VORG #34 sept-oct-nov-dec 2001

Streaming Media - 'watson come here!'

It’s easy to understand why the words “streaming media” have, in a few short years, gone from sounding something like a small river in Greece to an entertainment industry buzzword giant. Streaming Media makes the Internet transportation of Audio / Video a financial practicality. And for a performer, a career necessity. So, let’s rip off it’s covers and take a look inside.

Audio and Video files are big. In their native digital state, they are huge. The problem: How to get A/V files across the Internet quickly and efficiently? The solutions:


Who cares. Send the file without regard to the time it takes to receive it.


Time is money. Change the file (“Encode” it) so that it’s smaller, and quicker to receive.

Since the ‘A’ solution, also called downloading, was effective but inefficient (time is money), ‘B’ came alive. So in the early 90s engineers took the digital A/V files, stripped them as bare as they could, and shot them down the Internet highway. WOW!

WATSON, Come Here! I
just downloaded Return of the Jedi from my friend in Arkansas in under an hour! And it looked terrible, a lot like the first phonograph recording sounded. So ‘C’ was invented:


Change the file less drastically, and don’t receive it all at once.

And that’s what Streaming Media is. An Audio and or Video file, broken down (“encoded”) into it’s smallest useable digital bits without sacrificing the quality necessary to enjoy it, sent (“streamed”) down the Internet, received (“decoded”) and viewed with your computer in little pieces (“packets”) at a time, yet seamlessly “streamed” together by your computer’s media player.

I’ll explain more about the ‘encoding’ and ‘decoding’ processes, and the software programs used to view the streaming files, in the next article: “Yes!! W-A-T-E-R!! Mrs. Keller - Come quick!”

- Sandy Kaye,