How To Add Streaming Video To Your Web Site
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If adding streaming audio to a web site is a black art, what about video?Moving images are really the final step in the evolution of the web. Streaming video completes the loop, giving a communication tool that offers all the advantages of video tape without the problems of distributing hundreds of cassettes.
So why has video taken so long to catch on? The answer is simple - bandwidth. Reasonable quality video in an eight-centimetre window needs broadband speeds if it is to work. In reality this means between 200-400kbps (kilo bits per second).
That's 25-50 kilobytes of information for every second you wish to stream, or 1.5 - 3Mbytes for every minute. As you can see, the file sizes get very big very quickly. My evaluations have shown that a stream rate of about 225kbps is required for reasonable, watchable video in a small-ish window. That's five times faster that a dial-up modem can deliver and about half the speed of a typical broadband or office LAN (Local Area Network).
In comparison, you can stream reasonable quality audio at around 32kbps - low enough for even dial-up modems. In reality, things are not so simple. The trick with streaming video and audio is to pick a streaming rate that is SLOWER than your typical connection speed.
That way, the end user's PC buffers the incoming signal so that you have something "in reserve" if the connection falters a little. If the connection doesn't play ball you run the risk of a buffer overrun, which leads to that annoying stuttering and freezing that you so often see on the net.
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