Patterns and Design
Need a different movie player?
Putting Movies on the Web
Below is some background research I did while preparing a video for the web. I decided to record it here because I'll probably forget what I've learned so far and the info might help someone else. The final movie is on the Teachers page.
There are three dominant media players (Daily, 2004):
I downloaded the video from my camera using Kodak Easyshare, which gave me files in QuickTime's .mov format.
I thought it would be a good idea to make my movies available in the default formats used by each player, but I haven't yet produced Real Player or Media Player versions that I'm happy with.
In my first attempts to convert the files to Real Player's .rm format, I opened the .mov file in RealProducer Basic 10 and encoded it in .rm format uses the Audiences settings described in the Audience section below.
As of 2002, 99% of all public schools in the U.S. had internet access. Of those, 94% had broadband access (Kleiner and Lewis).
As of May 2005, about 58% of all internet connections in U.S. homes are broadband connections. About 92% of all internet connections in U.S. homes are 56Kbps dial-up connections or broadband connections.
Given the audience I'm after, the best approach is probably to offer multiple bit rates, for example:
Quicktime: 56Kbps, 112Kbps, 256Kbps. Provided multiple rates using reference file made with MakeRefMovie.
Real: 26k substream for 56k dial-up, 56k dial-up, 128k Dual ISDN or 150k. The substream for 56k is a nice feature because connection speed can vary widely with a modem connection. Don't know whether or how Quicktime and Media Player account for this.
Media Player: a 56k and one or more broadband speed.
However, these require server-side services. Need to look into this some more.
I used Kodak Easy Share to capture the video from my digital camera. I edited the files with QuickTime Pro. To upgrade from QuickTime Player to QuickTime Pro, I went online and paid about $30 for a registration number. I registered the QuickTime Player through the Edit->Preferences->Registration window of my QuickTime application. This can also be done through System Preferences on a mac or through the Control Panel in Windows.
In playing around with Real Player and Media Player, I used Real Producer Basic 10 and Windows Movie Maker, respectively. Real Producer Basic is a free download, but you can't sell, rent, lease, license or exchange for value any media that you encode with it. If you want to do any of that, you need to buy a professional version that's around $200.
I'll probably use a .ram file. This is a plain text file with the file extension .ram that contains the URL of the Real Player video to be presented. Using the .ram file causes Real Player to launch (assuming the machine receiving the video has Real Player installed). Otherwise, the file just downloads. When I converted fragments of the movie, they converted fine, but I could load the entire movie into Real Producer Basic 10. Looks like there's some kind of file size limitation.
Here a sample of HTML I used to set up QuickTime:
<OBJECT CLASSID="clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B" WIDTH="640" HEIGHT="496" CODEBASE="https://www.apple.com/qtactivex/qtplugin.cab#version=6,0,2,0">
Notice the QTSRCDONTUSEBROWSER and QTSRC attributes. These ensure that the QuickTime Player is used instead of the browser to fetch the file. I decided to use this when my cached files played funny in Internet Explorer. They would seem to start, then stop for a while, then skip farther into the movie. Switching to the QuickTime internals for loading the files solved the problem.
I don't use QTSRCDONTUSEBROWSER or QTSRC in the EMBED element, which is used by other browsers including Netscape and Firefox, because the movies wouldn't play when I used it. Fortunately, when these browsers load the movie from the cache, they work fine.
I also played around with media link files (xml files with .mov extentions that you can use to pass parameters to QuickTime) and reference files (files created with MakeRefMovie that you can use to set up multiple bit rates), but ended up just using strait QuickTime files.
Where I left off
I was unhappy with the quality of the video after converting to Real Player and Media Player, so I'm sticking with QuickTime for now. I'll look into video production more after summer's over.
Since my web hosting service doesn't run QuickTime Streaming Server software, I'm just providing separate Fast Start versions at modem and broadband rates. I'm also providing zip files of the movie as a whole and in segments for people to download.
Leone Learning Systems, Inc. (LLS) is a North Shore company that provides online courses for kids anywhere and local teaching and tutoring services for students in Chicago and the Northern Suburbs of Chicagoland. LLS also provides a free geometry software package for children age 6 and up, and free resources for teachers and parents. This site includes information about classes taught, availability for tutoring, learning activities for kids, lesson plans, and ongoing software and curriculum research and development efforts.