Internet | Reports | Technology

Video Streaming: The Future is Now

1 Oct , 1997  

Written by Michele Meek | Posted by:

It's the independent filmmaker's dream come true — a cheap and simple solution to distribution. But is it really what we've all been waiting for?

Also see Stream On: the Latest in Video on the Web from February 1999.

Independent filmmakers have been fantasizing about this for decades – an easy and inexpensive way to distribute films world-wide. Perhaps what no one imagined was what it would look like once it arrived.

Well, here it is. And though it’s amazing, it sure isn’t too pretty. Small screens and low resolution are conspicuous reminders that this is only the crude beginning of this new technology. But the concept itself – and its future potential – is remarkable. Through the internet, "video streaming" delivers digitized videos as fast as your connection can receive them. By sending bits of data while you watch, video streaming eliminates the necessity to wait an hour while an entire clip downloads. With a 56 Kbps modem connection, the result is an instant and seamless real-time video.

Already, hundreds of sites offering streamed video have cropped up all over the web. So, here’s a quick guide that untangles the mess, telling you where and what software to get and some of the smartest online videos you should check out first.

Where to Download the Free Software:

I recommend RealPlayer – the invention of former Microsoft big-wig Rob Glaser – because you can adjust the screen size, fast-forward and rewind.
• sites that use it: Free Speech TV, Children’s Television Workshop, ISP-TV, InterneTV, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, PBS, Comedy Central, Warner Bros., ABC News
• download at: http://www.real.com/products/player/

However, not all streamed video is compatible with RealPlayer, so you might also have to download the VDOLive Player.
• sites that use it: Alternative Entertainment Network, PBS, Free Speech TV, Internet Television Network, American Film Institute
• download at: http://www.vdo.net/download/

There are several others including Vivo Active, Macromedia Shockwave, etc. but the two above cover many of the film/tv related sites so they’re a good place to start.

The Best of Video Streaming:

• Check out Shawn Goldberg’s two Woody Allen-esque short films about relationships at InterneTV. Someone to Love (Laura) chronicles the beginning and untimely end of Max’s relationship with his first love, and in Someone to Love (Sarah), Max’s new girlfriend recalls an embarrassing incident when he spends the night at her parent’s home.
http://www.internetv.com/html/shorts.htm

• Spike Lee’s three short films, specially made for use with the RealPlayer, consist of interviews with John Turturron and Savion Glover and a mini-documentary about New York’s PS 183. http://www.timecast.com/spikelee/theater/lobby.html (no longer online)

• The charming animation film Bottom’s Dream by award-winner John Canemaker can be viewed at the New York Film and Video Council website.
http://www.yrd.com/NYFVC/

Little Women, a strange and disturbing film about girl’s gender roles by Jennifer B. Honecker is online at Free Speech TV.
http://www.freespeech.org

• View campaign advertising from Rhode Island politics as depicted in Joshua Seftel’s documentary video Taking on the Kennedys.
http://www.pbs.org/pov/totk/dissect/ada.html

• The American Film Institute presents the sci-fi adventure King of the Rocket Men, a Republic serial.
http://www.afionline.org/cinema/

Other Lists of Video Streaming Sites:

• RealPlayer compresheive guide: http://www.timecast.com/videoguide.html (no longer available)

• VDOPlayer comprehensive guide: http://www.vdoguide.com/

If you want more information on video streaming or are interested in having your film featured on NewEnglandFilm, email the author.

Photo of Savion Glover from Spike Lee’s RealPlayer movie, courtesy of Timecast.


If you want more information on video streaming or are interested in having your film featured on NewEnglandFilm, email the author.Photo of Savion Glover from Spike Lee's RealPlayer movie, courtesy of Timecast.