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Tracking MPEG-4 At Streaming Media East

The four sessions I'll cover here in detail are:

• Opening Remarks: M4IF
• Natural Codecs (A/V) and Interoperability
• Non-Natural Codecs (BIFs, Facial, 3D, Structured Audio, AFX)
• Applications

Opening Remarks: M4IF

First came the opening remarks, from Shawn Ambwani, VP of Business Development at Envivio. He was gracious enough to give a very brief description of his companies products and a good in-depth overview of how MPEG-4 has evolved and where it is headed. The key points I came away with included:

• MPEG-4 encoding will be greatly improved with the acceptance of the new H.26L/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) codec into version 10 of the standard due out by year's end.

• Key targets for MPEG-4 video+audio files (simple and advanced simple profiles) range from streaming to low bandwidth wireless devices, video-on-demand delivery over DSL by the telcos, all the way up to high definition content that could fit on a single sided DVD.

• Transport of MPEG-4 also runs the gamut, since it is not part of the standard, but rather handled by other governing bodies. For instance IETF for IP delivery and 3G-PP for wireless.

• Other components of the MPEG-4 standard that distinguish it from the current streaming formats is the object-based coding mechanisms such as face and body components, 2-D and 3-D meshes as well as audio objects, all of which were discussed in more detail in the afternoon session.

The floor was open for questions and, of course, the licensing issues were raised as a primary concern for content producers. Shawn mentioned that they are being worked out, but that overall responsibility fell to the MPEG-LA group. They have reached an agreement on audio codec licensing with Dolby and others, and are nearing a resolution of the contentious video licensing issues. No interim costs associated with MPEG-4 delivery are expected until 2004, so hopefully developers can get some initial products out and build momentum over the next year.

Page 2: Natural Codecs (A/V) and Interoperability >>

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