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Streaming with .mp4 Part 2...or uh 10
By Brent Harshbarger

Streaming with .mp4 debuted in May/June issue of Church Production Magazine. It was an emerging technology at that time, but the reviews of the technology were sketchy at best. The biggest complaint was the poor video quality data compression technology. The technology had great promise so several technology groups worked together to improve it.

MPEG is the acronym for Motion Picture Expert Group that oversees the standards for media data compression technology. MPEG 4 Part 2 as the original release of the technology was called needed some help.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is another technology group that oversees multimedia data compression technology for telecommunication use. The ITU uses data compression technology in video conferencing systems.

Identity Crisis

These two groups combined efforts to create a multimedia compression technology for all to use. This was released a few years ago as MPEG-4 Part 10 or H.264. The latter designation is the one that is usually used to refer to this technology, but file extension is still .mp4. 

The reality of the situation is that it only has been in the past year that audio and video production and distribution software has been fully capable of using the technology. The recent releases of Apple’s FinalCut Studio and Adobe’s CS3 Production collections is the first production software releases that allow to really utilize the technology.

Adobe’s popular Flash technology has just recently started incorporating it into their new versions of Flash Media Server technology. The Flash Media Server is the technology that web streaming host use to deliver video. There are current three version of the Flash Media Server depending on the level that you want to develop and deliver multimedia to the web.

The three versions are Flash Media Streaming Server 3, Flash Interactive Server 3, and the Flash Media Rights Management Server. If you just want to stream video the Streaming server is all you need. If you want to create a interactive media tool they you would want to use the Interactive Server. The Flash Media Server use to be a single product, but not everyone needed all the functionality so they broke them out into logical groups of technology. This made the streaming server much more affordable for those just wanting to stream video.

The real win for the technology is that it is the compression technology selected for HD and Blu-Ray. Especially, since Blu Ray has won the HD format wars. This means that you can purchase on of the production software suites from Apple, Adobe, or Sony and get a Blu Ray burner for your computer and you can create HD video.

It has only taken the industry five years to improve and implement a working compression tool or codec for everyone to use in productions. The main benefit to all of this technology is that it levels the field for media producers. Church Media teams can now produce video in HD and publish to Blu Ray disc, the web, and even all the way down to mobile phones.


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