(Presented at the Media Communications Association-International at the 1997 International Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio - "Producing for the Web" )
Video and audio for the Web is still not ready for "prime time " that is, "broadcast quality" programs delivered to the public. The technology is still limited in Internet bandwidth, compression standards, modem speeds, and end user playback software and computer power.
In this presentation, I hope to provide the simplest overview of the process a place for the professional visual communicator to begin to unravel an understanding of the Internet distribution media. I think it's important for us all to understand that we can't afford to wait for the shake-out. There will not be a shake-out. There will not ever be ONE standard distribution format. One size will never fit all the possible distribution opportunities for video and audio programming in the lives of Information Age citizens.
The process of Internet distribution is diverse, expensive, and complicated for the end user. Program providers, producers, and, worst of all, clients (anyone who has to pay the dues) need further education. (Video producers are still investing time educating themselves and their clients about the changes in video production!)
There are basically two methods for delivering video and audio to the Web: streaming and download. Both streaming video or downloaded video can be considered "on demand." Preparing video files for the Web involves diverse software formats affecting compression/data rates, file size, frame rate, window size, and audio quality. And there are many considerations about how the stream is supported by video servers (where the files are stored for access) and playback software formats on the user's end.
All of these distribution environments do influence the way video should be acquired and edited. Understanding the final use of the video project predetermines what and how we design the production process from the beginning: objectives, audience, and delivery medium. Basic communication skills are still the most important resource for the professional visual communicator: US!
The first option is to post movie files on your Website that will be available for download to your visitor's hard drive for later viewing.
The second option is to create streaming video that plays on the Web screen while the file is being transferred.