Video Technology Magazine May 2004               

Video Software Development services
John Sokol is video streaming veteran, and has created many Unix, Linux and Windows video streaming applications in C and C++. Him and his team have just finished a Security CCTV DVR on Windows and are now available for long or short-term contracts or fulltime Hire.

For more information see: John Sokol's Resume

Vorbis And Musepack Win 128kbps Audio Test
Clipped from
"After 11 days of collecting results Roberto Amorim today announced the results of his 2nd Multi-Format listening test: Vorbis fork AoTuV scored the highest and ranks as the winner together with open source contender Musepack closely followed by Apple's AAC implementation and LAME MP3, which improved markably since last year thanks to further tunings of its VBR model done by Gabriel Bouvigne. Sony's ATRAC3 format ranks last after WMA on the third place. The suprising success of AoTuV (compared to last year's performance of's reference implementation) shows the potential of Vorbis and possible room for further tuning and improvments. Take a look at the detailed results and their discussion at"

H.264 and MPEG-4 Video Compression, Book
Iain E G Richardson, has two excellent books out. "H.264 and MPEG-4 Video Compression" ISBN 0-470-84837-5 and "Video CODEC Design" ISBN 0-471-48553-5 Both are published by John Wiley & Sons, in Late 2003.


More information is available on his web site -

H.264/Advanced Video Coding - Seminar
KNK Seminars & Strategies is hosting a seminar on H.264
May 14, 2004 in Sunnyvale, CA

They also have Mpeg1 & 2 on May 17,18
and Digital Television Systems on May 19,20
Click here for more Info

Heat Problem Solved for PVR Manufacturers
Nisvara has developed a total passive cooling technology that does not require fans, recent tests have shown their new materials conduct heat almost 50% better then copper and is much lighter. In addition they have a hard disk silencing system that cools the drives also.

So far they have been talking with Maxtor and a few other companies but have faced unexpected resistance from makers unwilling to even consider anything that would change there current form factor even though the current designs overheat.

So Nisvara is seeking PVR/DVR companies that would be willing to try something new to solve their heat problem.
For more info contact the John at (916)704-7676

Windows Media 9 isn't just Microsoft anymore.

  Microsoft has been pushing WM9 as the new format for HD-DVD they have go so far as to even release a few movies in this format that are playable on a High End P4 system

Article here
Terminator 2 Trailer in HD WM9 HERE

WM9 , MPEG-2 and H.264/MPEG4 are the only proposed HD-DVD formats that uses standard DVD Media with improved compression. The others such as BlueRay and AOD (Advanced Optical Disk) continue to use MPEG2 and increase the storage density and data rate to achieve HDTV. Here is a Power point from Philips on this  DVD FAQ for more information

I have talked to several companies attempting to do VC9/WM9 Decompression chips, It always amazes me how every chip company doing this seems to think they are the only people trying to do this. Most are using a typical DSP core if there smart a parallel core. I have yet to see someone make one of these that can do a higher level function in hardware such as DCT or Motion Vectors. I am still waiting to see someone put a VLE (Variable Length Encoder) on a chip instead of a the the VLD (Decoder) so compression would be simpler.

Companies already shipping WMV9 Decompresion chips are:

Amphion CS7150 WMVHD Video Decoder
  Amphion also has a H.264 Video Decoder (AVC/MPEG-4 Part 10), the CS7050 and several Mpeg4 encoders and decoders.

Sigma designs has the EM8620L Decoder

Other possiblites for realtime decoding are Analog Devices ADSP-BF533, Micronas MDE9500, Philips, PNX1500, Intel PXA255,

Licensing for the VC9 codex

Up to this point Microsoft has been the only company licensing the Windows Media VC9 Codec, I'm told example source is also available from them. But this is more complicated since VC9 is a derivative of MPEG-4.

   Video Codecs Shared Features   
Key differences involve IP rights
H.263 Windows Media Video 9
Open Standard? Yes Not Yet
Coding Efficiency Roughly the same Roughly the same
Resolution Addressed Mobile handsets to high definition Mobile handsets to high definition
Coding Algorithm Motion-compensated block Transform* Motion-compensated block Transform*
Final licensing terms In discussions Not yet known
* Each compression format claims difference in details Source: EE Times
MPEGLA the same people who are licensing MPEG2 and MPEG4 is now starting to organize possible patent holders for the VC-9 codec used in WMVHD High Definition Windows Media and WM9. There is an Article at the register on this. And another article at
EE Times, Good Article on HD-DVD and WM9 licensing

Comparison of top codecs
Comparison of WMV9/VC9 to other top codecs.
ExtremeTech - Video Codec Shootout WMV9, Divx5.1.1 and QT6.5 (Sorenson3), QT6.5 (Apple MPEG-4) confrontation experiment of picture quality and encoding time etc.

Doom9 has done a codec comparison and XVID was one of the best codecs tested. Codec's tested were 3ivX, DivX 3 (SBC), DivX5, ffvfw (version of ffmpeg for VFW video for windows), Nero Digital MPEG-4, RealNetworks RV9, On2 VP6, XviD.

Link to Codec ShootOut Part 1 | Part 2

Writers Wanted
Currently we are seeking people to contribute articles related to Digital Video, MPEG2, MPEG4, 3GPP, DVC, HD-DVD, Streaming , Video Conferencing and related topics.
Free Advertising is also welcome.

    More info contact the Editor:

Video Related Domains for Sale

Interested Parties can contact:

Streaming Internet Content:
The Failing All or Nothing Strategy
Streaming Internet Content: The Failing All or Nothing Strategy
by Jesse Monroy, Jr.

Jesse discusses some of the challenges of streaming video and the problems that stem from poor assumptions in it's original design when trying to stream MPEG Video.

Dirac OpenSource Wavelet Video Codec
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has released Dirac OpenSource Wavelet codec that is general-purpose aimed at video resolutions from QCIF (180x144) to HDTV (1920x1080) progressive or interlaced. According to the SourceForge web site it uses wavelets, motion compensation and arithmetic coding and aims to be competitive with other state of the art codecs.
SourceForge project directory with source

The Register Article
SlashDot article

ECCA Releases Technical Specification for a Basic Digital Set Top Box

European Cable Communications Association, ECCA has released a spec for interoperable cableboxes for Europe.

Dr. Manuel Cubero, Vice President digital TV of Kabel Deutschland and Incoming ECCA President points out: “The development of the ECCA set-top box specification is a great initiative as it facilitates a fast transition from analogue to digital, one of the key items on our agenda. It is essentialfor the speedy development of digital TV via cable to have low-priced, cable-ready, interoperable IRDs commercially available very soon.” Original Press Release here


Previous Articles      Current Articles

Video on CellPhones is coming of age.
I recently spend the past few weeks getting up to speed with streaming video to Cell Phones. They have been making a lot of progress towards this in the past year and several new phones are coming out this year with built in MPEG4 over RTP/RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) capability.

I'm not just talking about the Smart Phones with Windows CE that has a striped down Windows Media Player or the PalmOS based phones, but many of the Camera Phones can now capture about 10 seconds of 3GPP Video at 176x144 at 15fps and save it, send it over IRDA or BlueTooth and send it to other phones using MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). Some can also receive live streams over GPRS and Internet access.

The Nokia 6600 has "The Real One" player from Real Video build in. It's native and supports .MP4 .M4V MPEG-4 file and .3GP 3GPP files. 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is new standard group created for 3G cell phone standards, They have developed a transport stream format that supports H.263 and MPEG4 video with AAC or AMR (Adaptive Multi Rate GSM) Audio. These phones will compress out to the .3GP format, These can be played in the Apple Quicktime Player or Real Video, Media player didn't seem to be able to read them yet. There is also a Packet Video player available that is a bit closer to the players internal to the cell phones that is available for windows also.

Video and Streaming in Nokia Phones from the Nokia Forum

I am working with a group OverCell to stream video and audio to these phones. I have had some success with the Apple Quicktime and Darwin Steaming Server (DSS), and the RealNetworks Helix server. It seems like Apple and Real have taken a serious interest in creating tools for Cell Phone Video.

I was surprised to find that by registering for $29.95 the Apple QuickTime Player I could export .3gp files that could be played directly on cell phones or streamed using the DSS. One think to keep in mind with streaming RTSP is any time to be streamed requires a Hinted MPEG-4 file. This uses a special track in the transport stream called a Hint Track that contains the RTP packed marked off by the compression codec to all the streaming server to know where to start and end UDP packets.

Example 3GPP Clip Here

There are also a number of good tools for Unix/Linux for creating Hinted MPEG-4 and .3gp files. FFMPEG, TransCode, MPEG4IP are the one that seem to stand out. Also for Audio there is FAAD at this is the ultimate MPEG audio coding package.

Osprey® Video Capture
I keep hearing everyone jump up and down about the Osprey video capture products. I don't get it.

These boards are from ViewCast some support SimulStreamtm and "Multiple Bit Rate (MBR)" which is cool for allowing multiple programs to capture from the same source at different frame rates and resolutions, but this is just a software trick in the driver. A better streaming application would'nt need this.

The Osprey 100 is really just a Conexant BT878 or CX23881 based card, and sells for $150 while other vendors sell these cards from $20 to $50 each. Some of their higher end cards do have professional conenctors, but I don't really see any improvement using these cards. If anything inproving the capture source like upgrading to a good 3CCD camera makes much more of a difference.

Here is a list and images and technical details to all the video boards supported by the Linux BTTV Driver. Video Capture board Gallery

New HDTV Cable companies are poping up
I have notice several new Private HDTV/Cable companies seem to be comming up with very little marketing and very quietly. You would think starting a new cable provider would get a lot more attention in the financial press.

USD-TV U.S. Digital Television, Inc. Is using conventional TV tranmitters to provide HDTV service in Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, and is only $20 a month

Voom VOOM is a satellite television service, provided by Rainbow DBS, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC).

Akimbo Akimbo is HDTV streaming over the Internet to a broadband connection at home. Akimbo has offices in Los Angeles and San Mateo, California, and is backed by Silicon Valley investment firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Sprout Group, and Zone Ventures.

I saw an interesting announcment back in April that all of these will use or at least are interested in Windows Media 9 for their HTDV Broadcasts!

Microsoft Announces Leading Broadcast Companies to Deploy Products and Services Based on Windows Media 9 Series Interesting related article

, This is the serious player in town. Launched September 2001 by co-founders Mark Cuban, owner of Dallas Mavericks, and Philip Garvin of Colorado Studios. HDNET Produces and televises more hours of HDTV sports, news and entertainment programming each week than any other network.

Many cable providers get their HD Content from HDNet:
- Adelphia Communications
- Charter Communications
- DISH Network
- Insight Communications
- Mediacom Communications
- Time Warner Cable and several NCTC cable affiliate companies.

I'm sure USDTV, VOOM and Akimbo must all get much of their content from here as well.

I also see a lot of references to Shanghai Broadcasting Lab although I can not get this to translate.

Did you know there are now HDTV VHS Tape players with content starting to come out. It's know as D-VHS or HD-VHS

high definition HD-VHS players sell for around $550 to $1300.

HM-DH30000 D-VHS
HM-DH40000 D-VHS Digital HDTV Recorder

Mitsubishi (

Panasonic (

Sony (

The HDTV tapes will not work with analog VCRs or analog TVs.

Yahoo sells HD-VHS Tapes from HDNet's HDTV Content

What is HomePNA?
HomePNA stands for Home Phoneline Networking Alliance and is a (LAN) networking technology that uses the existing phone wires in the home to share a single Internet connection with several devices
HomePNA 3.0, can reach 128 Mbps, (not KBps) and supports Quality of Service (QoS). allowing it to transport IEEE1394 data.

"By reaching 128Mbps and beyond, HomePNA 3.0 lays the foundation for the next generation of home networking solutions geared toward multimedia applications. By addressing such issues as QoS for such applications as streaming video and audio, HomePNA 3.0 addresses the critical need of a plethora of vendors and service providers for a reliable, low-cost, and easy-to-use backbone solution that can complement additional networking technologies." said Kurt Scherf, vice president of research at Park Associates, a Dallas-based market research and consulting company.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has already adopted global phoneline networking standards G.989.1, G989.2 and G989.3 based on the HomePNA 2.0 specification. HomePNA members companies are working together and will shortly present recommendations based on version 3.0 to the ITU-T. HomePNA 3.0 physical interface is based on version 2.0 physical layer technology and is fully backwards compatable.

HomePNA 3.0 specification are being developed to power a variety of devices including pre-configured PCs, network interface cards and adapters, residential gateways, broadband modems, printers, multimedia devices, Internet appliances, set top boxes and consumer electronics products such as TVs, DVDs, DVRs and home entertainment systems.

This is something we video people really should keep our eyes on with companies like Xilinx already shipping parts with this built in. It could very easily become a common part of HDTV systems, and interoperate with things like OSGi(Open Services Gateway Initiative), Jini, UPnP, AVC and HAVi. AVC (Audio Video Control) and HAVi (Home Audio/Video Interoperability) already operate over IEEE1394
HomePNA Site

Xilinx paper on this

Other things to keep an eye on is HomeRF, Bluetooth, HiperLAN2, IEEE 802.11, HomePlug, and I'm sure we all already know about IEEE 1394 FireWire.

Interesting Links
Links to Standards Bodies

FMOD Sound Library Supports Windows, Linux, WinCE, Macintosh, GameCube, PS2 and XBOX!

Hardware or Software? Wading the Video Stream An article at Network Computing Magazine

CRS4 / Digital Media Systems group This is a very interesting group out of Italy doing R&D into MP@ML, MHEG-5 MPH and many other video related technologies

ATi Introduces the HDTV Wonder Seems like the basis for great HDTV PVR's

Video Card Forum Specializing in ATI and NVidia

TV Predictions .com - Unconventional Analysis of TV Technology Lots of interesting HDTV Articles

TV Technology .com Another Video Magazine online and in Print

Advanced Graphics Algorithms, by Henri Hakl

Amara's Wavelet Page Links and resources on wavelet signal processing

Copyright © 2004, John L. Sokol
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