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November 11, 2007

Streaming Flash Video with open-source software

As we use more and more video clips in our learning modules, the advantages of Flash video have become more apparent. The Flash plugin comes pre-installed on most browsers. Flash is truly cross-platform and cross-browser compatible. Flash scripting works on all platforms, so you can control the video and add cuepoints to the video where required to control navigation through the learning module. For this reason I've been looking at using the Flash Media Server.

However, until recently, the cost of licensing the Flash Media Server software has been prohibitive. An article on Forbes.com notes that the cost for streaming Flash video is sometimes more expensive than it is worth. Fortunately, there is now an open source alternative to Flash Media Server: "Red5," which is not only free but does more than Adobe's Flash Media Server Software. In fact it does more than several Adobe server products put together.

Red5 is an open source Flash Server written in Java that supports streaming audio and video, recording client video streams, remote shared objects (a flash feature that allows collaborative multi-user applications), live stream publishing (webcasting) and much more.

Starting out with simple streaming using the Red5 server:

  1. First go to Red5 Downloads Page and download the latest version for your server platform.
  2. A good tutorial on installing Red5 on Windows is available here. To get to the correct article, find the navigation bar at the bottom of the page, and click to page 2. Click on the button for Red5 Flash Media Server.
  3. Find the file "red5.properties". On my server it is at:
    /serverRoot/Red5/conf/red5.properties

    Change the http.host line to read:

    http.host = your.server.com
    rtmp.host_port = 0.0.0.0:1935
    http.host = your.server.com
    http.port = 5080
    rtmpt.host = 0.0.0.0
    rtmpt.port = 8088
    debug_proxy.host_port = 1936
    proxy_forward.host_port = 127.0.0.1:5080
    rtmp.threadcount = 4

    To stream a video, just put the FLV video file into any of the streams directories. For example:

    /Red5/webapps/oneOfTheApps/streams/yourVideo.flv

    Access the stream by using a flash based video player. A simple example is available for download:

    Download example player file

    The relevant actionscript is in frame1 of the main timeline.



    Additional Resources
  4. General Flash Video information:
    Best Practices for Delivery: Flash Video
  5. Additional Information:
    Subscribe to the Red5 mailing list
  6. Another Red5 forum is located here

  7. Security:
    To see all Red5 mailing list posts on the topic of security, paste the following query into a Google search box:
    site:http://osflash.org/pipermail/red5_osflash.org/ security
  8. Performance:
    Stress test results of publishing a live stream to many clients (May 2007)

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Posted by emeiselm at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)