Friday, February 03, 2006

Free Advice for Streaming Video Engineers

When you watch a streamed video, software video players need to do two operations: 1. they need to transfer the video from the Internet to your computer and 2. they need to play the video on your computer.

The software engineers who write these streaming video players try to time things so both operations complete at the same time--that is, the last frame is played immediately after it is transferred and the process is complete. They do this so you don't have to wait for the whole thing to download before you watch it.

The problem is, even though streaming video has been around for many years, nobody seems to be able to get it right. The result is choppy video with repeated "buffering" pauses. It's hard to think of anything more annoying (at the moment all I can come up with is Carrot Top).

I can understand getting it wrong the first time. Internet traffic might be hard to predict, but getting it wrong two, three, four and ten times? What?!?!?

Clearly this is a case where a skilled application of statistics could improve things markedly. If nothing else, when you get it wrong the first time, maybe you could double your download time estimate the second time around.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home