embedding multimedia

Streaming Audio and Video


The instructions on the previous pages pertain to pseudo-streaming. The audio or video files are placed on a standard web server and linked to with fairly standard methods. When the user goes to play the media, the web browser or playback application does not need to download the whole media file before playback begins. Instead, it downloads just enough to create a buffer (think of "headroom") and begins playback. This method works out well for shorter audio and video files, and simplifies technology needs greatly. Just link and go.

Genuine streaming

There is one big drawback to pseudo-streaming: Because the file is being downloaded and played back in real time, the user cannot skip ahead to a point, say, 14 minutes into the presentation. To allow this, an actual streaming media server must be set up alongside the normal http/web server - a task far beyond the scope of this tutorial. Here at the J-School we use Apple's free QuickTime Streaming Server.

If you do have longer audio / video files to present and have access to a genuine streaming server, note that you'll generally have to take an extra step when preparing your media. For QuickTime Streaming, you must add what's called a "hint track" which is a small track embedded alongside the audio and video tracks. The hint tracks tell the server how to "package" media data for the network. Without a hint track, QuickTime files will not stream from the streaming server.

To add a hint track when exporting from iMovie or Final Cut Pro, look for the checkbox "Hint for Streaming Server" in the export panel.

If you have an existing movie you want to add a hint track to, open it in QuickTime Pro and re-export it, this time adding a hint track. Doing so will not recompress your video, i.e. quality will not be degraded.

This is the end of the Multimedia Elements tutorial.