Streaming video to a Mac?
March 4, 2008 8:41 PM   Subscribe

How can I make sure that Mac users can see my streaming video?

For one of my projects at work, I am putting a long (30 minute) streaming video on our web site. Mind you, I'm not actually putting it up myself, I'm making requests and one of our online people is doing the work.

Here's the problem: She tells me that because our servers are Windows servers, we can only stream the video in Windows Media Player format, which means that no Mac user will be able to see the video.

For the shorter videos that we have on the web site, we offer a download option for Mac users ... you can choose to stream it using Windows Media Player or download it and watch it in Quicktime. That's fine if the video is 3 minutes long. Not so much when it's a half hour.

Am I understanding my computer person correctly when she tells me that it is impossible to stream something in a Mac-compatible format from a Windows server? Is she right? Is there some way to do this that she (and I) do not know about?

Alternatively, does anyone have any ideas for making this video accessible to Mac users? I would be happy to include a download button and short instructions if there were some third-party software that a Mac person could use to stream this video. I know about VLC, but to use that you'd have to download the file first, right? And a half-hour video is too large to download.

I simply refuse to believe that we're going to have to completely shut out anyone who doesn't use Windows. I want all those young, hipster, tech-savvy Mac people to see my video!
posted by mccxxiii to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What she tells you is crap.
posted by GPF at 8:52 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

It depends entirely on the final encode format they are providing. Most mac users can load up Flip4Mac (free plugin is available from microsoft, who paid the flip4mac guys to make it available when they decided to no longer support the mac) which provides a free plugin so quicktime can stream windows media content, as long as it does not contain DRM or other weird stuff.

If you can link me to an existing stream (unless it requires some login) or mefimail me the url for it, I can test it on my mac, and see if it actually works. If it does, you might be able to add a link to the free component on the page for people to install, and not have to make your online folks do anything too taxing.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:55 PM on March 4, 2008

You can stream Quicktime on a Windows server.

And Mac people can watch WMV files on their Macs in Safari or Firefox. Mac users can watch any WMV files as long as there isn't DRM on it.
posted by birdherder at 8:55 PM on March 4, 2008

Do you mean streaming or a progressive download? You can always place a H.264 or MOV file on a server, embed it on a webpage and it will play immediately and download in the background. Otherwise, you can still do a standard QT stream off a webserver.

Also, grab Flip4Mac (free!) and you can play Windows Media content on any Mac running OS X. You can place a link on your video's page that notes that users might need this to view it. I'd recommend doing a progressive download though, easy and works on Windows and OS X.
posted by cgomez at 8:58 PM on March 4, 2008

Flash streaming may be a viable alternative. You might have some buffer problems with a 30 minute show, but in most Flash players you can customize that.

I've used the JW FLV player for offering various videos online (including some that were up to about 20 minutes) and it has worked pretty well.

Also. As long as there isn't any weird Windows-only DRM applied to your stream, Flip4Mac (which is the WMV plug-in for Quicktime) should read a WMV stream, IIRC.

Young, hipster, tech-savvy Mac users unite! :-)
posted by wonderyak at 8:59 PM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just avoid windows media. It's a compatability headache, even though there are ways to get it to work on Macs.
posted by yesno at 9:01 PM on March 4, 2008

Silverlight 1.0 is another option for cross platform video streaming. You might have better luck getting this adopted at a Microsoft shop. If you want to go that route you should look into Expression Encoder as a possible way of encoding your video.
posted by mge at 9:41 PM on March 4, 2008

Your "online people" don't know much about the internet, I think. Any OS can serve content to any other if it's configured in a normal way. Must be a government employee.

Using embedded flash players or somesuch as suggested above is the usual way to do video in a cheap, cross-platform way.
posted by rokusan at 9:42 PM on March 4, 2008

Unless there's a hard reason not to, you could also just use Google video, and embed it in your site. The advantage is that now Google is handling all of that bandwidth, and it works on almost all browsers/platforms.

If you can't do that, please just do windows media. Most FLV players are implemented so badly. Not sure why, but it's so. Pretty much the only ones I've ever liked are the players on dailymotion and youtube (dailymotion's is the best because they even let you pause and unpause using the spacebar -- joy).
posted by Deathalicious at 10:08 PM on March 4, 2008

Response by poster: I knew there was an answer!!

Thank you all so much ... great advice all around. Once again, AskMeFi comes through in a pinch.
posted by mccxxiii at 7:23 AM on March 5, 2008

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