Streaming media is "just-in-time" delivery of multimedia information. It is typically applied to compressed multimedia formats delivered over the Internet. It does not try to reassemble as many bits associated with video content as binary computer file formats do. (Compare AVI)
Streaming allows data to be transferred in a stream of packets that are interpreted as they arrive (hence the name streaming.) Without streaming the entire media will have to be downloaded in one big package before it can be used. A streaming format is usually defined at the bit level (comprising a bitstream), so that streams do not have to be aligned to even byte boundaries, whereas file formats for media usually require even alignment.
There are many pieces to a streaming media system. Encoding tools are used for compressing the media into a format suitable for delivery over the Internet. Servers make the compressed files and live streams available to many people. Players connect to the servers and get the media.
Additionally, there's a lot of technology under the hood. Codecs are the compression/decompression routines used by encoding tools and players. File formats are shared by encoding tools and servers to generically store encoded streams. Players and servers need shared protocols for streaming the data.
On Demand streaming refers to a streamable service which is available for an extended period of time, at a user's request or demand. The streamable file/s reside on a streaming server for a lengthy period of time.
Live streaming refers to a streamable service which is only available for a given period of time. For example, a video stream of a live sporting event.
Internet protocols employed for the distribution of streaming media - the UDP and RTSP - perform faster deliveries from the streaming server to the client player or end listener. This efficiency is achieved by an architecture which prioritises continuous streaming. When TCP and HTTP experience a data delivery failure, they repeatedly attempt to send the same information until it arrives in full. UDP continues to send information even if a data dropout occurs, which causes only a slight loss of data which is sufficiently small overall effect.
Streaming media systems
Codecs: see codec
- SDP - Session Description Protocol
- SMIL - Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language
New cameras can be connected to a computer through USB. USB streaming to allow you to download video over USB in a very compressed format.
- Hundreds of free media streams (http://www.rinf.com/)
- article (http://www.intranetjournal.com/articles/200102/) by Josh Beggs (Raspberry Media)
- Streaming Media Protocols (http://all-streaming-media.com/articles/Streaming-Media-Intro_Streaming-protocols.htm)
- STL in Action: A Universal Streaming Service (http://cuj.com/documents/s=8254/cuj1066686750349/)
- StreamingMedia.com (http://cuj.com/documents/s=8254/cuj1066686750349/)
- Microsoft Windows Media (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/)
- RealNetworks (http://www.realnetworks.com/index_rn.html)
- Apple Quicktime (http://developer.apple.com/quicktime/)
- Helix Community (http://www.helixcommunity.org/)