Comparing Web video Technologies, from Flash to HTML5 to Silverlight.


I went to Flash on the Beach in Brighton two weeks ago and attended some incredibly entertaining talks but with out a doubt the most valuable session for my Job was delivered by Robert Reinhardt when he discussed video technologies in HTML5, Flash and Silverlight it was entitled: “Comparing Web video Technologies, from Flash to HTML5 to Silverlight”.

One of the points that really resonated with me was his insistence that the Video technology that you use on your website should be determined by your analytic data. You should use analytics to figure out who your target audience is and what devices you need to target.

With the data in hand you should ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly:

  • Does the project have budget to accommodate multiple deployment strategies
  • What personal do you have to complete the job.
  • If you are putting video into a project what sort of connection speeds are the clients going to have.
  • What are your encoding options, existing resources with the client…. Existing CDN architecture.
  • Do you need content Protection.

You should be accurate and honest with your conclusion, for example:

Accurate: I want to reach desktop browsers and iDevices

In-accurate: I want to reach HTML5 audiences

The rest of the talk focused on the various three technologies and he talked about the various pros and cons to consider when choosing a video technology

Robert discussed the various issues that we currently face with HTML5 video:

  • Full screen is sucky in HTML5
  • If we don’t have browser consistency
  • We don’t have full screen consistently available in HTML5 and you want a consistent experience.
  • Cross domain access in the HTML5 spec dictates access policy in Response Header…. If you do cross domain access this is a problem if you want to host in a cloud like Amazon.
  • You cant use Alpha Channel Masking.
  • Live streaming is not going to be in the standard.

On the plus side of Flash and Silverlight he talked about the following

  • You can Embed Cue points in your video file.
  • You have Web Cam/ Mic access
  • Near uninterruptible playback.
  • Near instant seek
  • Video Slicing
  • DRM – Big companies require the use of DRM.

It was also nice to hear a little Silverlight love, he referenced the Steam Hardware surveys latest adoption statistics pointing out that Silverlight growth was amazing with overall deployment at 50%. He also pointed out the potential opportunity with Silverlight and Windows Phone 7, also suggesting that Windows Phone 7 will be successful if Microsoft can connect the platform well with the XBOX and gaming Ecosystem.

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