Internet Webcasting Services
Sending visual communications requires internet webcasting services. The world of broadcasting is now taking over the servers like it took over the air waves. Most television networks and radio stations also "air" their broadcasts for those listening on computers. The media corporations aren't the only ones benefiting from the rise of computers as the medium for carrying visual information. Many businesses are using the services of a video webcasting company to assist them in sending their board meetings to their telecommuting employees, rather than have them travel in. Though, this should not be confused with web conferencing. Web conferencing is set up for both the sender and the receiver to be able to communicate back and forth. The connection in this way is called a many-to-many connection. However, webcasting is set up to be sent by one originating source to many recipients who cannot respond back to the source in any way. Also, these businesses are using internet webcasting services to advertise to potential clients and instruct new employees. Companies in the travel industry can show movies of their beach condos right from their homepage. If a picture speaks a thousand words, a movie of a sunny beach with the roar of waves speaks volumes to a potential customer ready to take a vacation. Educational institutions are following suite and placing videos on university websites to showcase the campuses and transmit lessons to students learning over the web.
Sending video over the web has been around since the late 1980s, but due to the great expense and slow connectivity of commercial grade computers at that time, internet webcasting services were not regularly used until the 1990s when network bandwidth increased and the file types were standardized. The fact that webstream viewing has doubled every year since 1995 is directly related to broadband canvassing the world. In the beginning of this emerging technology a video webcasting company would record the segments and broadcast them later. Sending a video or audio sound bite live just was not heard of back then. This format was called non-streaming. Even though these recordings were not live, they were still a great improvement over the former method. Many times a business would send out DVDs or CDs with its information or marketing presentation to many computer owners and hope that the recipient took time to watch the video before it was thrown away. At least with sending propaganda over the web, a business can reach only those who want to hear the message and intentionally log in to watch the video. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
With the growing popularity of broadband, the use of live casting is now growing steadily. In 1999, several television entities partnered to broadcast three different concerts simultaneously. They also employed internet webcasting services to reach the entire world. There were over 150,000 computer users watching the news casts of the 2005 London bombings. It is quite common now for a television network or radio station to have a formidable internet presence. These networks air broadcasts over the web at the same time they are being viewed on the television or heard over the radio. Simulcast is the term chosen for these types of "web copies" of media shows. The term webcasting was formally used in the late 1990s to describe this sort of technology. Now using "cast" at the end of a word is understood to mean that it will be streaming live in some way over the web. Computer users still have the option to watch a show or listen to a radio program after it is not being streamed live. A video webcasting company archives and saves the broadcasts on a separate server. The computer user is free then to log in and view the piece at their convenience. These videos accessed after they are recorded are called on demand, because they are viewed on the user's demand. Radio devices that stand separate from the processor can provide a no computer option for the radio listener that does not want to drop everything and log in to hear their favorite program running on the web.
Multimedia files are still pretty large and can be expensive to send. After compression, they are a bit smaller and more affordable to market. With it now cheaper to send the files and the abundant availability of internet webcasting services, many independent filmmakers, public speakers, radio hosts and amateur television actors are getting in on the action that was originally only for the large media corporations. From a persons living room, they can send live presentations to computer users across the globe. There are a few ways that the messages of these individuals, as well as those of large corporations, can reach multiple end users. Unicast protocols send a copy of the live program to each end user's computer. This is pretty simple to use, but creates a lot of work for the network and makes unnecessary duplicates of the show. A video webcasting company uses a multicast to send only one copy of the live show to each network connection. In order to do this, the originator will have to buy a special router to handle multimedia dispersal. Multicasts cut down on bandwidth usage, but do not allow for rewinding or fast forwarding. There are myriad ways to reach an audience over the internet. Peer-to-peer was the old way. One source sent a media file to one recipient. This protocol didn't bog down or require routers, but hardly has the impact a growing company, aspiring talk show host or a cutting edge news outlet needs. The future will bring IP multicasts when the cost decreases and the popularity grows among viewers.
Flash Streaming ServerOn the World Wide Web, a flash streaming server is vital to compete in a world not only driven by information, but by moving images and visual actions. Not only is the internet now visually and auditory driven, but the user's ability to interact effectively in their internet environment determines, in large part, how satisfied they are with their visit. In the fast-paced, global world, computer users want their internet experience to match the ever changing, constantly moving world around them. In the infancy, computer animation was rudimentary at best. This animation also ate up precious server space, which was its own evolving industry. With the advent of such products as a flash video server, end users were benefited by quick and smooth movies and audio files. But, end users were not the only ones to benefit from this exciting new development on the technology terrain. Web site owners and developers can save and preserve precious storage and memory space. The benefits don't stop there. Broadband differences are no longer a problem, piracy is kept at a minimum and the end user is never asked to download any software in order to interact with the web site or media presentation.
This computer program that can display both vector (line art) and raster (pixilated graphics) figures was first created by Jonathan Gray in 1993. Jonathan Gray joined with his friends, Charlie Jackson and Michelle Welsh, started a software company. Their dream was to create a software program that would make computer animation as easy as drawing on a piece of paper. It was not as popular as the three had hoped. However, as the internet began to really boom in popularity, users and designers alike were starting to realize the need for vector-based animation that could be used on the web. Up to this point, the graphics had been primarily rasterized. A rasterized image cannot be resized or altered as easily and with fluidity like a vector-based image. The three partners tweaked the design of their program to include frame by frame animation possibilities. This was the ancestor of the flash streaming server. They released this new product under the name FutureSplash. This exciting product was eventually purchased. It was given the new name, Flash, by combining the names future and splash together. The technology that was introduced by this exciting animation software would continue to transform the web. Now, the flash video server is one of the most versatile, widely used visual and audio server interfaces in the world.
In the genesis of internet animation, the end user would be asked to download a software program or agree to a product called a plug in. This was initially due to the fact that animation was saved in various formats that were not compatible with each other. In order for the viewer to watch the movie or listen to the audio file, they would have to have the software program or plug in that recognized the file type that was used to record the original file. At this time there were at least four major software companies producing animation creation, movie playing and audio streaming programs. This is inefficient and confusing. An internet user was often asked to download all of the software programs and suggested plug ins in order to successfully interact with the range of internet sites they would visit in a day. This is not only inconvenient, but it also takes up a lot of space on the user's hard drive. In order to store and run all of these software downloads and plug ins, the hard drive of the computer needs to permanently store them, even when they are not being utilitized. From a computer memory stand point, this seems pointless. This, and other concerns, necessitated the development of the flash video server.
With the flash streaming server, the visual images are housed on an off-site server. Neither the memory space of the graphic itself nor the memory space of the program or plug in is dumped on the user's hard drive. This allows the other programs on the computer to run more efficiently. Closely connected to this memory issue is the increased compatibility of the flash video server configuration. Because the animation or audio file is housed on an off-site server, it can play on any browser. File compatibility is not longer an issue, as the web user is already on a browser. This software program and internet interface is utilitized and compatible with more web browsers than all of the three leading competitors combined. This allows the internet user to watch a video on a flash streaming server without downloading software or opening the viewer in another window. The ease of this interface puts to sleep some of the frustrations plaguing avid internet users.
Another issue solved by the introduction of the flash video server is that it is not dependant on the viewer's bandwidth and does not require caching and temporary filing. What does this mean to the end user? What does this mean to the originating web site? Because the flash streaming serving is not dependent on the user's bandwidth for quality, the movie or radio program will come across in good condition regardless of the bandwidth of the viewer or listener. In addition, the old style of interface (progressive) required the user's computer to cache the later segments of the movie in their temporary internet files. This was not desirable for many reasons. For videos longer than 20 minutes, this is impractical. Memory storage was always an issue. "The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot." (Proverbs 10:7) Also, the web site ran the risk of having the video pirated if a portion was held in the temporary internet files of the users. Now these are no longer concerns.