Online Video - Streaming video as an alternate to illustrated audio


Streaming video is now a reasonable alternate to online "illustrated audio" or "narrated slide shows." While illustrated audio can be streamed using dial-up connections -- offering a wider spectrum of viewership than broadband used for streaming video -- the video approach best replicates a variety [1] of real-life experiences. Since video can be recorded on a seamless tape, it can be easier, less expensive and time-consuming to produce than illustrated audio, which requires editing [2] of the images and audio clips. Some experts recommend breaking up videos of lectures that are long in duration into a series of VoD segments if possible. This allows for easier access to portions of a lecture.


Quality trends in streaming video

The quality of streaming video is improving rapidly. During 2005 cable companies have upgraded effective bandwidth speeds up to eight times over the speeds delivered in 2004. As of September, 2005 Cox Communications is transporting, by residential cable connections, internet content at 3 to 3.3 megabytes per second. Other cable and phone companies are providing similar service. Also, video content encoding technology has improved greatly over the same time period.

Apple Computer's Quicktime 7, which uses MPEG-4 / H.264 encoding technology, allows excellent online video at much lower data rates than in prior years.

For examples of Quicktime 7 video quality click here. For another demonstration of wide-screen H.264 format videos see a web page developed by Endorphin Productions.

As reported by the Apple's H.264 page:

The Internet/Standard Definition option listed above is deliverable at this time to millions of households and campuses over the world, with the higher resolutions coming very soon. This is a far cry from the "high" bandwidth option of recent times with 4 x 3 resolution delivered at a "jerky" 10 to 15 frames per second. What was "high" bandwidth is becoming "low" bandwidth.



1. See Applications.

2. Marc Bretzfelder of Smithsonian TV found that using illustrated audio (synchronizing digital slide images with sound clips) takes about 4 hours of post-production editing to every hour of lecture time, which discourages staff from using the illustrated audio approach. His video recording method requires no post-production time.


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rev. 9/9/05

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