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SMW 17: VideoRx's Robert Reinhardt Talks SRT and the Future of Codecs

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media West 2017. Coming down to the end of the second day. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor for streamingmedia.com and also the Media Strategy Principal at ReelSolver Inc. With me I’ve got Robert Reinhardt. Robert, tell me about your company.

Robert Reinhardt: VideoRx really gets integrated anywhere in the video encoding and distribution pipeline. I'm usually brought in to fix problems that other people have created.

Tim Siglin: What's the difference between a pipeline and a workflow.

Robert Reinhardt: That's a good question. A workflow I typically think of as a process that's not as demanding as a pipeline. A workflow, to me, is like how we going to take these videos and just systematically think about them as an asset to manage them. Whereas a pipeline is the actual path that is going to be built to support the workflow.

Tim Siglin: The workflow might be the processes and the actual implementation is the pipeline. Okay, thank you. Because I've often heard those words used interchangeably. What did you see at the show that was of interest? Or hear at the show?

Robert Reinhardt: Just before we went live I was talking about SRT and how important I think that's going to be moving forward.

Tim Siglin: What is SRT?

Robert Reinhardt: SRT stands for secure, reliable transport and it's positioned to essentially take over RTMP. We're broadcasting over RTMP right now via Facebook Live. It was a protocol invented by Macromedia and then Adobe and they opened it up as a spec. You can do RTMP from any vendor in the pavilion here can broadcast over RTMP.

Tim Siglin: RTSP and RTMP were TCP-based?

Robert Reinhardt: Yes. And technically, RTSP can be TCP and or UDP, depending on how you're using it.

Tim Siglin: Is SRT UDP?

Robert Reinhardt: UDP is part of the process.

Tim Siglin: What else besides SRT then did you hear about?

Robert Reinhardt: The future of codecs. Compression is my wheelhouse too, just like Jan Ozer's. I thought we'd hear a little bit more about AV1. I don't mean from speakers necessarily. Jan and anyone who's really on the bleeding edge of what the next-gen's going to be is talking about it. For me, it's always about boots on the ground. Are the vendors actually talking about it and having plans to put it in their product roadmap? HEVC's been on the roadmap for so long that this is the last thing a lot of hardware vendors want to think about--we just got chipsets going for HEVC.

Tim Siglin: In an interview I did yesterday with Dror Gill, CTO at Beamr, he said you have to understand HVEC is coming to the forefront now but it's been five years in the making. Everyone hasn't even been locked down. It creates a scenario where, do you want to try something that's not optimized in the moment? That's not to say that AV1 won't become optimized but I do think there is a window of time before AV1 becomes an also-ran if they don't push that stuff out quickly.

Robert Reinhardt: There's a lot of appeal behind it. The industry's going to get behind any kind of codec that is going to be less encumbered by licensing. And so an AV1 holds that promise right now and the patent pools around HEVC which are widely talked about on Streaming Media, those are valid concerns. The fact though that Apple is embracing HEVC is a big step forward for HEVC.

Tim Siglin: That becomes de facto standard whether you want it to or not, just because of the sheer number of devices.

Robert Reinhardt: Exactly. I have clients that will probably be rolling out their product lines in 2018 taking advantage only on newer iPhones or newer iOS devices that have HEVC baked in. It's going to hold its promise of really helping, especially things like Facebook Live where you might have constrained-bandwidth situations. Being able to take advantage of something that's going to do better.

Tim Siglin: Absolutely. Any final thing that you saw here? SRT, HEVC and future codecs, AV1.

Robert Reinhardt: Just social media integration. That was a theme that's been pretty consistent. Facebook has a lot of presence here as they have in a couple of the past shows. That's going to become increasingly important. Facebook is just really being targeted with your social media integration. Don't just have this approach like, “Oh we're going to take this and go to all the outlets at once. Know your audience and go to the right audience with your social media.”

Tim Siglin: It's like it used to be where we said, “Our hope is the video goes viral and everybody will pay attention to it.” Interesting. One other thing that heard was machine learning. Consistently I heard machine learning from IBM Watson to Microsoft. Andy Beach talked about that some. It's pretty clear that the idea of trying to get some level of artificial intelligence into the production process is actually going to be really helpful. And then context-aware encoding where it's either per-title or even going down to the scene and deciding how to do dynamic encoding. Those two things in terms of optimizing the best quality in the encode side to push it out seem to be really good.

Robert Reinhardt: I've said it at past conferences, there's a lot of room left to optimize even H.264 on per-title and just getting that really dialed in and that's going to, that's cost savings right away for people too because if you can really efficiently encode then you're going to ...

Tim Siglin: And if you can do that and not have to change your pipeline or workflow, then people will be interested in that. That status quo is as much of a thing as the next thing like HEVC or AV1. Robert, as always, thank you for your time.

Robert Reinhardt: Thank you.

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