Monday, 15 June 2009

Streaming video delivery

We ran a 1/2 day workshop today covering the requirements for Colleges to be able to record, digitise, and broadcast (stream via the web) video content. Whether the content is an existing bit of recorded video ( or from DVD or VHS), or recorded from "free to air" TV.

We watched an interesting presentation from Dave Kings of Worcester College of Technology who has developed their own unicast streaming service for internal College use only. The system is very robust and uses MS Expresssion Encoder to compress the video, and an Opsprey TV capture card to record TV from Freeview. The encoder creates a suite of files at different bit rates , so the server can decide upon whcih video to deliver to the end user depending upon network cababilities at the point of delivery. The new MS Expresssion encoder will also allow, chaptering, overlays ( for college logos), and captioning. All this is powered by IIS 7 with the smooth streaming plugin. All recordings are made available to staff on the Sharepoint intranet/CMS platform. The vids are played through a browser media player called MS Silverlight, which was new to me. It looks like a whole new .NET framework, as opposed to "just a media player"?

All of this high quality video is being delivered to students internally, whcih is covered by the eduational ERA licence. NB they have developed a "you-tube" type of servce to deliver lower quality videos (mainly Flash based) to students on home (DSL) connections. If you are a College, you need the ERA PLUS licence to run this service externally. See my wiki page covering other streaming video case studies here.

We also sat through two demonstrations of companies offering solutions to record, digitise, archive, record from live TV, embed videos, link resources, etc,etc. By ClickView and Streaming UK. Both systems were feature rich, versatile , user friendly and offered some excellent and robust features. It was interesting to see how both companies had incoroporated features such as embed URL, to deliver videos via VLE featured as standard on most free video hosting sites. Both good systems, with slightly differing market niches, and some Colleges in the room were already using Clickview.

My favourite free web hosting is still Vimeo.

JISC Digital media are offering to assist Colleges set up such a service by bidding for some funds they are dishing out. Find out more and download docs on the event page.

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