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Even with the introduction of HTML5, Flash streaming is still one of the most widely used formats for delivering video over the internet – especially for live events. Here at Mydeo, we still receive many requests for Flash live and on-demand services.  The following article by Limelight Networks explains some of the options available to you when using FMS to deliver your video content:

Flash Media Server 3.5

Customers of Flash streaming services now have more options for broadcast-quality video delivery on the Internet. With support for Adobe Flash Media Server 3.5, Limelight Stream enables dynamic streaming, DVR functionality within a live stream, and enhanced H.264 video and High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio. 

Dynamic Streaming

For an optimum viewing experience, the quality of the video file you deliver needs to match your end user’s available bandwidth. The trouble is, their bandwidth may suddenly drop, perhaps because other users in the house or community start consuming more bandwidth on a shared pipe. Your viewer is left watching (or trying to watch) a high-bit-rate video on a connection that’s too slow to handle the stream, resulting in stutters, stops, and a less-than-positive experience.

Dynamic streaming addresses this common scenario by switching seamlessly to a higher- or lower-quality stream based on available bandwidth — without ever disrupting the flow of video or audio. (Of course, this means you need to have encoded and uploaded the same content as multiple independent files at different bit-rates.)

Although Flash Media Server 3.5 provides the ability to switch files, it’s the Flash client that actually requests the change. The user’s Flash player (version 10 required) monitors current bandwidth and CPU load. If the video buffer is filling up too rapidly or the CPU is nearing pre-defined utilization levels, the Flash client can simply ask the server to switch to a different file.

Dynamic streaming is available for live and on-demand Flash content and supports both .flv and H.264 files types.

Live DVR

Give your viewers the freedom to walk away from a live event without worrying about missing out on the action. Flash Media Server 3.5 supports live DVR, enabling end users to return to portions of live streaming events, even if their Internet connection choked and missed a crucial moment. With Live DVR, you can create streaming video solutions that include instant-replay, catch-up, or seek functionality.

Even with all these interactive features, there’s no transfer of your content to the user’s system. As with all streaming services, Flash Media Server 3.5 caches the live DVR at your discretion.

At Mydeo we offer a whole host of Flash delivery solutions including those mentioned above – We also offer instant set up with no installation fees. If you’re interested in Mydeo’s Flash services or any of our other many CDN solutions, please do not hesitate to get in contact – Email: danny@mydeo.com, Phone: +44 208 540 2300.

You can also find us at: www.mydeo.com

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We often get asked how Mydeo differs from Amazon S3 – so here’s a quick summary.

Amazon S3 is a storage system, whereas Mydeo provides Content Delivery via a Content Delivery Network (CDN). The CDN Mydeo use exclusively is Limelight Networks, one of the leading global CDNs optimised for rich media delivery.

The focus of S3 is not to get the content to the client as fast as possible, it is to have it available to them when they need it. A CDN incorporates both of these things, the content is always available and the network is designed to get it to the customer as fast as possible. There is also no chance of any down time on a CDN because of the numerous server clusters around the world. With a CDN, if a data centre were to go down, the content would just be delivered from a different location. Amazon’s S3 has been known to go down in the past for hours at a time, on one occasion it was down for over 24 hours – and no explanation was ever given as to why from Amazon.

Amazon’s pricing can be complicated. While it will be cheaper than a CDN it is not a cheap as it may first appear – you must pay for connections as well as throughput.

Amazon’s S3 is a great system for what it is designed to do but that is not streaming video delivery. A CDN is designed for video delivery primarily and the files are delivered from appropriate servers – flash files from an FMS etc.

I would therefore always recommend using a CDN for any streaming media delivery where viewers would, rightly, expect excellent delivery performance and 100% availability.

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So why not YouTube?

 

This is a common question asked by many customers who are trying to establish the value in using a CDN service.

 

YouTube is often the first place you’d think of for sharing personal videos.  So if it’s good at distributing video, why not use it for your business website? I’m going to share a few of my thoughts with you here on why I wouldn’t recommend it for your business content:

 

  • A slick looking website has a big influence on how your customers perceive your business. Having promotional or corporate videos hosted via YouTube might be regarded as a ‘cheap option’ by your potential customers, which could reflect poorly on your business.
  • A YouTube video on your website will slow down your page loading times by up to 50%. Hosting your rich media content with Mydeo on the other hand can make your site up to 30% faster.
  • Keeping your customers engaged on your website is critical. But by embedding a YouTube hosted video on your pages there is a very high chance your customers will click through to YouTube.com, one of the stickiest sites in the world. Once there they are unlikely to return.
  • If you upload a video to YouTube, you automatically grant YouTube distribution rights to that video, across all media channels.
  • After watching a YouTube video, the player automatically recommends other videos within the same category. This could ultimately lead your customers to your competitors.
  • You get what you pay for. YouTube is free, so if you have questions or problems, you’re on your own.
  • Mydeo can accelerate delivery of all your files – not just video.

 

Mydeo allows small businesses to benefit from the speed, robustness and scalability of a world leading CDN, Limelight Networks, at a fraction of the cost of buying direct. This means your website is faster and your customers are happier.

 

Don’t just take our word for it, try it yourself at www.mydeo.com.

 

Thanks for reading. :)


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What is HTML 5 Video?

First, lets talk about what HTML 5 is. HTML 5 is the successor to HTML, the standard formatting language used to publish all web sites, and interpreted by all web browsers to display them. HTML 5 is a necessary replacement for traditional HTML because this new standard includes native support for today’s data-rich, interactive web applications. Traditional HTML does not include native support for rich media (videos, animations etc.) whereas HTML 5 does.

Ok, so what is “HTML 5 Video”?

Recently, the HTML 5 specification was updated to state the following:  

[Browsers] should support Theora video and Vorbis audio, as well as the Ogg container format.

This is primarily because there are no known patents or royalty arrangements that need be observed in order to produce or consume media encoded with these standards.

Can Mydeo deliver HTML 5 video?

Yes! In fact, we include support for it in all our packages. To get started, sign up for your free 15 day trial or give us a call to discuss.

What do I need to get started?

If you’ve got existing media that you’d like to convert into an HTML 5 video format, you can either do this yourself using a commercial encoder or use our pay as you go encoding service within your account.

You’ll then need your web designers to design you a player and a player page that support HTML 5. Some off the shelf freebies are available for this, check out HTML5video.org as an example.

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Smooth Streaming is a relatively new way to stream your videos at an adaptive rate giving your viewers the best possible viewing experience.  Smooth streaming can determine the bandwidth available and select the appropriate bit-rate to display your video at. This means that you will never have to cater for the lowest common denominator to make sure that everyone who requests your video will have a flawless viewing experience.

Smooth Streaming delivers small fragments of a video at a time (typically about 2 seconds worth) and verifies that each has arrived at the destination within the appropriate time and played back at the expected quality. If a fragment of video is not up to the expected standard then the next one will be delivered at a slightly lower bit-rate. Of course, the converse is true too.  This all happens over the HTTP protocol.

To create Smooth Streaming presentations you need to encode your videos in a particular way. The same source content would need to be encoded at various bit-rates with each bit-rate being one complete file. The advantage of this is that the user does not have to manage hundreds or even thousands of ‘fragments’ as the server will create ‘virtual fragments’ and will be able to switch between which complete file it is delivering. Smooth Streaming presentations can be created using an encoder such as Microsoft Expression Encoder.

A great example of Smooth Streaming in action can be found here – http://www.iis.net/media/experiencesmoothstreaming. This will require that you have Silverlight installed on your computer.

If you would like to discuss Smooth Streaming or any other requirements with us, please do not hesitate to give us a call on +44 208 540 2300 or email us on help@mydeo.com.

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Sooner or later, someone will notice how slow your web site is and you don’t want that to be a customer.

Slow web sites lose you customers

Statistics show that you’ll lose your customers if your web site takes longer than 5 seconds to load.

What you might not have realised, though, is that it’s not just rich media that’s the culprit. A 5kb JPG image viewed 10,000 times requires 50 MB, and if you multiply that every day for a month that’s 1.5GB per month. What most people don’t realise is that a standard web hosting package is just not geared up to deliver large files, or small files to many people because you’re likely using a shared platform (shared with the hosting company’s other customers), and will likely only be a 100MB/sec link to the web.

Offload your rich media and static content to our global network

Web servers are meant for one thing only: serving web pages. Increasingly, though, we find more and more examples of media-intensive web sites that do not make use of a CDN, or Content Delivery Network. CDN’s are custom-built and are designed to carry only static content and rich media. They contain all sorts of clever proprietary technology that enables them to move content around their network to different geographical regions and cache content so that it is always delivered by the endpoint physically closest to the person viewing your web page.

Start now, you’ll see the difference in under an hour

Because we’re only talking about static content and rich media (such as Flash movies, etc), improving the speed of your site is a very trivial matter, thanks to Mydeo.

What’s more, you can test-drive our service absolutely free for 15 days, and you won’t even need to provide credit card details. First thing’s first, go sign-up for your free trial. Trial accounts are activated instantly and you’ll get all that time to test.

Then:

  1. Upload your media files to Mydeo.
  2. We’ll give you a unique URL for each file that you upload – whether it’s a Flash file, or a CSS file, or any other type of file.
  3. Replace the links to the versions of the file that were previously stored on your web server, with the ones we’ve given you.

That’s it! Your web site will now be much faster!

It’s not rocket science, but…

We recognise that not all customers have the same simple set of requirements. That’s why we’re experts in our field, and we can help you migrate the smallest site to the largest, most complicated distributed solutions. Just get in touch and we’ll help you every step of the way.

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Embedding live streams with Flowplayer

Previously, we discussed embedding flash videos into a webpage for on-demand content here – http://blog.mydeo.com/2009/04/24/flowplayer-quick-start-guide/. While this article covers both RTMP streaming and HTTP delivery methods it does not include instruction for how to get live flash streams to work with flowplayer.

The basics for this remain the same:

Please note that the .js and .swf files referenced in the code below could be a different version to the ones you’ve just downloaded in the Flowplayer pack. Make sure you reference the correct versions of these files in your code.

Flowplayer now needs to be told that the video is a live stream and for viewing stream from the limelight FMS the stream needs to be subscribed to. The code below explains how to do this:

<html>
<head>
<script src="flowplayer-3.1.0.min.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
<div>
<a style="display: block;height:400px;width:600px;background-color: #ffffff;border: solid 1px #ccc;" id="rtmp_player"></a>

<!-- Note: the property of the above tag (rtmp_player) must match the first parameter of the script below -->

<script>
                $f("rtmp_player", "flowplayer-3.2.5.swf", {
                    clip: {
                       url : 'stream1', //this is the name of the stream assset in the encoder
                       live : true,  // tell flowplayer it's live
                       provider: 'rtmp'
                 },

                plugins: {
                  rtmp: {
                  url: 'flowplayer.rtmp-3.2.3.swf',
				  netConnectionUrl: 'rtmp://xyz.fc.llnwd.net/xyz' ,  //this is the rest of the URL excluding the stream name that you set in the encoder
				  subscribe:true  //subscribe to the stream
                      }
                 }
              });
</script>
</div>
</body>
</html>

With all that in place you should have no problem viewing your live flash streams in Flowplayer.

As usual, if you have any questions or problems, please feel free to contact us on m3@mydeo.com and we will do our best to help you.

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