Tech Blog

Streaming Video in the Alma Digital Repository

The Alma digital repository has supported video playback via the capabilities of the browser. This means that video files had to be prepared and deposited into the repository in a supported format. In addition, large video files were not always delivered in an optimal resolution dependent on the user’s bandwidth.

It’s now possible to leverage recently released features to make any video available to users, regardless of the format and the size. The features utilize the new Media Conversion Job to produce representations optimized for viewing on the web. The job runs in two modes: one which creates a browser-compatible file (mpeg-4), and one which creates a version ready to be streamed to users.

Converting videos to browser-compatible format

I’ve created a digital representation with a single file in .avi format. This format cannot be viewed natively by modern browsers, so my viewing experience is less than ideal:

We create a set of digital titles and run the Media Conversion Job on that set. In the processing settings, I select MPEG-4, and then run the job. The job may take some time to create the new files.

When the job is complete, I have a new representation on my BIB record with a file which can be viewed in my browser.

So that’s a better experience already. However, the file is still rather large and doesn’t begin playing right away as my browser has to download the beginning of the video. Also, if I try to jump to the middle of the video it takes a long time to buffer and begin playing again.

Converting videos to streaming format

The Media Conversion Job can be configured to create a representation optimized for streaming using the HLS format. Using this format provides a much better user experience- the video begins streaming right away, and the user can jump to any part of the video with little delay.

The downside to this approach is that the representation takes up more space in my repository as seen in the image below:

These new features provide a great delivery experience for your users when viewing videos stored in your Alma digital repository. Use this link to view the sample referenced in this blog.

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