Today’s technology development is moving forward extremely fast and each new device gives us immeasurable opportunities. Even essential inventions of the past century are considered negligible compared with a present high-technology world. Nonetheless, old inventions in combination with new ones can bring out more capabilities than was expected before. For instance, streaming, which is now very familiar to all internet users, was invented in the middle of the 20th century. However, it took several decades to assess the significance of this invention.
Streaming is a method of delivering video or audio content in a compressed form over the Internet. It allows internet users to playback a video or an audio at a time suitable for them (unless it’s a “live stream”) without the need to download it. Besides the two common types such as real-time streaming and streaming on demand, game streaming is also quite popular. We hope this guide will help you to learn how each type works.
Real-time streaming (or live streaming) is video transmission over a distance in real time via protocols. There are two different ways to watch real-time streaming video:
#ONE. A video can be viewed on a particular website with the help of a media player, which was inserted into the HTML page.
#TWO. A user is capable of watching a video using a standalone media player on his PC. In this case, the website provides a link and a user enters into his or her media player in order to open the stream.
Everyone who has a phone with at least a 5 Mpx camera and an Internet connection (2G will be enough) can stream. It can also be done via any action camera like GoPro or Xiaomi, which will give more accurate and quality picture as these devices have been designed with streaming video in mind. Action cameras are able to record and connect to the Internet interactively and transmit video to a software server where the video is transcoded and sent from the server to the media player where the live stream is displayed.
It’s worth noting that we can’t transmit live streams in several directions, unless we use specialized software servers, Flussonic for example. The server modifies this stream and makes video transmission to several users possible. Also, the server transcodes the video into the required format of users’ devices. For instance, if a person watches the video on a MacBook it will require HLS format. As for TV, you will need RTMP format or Impact TC if your TV is more advanced. So to make the video stream accessible for an unlimited number of users and suitable for any device, it has to be transcoded on the server.
Streaming on demand
In this case, video or audio has been previously stored on the server and users can have access to it at any time. But the video can’t start playing until the user requests it. That is why it is called streaming “on demand”.
Imagine a situation when you decide to watch a certain movie, but the problem is that the movie was broadcasted on TV a couple years ago. Thanks to an on-demand streaming provider any movie can be available for you at any time. The customer can choose from amongst such on-demand streaming providers as Netflix, Hulu plus, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Vevo and many others. They provide services either for free or charge monthly or yearly subscription fees.
However, the Internet in many countries is not fast enough to watch videos “on the fly”. To watch a movie in HD quality, the connection speed has to be at least 5 Mb/s for one user, while an average connection speed in the Philippines, one of the fastest-growing ITO countries, is only 2.8 Mb/s. In such cases, the server may change the bitrate (the quality) of the streaming video. If the initial quality is full HD, the server can reduce it to a 480p resolution or even lower. To save the quality, the stream has to be paused and a video can be stored in a temporary storage space called a buffer.
Game streaming is another type of streaming which has become immensely popular in the gaming world thanks to the influence of Twitch.
There are different ways to stream gameplay. However, one of the most common methods to stream a game in real time is to get a specialized client like XSplit Gamecaster, where a person customizes what has to be displayed in the stream (desktop and/or webcam). For streaming, a person also needs a stream server that will receive this stream from webcam and desktop (Twitch.tv in our case). The server combines them and broadcasts as one video. Consequently, everyone is capable of watching gameplay and following the person playing it.
In addition to the basic aforementioned features, game streaming sites might contain a live chat, where users can communicate in real time, click “likes” and see a number of followers.
Video streaming can be used in the most unpredictable and creative ways, take Petcube. Obviously, a company may derive immeasurable benefits from video streaming having the right idea and sound investments. This guide is just a brief introduction into this very interesting domain and it is meant to help you find out how you could use each type of streaming in your business. We promise to follow up on this post with more detailed technical articles reviewing available servers, interesting video solutions, and the market news. So keep in touch and feel free to leave your comments.