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Flash Video 101: Stream Video Using The Flash Media Server 2

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Streaming video from a Flash Media Server provides the most complete, consistent, and robust way to deliver your Flash video projects. In this article, author James Gonzalez provides development tips and a summary review of the Media Server's features, capabilities, components, server architecture, and more.
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Streaming video from a server running Flash Media Server 2 (formerly called the Communication Server) or from a host Flash Video Streaming Service (FVSS) provides the most complete, consistent, and robust delivery option for Flash-based audio and video files. As a dedicated server solution, this delivery method is optimized for the delivery of streaming real-time media.

In this article, I provide a review of the new Flash Media Server—including its capabilities, components, and server architecture. I conclude with some development tips gleaned from the Adobe help documentation and with an overview of the process involved in deploying a typical Flash Media Server application.

If you decide that all this server hosting and maintenance is just too much for you, in a follow-up article, I’ll cover how to use an FVSS to have all this work done for you.

Flash Media Server 2 (FMS2) offers the unique combination of traditional streaming media capabilities with a flexible, powerful media applications development environment. Developers can use Flash 8 to create media applications with ActionScript and then use Flash Media Server to deploy these applications. This combination makes it possible to create and deliver a range of basic experiences such as video-on-demand; live web-event broadcasts; MP3 streaming; and rich media communication applications such as video blogging, video messaging, and multimedia chat environments. With this power and flexibility, you can reach your audiences just the way you want (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 has built one of the largest online concert archives in the world. More than 550 full-length concerts, festivals, performances, debates, and lectures can be freely streamed from their on-demand archive via the Flash Media Server.

Media Server Features and Capabilities FMS2 software enables one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many communication in real time between applications created in Macromedia Flash 8. This tight connection between the server and client, and the servers capability to precisely control and deliver any portion of the stream, enables the developer to take advantage of a number of very advanced capabilities, including the following: Determining the client bandwidth and serving up the correct bit rate stream Measuring and tracking the quality of service of the stream and switching to a lower (or higher) bit rate stream if neededfor example, if network congestion increases Automatically generating thumbnails or playing short previews of video clips without having to create separate image or video clips Automatically creating "chapters" (with appropriate thumbnails) that users can use to navigate long clips without having to break up the clip into shorter pieces Switching midstream from one camera angle to another without missing a beat Editing together a full video based on portions of other video clipsfor example, playing the first 10 seconds of Clip 1, followed by the content between the 30 and 40 second marks of Clip 2, followed by the last 20 seconds of Clip 3 Webcasting live or recorded events in which everyone sees the same thing at the same time
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