Streaming Video from IIS


One of the striking developments over the past couple of years has been the convergence of using Flash Video (.flv) files to provide streamed content.  Perhaps others will have an accurate perspective on the emergence of this format but my experience has come from its use on YouTube persumably because of its utility as a streamable format.  What’s made it real to me is the availability of tools that can generate .flv files. 

Camtasia 

The recent decision by TechSmith to release a genuinely free version of Camtasia 3.x (complete with license key) means that it’s easy to create high quality .flv files to, for example, demonstrate products or provide support.  Linux users have been able to use the open source FFMPEG to create .flv files for a long time because on Linux FFMPEG is integrated with the X windowing system.  On Windows the choices were not so clear.  FFMPEG has long been an option because it can convert the output of the available screen recorders to Flash Video (among many other formats).

But the availability of Camtasia has shown me that .flv files can be created directly.  Great! And I’ll be paying for an upgrade to the current version soon.

Streaming

The problem (as far as I can tell) with the .flv output generated by Camtasia is it contains no metadata so clients cannot begin playing the .flv content until the whole file is downloaded which is no improvement over using other formats.  Obviously YouTube streams content so it has to be possible and it turns out that the key requirement is to add metadata to the .flv file.  The tool I’ve used for streaming is the open source FLVTool2.  This tool allows you to output existing metadata using the command:

FLVTool2 -P <filename>.flv

To add enough basic metadata so that streaming is enabled, use the command:

FLVTool2 -U <filename>.flv

IIS

Of course streaming is not going to happen unless your server is able to serve up the requested .flv file.  Our site uses IIS 6.0 which does not allow access to files unless a MIME tag has been setup.

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