Side | Web
Integration | MP3
to Shoot for Streaming
Tips and tricks for creating streaming media that looks good
on the net.
Here's the scenario: The opening scene of a nature documentary
shows helicopter shots of antelope running across the African
landscape. The sun is beginning to rise and the camera swoops over
the savanna as clouds of dust trail the stampeding herd. If the
production company is preparing to stream this nature video across a
28.8kbps or 56kbps modem, the most important feature to convey to
the viewer is:
A: The feel of the African savanna at sunrise
B: The pounding
antelope hooves contrasting the serenity of a rising sun
are looking at antelope
If you chose C, you are correct. Cinematographers and Directors
have a selection of zooms, fades, and fancy camera tricks to choose
from--streaming media producers do not (especially at low
bandwidths). The best streaming media is produced from very simple
Each major streaming technology has slight differences between
the look of the video at low bandwidths. This article concentrates
on the general rules to improve video with any technology. It's easy
to understand how to shoot quality video for streaming when you
understand how streaming works.
Rule 1: Minimize changes and movement from frame to frame.
Internet bandwidth constraints make it difficult to pass large
video files. A shortcut was created to describe the video file in
order to minimize the amount of information being passed from server
to user. Developers decided to send only the information describing
pieces of the image that changed from one frame to the next (delta
frames). Occasionally, an entire frame is sent (key frames).
Walking around the office and taping your boss with a new DV
camera will produce a streaming file consisting entirely of key
frames. When compressed, it will look extremely 'jerky' because you
do not have enough bandwidth to send the required information.
However, if you put your DV camera on a tripod and focus on your
bosses head and shoulders, you will get an ideal streaming file
(even at low bandwidths).
Why does this matter? When the camera is on a tripod, delta frame
size is minimized because the background is static. When the camera
is hand-held and in motion, the background changes in every frame
and delta frames become the size of key frames. Quality streaming
video at very low bandwidths is generally composed of common shots.
The head and shoulders shot is a favorite for streaming interview
content. In any case, minimal movement is the key to streaming
Rule 2: Minimize the use of bright whites, blues and
Many rules of thumb for shooting traditional broadcast video
(i.e., avoiding "hot" colors, patterns, glare) can be used when
shooting for the web. According to Patrick Hines, Program Manger for
Real Broadcast Networks, bright or "hot" colors such as bright
blues, yellows, and whites do not appear as well as darker colors or
If you can control what the speaker is wearing, make sure he/she
wears solid colors. A dark, solid colored shirt is the best choice.
Try to avoid striped shirts or those with intricate patterns.
Rule 3: Get your audio levels correct
Never take audio for granted. Patrick Hines points out that audio
levels need to be taken into serious consideration and should never
be over modulated. If you want to ensure appropriate levels, use a
mixer to control the audio before it reaches the computer's sound
card. Any and all means to monitor and regulate sound quality during
production will benefit the final piece of content.
Attempt to correct problems while shooting video, rather than
attempting a resurrection during the edit or encode. Remember,
streaming video production should not be approached the same as
television or film production. The technology requires producers to
meet these challenges with new techniques.
OverDrive Media is a full service
streaming media development house delivering world-class streaming
media solutions. Our core competency is streaming media Web
development. We deliver streaming media integration to existing
sites, build complete Web solutions that leverage streaming media or
manage streaming media projects as part of a larger team. A partial
list of our services includes project conception and consulting,
professional graphic design, database design and programming, custom
Web application development, audio and video encoding and MacroMedia
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