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Embedding video

10:22 am on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have been asked to investigate embedding video on our website and as this is not something I have done in the past, thought I would ask for a bit of advice!

We can get the files supplied in either flash or windows format.
We want to give the customer the option of streaming or download the file.
We want to allow customers to resize the video - up to a maximum size that we will specify.

Given the above requirements, is it best to go for a flash option or try something else?

If you need to know a bit more, just ask!
We are obviously aware of bandwidth considerations but first need to establish how we will embed this.

3:17 pm on Apr 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We started doing video in multiple formats to reach all audiences. For non-flash video, you are limited to the video plug in the end user has. For most windows users, this will be Windows media player, Mac users, Quicktime. You can also do mpg for those that have players for mpg, or Real Audio format - but that is a very bad choice, as Real Audio has a reputation as a spyware app.

So now you're preparing at least two videos every time you add one. Each has to be encoded separately and uploaded, and you add links for an mpg download. Add to that, none of these formats "stream" well at all, most of the video has to load before it begins playing. You also have limited controls you can apply.

Another caveat, you can't get the <object> and <embed> tags to play nicely in all browsers. Basically you have to (illegally) place an embed tag inside an object tag to get it to work for both IE and FF.

When we started doing Flash video, all this went away, and the streaming actually works. You can use Flash's video components or create your own custom controls. You can add cue points within the movie that your Flash can interact with. The Javascript library SWFObject gets around the "gray line around Flash" in IE, but better yet, allows you to output a page with alternate content in it first and if all elements are in place, SWFObject writes the Flash to a page div - best of both worlds, accessible, graceful degradation, and digestible clean page code.

I think you get my drift, stick with Flash. If you want a downloadable (why would you want to) encode an mpg and provide a link.

Your resizing requirement is going to be resolution-dependent, and may require multiple videos of various resolutions to be uploaded (lest your 320 X 240 video be sized to full screen and become pixelated.) I do believe Flash supports this as well, I remember seeing it in my travels through the help files.

6:19 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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There are also alternatives to actually storing and serving video over your site. One of the best that I have dealt with reciently is Brightcove they have a free service as well as a paid service - but if you are planning to serve a large amount of media this is probably the way to go.

[edited by: jatar_k at 3:06 pm (utc) on April 13, 2008]
[edit reason] no urls thanks [/edit]


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