What Is Streaming
Streaming is the process of watching or listening to media over a live internet connection as opposed to downloading files to a device and playing them locally. Streaming provides the opportunity to conveniently have numerous titles available from a variety of sources without having to tie up large amounts of storage on your device. A disadvantage of this service is the requirement for a stable, always-on internet connection and of course, the costs associated with the data requirements for streaming, most notably over cellular connections. Nevertheless, streaming is rapidly becoming the most popular way to consume audio/visual media. Think back just a few years ago when we would purchase and download music titles from our favorite artist. Today, we pay a modest monthly fee for a subscription service to receive thousands, even millions of titles, far more than we could have amassed previously.
Post House Production has been producing media titles for over 30 years. We have provided media content on every format imaginable, from VHS video tape, 8-Track and Cassette audio tapes, to CD’s and DVD’s. We have always tried to predict and provide the most requested media formats for the future. The ultimate standard today is to produce and deliver content as a digital file. We’ll discuss more on this topic in another post, but for now, our focus is to discuss how to listen and view our currently produced titles using streaming services. We will be streaming many of our future events “Live” and then later replacing the recorded title with an edited and downloadable version.
Popular Streaming Services
More than likely you have probably heard of many of the major players in the streaming business such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Spotify to name a few. These companies have made large investments into platforms that can deliver a seamless streaming experience. They have developed dedicated applications that are readily available on streaming devices such as Apple TV, ROKU, Chromecast Amazon Fire TV Stick and many Smart TV’s. Their dedicated apps can also be downloaded on tablets and mobile devices for convenient on-the-go streaming. On the other side of the spectrum, there are countless independent producers delivering streaming content using a much simpler method – they stream directly to a website or Social Media platform using a streaming media service provider. At Post House Production, we fall into this latter category as an independent producer. Our Streaming Media Content lives on our website at phpavsuperstore.com.
Most of the video titles we produce are for local special events and they have a hyper-local audience as opposed to a large public audience. For this reason, we have developed a membership style website that allows for private viewing of our titles. In the event that we do need to deliver to a large public audience, we can also post our stream to popular social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Vimeo but for the most part, our streaming content will reside under the “My Galleries” section on our phpavsuperstore.com website.
How To Stream
Begin by navigating your computer or mobile browser to phpavsuperstore.com/my-account and log in to your existing account or register for a new account. When you purchase a special event title from us, whether it is a physical product such as a DVD or a digital download, you are automatically enrolled into the private “membership” for this title. You will find a post or article for the special event under the “My Galleries” tab of the website. After your purchase, please verify that you can see the related post for your event here. If you purchase multiple events from Post House Production, you will find all your titles sorted by event date under this tab. If you do not see any posts or articles under this tab, make sure that you are logged in with the account that was originally used to purchase the title. There is a single “free” post under the “My Galleries” tab for testing your streaming capabilities. Be sure to use the test clip before purchasing a “streaming only” event title. Following are some recommended solutions for viewing our streaming content.
- The most obvious and logical choice is to log in to your account and view your content on a personal computer. Click on the “My Galleries” tab in the menu section and locate the post or article for the event that you wish to view. The article will have information about the event and the embedded video will appear toward the bottom. Click the play button on the video title. At the bottom right of the video, there is an icon that when clicked, it will expand the image to full screen. You can escape this view mode by clicking the [ESC] key on the keyboard. While this method may be fine for solo viewing, you probably don’t want the family huddled around a single small computer screen. If your computer (or laptop) has an available external video port, you can connect a cable directly to your larger screen television. Most late model PC’s and laptops have either an HDMI port or a Display Port video connection. You can readily purchase an HDMI cable or a cable with Display Port -> HDMI connection. Be sure to place your laptop into the mode that will mirror the screen to the external video port. This is usually done with a function key combination.
- Use your mobile device or tablet to view your content. Use the mobile browser of our choice (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) to browse to our website. Log into your account and visit the “My Galleries” tab. Remember that on mobile devices, the primary menu will appear as a hamburger icon. Locate your event article and click on the video to play. Click on the full screen icon at the lower right of the video and rotate your device to view full screen. There are many external cables and adapters available that will allow you to connect your mobile phone or tablet to your larger television screen through the HDMI input.
- Some Gaming devices such as Microsoft Xbox and Sony Play Station 4 have built in web browsers that allow for viewing websites and streaming content. If you have one of these devices already connected to your television, locate the built-in web browser app on your device and visit our website. Follow the same steps as for a computer to log in to your account and choose your title. Add a wireless keyboard to your gaming system and you will have a great tool for surfing the web.
- Consider adding a Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) or mini-PC to your entertainment system. As the popularity of streaming content increases, there is a growing trend to purchase a dedicated computer for the family room television. There is no need to purchase a full-sized desktop PC for this as there are numerous puck sized mini-PC models available. The Apple Mac Mini is a very popular choice for a HTPC. There is even a complete Windows 10 PC on a device not much larger than a fat USB flash drive. Just add wireless keyboard (with a trackpad instead of a mouse) and you have a great media platform. Google offers the Chromebit device. Although this is not a full computer system, it is great for online services. It features the Chrome browser for viewing and streaming media content. These min-PC devices start under $100. Here are some links to the more popular items.
- There are many popular dedicated streaming content devices available on the market right now; ROKU, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick to name a few. Many of these devices cost under $50 and some of these have their own unique method for display content or rather “casting” content from mobile and tablet devices. Unfortunately, getting the exact recipe using a combination of Android devices, iOS devices, mobile apps, and your choice of streaming device can be downright frustrating. Technology and competition are keeping these devices from being the straightforward easy experience it should be. Here are a few methods that we have tried and tested with these dedicate streaming devices.
5a. Our family uses iPhones and we have an Apple TV device. Apple TV features Airplay 2. Airplay is Apple’s proprietary technology for “casting” content from mobile devices to a receiver. I have found this to be an exceptionally easy method for getting web media content on the Big Screen. Simply navigate to an embedded video on a website and click play. Look for the Airplay casting icon at the bottom of the video. Make sure that you have Airplay turned on in the general setting of your phone. Airplay 2 technology is also available on some Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio Smart TV’s and some higher end Media Receivers from Onkyo, Denon and Yamaha.
5b. I recently purchased a Google Chromecast device for testing. One unique feature of this device is the ability to cast content from a local PC running the Google Chrome browser. Other browsers may be able to support this feature with an extension add on. Make sure that your computer and Chromecast device are on the same computer network. Locate the video on the browser and right-click or choose “cast” from the top right menu of the browser. The Chromecast device took all of 5 minutes to set up and in minutes I was viewing a stream from our PHP website to the Television. This was all too easy. The only downside to this setup is that my computer is in another room which makes controlling video playback a little troublesome.
5c. I became quite discouraged at the complications involved with streaming web content using one of the dedicated streaming devices. However, I feel that I have recently discovered what I call a game changer of an application to close this gap. Start by choosing a streaming device of your choice and connect it to your TV. All the popular devices are in play here, choose between Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV or, it is possible that your TV already has a receiving technology already built in. Next, download the free app on your mobile or tablet devices called “Web Video Cast.” It is available for both Android and iOS devices. The “Web Video Cast” app is a special type of web browser that automatically detects embedded video on websites and allows them to be “cast” to your streaming device. The app is free but features ads as you use it. (Not during the video stream but just within the app as you use it.) You can choose to remove the ads for a one-time fee of $4.99. I feel that it is well worth the purchase. When I ran the app the first time, it discovered multiple receiving technologies in my home. Two of them were already on my television. It turns out that I would not have even needed to purchase the Chromecast device after all.
Streaming technology changes daily and it is like a moving target. We will continue to test and discuss the best strategy for viewing streaming content. For those who skim and skip to the end, here is the quick takeaway from this article. If you have an iPhone or iPad and Apple TV (or a receiving device with Airplay 2 installed) then you are good to go with nothing else to purchase or set up.
Otherwise, check to see if your TV is smart and has either Roku or Chromecast built in. If not, you will need to purchase an outboard streaming device. Choose from Roku, Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick for under $50. The Apple TV device is currently $149.99. Download the free “Web Video Cast” application to your Android or iOS mobile or tablet device. Use this browser/app to log in to your account at phpavsuperstore.com. Locate your video title and play. The app will detect the video stream and “cast” it to your streaming device. If you choose the Google Chromecast device, remember that this device can also “cast” from a local PC running the Chrome Browser. For this reason, and for the fact that it is currently selling for $35 makes it our top pick for a local streaming device. Happy Streaming!