A   S t r e a m i n g   M e d i a   P r i m e r :  
H O W   D O   I   M A K E   ( G O O D )   S T R E A M I N G   M E D I A ?
 I think we'll defi nitely be moving to more VOD [video on demand],  states Paulson.  If 
you think about it, how much of the TV that you watch is live, besides the news? There's 
a reason for that, and the reason is quality control. [Unless it's] breaking news  you 
want to take time to promote the event, you want to take time to optimize the encoding. 
NASA (the U.S. National Aeronautics and 
That way, when you deliver it, you're delivering the best quality product, and you can 
Space Administration) is incorporating 
defi nitely remove some of the uncertainty that goes along with the live Webcast. 
streaming media into its communication 
strategy. With 15 separate centers across 
Manage expectations
the country, reports Streaming Media 
Magazine, the agency hopes to use stream 
Perhaps the most important difference in planning for streaming media vs. traditional 
ing media to help weave together the 
media productions is in the area of  managing expectations.  Make sure everyone has 
efforts of its far fl ung staff, while adhering 
the same objective to put a specifi c video and/or audio production on the Web, for 
to the fallout of post Cold War budget cuts 
reasons that make sense e.g., the Web is really the best way to distribute the production 
that mandates fi nding ways to do every 
to your intended audience. Make sure everyone with a vested interest in the success 
thing  faster, better, cheaper. 
of your streaming media venture knows what to expect in terms of the quality of the 
 On January 11, 2001, NASA chief admin 
fi nished production, as it is likely to be seen by your intended audience.
istrator Daniel Goldin and chief engineer 
Brian Keegan entered the auditorium of 
Know your audience; know your limitations
the government agency's Washington, D.C. 
Before you pick up your camcorder to shoot, establish at what data rate your video 
headquarters for a streaming videoconfer 
will be streamed. If you are targeting a broad range of Internet users, the overwhelming 
ence. After screening a pre recorded inter 
view segment, the webcast went live, and 
majority of whom, in 2001, are still connecting with 56K or 28.8K modems, then you 
Goldin and Keegan responded directly to 
should defi nitely stick to a very simple video design plan. If your audience is comprised 
staff questions about a failed Mars mis 
solely of viewers on a corporate intranet, or only those with high bandwidth connec 
sion and a report highlighting NASA's 
tions, you can plan to take a little bit more license with motion and transitions. But even 
communications problems. 
high speed connections sometimes suffer from network congestion, so you should still 
 Agency engineers encoded the video 
plan your streaming production to be comprised of just a few, fairly static, shots. 
feed from NASA's Betacams and sent it 
through the agency's wide area network 
to more than 300 employees in 13 facili 
ties throughout the United States  This 
The next phase in the workfl ow is  Creating and Gathering Raw Material.  This phase 
was the fi rst time Goldin had used web 
casting to discuss a controversial agency 
may involve selecting pre recorded footage to incorporate into your streaming project 
wide report with his staff. It was a test 
or shooting original material. Creating or selecting video can be very exciting, but it's 
case for NASA's use of streaming media. 
extremely important to remember that when it comes to streaming media, not all  good  
video is going to shine temper your enthusiasm and your creative impulses with an 
The Streaming Media Magazine article 
recounts how NASA Webmaster Charlie 
understanding of what will and won't work well.
Redmond and a NASA computer engineer, 
It's a balancing act:  complexity vs. quality
Alan Federman, got the agency on track for 
streaming.  Managing the expectations of 
Minimalism is a an artistic style or technique that is characterized by extreme spareness 
the  head honcho  was a critical part of 
and simplicity. A minimalist approach most often makes the best streaming media. 
their planning process.
In other words, keep it simple! 
  In December, Redmond and Federman 
One reason is the small size at which most streaming media will appear on the end 
showed Goldin streaming video at several 
user's computer monitor. Lots of busy detail simply won't be seen. 
different bandwidths. When he spoke on 
camera about the Mars report, Goldin 
The other big reason has, at its core, compression a full discussion of which we'll 
wanted staff to `see his eyes move.'  
reserve for a later section. But, in order to understand some of the whys and wherefores 
Clearly, 56Kbps would not achieve the 
of shooting good video for the Web, you need to understand some basic principles of 
desired result. `When you're talking to 
compression. Succinctly worded by Logan Kelsey and Jim Feeley in their article for DV 
someone about a crucial aspect of their 
Web Video Magazine,  Shooting Video for the Web,  the following two statements are all 
job, gestures like frowns and squints 
are signifi cant,' says Redmond. 'Dan likes 
you really need to know about compression in order to shoot good video for streaming:
namic Medianamic Media
meeting small groups of staff in person, 
    The simpler the information is within an image, and the more each frame in a 
face to face, and he wasn't happy with 
sequence resembles the frames before and after it, the easier the image and the 
jerky, low bandwidth video '  
sequence are to compress and the better the resulting compressed video will look.
 Jason Thomson
    The more complex the information is within an image and the less each frame 
obe Dobe D
 2001: A Streaming Odyssey 
in a sequence resembles the frames before and after it, the harder the image and 
Streaming Media Magazine26
sequence are to compress and the worse the resulting compressed video will look.
25   Webcasting Live Events,  by Kevin Seal, DV Web Video Magazine, November 2000
26    2001: A Streaming Odyssey,  by Jason Thomson, Streaming Media Magazine, May 14, 2001, http://www.streamingmedia.com/article.asp?id=7315
27   Shooting Video for the Web,  by Logan Kelsey and Jim Feeley, DV Web Video Magazine, May 2000

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