There are many ways that one can stream audio and video materials online and we found a few ways that are cost effective and efficient enough to handle most of the online streaming activities.
Here we list some of the technologies that we used to put together a system that may help anyone with their audio and vide streaming needs with a low or no budget. It will take some time, reading/researching and effort to accomplish it. We will describe briefly how we accomplished our goal of setting up a system on a shoe string budget. You may be able to extract a few ideas/points and build or come up with your own way of doing the same thing. It is possible to accomplish anything nowadays, as long as the Internet and Google is there.
The main system we have is a Pentium IV with 512MB RAM memory and 40GB hard drive. We have DSL high-speed connection to the Internet. The system runs on ubuntu Linux operating system (almost all the software that we have used will run on Windows based system as well but MS Windows costs). In this system we have three streaming servers like “Shoutcast”, “Darwin” and “Red5” running at the same time (it is our test server, gets abused a lot). All these streaming servers are capable of streaming audio and/or video media effectively. The difference is mainly the format they use to broadcast the video signal.
Shoutcast server from www.shoutcast.com/ works with “NSV” (Nullsoft video) format.
Darwin streaming server from www.apple.com is for QuickTime and mpeg movies (“mov” & “mp4”). Red5 server http://osflash.org/red5 works with flash (“flv”) videos. On the audio side all these servers can stream mp3 files without any problem.
Depending on the need, a particular combination of the above can serve in any situation. For example a radio broadcasting station is possible with the following combination.
A Linux (or Windows) based computer system with a decent hardware specification as mentioned above running the Shoutcast streaming server as the main system. A Windows 2000 or XP system with software like Winamp player with necessary plug-in is all what is needed to setup a powerful radio broadcasting system. Can say that this is the installation of this setup is the easiest of all.
This Windows based system should have a working sound card. Adding and automation software like “Zarasoft” (no cost of course) can even automate the radio station when and if the DJ is missing. Call-in talk shows are possible with a phone system integrated into this setup. This option will need a little more homework and work.
If your need is to stream QuickTime or mpeg movies then the same Linux (or Windows) system with Darwin streaming server will be a good choice. Darwin streaming server is as same as the Apple’s commercial product QuickTime streaming server but available for free from Apple’s website. Installing it and getting it up and running is not very difficult. A web based admin tool is available to manage the playlist files and other streaming media.
Flash has a big advantage over the others. Mainly, according to some Internet source 98% of the web browsers are installed with flash plug-in to play flash videos. It is a popular choice for many including movie producers for their online movie trailer streaming. The open source flash software “Red5” is equivalent to Adobe’s commercial software Flash Communication server. The combination Linux and Red5 (all for free of charge) has a few other features that are desirable in certain situation such as audio or video chat systems for an example.
All these combinations are capable of streaming real time events if needed. For fun and testing purposes we stream live local TV channels over the Internet for our friends who live in other countries. That is, with a second Windows based source computer equipped with a TV tuner which connected to the cable TV and to the main streaming server on the LAN (Local Area Network), this can be easily achieved.
The Linux operating system comes with a web server (Apache) and servers like MySQL and PHP software. With these amazing tools the audio and video streaming can be integrated into a website. This website can optionally hosted out side your home or office with an ISP (Internet Service Provider).
We may have spent less than $200 for the setup with all the combinations mentioned here. It took us about 3hours to finish the whole setup (took us 6-8 months initially to learn and reach this point). All the software, that is the OS, the streaming server software, the web server software, sourcing software with appropriate plug-ins, the automation software, weather watcher/announcement software, audio editing software like “Audacity”, video encoding software like “Super” and screen casting (screen capture) software such “Camstudio” and Wink2 were all obtained for free. Thus we built our audio and video streaming system that streams online on a shoe-string budget.
Our “audio and video streaming online – beginner’s guide” is available at www.aduioandvideostreaming.com has little more information on the “ubuntu Linux/Shoutcast” combination. Have a look at the overview to get an idea of the ebook contents along with couple of video tutorials.