Video and Audio streaming
April 23, 2006 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I want to use a hosting account (e.g. 1&1 or godaddy or similar) and stream video and audio. Do I need a special service? And how does Google Video do it? What is the best format for Video streaming? Thanks!
posted by bright77blue to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
To just serve video, you don't need a special account, although you do need an account with A) a lot of storage, B) a hell of high bandwidth allowance; C) the ability to mess with your htaccess file.

To stream it, the host will need to have a streaming server as well.

I recently switched to Dreamhost, and I know they've got pretty generous allocations and they do have quicktime and realmedia streaming servers. You can google around for a coupon code and sign up for much less than their advertised price (or e-mail me offline and I'll give you one).

As to the best format, I guess that depends. I'm on a Mac, so Quicktime "feels" most natural to me, and I know it is supported very widely. Quicktime encompasses H.264 encoding (amongst other codecs), which is very high quality for a given bit-rate, but requires a reasonably new computer to play back smoothly. Windows Media has spottier support on non-Windows computers. It may be just the way I encounter it, but Real media seems to be used for really compressed and tiny video; I have no idea how it stacks up when used for larger and less compressed images.
posted by adamrice at 2:54 PM on April 23, 2006

As video sharing has become more popular, people have shown to have little tolerance for "connecting" and "buffering" and want it NOW. That has caused a huge explosion of growth for flash video. A program like this will convert most video files to flash. There's other programs as well, I use this only as an example. Flash Video (.swf, .flv...) is served up fast and truly on-demand without the usual long wait before viewing. It is used by most all major video sharing sites - and people are now spoiled with the instant-view video.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:57 PM on April 23, 2006

I don't think you need to worry about how Google does it, because it's pretty unlikely that you'll be doing it the same way.

The simplest approach is streaming over HTTP. Flash Video is probably the most widely supported format since it leverages the ubiquity of the Flash plugin. For audio, MP3 is going to have the widest support.

There are also streaming media servers (for flash, quicktime, real media, etc) that are optimized for supporting lots of long-lived connections. Running one is going to be a step up from your average hosting account, probably requiring a dedicated server, or you can find a web host that offers special support for streaming media.
posted by Good Brain at 2:59 PM on April 23, 2006

Best format depends on your needs, I think Flash Video is best choice for maximum audience size. Quicktime can be better quality, but there's a trade-off with potential audience, as lots of my fellow Windows folk just plain don't have it. Both of these can be served just fine from any plain ol' web server.
posted by The Monkey at 3:16 PM on April 23, 2006

Here's a similar discussion on my hosting provider's forum.

My method is described in the thread, and uses quicktime pro to encode the video with parameters that allow it to start playing while the rest is downloaded. For most people, this is sufficient. It's technically distinct from streaming, though.
posted by odinsdream at 3:17 PM on April 23, 2006

If the content is your own creation, I'd suggest that Google Video is going to be a much cheaper (free), much more reliable host than most. The only other question is the final resolution critical, or is GV "good enough" for your purposes? IIRC, the Google Video uploading program doesn't have restrictions on the video type, they'll just convert it to Flash from whatever you send 'em.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:41 PM on April 23, 2006

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