Web Streaming 101

You’ve gone to film school, you’ve studied, and now you’ve put together a short film or video that you’re ready to share with the world. Now you need to take a simple course in Web Streaming 101. That’s right, the world has changed drastically during the past ten years, at least where it pertains to sharing videos on the World Wide Web. Web Streaming 101 is essential for any serious filmmaker looking to put his or her stamp on the world of entertainment.

First, the basics

There are several options available for anyone who wants to share their videos on the Internet. There is, of course, the world famous YouTube and its distant cousins, and while these are relatives of true Web Streaming, they don’t offer the full quality of sight and sound. These are actually known as ‘progressive downloads.’

Simply click on any of the videos that you will find on these sites and you will see the degradation, the grainy quality, to the video itself. When you put your heart and soul into a film, whether it’s a five-minute short or a sixty minute feature, you want to put your best foot forward. You don’t want someone to watch it for the first time and consider the quality anything less than what you produced. After all, your name will be associated with this video, so you should want to make it the best. These other progressive download sites are fine for teasers, 30-second spots to promote your work, but don’t rely on them to share the full length of what you’ve done with the world.

Three types of video sharing

  • First there’s the regular download video. This is where the user must first download the entire video file before they watch it. In this day and age of viruses and hackers, it could be a challenge to get someone to believe in you enough to take that chance. While the average connection speed has increased dramatically during the past ten years, video files are still enormous, especially when they are loaded with effects. This usually takes too long and takes too much space on a hard drive for most people to bother with anymore.
  • Next, there’s the aforementioned progressive download format. The video is still downloaded onto the user’s computer, but they can start viewing it once enough of a ‘buffer’ has been created on the hard drive. As mentioned, the quality is generally less than ideal for serious filmmakers’ works.
  • Last is the full live streaming video. This option is ideal because it offers the user the best quality, as long as they have the optimal download speed. You can host your own video on your own server (your computer) or you can pay a service fee for a company to manage your web streaming video feed. With these services, their computers determine the connection speed and quality of that connection that a viewer has at the moment and then sends the video signal that is most appropriate.

Benefits of Web Streaming

When you opt for web streaming, you are offering your viewers the best quality picture and sound. Ten years ago, this option was beyond the reach of most Internet users, but thanks to cable modems and DSL routers, the connection speeds make downloads or even progressive downloads no longer necessary and actually a hindrance to true quality of picture and sound.

If you have a film that you have worked long and hard on and you want the world to share in all that effort, then you want the best platform with which to share it. The best option is hands-down live web streaming. In order to offer true web streaming, you will need a streaming server, or a host site that can manage it.

These are your options for sharing your work on the web. Whichever one you choose, just make sure that you give your viewers the best format to see every detail that you’ve painstakingly added to your film.

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