I’m pleased to announce support for IIS Media Services 4.0 including: Smooth Streaming Presentations, Web Playlists and Bit Rate Throttling has been enabled in the AppliedI Labs environment. At the core of the AppliedI Labs mission is to provide you with early access to the latest beta technologies and innovations so you can begin experimenting with them and planning how they’ll fit into your online business strategy.
What is IIS Media Services, in a nutshell.
IIS Media Services is an intelligent new way to deliver media over HTTP. In the past when you wanted to stream video over the Internet it required the use of special media servers running on special ports that required special firewall rules, etc. You’d then provide your visitors with multiple links to the videos with different qualities, Dial-up, ISDN, Broadband, T-1, etc. The problem here is that you were making your visitor think, they had to make sure they supported your media server format and then figure out what type of connection, etc. IIS Media Services (and Smooth Streaming) makes it easier for you (and your visitors). With Smooth Streaming you encode the video one time for the Internet and it automatically encodes the video at multiple bit-rates and you provide ONE link to your visitor. It automatically adjusts the quality of the video based on the speed of their network connection and should their network connection change speed then the video bit-rate is automatically adjusted to compensate for these changes.
That’s not exactly a full description of IIS Media Services but it gives you a general idea of the power of this new technology.
The components that make up IIS Media Services include:
- Bit Rate Throttling – throttles the amount of video that is sent over the Internet when someone requests a video from your web server. In the past if someone requested a 100MB video, your server would deliver the full 100MB of video. If this person only watched 10MB of this video file, you still sent out the full 100MB of video and YOU WERE BILLED for the full 100MB of video. Bit Rate Throttling, makes sure that doesn’t happen and only sends enough of video to keep the playback smooth. Best of all Bit Rate Throttling can be used with 11 common media formats including: .asf, .avi, .flv, .m4v, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .rm, .rmvb, .wma and .wmv.
- Web Playlists – Web Playlists allow you to create video playlists that will play your videos in the sequence you define and allow you to block the viewer from skipping past advertising content. It also allows you to obfuscate the actual location of your video content so visitors can’t just download your videos and includes the ability to import client-side playlists (.asx) and convert them to Web Playlists (.isx). Web Playlists also supports the same 11 common media formats.
- Smooth Streaming – provides adaptive streaming of on-demand media over HTTP to Silverlight and other clients over HTTP. With IIS Media Services 4.0 you can now also stream HTML5 videos to mobile devices from the likes of Apple and others (yes you can stream video to your iphone, ipad and I believe your android too!). What’s great about smooth streaming though is the user experience. In the past when you watched a video over the Internet from time to time the video would stutter or pause and have to ‘cache’. This was usually caused because of poor network connectivity, congestion or other problems. Today with Smooth Streaming the server automatically adjusts the quality of the video for you should you experience a network problem and keeps the moving streaming .. smoothly! (get it? Smooth Streaming..).
- Live Smooth Streaming – allows you to broadcast live events in the same manner as you would broadcast on-demand videos using Smooth Streaming. Unfortunately, we’ve decided to not enable Live Smooth Streaming support by default on AppliedI Labs accounts. If you have a need for it though please contact us to discuss your needs and intended uses.
All of this available with nothing more than a web server with the Media Services extension loaded on it. Best of all, it is supported in your AppliedI Labs environment today!
What’s new in IIS Media Services 4.0?
I decided to use the explanation of what’s new in IIS Media Services 4.0 from Alex Zambelli’s Silverlight Blog:
Though only a beta, this new release of IIS MS 4.0 delivers one particularly awesome feature: it can deliver Smooth Streaming H.264/AAC content to Apple “iDevices” such as the iPhone and iPad. How does it do that? Both formats support H.264 video and AAC audio; Smooth Streaming is based on MP4 (ISO Base Media) file format, while Apple Live HTTP Streaming is based on MPEG-2 TS file format. Smooth Streaming tends to use short GOP chunks (2 seconds), while Apple HTTP streaming uses long GOP (10 second) chunks. Therefore, converting between the 2 formats merely requires transmuxing A/V streams from one format to another, and this is exactly what IISMS 4.0 does: it dynamically transmuxes Smooth Streaming format into Apple’s Live HTTP Streaming format. No re-encoding.
If you want to learn more about IIS Media Services 4.0 I’d recommend the following links:
- The IIS.NET Media Services website.
- The IIS.NET Integrated Media Platform Overview.
- Alex Zambelli’s Blog
- Chris Knowlton’s Blog
- John Deutscher’s blog (John was especially helpful in helping me encode videos using the IIS Transform Manager and we’ll blog about that another time).
Why Video? Why should I want to do Video?
Today, successful online marketers are winning because of video websites like YouTube. With the abundance of broadband internet connections today, online video has become extremely high quality and thanks to new innovations in software and hardware just about anyone can shoot HD video and stream it on the Internet. But more important than that, search engines are including video results in their first page of results and it’s providing another way for you to gain access to the first page of search engines like Google. In fact, here’s a few statistics on YouTube from viralblog.com:
- YouTube exceeds 2 billion views a day. That’s nearly double the prime-time audience of all 3 major U.S. broadcast networks combined
- 24 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube!
- the Average person spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube
- More video is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than all 3 major US networks created in 60 years!
An Example of Smooth Streaming from the Labs
So this is article is about video and what you can do, so let’s jump right to the videos. If you visit: http://demo.web01.appliedi-labs.net/smoothstreaming/default.html you’ll see a video we recently recorded that is now playing back via Smooth Streaming (on the labs) in the silverlight player. But what if you’re reading this article from your new iPad? Don’t worry.. we have the same video available for Apple iDevices at: http://demo.web01.appliedi-labs.net/smoothstreaming/apple.html
But if you’ve ever watched a video about Smooth Streaming then you’ve no doubt seen Big Buck Bunny and we have available, from the Labs, the Big Buck Bunny UXSimulator. This video is played back in a special silverlight client:
What this client does is allows you to set the “Max Bit Rate” that the video can be downloaded at ranging from around 2.5Mbps down to about 300Kbps. It shows you the bandwidth rate at which the video is being downloaded at as well as the Frame Rate the video is playing back at. You can watch as it increases the bit rate initially and streams in full HD (and on my home connection at 24 fps) and then as you adjust the “Max Bit Rate” you can watch the video quality adjust based on the available bandwidth. What’s really nice though is that the video never hesitates, pauses or stutters..
So Go Try it Out!
This blog post is just a small sample of what can be done with your AppliedI-Labs account now that the IIS Media Services 4.0 Beta is available on it and there’s so much more you can do with it. If you haven’t signed up for the AppliedI-Labs yet, you can do so by signing up for the WebMatrix Hosting promotion we have going on today and get a full blown AppliedI-Labs account for free until the end of the year! If you deploy videos on your Labs account, please feel free to post a link to it in the comments of this blog!