Now that we are all big audio and video producers, it is time to get these
files up on our site. As discussed earlier in this tutorial, one of biggest
challenges with the multimedia files has always been keeping the file sizes down
to the dull roar. Recently,the streaming media has eased the pressure to cut the corners
from the files. Streaming lets the users play a clip as it would downloads, alleviating
a need to wait for an entire thing to arrive before enjoying it. After struggling with the
embedded QuickTimes for many years,
Here we will focus on encoding a files using the RealNetwork's RealMedia suite. Why? Well,
to ensure our media can be viewed by maximum number of the users, we need to
encode it for most popular player in the market (i.e. Real).
And it is no coincidence that this is a group of tools we use and like.
However, if we opt to use something else, the basic concepts we cover here still should
Before we do begin, let us take the quick look at the Real's suite of products.
The RealPlayer (the beta version is available for free) is a helper application that
attaches itself to your browser, remora-fashion, and is invoked by an HTTP request
for a RealMedia file. This launches the Player and lets you see/hear the file.
Essentially, a RealEncoder takes our file and do squashes it. By
stripping out an extraneous layers of the information from the audio or video clip,
the RealEncoder do reduces the file size. Back in a day of RealAudio 1.0, this process
made the audio file sound like it would been run through the Microphone: terrible.
Since then, RealNetworks has built the number of options into the 5.0 RealEncoder that
allow us to offer a high-bandwidth and low-bandwidth options on the site. Resulting
compression algorithms are leap-and-bound improvement over the 1.0.
Do the job right, and the media will make it look/sound really good.
A Finishing Touch: Encode the File
First, open a RealEncoder. Select the digitized audio file from a dialog box,
and then select the codec (the compression/decompression algorithm). A 5.1 encoder
have dozen codecs to choose from the "Audio 14.4 Music-mono" to the "Audio 56k
Music-Stereo," so just do select one that best describes the file.
Be sure to experiment several codecs. If we are not happy with one, try another.
As we play around with the codecs, it is nice to use the clip that accurately represents
the content but is only about 3 to 5 seconds long (since encoding process does take a
It is a good idea to offer the audio file in a different compression versions. Make each
of the version available by the different links -- "14.4 bps," "28.8 bps," and "56k-ISDN
or above that. "It is understood that a feeble-connection version will sound the dirt-poor,
but the T1 connection can get a in-stereo, Rolls-Royce version. Number of surfers
sitting at the end of the T1s or the T3s is surprisingly high now days, so the
developers interested in maintaining the street cred must provide a best possible
quality files for bandwidth-endowed surfers in addition to the low-bandwidth options.
After creating all the files, all they need is a ".ra" suffix and they are done.
Other than naming the file with a ".rm" suffix (versus the ".ra"), encoding a video for
RealPlayer is almost identical to audio procedure.
As with audio, as recommend spending some time with experimenting different codec
settings. The "wizard" will make most of a the decisions for us, or can use the
"advanced" option if we do want more control. And, as with the audio, you must provide
the users with the range of the options -- like "talking the heads
stereo 56k-ISDN." or "talking the heads mono 28.8"
Something else to note: The latest versions of the RealEncoder allow us to capture the video
directly. Although this seems like the cool feature, be careful-- it will leave us
without the digital master of our original video file, which is a pretty sketchy
(unless a RealMedia product is the only thing we care about).
Now Put a File to (Em)bed
It is the time to publish a file in the Web page. But first we need to
decide which route we want to take: One which is tad complicated but free? Or the
one-click easy for $50?.
To go a free route, start by moving a ".ra" files to the Web server using the FTP
program, specifying the "raw data" as a media type. drop all of them into their own
directory. Now, in a Web page we are using to feature a sound files, embed the following:
Listen to Tim:
<p><a href="stuff/banjo_1.ra">14.4 bps</a>
<br><a href="stuff/banjo_2.ra">28.8 bps</a>
We may want to make the glossy button in a Photoshop; it is guaranteed to get the users
a-clicking. If we want to go to the art route, simply use a image tag in the place of a
text in the example given above.
<img border=0 height=22 width=62 alt="Listen to Tim at 14.4 bps"