"Streaming" MP4s

Just  doing some testing with MP4 video vs FLV as the MP4 seems to produce a lot better quality for the same bandwidth.

From what I can tell though it seems that MP4s do not "stream" from an http server like FLVs do when using the Articulate player. I haven't poked into it too much but it feels like the whole MP4 downloads before the video starts playing. Is my impression correct? Do FLVs "stream" with the articulate player but MP4s do not?

11 Replies
Phil Mayor

Both MP4s and FLVs can be streamed only if you use a streaming media server.  Otherwise a FLV will play via progressive download and an MP4 should be able to be progressively download but is dependent on the certin information being available at the beginning of the file or you need to wait for the mp4 to download in full.

hth

Phil

Brian Sullivan

I meant progressive download -- that is why I put the "stream" in quotes. From Brian's posting it seems that MP4s behave differently than FLVs. 

Somewhat disappointing. I was hoping to use MP4s to get better quality video but the lack of "streaming"/progressive downloading makes using them less than attractive.

Is this just a function of the Articulate player? Or is there something about MP4 format that makes this not possible? Or is it possible to do it with some MP4s (dependent on ? ... the program creating them?)

Phil Mayor

sorry

it depends on the way the MP4 is encoded, there is a group of bytes called "atom moov" that tell the player how to progressive download (length format etc).  A lot of encoding software places this at the end of the file hence mp4 needs to download fully.  You can get software to move these to the start of the file and it should them progressive download

Phil

Brian Sullivan

No matter what I do (including apparently moving the "atom moov" to the front using the program Phil suggested) it seems I cannot get MP4s to "stream" from an http server in Articulate. I don't know if this just the Articulate player or is a more widespread issue (maybe a http server issue?)

FLVs do however "stream". I guess I will have to stick with FLV files. Too bad -- the visual quality to bandwidth usage of MP4 is just so much better.

Phil Mayor

Hi Brian

It is possible the articulate player is hardwired to down load mp4s, I am sure I have read somewhere that earlier versions of flash had issues with mp4s.  If this is the case it is potentially something that can be fixed via an update (its time to request a feature).

Have you tried using a swf mp4 player and pointing it your file via an xml.  this is what we do for all our flvs via a media server.  But there is no reason why this would not work for progressive download.  Unfortunately  our player doesnt  supports mp4s.

Phil 

Tammy Smith

Brian, I, too, am wanting to use an MP4 for my presentation.  Are you saying, though, that the video won't play when the presentation arrives at that slide until the entire MP4 is completely downloaded?  So, does it stick at that loading bar until the video is entirely downloaded?  If so, this is a major setback and I, too, might have to stick with FLV's.  Although, I am looking into this new custom preloader that is supposed to preload MP4s in the background of the presentation.  I've talked with a few people about it and they say it works really well.  Here is the link to the new preloader.  http://elearningenhanced.com/products/bulk-articulate-preloader It costs $50, though, and I don't know if you want to spend anything for your presentation.  $50 isn't that much, but sometimes buying a piece of software just isn't feasible.

If you want to read more about user's experiences, you can visit the thread I started here:  http://community.articulate.com/forums/t/1546.aspx

Gerry is a great help!!

Tammy Smith

Well that bites...  Hmm...  Well, I hope you get everything working, Brian!  I agree that MP4s are awesome in quality and are a small file size.  I'm working with the converting my .mov files to MP4s, and they worked at first, but ever since I tried doing the H246 option (or whatever the name is), no MP4s work now in Format Factory.  But I'm like you.  MP4s look so nice and are so much smaller than FLVs.  Here's hoping we get them working and can use them in our presentations!  Yours is a different problem than mine, but both deal with MP4s.