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The Basics of Streaming: Streaming, Part 3

playing your stream onlineIf you’ve been following this series of posts, then you’re ready to learn how to finally get your video streaming online. In parts one and two we talked about capturing the video and then encoding it. For this post we’re going to assume the encoding is done.

On demand videos need to be uploaded to whatever server or service you are using to host your video. Live video needs to be setup properly as well, with whatever service you are using. This involves linking your encoder to a “publishing point” where the video will begin to stream onto the Internet.

For both types of streaming you’ll need to setup your player. This is what viewers will see on your website. When they click “play”, the on demand video will start, or they can join the live feed. There are all kinds of players available. The major services provide a player, usually with very few options to customise. If you’re using a third party streaming service, like PlanetStream, you can usually use whatever player you want. We provide a very customisable player to every account, or you can use your own too.

So what happens once you’ve got your player set up and embedded in your website? Nothing, until someone clicks “play”. What happens next though, depends on the player, but we’ll talk about how it is supposed to work when all the pieces are setup and working properly.

The player will detect what device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) and what browser the viewer is using. Then it looks at the information you provided when you set it up, and selects the right video in the right format for the viewer to watch. A good streaming service will also try and detect what sort of Internet connection the viewer has and provide the highest quality video they are able to see (up to the quality you created the original video). They also grab the audio stream if there is one – yes the audio and video streams are sent across the Internet separately. You may have noticed this on occasion watching a video online. Sometimes the video and audio will arrive out of sync and you’ll hear the words before the action occurs. Reloading the page usually solves the problem.

And that ends the story on the basics of video streaming from capture to streaming to end viewer. If you’re interested in more of the details of streaming rather than this high level summary, take a look at our other blogs where we cover more advanced topics.

Oliver Burt

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