What is RTMP Ingest and Why is it Important for Live Streaming?
Live streaming is such a valuable tool for schools, businesses, and other professional organizations. Many professional broadcasters use online video players that are equipped with the tools you need to broadcast professionally with very little technical know-how.
Even though online video players automate most of the live streaming process, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes. Several different protocols and systems work together to bring broadcasts to life.
Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) is one of these protocols that make affordable live streaming possible and simple. The role of this protocol has evolved over time, but today, it is primarily used for RTMP ingest allowing users to take advantage of the many low-cost or open-source live encoders that are available.
In this post, we are going to get to the bottom of what RTMP ingest is and why it’s important to streaming live video. We will start out by reviewing the RTMP protocol and busting a major myth about it. From there, we will explain what RTMP ingest is and see how it differs from RTMP streaming.
What is RTMP?
RTMP is an important live streaming protocol.
It was created by Macromedia, which was purchased by Adobe, with the purpose of distributing video, audio, and other media files for advertising. RTMP was originally designed for streaming with Adobe’s Flash player and is often simply called Flash streaming, but this use is now quite outdated.
In addition to the standard version of RTMP, there are several variations of the protocol, including RTMPS, RTMPE, RTMPT, and RTMFP. These variations all have slightly different purposes in live streaming.
What is RTMP Ingest?
RTMP ingest is the new role of the protocol. In order to understand how this is different from the original role of the protocol, you need to have a basic understanding of video encoding and the technology that makes live streaming possible.
During the live streaming process, the live video travels in the following route:
What is ingest in broadcasting?
RTMP ingest means using the RTMP technology to encode and then deliver the live video from the encoder to the online video platform. RTMP ingest requires the use of an RTMP encoder, which is readily available and can be relatively inexpensive compared to encoders using other streaming protocols.
How Does RTMP Ingest Work?
This process is highly technical, and broadcasters who use an online video platform generally do not need to worry about what goes on behind the scenes. However, understanding how RTMP ingest works may help you understand the importance of choosing a capable encoder.
With that said, let’s take a look at how RTMP ingest transports encoded live video from the encoder to the online video player.
During the handshake, the client sends three chunks of data to the server. The first chunk is used to alert the server to the type of protocol that is being used. The second chunk comes through with a time stamp.
The third and final chunk is sent after the server confirms receipt of the first two. Once the third chunk has been successfully received, the connection can be made.
During the connection phase, the client and server exchange some coded dialogue. The code language used for the connection is “AMF.” The purpose of his dialogue is to establish an “all-clear” to start the stream.
Once the handshake is complete and the connection has successfully been made, the stream should be ready to go. This process is complex, but the technology is designed to make the transport very quickly.
The Benefits of RTMP Ingest
Additionally, RTMP ingest can be used on any channel set up to receive it from any location in the world. It does not require that the location (IP address) of the encoder is known as long as the channel is set up beforehand. With RTMP ingest, you can test your event from one location and then move at any time to an event venue without requiring delays or changes to the CDN channel setup. RTMP test links allow you to ensure you are ready to go live.
HLS Streaming & How it Relates to RTMP Ingest
As we mentioned, HLS streaming has taken over the original role of RTMP.
HLS stands for “HTTP Live Streaming” and it is another important video streaming protocol. It is used to deliver video content from the CDN servers to the user-facing HTML5 video player. HLS was created by Apple to make mobile streaming possible.
How HLS ingest works is that it splits files into smaller chunks to transport them more easily during the ingestion process. It is an HTTP-based protocol, whereas RTMP is a TCP-based protocol that uses a bit of a bulkier transporting approach.
HLS is very adaptable, which is useful when reaching viewers with a wide variety of streaming setups. The protocol is also capable of low-latency streaming which is valuable to live streamers. However, the lowest latency combination is RTMP ingest and HLS streaming.
Another major perk of using HLS is that it is compatible with secure multi-bitrate and adaptive bitrate streaming. That means that it can send out multiple renditions of a video at the same time. Each transcoded rendition is of a different quality, and the appropriate rendition is sent to each viewer’s video player based on their internet speed. This helps to avoid any buffering or lagging on the viewers’ end.
Although HLS encoding is currently the most suitable protocol for video delivery, other options are being developed. Transcoding technology is evolving constantly, so there is no telling how quickly this could change.
Live streaming technology is the best it’s ever been thanks to the repositioning of the RTMP protocol for RTMP ingest and the introduction of HLS delivery. This technological combination is powerful and reliable, but with the rate that live streaming technology is evolving, we’re sure that it is not the live streaming process’s final form.
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