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Community Blog What Is Streaming Media

What Is Streaming Media

Streaming media transmission can transmit live video or movies pre-stored on the server.

Streaming Media Definition

Streaming media refers to the technology and process of real-time transmission of video and audio on the Internet for viewing. It compresses a series of media data and sends the data in segments through the Internet. This technology allows data packets to be sent like a pipeline. If we do not use this technology, we must download the entire media file before using it.

Streaming media transmission can transmit live video or movies pre-stored on the server. When the viewer is watching these video files, the video data will be played by specific playback software immediately after being delivered to the viewer's computer.

Streaming media actually refers to a new method of media delivery, including audio streaming, video streaming, text streaming, image streaming, animation streaming, etc., rather than a new media.

Streaming Media Features

  • Streaming media content is mainly media data that is continuous in time, such as audio, video, animation, multimedia, etc.;
  • Streaming media content can be transmitted using streaming technology without conversion;
  • Streaming media has strong real-time and interactivity;
  • Streaming media startup delay is greatly shortened, shortening the waiting time of users, users don’t have to wait for all content to be downloaded to the hard drive to start browsing, they can start watching after a delay.
  • Streaming media greatly reduces the requirement of system cache capacity

Streaming Media Transmission Method

The main technical feature of streaming media is streaming, which allows data to be transmitted like streaming water.

Streaming refers to the general term for the technology of transferring media (audio, video, etc.) over the network. There are two main ways to achieve streaming: progressive streaming and real time streaming.

Progressive Streaming

Progressive streaming is sequential downloading, where users download files while watching online media. In this process, the user can only watch the downloaded part, but cannot directly watch the undownloaded part.

In other words, the user always sees the information sent by the server after a certain delay. Since standard HTTP servers can send files in this form, it is often referred to as HTTP streaming.

Progressive Streaming files are placed on a standard HTTP or FTP server, which is easy to manage and basically has nothing to do with firewalls. Progressive Streaming is not suitable for long clips and videos with random access requirements, such as lectures, speeches and presentations. It also does not support live broadcasting.

Real-Time Streaming

Real-time streaming must ensure matching connection bandwidth so that the media can be viewed in real time. During the viewing process, the user can watch the content before or after the media at their will. But in this transmission, if the network transmission condition is not good, the received image quality will be poor. Real-time streaming requires a specific server, such as Quick Time Streaming Server, Realserver, or Windows Media server.

These servers allow more levels of control over media sending, so system settings and management are more complicated than standard HTTP servers. Real-time streaming also requires special network protocols, such as RTSP (realtime streaming protocol) or MMS (microsoft media server). When there is a firewall, these protocols are sometimes screened, so that users cannot see the real-time content in some places. Real-time streaming is always transmitted in real time, so it is especially suitable for on-site events.

The File Format of Streaming Media

When using streaming media technology, audio and video files should adopt corresponding formats, and files of different formats need to be played with different player software. There are mainly the following types of audio and video files using streaming media technology:

  • Microsoft's ASF (advanced stream format): The extension of this type of file is. Asf and .wmv, the corresponding player is Microsoft Media Player. Users can combine graphics, sound, and animation data into an ASF format file. You can also convert other formats of video and audio to ASF format. And users can also save the data of peripherals such as microphones and video recorders in ASF format through sound cards and video capture cards.
  • RealMedia from RealNetworks: It includes three types of files, RealAudio, RealVideo and RealFlash, among which RealAudio is used to transmit audio data close to CD sound quality. RealVideo is used to transmit uninterrupted video data. RealFlash is a high-compression animation format jointly launched by ReaINetworks and Macromedia. The extensions of this type of file are .rm, .ra, .rmvb, and the file corresponds to the playback. The device is ReaIPlayer.
  • Apple’s QuickTime: This kind of file extension is usually .mov, and its corresponding player is QuickTime.

In addition, MPEG, AVI, DVI, SWF, etc. are all file formats suitable for streaming media technology.

Streaming Media System Composition

The streaming media system includes the following 5 aspects: [4]

  • Coding tools: used to create, capture and edit multimedia data to form a streaming media format.
  • Streaming media data.
  • Server: Store and control streaming media data.
  • Network: A network suitable for multimedia transmission protocols and even real-time transmission protocols.
  • Player: For the client to browse streaming media files.

The views expressed herein are for reference only and don't necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.

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