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SMPTE 2014: bringing it all back home

By Tom Coughlin

The movement of digital content is requiring increasing sophistication both in compression technologies and delivery technology in order to meet the needs of higher-resolution, higher frame rate and ever more camera workflows as well as content consumers, while not overwhelming network bandwidth.

At the 2014 SMPTE Technical Conference these topics were the subject of interesting sessions as well as side conversations about technology developments.

Aspera talked about its experience, working with EVS and Elemental, in providing access to content on mobile devices at sporting events for second screen viewing of multiple live camera angles. By providing access to these various views of live-action sports during the World Cup, fans can have a more immersive video experience. EVS’s C-Cast technology was used for capturing video at live action sports events. The company demonstrated this ability using content from the 2014 FIFA World Cup processed through the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) in Rio.

Altogether during the demonstration there were 2.8 million minutes of encoded streams, 243 live streams per game. There were 15 million total hours watched by 35 million unique users. The Brazilian World Cup was the most mobile viewed sporting event to date. The figure below outlines the workflow for ingesting and delivering this remarkable Internet sports traffic.

First

This service provided production feeds from multiple camera angles that Aspera FASP technology brought to the Elemental Cloud. Elemental Cloud video processing ingests the mezzanine formats, converting them into the various formats needed to support mobile viewing devices. High-quality high-resolution live content is then delivered to regional broadcasters and streamed to global online viewers, providing an engaging second screen experience.

John Pallett from Telestream presented a detailed analysis of bandwidth savings for SD and HD and finally for UHD (4K content) with video quality expectations. A reduction in bandwidth for about the same video quality was calculated for HEVC vs. H.264 although HEVC compressed frame sizes seem to vary more with HEVC than with H.264 and thus a larger buffer window is required. So it appears that video bandwidth savings of 40-45% are possible with HEVC vs. H.264. The table below summarizes recommended data rates and video buffer sizes for HEVC for SD, HD and UHD content.

SECOND

Raul Diaz from Vanguard Video spoke about combining High Dynamic Range (HDR) content with UHD resolution. He concludes that HEVC offers two primary advantages for HDR content delivery: 1) It offers an effective and viable method to deliver 4K content. 2) It has bandwidth compatibility with existing video delivery infrastructure in order to deliver HDR HD content.

Could even higher compression than HEVC with acceptable video quality be possible? In a side conversation, Dror Gill from Beamr discussed their video compression technology that he said could provide up to 80% compression on top of that delivered by HEVC (H.265 HEVC) compression. The actual compression depends upon the remaining redundancy in the content. He said that Blu-ray content could be compressed up to 80% and streaming content could be reduced in size by 20-50%. The Beamr software actually preforms a suite of compression runs on the data to see just how much it can be compressed while preserving adequate video quality (determined by sophisticated human perception video quality models) before settling upon the actual compression ratio.

Dr. Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, is a storage analyst and consultant with over 30 years in the data storage industry. He has six patents to his credit and is the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide. He also helps put together the Storage Visions Conference, which will take place January 4-5, 2015 at the Riviera Hotel Convention Center in Las Vegas. You can we reach him at tom@tomcoughlin.com.


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