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e-Video: Producing Internet Video as Broadband Technologies Converge

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Description

  • Copyright 2000
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8x9-1/4
  • Pages: 304
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-70314-9
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-70314-6

Today, we are standing on the brink of an Internet revolution. As compression technology, streaming techniques, and transmission lines grow in efficiency, speed, and capacity, Internet video is fast becoming both viable and inevitable.

This resource-packed guide to producing, encoding, editing, compressing, and serving video over the Internet lets you in on this coming "killer app." It presents the current tools and technologies that make Internet video possible, and reveals likely future developments, allowing you to make knowledgeable investments in technology and equipment that anticipate these trends.

The book covers bandwidth requirements for video delivery-from low-end broadband to the ultimate high-speed HDTV transmission. It follows the video preparation and production process, demonstrating various software tools for developing, encoding, and editing content. You will also find in-depth information on the state-of-the-art in video compression and streaming technology. In addition, the book explains how the networks and servers currently support Internet video, and describes future developments in the works.

You will learn about such specific topics as:

  • e-commerce, educational, and entertainment opportunities made possible by
  • streaming e-video
  • The desktop video production cycle
  • Data compression fundamentals and algorithms
  • Streaming video codec standards
  • RealVideo and other software tools from such vendors as Microsoft and Apple
  • MPEG streaming
  • The transition from electronic routers and switches to optical nodes
  • Innovations in network caching and data storage on the Internet

Filled with examples, experience-based techniques, and available tools, this book serves both as a compendium of information and a hands-on tutorial. The code and video demos for all the examples are included on the accompanying CD-ROM.



0201703149B04062001

Sample Content

Table of Contents



List of Acronyms.


List of Figures.


List of Tables.


Introduction.

Overview.

Background.

The Bandwidth Problem.

The Bandwidth Solution.

How This Book Is Organized.

Who Should Read This Book.

Associated Resources.

I. VIDEO OPPORTUNITY.

1. Bandwidth for Video.

Transitioning from Analog to Digital Technology.

Competing Technologies.

Streaming Video.

Calculating Bandwidth Requirements.

Transitioning from Narrowband to Broadband.

Preparing to Converge.

Conclusion.

2. Internet Video Opportunities.

Bandwidth Requirements Differentiate Video Applications.

The Explosion of e-Commerce.

Why Long Distance Two-Way Communication Needs Internet Video.

Internet Video Business Models.

Video Service Business Models.

Virtual Shopping Malls.

Video for On-Line Education.

Entertainment.

Conclusion.

II. VIDEO PRODUCTION.

3. Producing, Capturing, and Editing Video Content.

How to Produce Video Content Optimized for Web Delivery.

Step 1: Preparing and Developing the Source Material.

Analog and Digital Tape Formats.

Step 2: Capturing the Audio/Video.

Audio Requirements.

Video Requirements.

Video Processing Systems.

Video Capture Cards.

Capture Applications.

Computer Bus Architecture.

Drive.

Backup Hardware.

Turnkey Nonlinear Editor Systems.

Step 3: Editing and Adding Effects.

MediaStudio Pro.

How-To Example.

Conclusion.

III. VIDEO COMPRESSION.

4. Video Compression.

Data Types for Different Types of Content.

How Data Is Compressed.

Image Compression.

Discrete Cosine Transforms (DCTs).

Discrete Wavelet Transforms (DWT).

Fractals.

Hybrid Wavelet-Fractal Transforms.

Image Compression Segmentation and Edge Detection.

Motion Compensation DWT.

Compression-Decompression (codec) Standards.

Video Compression Methods.

Streaming Video Codecs.

Authoring Tools.

Conclusion.

5. RealNetworks and SMIL.

Background on RealNetworks' RealSystem G2.

RealAudio Characteristics.

RealVideo Characteristics.

How to Encode Using RealProducer.

How to Create the RealMedia Clip.

How to Create a Web Page Example.

How to Publish a Web Page Example.

What Is SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language)?

SMIL General Rules.

Our How to Example.

Inserting Ads with SMIL.

Using RealPix for Ads.

Conclusion.

6. Windows Media, QuickTime, and Other Formats.

Windows Media.

Converting Existing Digital Video to ASF.

How to Publish a Web Page Example.

Embedded Windows Media Files in Both Internet Explorer and Netscape.

Start the Streaming Media Presentation in the Stand-alone Player.

Put Your Streaming Media Files into Media Services Server.

Windows Media T.A.G. Author.

Comparison of Formats.

Microsoft TV Platform Adaptation Kit (TVPAK).

QuickTime.

QuickTime Compression.

StreamWorks.

VDOlive.

Emblaze.

Inetcam.

Conclusion.

7. MPEG Streaming.

Standards.

Broadband Applications.

TV Over Copper.

A How-To Example for Streaming MPEG.

How to Compress to MPEG.

Conclusion.

IV Video Delivery.

8. High-Speed Networks Prepare for Video.

Building Bandwidth.

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode).

Quality of Service.

Switching.

SONET Networks.

Ethernet Networks.

Multiplexors.

Signals.

Satellites.

Expanding the Internet.

New Bandwidth Economics.

Integrating Separate Networks within the Optical Domain.

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing.

Lightpath Switching.

Video Networks.

Internet Transfer Protocols.

Unicast and Multicast.

Multicast.

Models of IP Over ATM.

IPv6 and IP Integrated Services Over ATM.

Developing Intelligent Networks.

“Caching-In” on the Edge of the Internet.

Conclusion.

9. Server Requirements for Video Delivery.

Background.

Serverless or Server-Based Video Streaming.

Projected Video Server Loading.

Streaming Video Servers.

Computer Hardware.

Platform Operating Systems.

Video Server Performance.

Video Server Software for RealVideo.

A How-To Example.

Video Server Software for QuickTime.

Video Server Software for Microsoft.

Caching Servers.

Conclusion.

10. Live Webcasts.

Webcasts.

Live Broadcasts.

RealNetworks' RealProducer Broadcast Example.

A How-To Example Delivering Live Unicast with Windows Media.

A How-To Example Delivering Live Multicast with Windows Media.

Conclusion.

11. Future Strategies for Video.

Cable Leads the Way toward Broadband Delivery.

Scaling RealNetworks and Microsoft Codecs for Broadband.

HDTV Over the Internet.

Building Bridges between the Standards.

Conclusion.

APPENDICES.

Appendix A: Our Website and CD-ROM.
Appendix B: Standard Organizations.
Appendix C: TV and Tape Standards.
Appendix D: Telephone Standards.
Appendix E: Internet Transfer Protocols.
Appendix F: Compression Standards.
Appendix G: XML and SMIL Standards.
Appendix H: Wireless Standards.
Appendix I: Cable Standards.
Glossary.
Index. 0201703149T04062001

Preface

Overview

If you can recall the special effects from Star Wars, then you can already appreciate the impact of video.

Someday, when you go on-line to make a purchase, you'll see a video demonstration of the product in action. If it needs assembly, instead of piecing it together from a single sheet of indecipherable instructions, you'll go back on-line for step-by-step video instructions. And you'll be able to ask questions and receive answers in real-time.

Someday, you will attend school classes only if you want to because much of your education and training will be available on Web video.

Someday, video will be everywhere. Someday. But not today!

Today the delivery bandwidth just isn't there yet. But, don't be concerned. Broadband technologies are converging at breakneck speed, and higher quality video is on the way. But what will you do in the meantime?

If you knew just how TV, phone, and cable broadband technologies were converging, couldn't you make better multimedia choices? For example, have you ever tried to add a video product demo to your Web site, only to be frustrated by hardware and software incompatibilities? Are you trying to start a video Web-based business, but find yourself thwarted by server and network limitations? Have you found your video application software development plans stymied by the chaos of technology standards?

Good news! This book offers powerful insights into the synergism between producing Internet video and technology convergence. This book will enable you to make the most knowledgeable investments in hardware and software to produce Web video and anticipate future trends. It provides the necessary How-To information for putting video on your business Web site today, without the hazard of imminent obsolescence.

So, if you need to make the best decisions today to prepare for that someday, this book is for you.

Background

When Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, he gave us the freedom to select and play music in our own home at our own convenience. It took another century until the VCR became widely available and we gained the ability to similarly select and play videos. But Edison's contribution wasn't just the invention of the phonograph, or the light-bulb, or even the 1,093 inventions for which he received a patent. He helped found an industry, the industry of electric power and analog appliances that transformed the twentieth century in both the home and the factory.

Now another industrial transformation is underway, the digital revolution. It can be traced to Tim Berners-Lee's creation of the graphical interface, which allowed the Internet to become a popular communication tool. As a result, within only six years the Internet had reached 80 million users. This is astonishing compared to past communication media successes.

The Internet had existed for decades mostly for scientific workers and the military. When in 1989, while working at the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN) in Geneva, Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext system he called the World Wide Web. It could link more than just text--it could link graphics, sound, and video to create an entire hypermedia system. Instead of a single database, the basis for his World Wide Web would be the Internet, the vast network of networks around the world.

Over the next couple of years, Berners-Lee and his collaborators laid the groundwork for the Web, inventing and refining the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for linking Web documents, the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) for formatting Web documents, and the Universal Resource Locator (URL) system for addressing Web documents. These days, most of us reach the Web through commercial browsers, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. The first contact most Internet users had with streaming data started with Progressive Network's RealAudio releasing its RealAudio Server and client programs. RealAudio started playing as soon as the user chose a selection. It was a cross-platform program that could be played from Windows, Unix, and Mac systems.

The first true streaming videos ran during 1994 over the experimental Mbone (Multicast Backbone) network. This protocol is a form of Internet Protocol (IP) multicasting, which replicates streaming videos to thousands of servers. Access to these events was initially confined to users with high-end Sun workstations. The primary media server distributed its signal to other repeater servers on the network.

Streaming media started with the Internet's first streaming player, RealAudio. In April 1995, it allowed listeners to hear audio as it was being downloaded. The first Internet streaming video player was Xing Technologies' StreamWorks, released in August 1995. It was based upon Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG) compression and provided jerky "talking heads" images the size of a postage stamp. This was followed shortly by VDOLive from VDOnet Corp. In early 1997 Progressive Networks, renamed RealNetworks, released RealVideo along with an all-in-one audio-video player called RealPlayer.

As the use of streaming media has increased, competition for customers in the streaming media market has intensified. While RealNetworks has emerged as the clear leader as of 1999, rapid changes in compression-decompression (codec) standards offers many new challengers. Increasingly, however, the question is asked, How do Microsoft's Windows Media and other formats stack up against the RealNetworks?

Microsoft entered into the streaming video market in 1997 with its buyout of WebTV Networks and Vxtreme. Microsoft introduced its Active Streaming Format (ASF) in conjunction with the developing MPEG-4 standard. This protocol provides a standard method of synchronizing audio, video, and multimedia. Competition between ASF and RealNetworks' G2 emerged in 1999, as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) endorsed Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL). SMIL provides a text-based tag markup format for streaming multimedia, freeing developers from proprietary formats and enabling multiple vendors to supply software tools. Other groups developed open standards with Java-based applets that didn't require preinstalled players in order to stream video.

Macromedia's Shockwave and Flash protocols first produced streaming animation. Authoring platforms for real-time delivery of animation during streaming videos have become available. They allow multimedia-style animation and interactive controls to be linked with broadcast-style audio and video.

Regardless of which vendor you choose, the equipment and software used in multimedia production is often on the cutting edge and not as fully developed as products in the more established computer desktop applications. As a result, there are often compatibility issues that must be resolved in making a set of software and hardware choices to complement your production system.

The actual making of the multimedia content involves the following five basic steps:

  1. Preparing the content source material
  2. Capturing the audio/video using a computer with a video capture card
  3. Editing the video and saving the large uncompressed file
  4. Compressing the video
  5. Delivering the movie content over the Web

Each of these steps can be optimized toward improving the final client video. For example, optimizing computer capture hardware requires a balanced understanding of data-flow versus choke points within the PC capture process. A high speed Pentium III, with 256MB RAM, an 8.4GB (8 millisecond) hard drive, and wide-SCSI-3 bus can demonstrate up to 40Mbps throughput while capturing video. Unfortunately, many low-to-medium-priced capture cards provide a throughput of only 2 to 5Mbps (even after optimal configuration), producing a limiting choke point in your systems.

But even after heroic efforts on your part in optimizing the source video, the hardware and software, and the editing and compression process, there remains a significant barrier to delivering your video over the Web. This is the "last mile" connection to the client.

The Bandwidth Problem

The bandwidth of Internet communications has been steadily increasing due to the overall pressures to improve performance from users. The important point is that the infrastructure provided by the Internet has become widespread and has developed enough performance to allow rapid transmission of large volumes of data. Now it is becoming ready for video.

The problem with video, however, has been trying to push it over digital networks where it clogs and chokes the critical connections. The arrival of data compression has reduced the problem of transmitting video data to more manageable levels. The technology has only recently reached the point where video can be digitized and compressed to levels that allow reasonable quality of appearance following distribution over digital networks.

The Bandwidth Solution

Yogi Berra once said, "Predictions can be tricky, especially when you're talking about the future." And looking forward is certainly more perilous than using hindsight to review history. However, the future of rapidly converging technology is not so complex and uncertain that a few reasonable predictions about certain aspects of streaming video as well as the future of the Internet can't be discerned.

Electronic Video, or "e-Video," includes all audio/video clips that are distributed and played over the Internet, either by direct download or streaming video. And it is streaming video that is the nexus of technology convergence because it is the improvement in bandwidth to deliver video that will prove decisive in reconciling competing technology standards. As this last stumbling block of bandwidth limitation is finally overcome, the television, cable, data, and telecommunication technologies will converge toward a compatible and coherent industry standard based on a one-to-one customized Internet commerce model.

Up to this point, video has involved moving very large files (3-40Mbps), and delivering such large data rates on the Internet seemed prohibitive. Consider that to expand the Internet bandwidth a factor of 10 times its current backbone would cost additional billions of dollars for construction of fiber, copper, or satellite equipment. Now consider the relatively small cost of an equivalent expansion of bandwidth improvement produced by software changes in data compression or by equipment upgrades, such as, optical multiplexing.

The ideal vision for broadband may be an end-to-end optical fiber network with fiber direct to the home. But this expensive and long-term option may be preempted by a combination of a near term breakthrough in compression technology and/or less expensive optical wave division multiplexing. Obviously, the data compression of streaming video compression-decompression (codec) standards will play a critical role in the form of required bandwidth reduction. This in turn will contribute to technology convergence.

In this book, we show that the bandwidth problem is really two interrelated problems. The backbone network problem and the "last mile" problem, each of which will be addressed according to their ability to deliver video.

How This Book Is Organized

The technology revolution sweeping the world today is creating unparalleled opportunity. One area dramatically poised to take advantage of this new technology is video. In Part I of this book, Video Opportunity, we provide the background for the emerging broadband technologies (Chapter 1) and economic opportunities (Chapter 2).

In Chapter 1 we start by asking, Just why are analog technologies for data, voice, and video being replaced by digital technologies? Chapter 1 defines and compares analog and digital communication technologies as they are currently competing and describes the advantages digital has over analog. It includes a big-picture view of the spectrum of bandwidth requirements for video delivery--from low-end broadband (1.5Mbps) to the ultimate HDTV at 38Mbps.

Chapter 2 presents the e-commerce opportunities emerging from streaming video. What does multimedia Internet technology offer to business that makes it attractive? We will illustrate how multimedia e-commerce will lead the business-to-business, business-to-customer, on-line education and entertainment industries and which of these will become the "killer-application" for streaming video that will power technology convergence.

Included with this book is a CD-ROM with an example directory called How To, which contains a sequential series of examples to guide you through the Internet video production process. The production process follows the chapters of the book. An HTML Web page is provided that connects to a general link page. Here the links to various software vendors offering player, editing, compression, and server software are provided.

In Part II, the video preparation and production process is explained. Chapter 3 portrays the video production, editing, and management that bring together the components necessary to develop Web video. This chapter will help you understand the desktop video production cycle and the roles of various software tools for developing differing content. This chapter begins the description of the How To example included on the CD-ROM as it progresses through the various stages described in the book.

In Part III, we present video compression. Data compression algorithms are in their early stage of development. By presenting the basics of how data are compressed in Chapter 4, an appreciation of how much more is yet to come can be obtained. Chapter 4 highlights the key elements of data compression as a form in reduction of bandwidth. It reviews streaming video (codec) standards and state-of-the-art advances. In addition, it sets the stage for understanding codec standards from narrowband to broadband.

Then, in Chapters 5 and 6, narrowband streaming video compression technology is detailed with How To examples. Chapter 5 presents an overview of the RealVideo software tools and player. In this chapter, RealVideo software and SMIL applications are presented and detailed examples are provided. The code and video demos for the examples are available both on the enclosed CD-ROM and on our associated Web site (http://www.video-software.com). This chapter begins the description of the conversion of the How To example included on the CD-ROM into streaming format.

Then, in Chapter 6, software from Microsoft, Apple, and other formats are presented along with examples. The code and video demos for the examples are available both on the enclosed CD-ROM and on our associated Web site. Chapter 6 presents an overview of Microsoft software tools and player. It concludes with a direct comparison of all media production software technologies.

Chapter 7 moves streaming compression to the next stage, MPEG streaming, which is preparing for low-end broadband (1.5Mbps) delivery within a very few years. The chapter highlights several of the key MPEG software developers and their products.

In Part IV, we present video delivery over the Internet. The networks and servers supporting Internet video are critical in delivering high performance and quality for the viewing experience and are an integral part of the Webcasting production process.

In Chapter 8, the difficult but important aspects of networking connectivity are outlined. When it comes to networks, how fast is fast enough? We conclude that it is always just a little more than anyone ever gets. How is data transmitted and controlled over the Internet? The transition from electronic routers and switches to optical nodes is as powerful a paradigm shift as analog to digital.

In Chapter 9, the problems with video servers as related to protocols and the delivery of streaming video to the networks are presented. The innovations in developing network caching and data storage on the Internet are highlighted.

Chapter 10 presents live streaming applications. This presents the convergence of traditional broadband video with the digital-targeted audience approach. We begin this book by stating that there is video opportunity through technology convergence. In each succeeding chapter, the elements of streaming video are presented along with their particular impact on technology convergence. The goal is to show how to use streaming video as it forms the nexus of technology convergence.

In Chapter 11, we conclude with some basic truths that have already begun to emerge from convergence. Our crystal ball will reveal how transmission of TV quality video over the Internet through improved compression algorithms will prove cost-effective in producing rich media at improved effective bandwidths. Our picture melds the technological issues and standards into a narrowing focus centered on streaming video with the initial impetus provided by product demos in order for e-commerce business to meet customer demands.

In the Appendices, some essential aspects of standards for TV, cable, wireless, telecommunications, Internet, compression, and markup languages are individually summarized.

Who Should Read This Book

Web designers and developers with a background in HTML will be primarily attracted to this book. But in general, many Web businesses will find the necessary how-to information and simple examples for providing Web video today, without the hazard of imminent obsolescence.

Entrepreneurs, video hobbyists, and Web site enthusiasts will also find valuable insights and how-to examples to inspire their own video Web business. Business opportunities include video capture, editing, compressing, hosting, Webcasting, custom software, and consulting.

For broadcasters, producers, and content providers interested in preparing to take advantage of broadband, there is information necessary to adapt their skills to Webcasting opportunities.

Computer science educators and students looking for the "big picture" for Web video will find this book a good reference.

Associated Resources

In order to get the full value from this book, it is important for readers to see and hear streaming video and the Web for themselves, as well as explore the most advanced research projects in this field. To support this goal we suggest you visit our Web site:
http://www.video-software.com
The Web site provides download links for free video players from all the major developers (RealNetworks, Microsoft, Apple, Emblaze, Bitcasting, LZX-MPEG), as well as video encoding tools, editing tools, and server software.

A CD-ROM with example code and streaming video demos is included at the back cover of this book.

Introduction

Overview

If you can recall the special effects from Star Wars, then you can already appreciate the impact of video.

Someday, when you go on-line to make a purchase, you'll see a video demonstration of the product in action. If it needs assembly, instead of piecing it together from a single sheet of indecipherable instructions, you'll go back on-line for step-by-step video instructions. And you'll be able to ask questions and receive answers in real-time.

Someday, you will attend school classes only if you want to because much of your education and training will be available on Web video.

Someday, video will be everywhere. Someday. But not today!

Today the delivery bandwidth just isn't there yet. But, don't be concerned. Broadband technologies are converging at breakneck speed, and higher quality video is on the way. But what will you do in the meantime?

If you knew just how TV, phone, and cable broadband technologies were converging, couldn't you make better multimedia choices? For example, have you ever tried to add a video product demo to your Web site, only to be frustrated by hardware and software incompatibilities? Are you trying to start a video Web-based business, but find yourself thwarted by server and network limitations? Have you found your video application software development plans stymied by the chaos of technology standards?

Good news! This book offers powerful insights into the synergism between producing Internet video and technology convergence. This book will enable you to make the most knowledgeable investments in hardware and software to produce Web video and anticipate future trends. It provides the necessary How-To information for putting video on your business Web site today, without the hazard of imminent obsolescence.

So, if you need to make the best decisions today to prepare for that someday, this book is for you.

Background

When Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, he gave us the freedom to select and play music in our own home at our own convenience. It took another century until the VCR became widely available and we gained the ability to similarly select and play videos. But Edison's contribution wasn't just the invention of the phonograph, or the light-bulb, or even the 1,093 inventions for which he received a patent. He helped found an industry, the industry of electric power and analog appliances that transformed the twentieth century in both the home and the factory.

Now another industrial transformation is underway, the digital revolution. It can be traced to Tim Berners-Lee's creation of the graphical interface, which allowed the Internet to become a popular communication tool. As a result, within only six years the Internet had reached 80 million users. This is astonishing compared to past communication media successes.

The Internet had existed for decades mostly for scientific workers and the military. When in 1989, while working at the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN) in Geneva, Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext system he called the World Wide Web. It could link more than just text--it could link graphics, sound, and video to create an entire hypermedia system. Instead of a single database, the basis for his World Wide Web would be the Internet, the vast network of networks around the world.

Over the next couple of years, Berners-Lee and his collaborators laid the groundwork for the Web, inventing and refining the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for linking Web documents, the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) for formatting Web documents, and the Universal Resource Locator (URL) system for addressing Web documents. These days, most of us reach the Web through commercial browsers, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. The first contact most Internet users had with streaming data started with Progressive Network's RealAudio releasing its RealAudio Server and client programs. RealAudio started playing as soon as the user chose a selection. It was a cross-platform program that could be played from Windows, Unix, and Mac systems.

The first true streaming videos ran during 1994 over the experimental Mbone (Multicast Backbone) network. This protocol is a form of Internet Protocol (IP) multicasting, which replicates streaming videos to thousands of servers. Access to these events was initially confined to users with high-end Sun workstations. The primary media server distributed its signal to other repeater servers on the network.

Streaming media started with the Internet's first streaming player, RealAudio. In April 1995, it allowed listeners to hear audio as it was being downloaded. The first Internet streaming video player was Xing Technologies' StreamWorks, released in August 1995. It was based upon Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG) compression and provided jerky "talking heads" images the size of a postage stamp. This was followed shortly by VDOLive from VDOnet Corp. In early 1997 Progressive Networks, renamed RealNetworks, released RealVideo along with an all-in-one audio-video player called RealPlayer.

As the use of streaming media has increased, competition for customers in the streaming media market has intensified. While RealNetworks has emerged as the clear leader as of 1999, rapid changes in compression-decompression (codec) standards offers many new challengers. Increasingly, however, the question is asked, How do Microsoft's Windows Media and other formats stack up against the RealNetworks?

Microsoft entered into the streaming video market in 1997 with its buyout of WebTV Networks and Vxtreme. Microsoft introduced its Active Streaming Format (ASF) in conjunction with the developing MPEG-4 standard. This protocol provides a standard method of synchronizing audio, video, and multimedia. Competition between ASF and RealNetworks' G2 emerged in 1999, as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) endorsed Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL). SMIL provides a text-based tag markup format for streaming multimedia, freeing developers from proprietary formats and enabling multiple vendors to supply software tools. Other groups developed open standards with Java-based applets that didn't require preinstalled players in order to stream video. Macromedia's Shockwave and Flash protocols first produced streaming animation. Authoring platforms for real-time delivery of animation during streaming videos have become available. They allow multimedia-style animation and interactive controls to be linked with broadcast-style audio and video.

Regardless of which vendor you choose, the equipment and software used in multimedia production is often on the cutting edge and not as fully developed as products in the more established computer desktop applications. As a result, there are often compatibility issues that must be resolved in making a set of software and hardware choices to complement your production system.

The actual making of the multimedia content involves the following five basic steps:

  1. Preparing the content source material
  2. Capturing the audio/video using a computer with a video capture card
  3. Editing the video and saving the large uncompressed file
  4. Compressing the video
  5. Delivering the movie content over the Web

Each of these steps can be optimized toward improving the final client video. For example, optimizing computer capture hardware requires a balanced understanding of data-flow versus choke points within the PC capture process. A high speed Pentium III, with 256MB RAM, an 8.4GB

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