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NAB 2008: Broadcasting by Any Other Name . . . Is Broadcasting

Kulabyte, hot off the heels of its Operation MySpace 480i HD live concert stream, announced an upgrade to its live HD capabilities. The move toward an H.264 encoder that provides higher quality at lower bandwidths is necessary for Kulabyte to bring down the bandwidth requirements to match those of On2's VP6-S which produces acceptable 720p at 1500Kbps.

But Kulabyte's not just going up against the likes of On2's newest iteration of the VP6 codec. With HD content now fitting into the 1.5Mbps range—the same range that MPEG-1 content fit into for early sub-1 meter satellite dishes and a key benchmark for cable TV distribution of lower-bandwidth MPEG-1/2—Kulabyte places itself in competition with the likes of Envivio, Media Excel, Digital Rapids, Inlet, and a host of other live encoding and transcoding companies.

Adobe Advances a Standard for Digital Cinema Video
Adobe also announced its live audio and video capture enhancement in the form of the Adobe Flash Media Encoder 2.5 software as a free download. For those who don't need live content encoding, or who want to edit content before it goes to air, Adobe announced two efforts that have my post-production friends cheering. Frank Weeks with World Class Productions, told me on the way to the show today that the biggest hindrance to digital cinema cameras such as RED—the "inexpensive" 4K camera that runs about $35,000 in a useable configuration—is a consistent workflow that's less onerous than watching paint dry.

Adobe has the answer for you, Frank, as they're providing support for such big guns as the XDCAM format from Sony, and the company is promising support for additional formats and key metadata ingestion in the near term, although it's uncertain whether Adobe will be able to escape the Achilles' Heel of losing metadata at multiple points throughout the production process that has plagued the industry for decades.

But even bigger news that was also announced today is Adobe's attempt to leverage its still-image "standard" Digital Negative Specification (DNG) that is used in Photoshop—and, the company hopes, will be adopted across the board as a common platform for RAW still images—into a digital cinema format that can provide a common digital format that simplifies the digital cinema workflow.

"We plan to lead an initiative to define an industry-wide open file format for digital cinema files to streamline workflows and help ensure easy archiving and exchange," an Adobe press release noted, adding that the company plans to "leverage its successful Digital Negative Specification (DNG) file format as a foundation, and work with a broad coalition of leading camera manufacturers, including Panavision, Silicon Imaging, Dalsa, Weisscam, and ARRI . . . to define the requirements for an open, publicly documented file format that it plans to call CinemaDNG."

For some StreamingMedia.com readers, the reaction to this might be, "So what?" The key here, though, is that Adobe—and the camera manufacturers—recognize the need to have a common standard file format to accelerate the move away from film and toward total digital acquisition. And, while we are all familiar with the distinctive look of film that's been encoded to MPEG-2 or H.264, this move toward a common digital cinema file format gives the streaming media industry a chance to weigh in on the key elements for transcoding (including concatenation and other artifacting issues that may have bearing on the way digital cinema content is finally displayed in broadcast form - whether it be on the web, IPTV or over the air.

NAB continues through Thursday, April 17, at the Las Vegas Convention Center and at various other venues throughout Las Vegas.

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