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README.md

README

Stream-m is created to be an open source solution for streaming live video right into the web browser using the HTML5 video tag and Google's WebM or the prolific H.264 video format.

The current version is a working prototype, which showcases the main ideas. The main design goal is low resource usage. It has a web interface with a real-time bandwidth monitor (with the resolution of 1/10 of a second) for spotting network congestion.

Independent streams (channels) are supported.

FORMATS

Currently both WebM and H.264 are supported, although through slightly different workflows.

WebM

Google's WebM was the first format supported by the server. Publishing of streams can be done through the HTTP interface (see below for details).

Putting the stream URL in a <video> tag should work in all WebM-capable platforms.

H.264

H.264 with AAC is the second addition. Current video publishing solutions (like the Open Broadcasting Software) were created to be compatible with Adobe's Flash Media Server. To take advantage of these tools it was necessary for Stream-m to "speak flash", therefore a minimal RTMP server implementation was written to handle incoming streams.

Current RTMP support is limited to receiving streams from the publishing software (like OBS). Consuming (playing) streams through RTMP is not supported at the moment.

Playing H.264 live streams has been tested and working in Google Chrome so far (Android version included). Directly putting the stream's URL into a <video> tag won't work with this format. It will on the other hand, by using the MediaSource API (currently used by YouTube's HTML5 video player).

A demo player is included, which will play the stream with the name first (the default name in the sample configuration file). The demo can be accessed (by default) on the following URL:

http://localhost:8080/player-demo/player.html

RUNNING THE SERVER

java -jar stream-m.jar <configfile>

Before running the server you should edit the sample config file (change password and choose a stream name). So you will end up with something like:

java -jar stream-m.jar server.properties

HTTP INTERFACE

Streams are identified by a unique name. The program refers to this as StreamID or stream name. Note that the < and > characters are used just to indicate substitution, they must not be included in the resulting URL.

Note: Many parts of this section are only relevant for streams using the WebM format. For peculiarities of H.264 streams please see the specific section above.

The default port for the built-in HTTP server is 8080.

The name and password of each stream is defined in the config file. A stream must be sent with POST or PUT method to the following URL to start a broadcast:

/publish/<streamname>?password=<streampass>

A stream can be accessed (watched) on the following URL. You may want to insert this URL into a HTML5 <video> tag:

/consume/<streamname>

To support playback with the MediaSource API (requesting fragments through XMLHttpRequest) additional URL parameters can influence playback. Currently supported GET parameters:

name default effect
sendHeader true Sets whether to send header.
singleFragment false If enabled only a single fragment is sent.
fragmentSequence n/a Output will only start when a fragment with the given sequence number is available.

A snapshot (the first key frame of the last completed fragment) can be downloaded in WebP format on the URL:

/snapshot/<streamname>

Real-time information can be acquired through an AJAX based console (giving the name and password for the chosen stream on the UI):

/console/client.html

RTMP INTERFACE

Currently the server only contains one RTMP application. Listening on the name publish it will take a stream, assemble frames then pass them to the usual HTTP infrastructure.

The default port for the built-in RTMP server is 8081.

The endpoint of the publishing software needs to have the following format:

/publish/<streamname>?<streampass>

FRAGMENTS

Live streams consist of fragments (self-contained units of frames which are not referencing any frame outside the fragment). A fragment always starts with a key-frame (intra-frame) therefore it is important that the encoder put in key frames regularly as this determines the size of the fragments.

The ideal fragment size is around 200 kBytes (or 1600 kbits). The key frame interval can be calculated with this formula:

1600k / <bitrate> * <framerate>

e.g. if you are publishing a 500 kbit stream with 16 fps, then: 1600 / 500 * 16 = 51.2 (or 1600000 / 500000 * 16 = 51.2) so every 52nd video frame should be a key frame.

The server splits fragments when it seems necessary. A soft minimum for frame size is currently 100k (no new fragment is started if a new key frame arrives within 100 kBytes from a previous key frame).

The hard maximum for a fragments is 2048 kBytes. This is twice the size needed to hold 2 seconds of a 4096 kbit/sec HD stream.

PUBLISHING WEBM

These are minimal examples for mainly debugging purposes. They use 16 frames per second. If your wecam can not produce 16 frames (due to low lighting conditions for example) you will experience all sort of weirdness in the player. If you are using these commands please check this before any other things.

Adding a second instance if -r 16 before -g 52 can in some cases remedy this issue it can also help hide the problem so I would recommend against it.

Assumptions:

  • server name: example.com
  • stream name: first
  • stream password: secret

On Windows Systems

An FFMpeg example on Windows:

ffmpeg -f dshow -s 320x240 -r 16 -i ^
video="USB2.0 PC CAMERA":audio="Microphone (High Definition Audio Device)" ^
-g 52 -acodec libvorbis -ab 64k -vcodec libvpx -vb 448k ^
-f webm http://192.168.92.129:8080/publish/first?password=secret

On Linux Systems

FFmpeg can be used with the following command line (see assumptions above):

ffmpeg -f video4linux2 -s 320x240 -r 16 -i /dev/video0 -f oss -i /dev/dsp \
-g 52 -acodec libvorbis -ab 64k -vcodec libvpx -vb 448k \
-f webm http://example.com:8080/publish/first?password=secret

PUBLISHING H.264

On Windows Systems

Even though I recommend using OBS or similar product over FFmpeg, it is a good place to start debugging if something does not go accordint to plan. Your devices will have a qunique Windows name, you can list them with the following command.

c:\> ffmpeg -list_devices true -f dshow -i dummy
[dshow @ 0000014a81b3a1c0] DirectShow video devices (some may be both video and audio devices)
[dshow @ 0000014a81b3a1c0]  "USB2.0 PC CAMERA"
[dshow @ 0000014a81b3a1c0]     Alternative name "@device_pnp_\\?\usb#vid_1908&pid_2311&mi_00#7&281f4d21&0&0000#{65e8773d-8f56-11d0-a3b9-00a0c9223196}\global"
[dshow @ 0000014a81b3a1c0] DirectShow audio devices
[dshow @ 0000014a81b3a1c0]  "Microphone (High Definition Audio Device)"
[dshow @ 0000014a81b3a1c0]     Alternative name "@device_cm_{33D9A762-90C8-11D0-BD43-00A0C911CE86}\wave_{2D2C3430-0307-4BDD-A80A-E394F1A56900}"

In my case the webcam is called USB2.0 PC CAMERA and the microphone Microphone (High Definition Audio Device). I can broadcast using these devices with the following command.

ffmpeg -f dshow -s 320x240 -r 16 ^
-i video="USB2.0 PC CAMERA":audio="Microphone (High Definition Audio Device)" ^
-g 52 -strict experimental -acodec aac -ab 56k -vcodec libx264 -vb 452k ^
-profile:v high -pix_fmt yuv420p -level 40 -r 16 ^
-f flv "rtmp://example.com:8081/publish/first?secret"

On Linux Systems

The following command will stream media from your the system's webcam and microphone. Note that the High profile and level 4.0 is used. Also tested and working is Medium profile with level 3.1.

ffmpeg -f video4linux2 -s 320x240 -r 16 -i /dev/video0 -f oss -i /dev/dsp \
-g 52 -strict experimental -acodec aac -ab 56k -vcodec libx264 -vb 452k \
-profile:v high -level 40 -r 16 \
-f flv "rtmp://example.com:8081/publish/first?secret"

TESTING THE INSTALLATION

You can test the installation with the downloadable sample video, univac.webm. The file is encoded with an average of 512Kbps. FFmpeg can send the stream in real-time (real bit rate) to the server with the following command:

ffmpeg -re -i univac.webm -vcodec copy -acodec copy \
-f webm http://localhost:8080/publish/first?password=secret

You can watch it by positioning your (WebM-capable) browser to the following address:

http://localhost:8080/consume/first

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An HTML5-compatible live streaming server supporting the WebM and H.264 formats.

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