Recently a large client of ours sent us a link to a website that featured some very well done streaming video. The video featured an interactive spokesperson that walked you through some of the features and benefits of their products. But what struck us as well done was the pace at which the video loaded. The footage began almost immediately and the playback was very smooth.
So how did they do it? They used a format called Flash video or Flv. There are several ways to stream video over the internet but flash is a good option because 95% of internet users already have the flash player installed. Another benefit to using the flv format is its ability to "scrub" or "buffer". Scrubbing is a setting that allows the flash player to get a feel for the bandwidth speed so it can preload a certain amount of data. The "scrubbing" guarantees that once the video begins, the playback wont be interupted. Prior to export the developer can specify the amount of "scrub" in seconds. A good and safe amount of scrub is 10 seconds but I prefer to use 5 seconds. If the download speed is high enough, scrubbing is avoided all together and playback begins without delay.
In addition to scrubbing it is also key to use good compression. One good thing about video and compression is that the constant movement of video tends to hide the compression. In other words, heavy compression on a static jpeg image is much easier to detect than heavy compression on a video file. When it comes to video dont hold back on compression - otherwise the files will remain huge and playback will be comprimised. Integrated into the flash 8 video encoder is a very easy to use and effective compression utility.
Streaming video on the web is a great way to add life to your project and with quality development tools like flash and the Flash 8 video encoder it doesnt have to be a pain.