
Of course, it’s essential that you have speedy internet if you wish to upload content with any alacrity. Take a peek at the Sky website for some competitive home broadband deals.