Save your FREE seat for Streaming Media Connect this August. Register Now!

Smart Choices

Article Featured Image
Article Featured Image

As you might expect, the strategy requires a multicodec approach. For most internal video communications, Deloitte uses technology from Vividas, which combines a codec from On2 and a proprietary player to deliver a full-screen playback experience. Deloitte delivers streams at three bit rates—56Kbps, 256Kbps and 768Kbps—with quality that is superior at all rates, Gallardo says, to any other codec he has analyzed.

Since the Vividas codec involves lengthy encoding times, Deloitte uses Microsoft’s Windows Media codec for live events, usually incorporating audio, video, and PowerPoint slides. Deloitte delivers podcasts in MP3 format, and encodes videos bound for iPod playback in MPEG-4 format. Gallardo showcases Deloitte's technical skills by uploading MP3 research podcasts to iTunes, with some having earned a ranking as high as 10 in the iTunes business section. When we checked in early October, we found more than 31 free podcasts from Deloitte in iTunes, ranging from 15 to 80 minutes in length.

One of Gallardo’s most significant accomplishments was opening up the annual world meeting of Deloitte CEOs to the entire company via live and on-demand video. Previously, the only associates who saw or heard anything from the event were the 250 or so in attendance. The first year Deloitte started broadcasting live and on-demand videos, more than 20,000 associates watched the video, while during the last meeting, more than 60% of Deloitte’s associates watched one or more videos from the event.

Looking forward, Gallardo plans to utilize the Flash codec as well (primarily for external communications). Gallardo feels that the simplicity and usability of Flash should integrate well with the direction he’d like to take the Deloitte website, and Flash should adapt very well to his vision of how visitors should understand the Deloitte brand.

Sometimes the best things in life are free, which is the key reason that George Levar, manager of global digital media services for Accenture, chose Microsoft’s Windows Media as the organization’s primary codec for live and on-demand streaming video. That, plus proven multicasting capabilities, led him to replace RealVideo with Windows Media.

Of course, even though the Windows Media codec was free—courtesy of Accenture’s worldwide licensing of Microsoft’s business software—implementing multicasting was anything but. Multicasting is essential to Accenture’s communications strategy, because with 150 offices in 50 countries, installing a splitting server or cache server at each location was too expensive. So Levar worked through each of the organization’s Layer 3 switches and routers to make sure they were multicast-enabled and properly configured.

To host Accenture events, Levar also built a custom communications facility that can support audio, video, synchronized slides, images, and text, and can accept questions from viewers. He produces most events from his Chicago office, which is equipped with four encoding servers with ViewCast cards that are fed with a matrix video switcher and telephone bridges that allow him to route any audio/video source to any encoder. Once in place, Accenture’s consultants started filling the pipes, creating an impressive volume of conferences.

In a typical month, Levar will host two to three live events each week, with presenters calling in from different offices and pushing slides and audio to the audience. He produces at least 10 on-demand events per month, which range from CEO speeches to what the organization calls "town hall meetings." He also produces about two full-blown webcasts with audio, video, and slides each month.

In addition to Windows Media, Levar also renders some webcasts to MP3 audio for release as podcasts to associates, or to accompany a written proposal to a client. Levar plans to start releasing some internal and external communications in MP4 format for viewing on video iPods.

Most internal video is produced at 240x180, to fit the window in Accenture’s webcast software, usually at about 100Kbps. For some events produced outside the webcast interface and played in Windows Media Player, Levar has encoded at 320x240 resolution at as high as 300Kbps.

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues