Video streaming is a highly demanded feature of software used in different industries. Given its growing popularity, we’ve decided to prepare this article that will cover all the basic aspects of this technology and explain how it functions.
The coronavirus pandemic was one of the strongest boosters of video streaming. When strict lockdowns were introduced in many corners of the world, and practically all countries were forced to close their borders, it became apparent that people had to look for alternative ways to organize and attend various events. Of course, the words “attend” or “attendance” do not seem to be the best ones to use when talking about virtual events. Nevertheless, video streaming turned out to be a good solution for those who wanted to feel the atmosphere of cool concerts or important matches without leaving their homes.
The use of video streaming platforms is not limited to the entertainment industry only. They play an important role in education, business, and even healthcare. Moreover, today the functionality of live streaming apps is rather wide. They allow users not only to watch transmissions online but also record events and rewatch them, which has a very positive impact on user experience.
How Does Video Streaming Work?
When users open their favorite live-streaming app to watch an important conference or match, the entire process looks quite similar to what they have when they watch movies on Netflix or just switch on their TV to enjoy a late-night show. Nevertheless, a lot of things are traditionally left behind the scenes. And from a technological perspective, it is a very different story. The main idea here is that video streaming app developers need to make it possible to show high-quality video content in real-time.
Let’s take a look at the journey that a video has to take from the camera to viewers’ screens. Typically, this journey happens in the following manner:
- Raw video is captured by cameras.
- The captured video is sent to the encoder.
- The raw video is converted into a digital file by the encoder.
- The video is sent to the live-streaming platform.
- Then, via a content delivery network (CDN), from the platform, the video is sent to the video player.
- Users can view the video in the video player installed on their Internet-connected devices.
This is just a traditional setup. That’s why please, remember that depending on some specific solutions that you are going to use, the process may vary.
Types of Video Streaming Technology
Below you will find some basic information about the core streaming technology types that help ensure viewers’ highest satisfaction.
- Streaming protocols: These are standardized approaches to delivering content via the Internet. Thanks to them, even huge volumes of data can be divided into small chunks that will be light enough to be transmitted. Protocols have a vital role in live video broadcasting, as they help send content from point A to point B in the streaming process. Today, we can define a couple of the most widely used protocols as HTTPS Live Streaming (HLS), Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), and MPEG-DASH.
- Codecs: When you record a video, you get a raw file. But then, it is necessary to convert it into a digital file that will be compressed and ready for sending. And a coder-decoder (codec) is precisely what makes that possible. There are audio and video codecs.
- CDNs: Such networks can be described as a series of servers that are situated in a defined region to ensure the transmission of high-quality video content, even to places located far away from the source of the stream. When servers are located close to the point where the video is captured and the destination (the location where a user is), the content delivery takes significantly less time than when the distance between these locations is rather big.
- Video players: These are user-facing components of the entire video-streaming process. This technology allows viewers to watch video streams. The player considered the industry standard today is HTML5. One of the most important benefits that this player has is its compatibility with all the major operating systems (OSs) and web browsers.
Video streaming is evolving quite quickly today, with new platforms, protocols, and tools being introduced. It means that developers are continuously looking for the most innovative ways to deliver video content of the highest quality to users, regardless of their location and Internet connection speed. At the moment, many newly created solutions focus on customization features and individual settings that aim to provide the best viewer experience to every user.