February 1st, 2010 by Seth Kenvin
As our base diversifies, including expanding use on bigger budget production projects that tend to involve longer footage, customers increasingly request that our player functionality be immediately and comprehensively available for any portion of small or large video files. Our initial player functionality has been based on progressive download, meaning that once a video is requested, it loads in timeline order, and later portions of the video aren’t immediately available until the download catches up. As part of our assessment, and after experiments with a few commercial streaming servers, we determined the best approach for us is to engineer and implement our own approach to dynamic streaming, which we’ve spent the past month or so developing, along with a few other cool annotative player features, demonstrated here:
To assure good customer experiences, and even though we’ve already extensively tested, we haven’t yet turned on the new dynamic streaming for everyone, and we’re asking for volunteers. If you would like us to turn on dynamic streaming for (a) particular project(s) of yours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com letting us know which project(s) and we’ll do so. Once we confirm that video play and annotative interactivity works robustly across projects, video files and users, we’ll turn on dynamic streaming everywhere, which should occur during February 2010.
Dynamic streaming, like its name indicates, allows users to click anywhere within timeline of a video immediately upon load, and play of video from that requested point is immediately responsive. Also, in implementing the architecture we have also allowed for Flash (.flv) and H.264 (ex: .mp4, .m4v) videos to be in-the-clear in our player so they do not get transcoded, meaning that they are immediately available for play upon upload, and that they are played at full quality of the source content with no modification. Videos of other formats do still have to be transcoded to Flash for our player, although from the File Actions button in our player, the original states of those videos can be downloaded with full fidelity for file-transfer purposes including to see un-modified in a compatible player. One more change we made to our player is allowing j-k-l keyboard shortcut navigation back-play/pause-forward, and the same for left and right directional arrows and space-bar, with additional benefit of visual fast-forward and rewind by holding down the appropriate keys.
The player enhancements are demonstrated in the screen-capture video towards the top of this blog post. Other enhancements with this release include:
- Continuing last couple of months’ theme, we’ve made still more speed improvements, especially this time for loads of project home pages
- Improved layout and presentation on printouts of pages from Script, Task and Event modules
- Easier flow for inviting new members to projects
- Activity feed reflects the first time a new member logs into a project
And again, please do email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com letting us know projects of yours you’d like us to move to dynamic streaming immediately so that you can try it out (and please let us know how it works for you).