Streaming is the process of transferring data to end users that can be processed in a steady and continuous stream. Streaming has become very popular as many Internet users still do not have fast enough speeds to download large files such as movies. Using streaming, a browser plug-in or a website can display the data before the complete file has been transmitted.
The most popular streaming video formats include were RealVideo, QuickTime and WMV but it has now moved dominantly to FLV.
Streaming media formats
FLV- FLV (Flash Video) is a proprietary file format used to deliver video over the Internet using Adobe Flash Player (formerly known as Macromedia Flash Player) version 6, 7, 8, or 9. FLV content may also be embedded within SWF files. Notable users of the FLV format include YouTube, Google Video, Reuters.com, Yahoo! Video and MySpace. Flash Video is viewable on most operating systems, via the widely available Adobe Flash Player and web browser plugin, or one of several third-party programs such as Media Player Classic (with the ffdshow codecs installed), MPlayer, or VLC media player.
QuickTime- QuickTime is normally used to refer to Apple's own (or licensed, in both cases mostly meant for streaming) video encoding technology that used to produce pretty bad video quality -- something that could be compared to RealVideo format. However, more recently, Apple has started using MPEG-4 video encoding on its QT streams, producing much better, if not excellent, video quality. Reason for this has been the huge demand from Hollywood to come up with an universal standard -- such as MPEG-4 -- that would produce good quality video for broadband use.
RealVideo- Streaming video format developed by RealNetworks. RealVideo was probably the most popular streaming video format in the world, but its poor quality has lost it that title. Has been compared to previous QT encoding.
WMV-WMV is a generic name of Microsoft's video encoding solutions and doesn't necessarily define the technology what it uses -- since version 7 (WMV7) Microsoft has used its own flavour of MPEG-4 video encoding technology (not very surprising, it's not compatible with other MPEG-4 technologies..). DivX ;-) video format is originally based on hacked WMV codec. The latest versions of WMV (now, summer 2005, the latest one is called WMV10) don't have much in common with MPEG-4 anymore, but use Microsoft's own video encoding technologies instead.
For an in depth guide on how to playback FLV files, please read our excellent guide here at AfterDawn: How to play FLV files
Convert YouTube, Google Video etc. to DVD-This guide goes through the process of ripping video from sites like YouTube, Google Video and many more (that use Macromedia Flash / FLV video) and converting them into DVD files. It continues to show the process of burning the resulting DVD files. This guide uses commercial (but cheap) software called ConvertXtoDVD from VSO software for the encoding process. If you haven't used it before, you are in for a treat and don't worry, you can get a trial version.
Extract MP3 from YouTube, Google Video etc.-This short guide goes through the process of getting audio from video clips shown on sites like YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, iFilm and Metacafe. Any software used in this guide is freeware. All files from those sites are FLV.
Converting .FLV files to MP4 for iPod-Here is a quick and painless guide for converting those .FLV files you got off YouTube and elsewhere to MP4 for your iPod.
Related glossary terms
Related software tools
Media Player Classic (Open source)
Media Player Classic is an extremely light-weight media player for Windows. It looks just like the good-old Media Player v6.4, but has lots of nice extra features.
VLC (Open source)
VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...
Windows Media Player (Freeware)
Windows Media Player is the official multimedia player from Microsoft. Player provides all the features of a modern media player.