IBC Update: From a Streaming Perspective
IBC2004 offered a host of streaming-related announcements, from the ISMA’s Conformance Program to a video headend from SkyStream with eight MPEG-4 AVC encoders. Learn more about the latest and greatest in streaming media in this IBC2004 roundup.
At this year’s IBC, the ISMA and MPEG Industry Forum hosted an all-day conference entitled "MPEG Technologies—Setting New Standards." During a panel discussion on the challenge of interoperability, the ISMA announced its ISMA Conformance Program, a certification process based on open industry standards that will "provide objective measurements for creating, compressing, and delivering streaming content over Internet Protocol networks," according to an ISMA press release. Interested parties must register for the program, download the necessary tools and documentation, and then conduct a self-test on a variety of products, including encoders, hinters, servers, live encoders, and players. They then submit the test results to the ISMA for verification of product conformance. If the results are confirmed, they may then use the "ISMA Approved" designation for products, packaging, and marketing materials. The ISMA Conformance Program costs $2000 for non-member candidates, but is free for ISMA members. The hope is that this program will help "to develop an end-to-end [digital media system] to which all companies committed to open standards may contribute," says Rich Mavrogeanes, ISMA board member and founder and CTO of VBrick Systems, Inc.
H.264, aka MPEG-4 part 10, saw its support continue to increase with a spate of encoder-related announcements. Darim Vision, a provider of integrated MPEG encoding, streaming, broadcasting, and security solutions, announced a new version of its MV401EXP that adds H.264 capability to the Windows Media 9 Encoding and Streaming solution. The MV401 is a standalone, rack-mountable unit capable of encoding live video and audio into Web-ready, compressed streaming video in either Windows Media 9 or H.264 at up to full D1 resolution.
If two heads are better than one, then imagine the power of eight heads at once. Now replace "heads" with "encoders," jam them all into a video headend, and you’ve got yourself a video headend with eight MPEG-4 AVC encoders in a single rack-unit chassis, which is exactly what SkyStream Networks introduced at IBC. "Whether you’re delivering one video channel or a hundred, you still need to encode each channel, process it, and route it, and iPlex eliminates the need to buy three different products to do so for small, mid-size, or ‘edge’ deployments," says Claude Dupuis, VP of engineering at SkyStream. The company also unveiled and demonstrated a new version of its Mediaplex-20, which can be configured to include up to 48 encoders in a single chassis. Version 2.5 of the Mediaplex-20 adds supports for real-time MPEG-4 AVC encoding. The Mediaplex-20 is available today, and the iPlex should be available in late Q4 of this year.
Also in the encoding space, Telestream announced support for exporting or importing files in the Windows Media 9 format on Mac OS X platforms. The Telestream Windows Media solution allows Mac users to create Windows Media files from a list of available formats in the Export function of any QuickTime-based application—including Final Cut Pro and iMovie. While not a provider of encoders, Anystream made known the availability of Agility 4.0 with transcoding support for a range of broadcast server formats, including Grass Valley, Leitch, Omneon, Pinnacle, SeaChange, and Sony, as well as the MXF file interchange standard.
GoodMood, a Webcasting software company that specializes in network-based communication solutions, launched GoodMood WIP 3.2 at IBC. This new version enables companies to easily and cost-effectively set up a Web TV channel. Users can create a play list of video clips, which is then Webcast over the network as if it were a TV channel. Also included in v3.2 are an advanced search engine for application management and profiles that can be defined beforehand and handle the conversion of incoming streaming media and sound from a camera into a form that can be relayed over a data network.