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True Streaming Video

I felt it was time to talk about what it takes to truly stream video on the internet. I’ve been doing it more and more for clients on the web (for example David Malmberg at http://www.davidmalmberg.com/ventriloquist.html.

Many sites have been making use of things like Youtube or Google Video to get the job done. This helps save on bandwidth, but it requires the use of an outside service to provide your video. This means their ads get shown on your site, which could be a rather big downside. In the case of Youtube though, it tends to have the opposite affect, most people will come to your site as a result of the video being seen on Youtube.

For those of us though that want to host our own video, the most common thing to do is to simply upload the video file to the server, and let the web server “stream” it to the web. In the truest sense of the word though, this is not “streaming”. This is progressive download. It prevents you from jumping to different points of the file until the whole thing is downloaded. So for things like really big files, you might have to wait 15 minutes before you can jump an hour later in the video. Youtube has this problem at the moment as well I believe.

That said, I’ve personally started making use of a flash streaming server. Using flash insures us that most people will be able to view the video, and the streaming server allows it to be easy to use. There are presently 2 streaming servers out there that I like to make use of. For those of you who have money, Flash Communications Server aka Flash Media Server, is a good way to go. It’s a robust system that comes with tons of samples to try things out on. It works with both Windows and Linux servers, although Linux can take a little bit more work to setup if your not running Red Hat enterprise.

The other Flash streaming server that I really like is called Red5. It’s a linux based streaming server built on top of Java. It can be quite difficult to setup, but once it’s running, it’s quite stable. Best of all, it’s free. See http://www.osflash.org/red5 for more info.

I’m hoping to start offering more people access to the Red5 server here at JR, and as we continue to add bandwidth and machines to our system, we might just do that. Heck, perhaps one day, Rinsefirst will become a video blog!

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