Akamai Unveils the Akamai HD Network

Posted by Derrick on September 30, 2009 under Video Streaming and Compression | Comments are off for this article

Akamai Technologies, Inc., the leader in powering video, dynamic transactions and enterprise applications online, announced the Akamai HD Network, its next generation video delivery offering and the first platform to deliver HD video online to viewers using Adobe Flash technology, Microsoft Silverlight, and to the iPhone, at broadcast-level audience scale. The Akamai HD Network is the only solution that supports live and on-demand HD streaming with a highly-personalized and interactive online experience that matches and complements HD television.

As a first-of-its-kind streaming platform, the Akamai HD Network is designed as one, comprehensive HD network reaching multiple playback environments and devices, including Flash, Silverlight, and the iPhone. Leveraging the global breadth and scale of Akamai’s globally-distributed EdgePlatform of more than 50,000 servers, the Akamai HD Network enables content providers to deliver more HD content than previously possible – due to its wide-scale distribution in 70 countries and increased throughputs in more than 900 networks.

The Akamai HD Network is a streaming platform that leverages the following functionalities: Adaptive Bitrate Streaming – Unique network and player streaming process that is designed to enable uninterrupted playback at HD bitrates that seamlessly adjusts to fluctuations in available bandwidth to provide the best quality possible for each user; Instant Response – Immediate response to viewer interactions with the video player, including sub-second time-shifting (such as pause, rewind, seek and play commands) video startup times, and seamless stream switching; HD Video Player – Open, standards-based video player for faster time to market; HD Player Authentication – Authenticates player for all three environments ensuring only authorized players access content.

“Seeing is believing,” said Paul Sagan, President and CEO, Akamai. “With the Akamai HD Network, we are revolutionizing the way content traverses the Internet with a new approach to bringing an HDTV-like experience online. We’re entering a different online world, where many content owners and publishers need to deliver HD-quality video to a much wider online audience, with a higher level of interactivity for consumers. Delivering ‘web-quality’ content to ‘web-sized’ audiences is one thing, but delivering HD-quality content to broadcast-scale audiences is another.”

Akamai has helped pioneer the delivery of HD content online, having worked with leading entertainment, sports, and news businesses. Two key trends have made it necessary to now evolve how streaming media is delivered on the Internet. First, online audiences have grown to broadcast scale. Second, those viewers are demanding higher quality content. Studies show that when higher quality video content is offered, viewer engagement time increases. Supporting this level of traffic requires a global network that can manage millions of simultaneous users streaming very high bitrate content. The Akamai HD Network was designed for large-scale broadcasters and film distributors looking to increase audience engagement and to expand revenues by complementing traditional mediums, such as TV and DVD, with the Internet.

The Akamai HD Network offers adaptive bitrate streaming capabilities across playback formats that are specifically optimized to work with Akamai’s HD EdgePlatform for the fastest and most consistent video bitrate switching – enabling an instant and uninterrupted viewing experience for consumers even at the highest bitrates. Leveraging Akamai’s entire HTTP footprint, video over Akamai’s HD Network is delivered from servers closer to audiences around the world. As a result, Akamai can more tightly control the amount of time the player needs to buffer before switching streams. The shorter the buffer, the faster the stream can adapt and respond to changing end-user conditions. The result is intended to create a seamless HD quality video experience – with little to no buffering.

“We are excited to see Akamai’s commitment to HTTP adaptive streaming as the future of online video delivery, as we have worked closely over the past year to build a robust end-to-end media delivery platform with IIS Smooth Streaming and Silverlight,” said Steve Sklepowich, director for Silverlight at Microsoft Corp. “Together, we’ve proven that these true HD experiences can dramatically increase online viewing times for broadcasters. In addition, Microsoft’s ability to deliver live and on-demand protected streams with Smooth Streaming and Silverlight, along with enhanced interactive experiences, such as multiple camera angles, alternate language tracks and in-stream data feeds, have raised the bar for online delivery using HTTP.”

“Adobe works closely with Akamai to optimize Flash Media delivery on Akamai’s network for the benefit of our mutual customers,” said Jim Guerard, Vice-President and General Manager, Dynamic Media at Adobe. “We’re pleased that customers who already leverage the Flash Platform as the number one video format online will now enjoy increased scalability and quality gains as a result of utilizing Akamai’s vast edge infrastructure via HTTP video streaming.”

Downloadable Streaming Basics

Posted by Derrick on September 29, 2009 under Video Streaming and Compression | Comments are off for this article

Another form of streaming is called downloadable streaming which is different than that of real-time streaming because the video files are placed on a regular web server.  With downloadable streaming you can deliver the highest quality file because you can use encoding methods such as 2-pass VBR to vary the bit rate so that higher quality can be achieved over parts of the video that need it more.  Since downloadable streaming videos are a file-based download where they don’t have to go through the user’s bandwidth pipe, the bit rate at various parts of the video can peak high. This is different than that of a CBR or a Constant Bit Rate encode.  Downloadable streaming videos are great for short form content. With this type of streaming there is also an option to do a quality based encode where the compressionist can determine the quality that they want to achieve on a video file.  It’s important to note that when viewing a downloadable  streaming video a copy does get placed on the viewer’s computer but is one of the easiest ways to deliver streaming videos on the internet.

New Envivio 4Caster C4² Encoding/Transcoding Platform Boosts Performance

Posted by Derrick on under Video Streaming and Compression | Comments are off for this article

Envivio, Inc. introduced 4Caster C42, the second generation of the company’s Convergence Series video encoding/transcoding platform. 4Caster C42 uses the performance of the latest generation Intel multi-core server processors to deliver better quality video, make more efficient use of bandwidth and enable delivery of high definition (HD) video services to all three consumer screens. The 4Caster C42 joins the 4Caster C4 in the Convergence Series, building on the features of its precursor and giving service providers flexibility to tailor their video headend to match their requirements.

“The competitive pressure to deliver more entertainment options, to more subscribers, at the best possible quality, continues to mount,” said Envivio CEO Julien Signès, “yet bandwidth remains precious. 4Caster C42 drives performance and flexibility far beyond platforms based on ASIC hardware. As a result we can offer significant improvements in both video quality and bitrates. By simultaneously supporting multiple networks and many different consumer devices, 4Caster C42 enables an operator to meet the highest consumer expectations–including top quality HD service—on any viewing screen.”

The enhanced performance of 4Caster C42 extends the capabilities of the codec technologies developed by Envivio to further enable delivery of the best quality video within the tight bandwidth tolerances of different networks and applications. The new Envivio Extreme HD compression is exclusive to 4Caster C42 and enables operators to deliver a best-quality HD experience to IPTV subscribers using just 4 Mbps. For Internet TV, even lower bitrates are possible and can be combined with adaptive bitrate technologies such as Silverlight Smooth Streaming HD, Flash HD and Apple adaptive streaming to enable quality delivery over networks with no guaranteed QoS. 4Caster C42 supports all Envivio compressions levels for IPTV, Mobile TV and Internet TV.

Intel engineers have incorporated specific video compression routines submitted by Envivio into the IPP library of the latest generation Intel Xeon processors. The C42 compression engine benefits from these optimizations which provide the performance needed to deliver high quality HD video for the most demanding network scenarios.

In addition to the comprehensive suite of pre-processing tools found in 4Caster C4, the new 4Caster C42 leverages its increased processing power to add support for H.264 over IP input as well as spatial de-noising filters for HD content that corrects visual errors from HD video sources.

Working with MPEG-1 Muxed Media Files

Posted by Derrick on September 27, 2009 under Video Streaming and Compression | Comments are off for this article

Working with MPEG-1 muxed media files can be tricky but it can be easier using a tool like MPEG Streamclip. Every Multimedia Specialist should have this tool available.

A muxed MPEG-1 file is a MPEG-1 file that has the video and audio tracks mixed together. You can run into problems encoding these types of files using some compression applications. So it’s a good idea to demux the MPEG-1 file. Once you compress the video you can re-assemble the audio and video in Quicktime Pro. This will give you a seperate audio file. If you don’t have QuickTime Pro available then you can assemble your files in Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro then export to QuickTime. It’s not the best work flow but it will work.

To demux your MPEG-1 file open your file in MPEG Streamclip and navigate to Demux to AIFF via the File pull-down menu. You don’t have to bother with Demuxing the video because when you compress your MPEG-1 muxed file in many cases you will get a video only file.