VLC HowTo/Stream to a website (simple version)
|This page describes how to stream VLC to a website.
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The following “How To” describes an easy method of using VLC as a simple video streamer to enable a live video stream (Eg web-cam) via VLC to be streamed from a web server across a local LAN or the Internet. This method does also work for streaming files and other media, CD, DVD Etc Using this method of streaming from VLC allows the stream to be viewed from many media player clients other than VLC, which is often the case The content and description is aimed at those who only have an elementary knowledge of VLC, Networking, and Web authoring / HTML. This method is not the most sophisticated way to utilise VLC, but it does work well and has been tested on both LAN and WAN using VLC versions 0.9.8a, 0.9.9, 1.0.x. and 1.1.x
First, I have to make some assumptions and you will have to do some checks.
- You have a web site? If not see #Appendix at the bottom of this “HowTo”.
- Your website works OK and is on your own web server on the same machine as VLC?
- If your website is for external viewing (internet), you have a static IP and are not behind a proxy server?
- Your ISP is not blocking any ports
- Your firewall is not blocking any ports that you want to stream through. (Port 1234 for the example below)
I also assume you are using a NAT router with port forwarding for both the website and port to be used by the video stream. You have sufficient upstream bandwidth to support the size of video stream (See #Note 1)
This HowTo was written with previous versions in mind, so the descriptions of the VLC User Interface may differ slightly.
The following technique only works (tested so far) using the Windows encapsulation method asf/wmv (and asf/div3 VLC 1.0.0) selected from the Custom menu in the VLC Streaming Settings window. (other methods may work, I have not tested them all)
The following method/technique uses a “metafile” or redirector. You might want to check out the terms ”metafile”, “redirector” and “.asx” for further information
Firstly create a text file (Eg in Notepad) and copy and paste the following
<ASX version ="3.0">
<REF HREF="http://192.168.0.42:1234" />
Where the HREF value is your local LAN IP for a LAN ONLY website. Or The HREF value is your external (Internet) IP for a WAN ONLY website The port number (Eg :1234) is the port you will allocate in VLC Streaming settings window.
- Eg localstream1234.asx for the LAN version using your internal LAN IP
- Eg extstream1234.asx for the WAN version using your external WAN IP
Place these .asx files in your web server dir.
Create a links in a web page that point to the above .asx files. When the link is activated, a pop out player will stream. Or Eg Embed the stream on a page by the following in html
<embed src="localstream1234.asx” height=”370” width=”400">
To resize the video on the web page.
Now for VLC
First check your video source (TV card, Video capture device, webcam etc) is working OK and playing through VLC OK using the Play option Select Streaming. Select Source, Capture device for this example (and any necessary additional settings)
Check play locally box Check or select/add http box LEAVE the ADDRESS FIELD BLANK!! Change the port number to 1234 (for this example) Select “Windows asf/wmv” in the Custom dropdown selection box You may need to alter the TTL value to allow more buffering, a value of 0 or 1 should be OK (no more than 12 should be necessary) as this increases delay from live Then select Next and/or Stream VLC should open with a local display stream, which should display the stream and an overlay text displaying “streaming” for a few seconds.
If this does not work… Obviously… Something is wrong! First check the, Main Menu selection, Tools dropdown item “Messages” for suggestions as to the cause of error and also re check all the above instructions/settings.
If all is well, then. Now check out your LAN website from another machine on your LAN linking to (localstream1234.asx) The stream may take up to 30 secs to display. OK? If not then go back and check it all out again. Now get a friend/other to test out the WAN links from another external location. (See #Note 4)
I have found this method to work well on LAN and WAN It does not need VLC to be at the client end. It also does not need or employ any Java on the client or server machine. All it requires is the ability of a browser and its associated media player to be able to display the now universal ”.asf” stream which most can.
LAN tested with browsers:
- MS IE via MS Media Player
- Realplayer pointing at URL/xxxxxx.asx
- Firefox via MPlayer and MS Media Player
- Konquorer via Kaffeine
- Kaffeine pointing at URL/xxxxxxx.asx
WAN Tested with browsers:
- MS IE via MS Media Player
- Mozilla Firefox via MS Media Player and Real Player
And. Of course VLC Player in all cases.
I have successfully used this method of serving from MS Windows XPpro IIS 5.1 and Apache 2.2 and also Linux Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Apache 2.2
How much bandwidth do I need for a given size of video stream?
A very good question with no straight answer. It depends on how good the encoding/compression is and other factors like the amount of dynamic activity there is going on. It can vary quite a bit during the video sequence. “Pixel noise” generated by the camera and capture hardware can have an effect as well. An empirical method to determine this would be to run a test video across a LAN using the hardware and software and employing a network analyser to measure the bandwidth used.
Following on from Note 1, The overall system capability will also determine how effectively the video stream can be encoded, compressed and streamed.
The more system CPU power available the better! As a minimum The method above will just about work with a video size of 384x288 streamed from VLC using a totally dedicated server at 800MHz cpu + 512 MB RAM with good hardware in good light. Employing wmv/asf encoding and an uplink bandwidth sync of 832 (circa real700K) It is more than likely that you will have to adjust the picture size to the bandwidth you have available. Also note that USB video capture devices tend to use a great deal of CPU/system resource, so do check out how much spare capacity you have when everything is running, including your server when it is “Serving” a stream?
If you are using classical routing (No NAT) then the local and external IP will (probably) be the same unless you have an unusual configuration.
It is not usually possible to view the streaming output of a LAN from the WAN side. Also it is not usually possible to view the streaming going out on the WAN from the LAN side.
This makes testing more difficult! (The exception to this being note 3, that is the LAN and WAN having the same IP) I suggest that this streaming method is first tested and proved on your LAN. Then test out the WAN stream by calling someone to test it from a remote location on the www.
The choice of port you use is up to you. Port 1234 is as good as any for LAN (over 1024 is better), but a port at or above 8080 would be more appropriate for WAN (the Internet).
Do check that your chosen port is not being used by another application. First place to look would be in your firewall and router settings when you open that port for your stream.
Finally. If you have got all this working and want to try a slightly more sophisticated stream to website, follow the White Rabbit (link below)
What!!!? Web servers and streaming from website Not got a web site? Not got a web server? No clue where to start? Find the whole idea rather daunting? Well it is probably much easier than you thought. First you will need a web server. The following link is to “Apache httpd”. The Apache web server is as simple or as sophisticated as you want it to be. It is well documented on the web and many books are available. And it is free.
I would avoid use of MS IIS 5.1 as supplied with XP Pro on anything other than a LAN as it poses many security issues on the www for a novice.
Next you will need a web page creator/editor and some guidance on how to use it. Take a look here: Kompozer Tutorial.
Again Kompozer is free and very simple to use. The only html that will need to be added to make this work is the examples given previously.