If you've established a connection to the Internet using a broadband connection, then you should be able to take advantage of the ability to view video segments over the Internet.
You can still view video sequences if you connect to the Internet using a dial-up connection, but the resolution is so small and pixilated that it is difficult to see.
Internet video is made possible using software that runs within the Web browser or in a separate Media Player. One such example is the Flash plug-in that enables a browser to view video segments. Other plug-ins are available and typically installed with their corresponding media player. The following video formats are common on the Web:
Microsoft Video (AVI)
Windows Media Format (WMF)
Apple's QuickTime (MOV)
Motion Pictures Export Group (MPEG)
Adobe Flash (SWF)
The Flash format can do much more than just play video. It is an interactive format used to create games and applications.
You can download short movie segments in their entirety, but longer segments often are easier to view if the video is streamed to the computer. When a video file is streamed, an initial portion of the file downloads before it starts. The movie then plays while the next section of the file is downloaded. By keeping enough of the file in a buffer to allow the video segment to play continuously, the streaming process stays one step ahead of the viewer.
Once a video segment uploads to a Web server, anyone connecting and viewing the streamed video segment needs only a Web browser with the right software installed and a fast enough connection to view the video.
To view a streaming video segment on the Internet, follow these steps:
Locate a Web site on the Internet that offers video segments, such as http://www.apple.com/trailers.
Click on a video link in the Web page. The video is offered in several different sizes (Small, Medium, Large, and IPod) depending on the speed of your connection.
Click on the size that corresponds to your Internet connection speed. If the required software isn't available, then a dialog box appears asking if you want to download the software to play the video.
Click Yes to download the required software. The software downloads and installs automatically and the video segment starts playing.
Another popular way to view video is to download video files to a portable media player such as an iPod. These devices can hold audio and video files and play them on demand. These portable devices allow you to take media clips with you wherever you go. Figure 43.2 shows a media player created by Creative Labs.
Figure 43.2: Media players, like this Creative Labs device, allow you to view video segments on the go.
When you select to download a video clip to a media player, the clip saves to a directory where the media player can access it. The clip waits in this directory until the media player is connected and the player is synchronized with the computer. This causes all the downloaded clips to transport over to the media player where they can play on demand.