In this article, we will examine two of the most commonly used formats for video streaming, Real media and Flash.
Real Media video streaming
Real Media was one of the first serious video streaming formats. When it was first introduced, it was widely heralded as one of the best platforms for streaming, however, it has been challenged in recent years by rivals from other software companies.
One of the main objections many people have towards Real is that it requires users to download Real Player software. Although this is free, users are strongly encouraged to purchase the full version and this has led to many people shunning it in favour of other, more commonly used platforms.
From a technical point of view, the video images in Real Player tend to be less sharp than other formats. Moving images are reasonably well represented, however, the finer detail is often lost.
These factors have meant that many users and developers have grown disillusioned with Real and its future as a video streaming platform looks in doubt.
Flash video streaming
Flash is one of the major contenders in the world of video streaming, and is the format most commonly favoured by developers. As it is one of the most common plug-ins, it is one of the most accessible formats, and as such, it is one of the most popular and widely used.
Praised for its wide range of features, flash video streaming allows you to offer the most advanced media streaming available. As the most well-supported, cross-platform player, Flash enables interactive video and animations and advanced integration with web pages.
On the downside, Flash is expensive and can be a complex platform to work with. In order to get the most from it, developers will have to use and get to grips with the Adobe Flash authoring program.
Flash comes in two forms:.swf is the standard type of file which is used in web pages, and .flv is a special format that can be called from within swf files.
Streaming Video Using Flash
As with most video streaming formats, Flash provides two different ways to deliver video from a web page.
In order to stream Flash video, you will need to use a special type of server application called Flash Media Server (FMS). This is the most advanced solution and is suitable for those looking for the most bespoke and impressive video displays.
Progressive download is the most commonly used and simple method of video streaming, requiring only a standard web hosting service. Despite its limitations, and the fact that it is not ‘true’ streaming, it is a more than adequate substitute for most people.