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Highwinds, Wowza, Sorenson, Harmonic: Using Adaptive Streaming

The industry is moving toward HTTP streaming, said Chris Bray, vice president of Highwinds. That's where all the innovation is right now and it's a necessary technology for supporting the growing base of mobile viewers.

Bray led off a roundtable webinar hosted on StreamingMedia.com this Wednesday. In it, experts from Highwinds, Wowza, Sorenson, and Harmonic offered advice to those looking to use adaptive streaming effectively, and took questions from the attendees.

Not only is HTTP use rising, said Bray, but RTMP is dying; it's not happening today or tomorrow, but its lifespan is limited. All of Adobe's recent investment is in HTTP dynamic streaming, he added. He offered the audience an adaptive streaming workflow, as well as a list of "pain points," such as re-encoding their libraries of content.

Next up was Charlie Good, CTO for Wowza, who asserted that adaptive streaming offers the best experience over any network to any device. He listed the four common adaptive streaming technologies now on the market (Apple HLS, Adobe RTMP, Adobe HTTP, and Microsoft Smooth Streaming), as well as the one on the horizon (DASH, for dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP).

Content owners should consider HTTP, Good said, because it's easier to stream to firewalls or mobile devices. It offers greater latency with live streams, however. Each protocol is tied to a different DRM scheme, and content owners will need to use multiple protocols to reach their entire audience, he added

Good told the audience how to prepare content with multiple renditions and suggested common renditions to use.

Offering lessons learned it the field, Randon Morford, director of product management for Sorenson Media, said that almost everyone wants a broad range of bitrates and frame sizes when they're starting out, but most find they can't afford to encode to all the data rates they think they need. Luckily, he said, that broad range isn't necessary.

Morford showed how to look at how a site's viewers and decide which renditions will do the most good. He also taught that long-form videos (those five minutes or longer) do better broken into six-second chunks with keyframes every two seconds, while short-form videos (under five minutes) should have two-second segments with keyframes every two seconds. 

Last up was Moore Macauley, director of product management for Harmonic, who said that 4MB video streams weren't used much today, but would be more important in the future as more viewers bought connected TVs. He also suggested that network data caps will play a large roll in how the streaming video market develops. Stream size is especially important to those viewing video over a 3G connection. There's still room for improvement in getting high-quality video from low bitrate streams, he added.

Attendees had a generous 20 minutes at the end of the webinar to ask specific questions. The How to use Adaptive Streaming for Multi Screen Delivery webinar will be online for the next 90 days and is free to view. Registration is required.

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