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 ?
and Windows providing fewer options. Because streaming is an  emerging  technol 
ogy, codecs are continually being improved. It is important to keep up with the latest 
 [...after applying our basic settings...] 
developments, so check the Web sites for the dominant architectures, as well as trade 
Then we start tinkering... Usually, there 
publications and other resources on a regular basis.
are some parts of the movie that 
Multiple bit rate encoding
don't compress well in each [bandwidth] 
When media is encoded as individual fi les for multiple bandwidths, end users must 
version. We make a clip of the part that 
select which fi le they wanted to stream, often from among nine or more choices 
looks the worst, including about 5 10 sec 
if you encode for all three of the dominant architectures. Multiple bit rate (MBR) 
encoding solutions alleviate such confusion for the end user, and can also make the 
onds before and 5 10 seconds after the 
process of encoding easier. There are, however, some trade offs. 
problem area, taking the clip from the 
With the MBR approach, several different streams are encoded at different bit rates 
uncompressed version. We recompress this 
and combined into a single fi le. This is called SureStream in the RealMedia architec 
section as many times as necessary, adjust 
ture and Intelligent Streaming in Windows Media. In the QuickTime architecture, 
the strategy is slightly different separate fi les called  alternate data rate  movies 
ing the settings each time until we get 
are stored in the same folder or directory. When the client calls for the media fi le, 
it right. Sometimes we have to go to a 
a negotiation between client and server determines the available bandwidth, the 
higher data rate. When the clip of the 
appropriate bit rate stream is automatically transmitted and, if the network becomes 
congested, the transmission will automatically switch to a lower bit rate stream. 
worst part looks right, we recompress the 
Critics of this  adaptive  streaming approach say that servers are sometimes over 
whole movie with those settings... We use 
sensitive to network congestion, often streaming a lower bandwidth and, therefore, 
half a dozen computers at a time for tin 
poorer quality fi le than necessary. 
kering, each one with slightly different set 
Multiple bit rate (MBR) encoding vs. individual streaming fi les
tings. That saves a lot of time... We keep 
our default settings on one machine, so 
MBR Encoding
Individual Encoding
they don't get overwritten, and drag them 
Requires the appropriate 
Files can be hosted on either a 
streaming media server software
streaming server or Web server
onto the others for tinkering... 
Network congestion
Server software monitors each 
May cause temporary disruptions 
  Secrets of the Apple Compressionist 
connection, automatically switch 
to playback
QuickTime Book
ing to a lower bandwidth stream 
to prevent media player from 
pausing to re buffer.
MBR fi les often require more space 
Files require less storage space
than the sum of the individual fi les
Web page 
Only one  Play  button graphic or 
Multiple  Play  button graphics or 
link needed on Web page
links are required
Frame size
Video frame size must be the same 
Individual fi les can be optimized 
for all bandwidth streams so, while 
to take full advantage of higher 
quality can be better, size can't be 
bandwidths, e.g. larger frame sizes
larger to take advantage of higher 
Save for Web in Adobe Premiere features a 
bandwidth capacity
special edition of Terran Interactive's Media 
Cleaner EZ, making it easy to encode your 
Audio settings must be the same 
Individual fi les can be optimized to 
productions for streaming in QuickTime, 
for all bandwidth streams to avoid 
take full advantage of higher band 
RealMedia, and/or Windows Media formats.
disruptions to the soundtrack as the 
widths, e.g. higher quality audio
stream is adapted to conditions
namic Medianamic Media
How do I encode my media productions?
While all of the choices make encoding sound complicated, it can be very, very easy to output your 
productions for streaming. The  one step Web output  Save for Web feature in Adobe Premiere, and 
wizards available in other post production tools, deliver simple to use solutions. And, like most fi lm 
and video techniques, advanced tools are available which can, when combined with experience and 
obe Dobe D
expertise, dramatically improve the quality of the fi nal production. You can also look to a growing 
number of specialists to outsource encoding. Your decision to encode your own video projects for 
streaming or to call upon the services of a specialized outsource depends on your objectives, your 
ambitions and, of course, your budget.
49  QuickTime for the Web, by Steven W. Gulie, May 1, 2000, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers

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