Displaying video on websites

I am about to start a web proejct that will include pages that have embedded video.  I know nothign about this and have a few general questions that I hope somebody can set me straight on:

The server will be a Microsoft IIS server and the development language is Asp.Net

1. to serve video from a webpage are there any requirements on the server software side
2. Which video format is the most universal?
3. I am seeing a lot of flash video.  Is extra software requried for program with flash video.  Are there players avaialable that can be used out of the tin as it were?  Can all video formats be played through Flash?
4. Where do I get the tools that will allow me to display a video on a page?

Can't find the perfect EE zone for this so have posted here.

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section25Connect With a Mentor Commented:
There are two sepearte notions of "streaming" and they are not exactly the same. When I say streaming, I am talking about video casting. Such as a site that users go to and click on a link and everyone can see the same thing at the same time as it is being delivered to everyone simultaneously (like a tv broadcast). That does take special software, some powerful hardware, a lot of bandwidth, and other special requirements that I am not familiar with since I have never done it.

On the other hand, most (if not all) video clips that are self contained (such as flv, mpg, avi, etc) that have a definite begining and a definte end, do "stream" to an extent. As in they they start to play when enough of the movie has loaded to play at the proper frame rate even though they rest of the movie still has not loaded. The video player will know what size the file is and when a predetermined percentage of the file (usually about 5%) of the file is loaded it will start to play. This is evident on youtube. When you watch a video, you will see it start to play, but sometimes on a slow connection, the video will stop in the middle and have to "load" some more content before it can start playing again.

So to answer your question, any video "clip" you put on your will be streamed in the manner above. You do not need to do anything special for that. It is part of how the video player (in people's browser) works. If you want to offer the viewer the option to download the whole video before it starts playing, then you could do that as well, as simply providing a link for download. You would have to change the format to something like .zip, since most browsers are set to start playing the common video formats automatically rather than downloading them.

Éric MoreauSenior .Net ConsultantCommented:
I have used the MediaPlayer from www.Telerik.com
I don't know the specific syntax for asp (since I don't use it) but I may be of some help with your questions.

1. Since the video will be playing in the users browser, there should be no special requirements on the server side to deliver the video to the browser. You simply need to have the browser be able to show the video as an object (either embedded or not). It will depend on the format and how you want to show it. But the short answer is no, you do not need anything special on the server (unless you are streaming which it doesn't sound like you are doing).

2. Right now, the flv (flash video) format is the most widely used since it is easy to use and loads fairly quickly. However you will need the Flash developers program to convert anything that is not already flv to the flv format and if you don't have it, it costs about $600.00(US).

3. See number two (above). Most browsers will have the ability to play flash videos and if they don't, they will be given the opportunity to downlad the player when the object loads. So if you go with that format, your users would not require any additional abilities to view your pages. (B) All video formats can be "converted" to flv through the flash developer program. They can't be played "as is" through flash, they will have to be converted first.

4. You really don't need anything other than that mentioned above. If you don't go with flv, then you aren't the one who will need the tools, it will be your users and thier browsers who need the tools. Although, most people can view videos pretty easily and only a very few will need actual "tools" to see anything.

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WingYipAuthor Commented:
Thanks for answers.

section25 - that is exactly the sort of stuff I need to know.  
I have a couple of additional  quesitons about streaming though.  

Streaming is an expression that I am not entirely clear about.  If one has a video player embeded in a web page and the user clicks play - am i right in thinking that the streamed video will play immediataly but the non streamed video will need to download first.  

Is setting up the server for streaming content very difficult?  Is different software requreid for streaming?
WingYipAuthor Commented:
Have just increased points
WingYipAuthor Commented:
That's extremely helpful section25.

I'm very grateful

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