Everyone’s Going “HD” (Sort of)

December 8, 2008 | .NET | 15 Comments

Last week, YouTube made big news by introducing “HD” video, thought it’s unclear what YouTube’s definition of “HD” is. The video is certainly higher definition, but it’s certainly not 720p or 1080p which is technically what HD is supposed to be. It might be 480p which is what Hulu.com does for their high quality streams (and is also what the Wii ouputs).

At DTS, we also recently revamped our videos to be “HD” (in the higher definition sense), moving to 480p in most cases.

We’ve also changed the player quite a bit. The old player had a lot of “chrome” around it and this new one is chromeless (ala Vimeo) and has the option to popout (similar to Hulu). Compare the old player below, with the new player showing two recent profiles, one of an alumnus and the other of a currents student who is also an NFL player.

Old player


New Embedded Player Samples

Some Technical Information

This player needed to be able to play both MP4s for video and MP3s for audio. Unfortunately, Flash’s built-in video controls like PlayButton and Seekbar only work for video, and there is no way to use them for audio. I wrote a some wrapper classes that can handle both MP4/FLVs and MP3s and normalizes the event model so they can both be hooked to the same control UI. If we move back to streaming it should be easy to write another class for that and have it all “just work.”

If anyone is interested in the source code, I’d be happy to publish it as an example of a Flash IDE AS3 video player that can also handle MP3s.

15 responses to “Everyone’s Going “HD” (Sort of)”

  1. spelled "athletes" wrong in the video title… 🙂

  2. Andrew says:

    I’d love to see the source code… We’re getting ready to start working on a new video player!

  3. felix says:

    the new UI looks great and the video quality and load time is excellent. Pulling the video from amazon s3 seems to work well. I wonder if that is a good alternative to a typical video CDN? (btw looks like there is some weirdness in the fullscreen button hotspot)

  4. John Dyer says:

    Andrew, I’ll try to remove all the DTS-specific stuff and get it up in a few days.

  5. John Dyer says:

    felix, Amazon CloudFront is their new CDN style delivery system, built on top of S3. We’ll be turning that on soon. Thanks for pointing out the fullscreen button problem. I’ll get on that!

  6. Jon says:

    Very nice work! Are you willing to share the latest source for someone like myself to check out? Feel free to email me if you want as well.


  7. Chris Bean says:


    we are in process of starting development of a new FLV player based on the Akamai framework openplayer, using Akamai as CDN.

    is your new player that works using the Amazon CDN, compatible with other Akamai CDN?


  8. John Dyer says:

    Jon, I’ll try to get the source cleaned up after Christmas.

  9. saul says:

    1080p = HD, and thats how i view the web and there is slow adoption to this for obvious reasons. anything less than this is not true hd and its getting boring listening to all the plays on what is hd.

  10. Aaron says:

    Oh, so-cool. Reminds me a lot of Vimeo’s interface. Keep up the great work.

  11. Vinny says:

    So very cool! One quick question though, because I recently made an amazon s3 account. To do mp4 video streaming like this.. Do I have to EC2 or is S3 sufficient?


  12. John Dyer says:

    Vinny, Amazon S3 is all you need for playing an FLV or MP4 using progressive download. However, you need Flash Media Server if you want to actually "stream" the video.

  13. Vinny says:

    Oh, I see. Thank you for the quick reply!
    What route would I have to take to get flash media server.. Must I use EC2?

    Thanks again!

  14. Very creative, one of the nicer sites I have seen today. Keep up the great work.

Hi, I'm John Dyer. In my day job, I build websites and create online seminary software for a seminary in Dallas. I also like to release open source tools including a pretty popular HTML5 video player and build tools that help people find best bible commentaries and do bible study. And just for fun, I also wrote a book on the theology of technology and media.

Fork me on GitHub

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