Video Technology Magazine
Video Technology Magazine October 2004               

Exploding TV
It's in the air, an Idea who's time has come.

I have been contacted by several readers and started to see a flood of discussion about download-able TV, cable boxes. Several even want me to work on these. It's disturbing really since I was talking about this back in 1996 and talking to the now dead Intertainer back in late 1997 about this as well as approached much of the adult industry , Penthouse, Vivid etc about it. Even briefly with a group USVI, US Video Interactive.
In 1998 we were pushing D1 Full motion video of Korean TV out to the US at my now defunct DVBS Inc. Across the international backbones and had the code "Frame accurate" meaning a frame was coming into out of the graphics card on the far and while it was still be captured on the encoder on the input side! we were only 250ms behind. You'd be suprize to see how many American's was to see live football on while in Korea and we were able to do that technically but not legally!

Even companies like the now defunct LOADtv were doing this 5 years ago.
"On average, people consume five to six Web-sites during a surfing session," said LOADtv's 29-year-old CEO Morgan Warstler. "We can deliver five to six of their favorite Web shows per session."

I guess things like Akimbo and MovieBeam are finally starting to sink into investors heads! Not only can we do standard Def, but live HDTV and Digital Cinema already using P2P over $50 a month DSL lines and Cablemodems. How much farther past the flashpoint will we need to go before this technology starts to ignite. The longer it takes the harder it will explode when it does eventually happens.

Below are some blogs and article I am starting to see on this. - Web TV Start-Ups Show Programs Outside the Box
Slashdot, Changing Use of Internet?

Ripped from Blogs
A VC - Musings of a VC in NYC

Fred Wilson writes about a discussion on "about Video On Demand (VOD), TV delivered over phone lines (IP TV), Video on the Internet (Streaming), and Downloadable Video (Bit Torrent)":

I believe we are going the way of downloaded TV over the long run. What should the content owners do about this? I think they should recognize that the ad sponsored content model can work in a downloaded world. They should cut ad avails into their programming, hard wire an IP address into those ad avails to pull an advertisement off of their servers, and then let the programming go wherever it will go. In an always on world, they'll get the ad impressions they always got, and probably a lot more.
Who is going to build out the infrastructure for this new world of exploding TV? I am not sure, but I do hope they stop by our offices and tell us what they are doing. Because we want to invest in this trend.

[Via Fred] - TV Harmony argues for Video-on-demand:

for a large percentage of the population, VOD, especially if it expands to becoming a centralized DVR, is likely going to be the easier solution.
the battle will ultimately be played out on HDTV. The cost of HDTV is getting lower each day, and more and more people are buying HDTV-ready sets. More and more content is being delivered in HDTV format, and it won't take too much time before people demand HDTV streams as a viewing preference. HDTV content will ultimately have a "broadcast flag" making reproduction more difficult for people, and the size of the files will increase.

video's relationship with people [is] different than the relationship people have with music. People listen to music over and over again, but in general, video is a single use commodity for the most part. This changes the calculus slightly in that the pain to download a video has to be less than the pain to download a music track, or it doesn't seem worth it.

content providers have an excellent opportunity to create their own services before the suffer a napster-like meltdown.

There is a huge market for P2P Video Streaming over Internet. At an average streaming bandwidth of 256-384kbps, the quality is *fair* enough to watch on a 15" monitor (not full size).
One of biggest earners for ( is high speed internet streaming of live cricket. Arguably, huge bandwidth requirement is the biggest concern and the performance:cost ratio gets affected significantly. However, if a new protocol gets developed where A streams to B, B streams to C (effectively P2P like BitTorrent), the infrastructure costs comes down significantly. Other issues like "caching", "nodes leaving network", must be addressed.
An average bit-torrent file download is dependent on the number of users seeding + peers and does rise exponentially. One potential downfall, for home users, upload is approximately 10-20% of download. Considering a 1.5 MBPS cable connection, each user can upload between 80-100kbps, far less than the required 256-384 kbps bandwidth requirement.
P2P live streaming is not simple as file sharing, but once its done, there is a lot to cheer about (at least watching Cricket Matches over Internet won't be exorbitant)
-Anurag Phadke

NOTE: Anyone wanting to compete with BitTorrent or do peer2peer should check out my(John Sokol's) ECIP Protocol and contact me first.

Intel Cancels LCOS Development
It looks like the sub $2000 42" flat panel TV has been pushed back for a while. Intel has announced they are canceling their Liquid Crystal on Silicon development. Earlier Intel announced it planed to delay their launch of the LCOS chips. Now it would seem they've been scrapped altogether.

(from SlashDot)
Intel is rumored to have begun R&D for HCOS, the Hi-COSt replacement for LCOS. Intel's bean-counters say that the screens will retail for an estimated $250,000, and will be much more profitable than the sub-$2000 LCOS screens. (this was a joke)

Adoption of WMV9 hits some snags
EETimes story about the future of the video codecs for HD DVDs. The Microsoft convinced both the Blu-ray Disc Association and the DVD Forum to adopt its WMV9 video codec over MPEG4 for the upcoming VC-1 standard that is mandated for high-definition video devices. That was a huge coup for Microsoft. Now it turns out that Microsoft cheated and lied: its code is not as good as MPEG 4, the WMV9 reference implementation is not available, and the WMV9 test suite does not exercise all the features. The SMPTE might drop WMV9 after all.

Slashdot Article on this

HD DVD spec advances, products expected in 2005 EETimes, June 18, 2004

SBC and Microsoft to Provide HDTV Over IP
SBC Communications (The #1 DSL provider in the US) is announcing new plans for broadband deployment, including internet, HDTV, and VOIP service: "With today's announcement, SBC will significantly accelerate its previously planned deployment pace and now plans to reach 18 million homes by year-end 2007. Through Project Lightspeed, the company will deploy 38,800 miles of fiber - double the amount used to build out the company's DSL network - at a cost of $4 billion to $6 billion.


It is already possible using H.264 or WM9 to stream HDTV at around 1Mbps. This level of bandwidth is awailable to cable modem and high end DSL customers. See Akimbo

The Universal Off Button
Wired news is running a story about TV-B-Gone, a new weapon in the fight against the pervasiveness of television in our society. With this device, which takes the form of a keychain fob with a single button, you can turn off virtually any TV set. How does it work? By rolling through all known IR power-off codes, one by one, trying codes from the most popular brands first. Personally, I am terribly annoyed by TVs in restaurants and airports: they grab my attention over and over, no matter how hard I try to ignore them, and they distract me from the conversations that I should be having with my human companions. Unfortunately, the TV-B-Gone website seems to have already been swamped by the Wired coverage, so we cannot order these just yet. In the mean time, those of you with DIY proclivities may want to think about wiring one of these up yourself using a PIC chip or other micro-controller." An anonymous reader adds links to mentions at CNET, TV station KESQ and Ananova.

Engadget Interviews TiVo CEO
interview of Mike Ramsay, CEO of TiVo, by Engadget correspondent J.D. Lasica. He's rather candid in his thoughts on Hollywood, Netflix, the FCC, the INDUCE act, their competition, and their latest technology, TiVo ToGo, which lets you take your TiVo-recorded shows with you on your laptop (or PC, as it were).

HDTV Recorders where are they at now.
I have updated HDTV with a new list of HDTV recording PVR's as well as Captures boards and HD VCR's.

Microsoft Bringing TV to Xbox
Microsoft is set to release its Windows Media Center Extender for Xbox mid-November. The device will allow you to view recorded and downloaded media content stored on your PC via your Xbox.

"Media Center PC as the entertainment hub in your home, the Media Center Extender extends the powerful features and storage capabilities of the Media Center PC to any room in the house."

You must have a Media Center PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to operate the Media Center Extende r

Although Media Center Edition 2005 will be able to record and playback HDTV the extender will only be able to do Standard Def and not HD.

DVB-T STB/MPEG2 Player That Can Access SMB Shares
Siemens is realeasing beginning of November the Gigaset M740 AV (German text). This is a DVB-T set-top-box that can access SMB shares either via ethernet or WLAN and store its MPEG2 compliant streams. Alternatively it can be used as an MPEG2 streaming client. Other cool features include the ability to hook-up standard USB hard-drives as storage, a dual tuner architecture and a very cool design.

Distress Signal Emitted By Flat-Screen TV
CNN is a running a story on an Oregon college student's flat-screen Toshiba TV which was releasing the 121.5 MHz international distress signal. He was unaware of the issue until local police, search and rescue, and civil air patrol members showed up at his apartment's door. Apparently the signal was strong enough to be picked up by satellite and then routed to the Air Force Rescue Center in Virginia. Quite impressive - luckily Toshiba is offering him a free replacement."

Panasonic AJ-HDC27V HD Cinema camera
I know it's not new having been released in 2001, but I just found out about it.

The Panasonic's AJ-HDC27 VariCam can replicate many of the key features of film-based cameras, including 24-frame progressive scan images, time lapse recording, and a wide range of variable frame rates (4-fps to 33-fps, 36, 40 and 60-fps in single-frame increments) for “overcranked” and “undercranked” off-speed in-camera effects.
It's really a high end camcorer that shoots on DVCPRO HD Media, with 16:9 720p HD resolution. I don't know if I'd consider 720p to be worthy of the title digital Cinema, it's sort of like shooting with 16mm film.
Most Digital Cinema being setup with 2K systems with just slightly over 1080p/24 image sources (this is what George Lucas shot the new StarWars movies in).
None the less it's a really cool camera.

AJ-HDC27V can be rented from Bexel Corporation (Burbank, CA).

Panasonic Sells the AJ-HDC27F for $66,000 US they also have the AK-HC931 for around $49,000 US and the AK-HC900 for $29,000 US. Link here

Here is a cool link
digital cinema society

Yahoo Grounps hdtvproduction

Online Movie Pay Per view.
Several companies now exist that offer legal download and streaming movie rental and have agreements with the copyright holders. These movies are available at various bitrates from 100 to 700 Kbps as are about 1/2 GigByte to download. The companies I have seen so far use either Microsoft Windows media WM9 or Real Video.
These movies are equipt with the latest in DRM (Digital Rights Management) that only allow a 24 Hr viewing period before becoming deactivated.

The market research company, NPD Group measured consumer activity for the first 6 months of 2004. The activity at present is modest with paid movie downloads accounting for just 0.3% of video units that were purchased or rented. MovieLink accounted for 33% of all sales followed by MovieFlix with 13%.

The demographics are interesting in that they mirror in many ways the demographics of the early paid music download sites. NPD Group found that 80% of users are males and that one out of four between are between the ages of 18 and 24. Half of download renter are presently under age 35 and 80% are under age 45.

Paid Movie Downloads Follow Digital Music's Lead
Online Movie Download Sales To Grow

VOD Streaming and Download movie service providers are:

Full Movie Downloads (can anyone try this one and tell me what the deal is? Mail me)

I have seen several sites posing as legitmate services and are really some P2P File Sharing like Kazaa or Gnutella behind it.

Sony Professional Disk Blue Laser Optical format
Blue Laser Storage Solutions has the Sony BW-S101/RS101 SCSI & BW-U101/RS101 USB Extermal High Capacity Blue Laser Optical Drive.

They only store 23.3 GB, It's like $3,000 US for the drives and $50 to $60 per disk. This only 5x the capacity of regular DVD-R 4.7 Gig Disks that are under a as low a $0.43 USD already. There is also 9.4GB Double Sided DVD-R disks for around $3 a disk.

Defeating MacroVision
Some 20 years ago MacroVision "copy protection" first came out, it was never more then a nuisance, MacroVision Scrubbers became very popular. Several diagrams were floating around on BBS's on how to use some simple op-amp circuits to remove it and allow for a clean signal since the MacroVision VHS tapes would NOT play correctly on many older VCR's and TV's. Amazing enough I cannot find a single one of these diagrams around.

These days it's DVD's and the player it self generates these signals. They distort the video even under the best of circumstances. Even when playing a DVD on my ATI Radeon 9800 with TV out it generates these MacroVision distortions that effect my image quality, this also happens when playing downloadable movies!

Fortunately thing like the BT878 Capture board aren't affected by it, so programs like vesatv remove it. And many companies sell "video stabilizers" or "signal cleaners" that repair the video sync to be NTSC compliant again. Sima sells the CT-1 for $89 that will do this.

General Macrovision-free Tips from [digital-digest]

Samsung to use sub-pixel VGA screens
Samsung Electronics has developed a new graphics chip that will allow half VGA screens to produce VGA resolution.

The novelty is specially aimed at future mobiles with VGA screens that will be less than 2.4 inches. It generates color using an entirely new driving method called sub-pixel unit driving methodology. Contrary to existing color display methods that express color pixel by pixel, this new method creates color at the sub-pixel level representing more than two data lines from the same pixel. By composing a new pixel with the sub-pixel on the adjacent scanning line, 480x640 (VGA) resolution can be attained from a 240x640 (half VGA) panel. The device can display up to 260K colors for TFT panels in mobile phones.

Additionally, the problem of dark screen due to the increased pixel density on high resolution panels has been solved using 4-color (R-G-B-W) rendering algorithm, improving the brightness of TFT-LCD panels. With this 4-color rendering algorithm, which extracts white signal from R-G-B signal input and processes 4-color R-G-B-W, the brightness of panel is increased more than 50 percent.

"Development of high-resolution displays is urgently needed with the advent of camera phones, video phones, TV phones and other new products that require an entirely different level of image quality," said Dr. Jin-tae Kim, vice president of System LSI Division at Samsung Electronics. "The 4-color sub-pixel rendering technology we recently developed will play a key role in the transition to ultra-high-resolution panels for mobile products. Moreover, our development of this new chip will put us in an advantageous position in the hotly-contested market for mobile size displays."

Samsung Electronics plans to begin using the technology on high-end mobile phone models in the second quarter of 2005.

Sep   —   Nov

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Digital Cinema transmitted by satellite
The film "The Final Cut" starring Robin Williams, is being released October 15th it will be the first major Hollywood film to transmitted by satellite to the theaters. It will air exclusively at at 115 North American AMC Theatres screens in 27 markets.

AMC will present the film digitally, using AMC's proprietary Digital Theatre Distribution System (DTDS).
DTDS, developed by AMC's subsidiary National Cinema Network, is a system for distribution and exhibition of digital content from a variety of sources for pre-feature programming as well as for special events programming, such as the theatrical premiere of Avril Lavigne's MY WORLD concert DVD back in December. AMC has installed the DTDS system in more than 1,200 screens in the U.S. as of January, and will expand the system to more than 2,500 screensthis year.

National Cinema Network offers integrated cinema media (film, slide and audio advertising), lobby marketing, and Internet opportunities that reach moviegoers everywhere they go. Founded in 1985, National Cinema Network has developed several cinema advertising innovations, successfully introducing new advertising and promotion platforms in theatres, while respecting and maintaining the entertaining environment. National Cinema Network continues its commitment to innovation and quality with the introduction of a digital management system, DTDS(.), an easy-to-use management tool for scheduling, distributing, controlling, and reporting content displayed within a movie theatre. Based in Kansas City, Mo., the company represents top theatres in top markets including 51 of the nation's top 100 highest-grossing theatres.

Last month AMC experimented with feature-length programming by releasing the independent film Evergreen to its theatres by satellite.

The movie industry, which still hasn't arrived at standards for digital movie distribution -- and is worried about digital piracy and who will pay for the expensive equipment in theatres -- is closely watching the move.

The AMC System isn't compatible with the standards set by DCI, the seven-studio digital cinema coalition.

"It's a problem that there are inferior quality systems that are going to be used to show movies to moviegoers," Doug Darrow, business manager DLP Cinema, is quoted as saying.
"The moviegoer deserves a theatrical-quality image, and the only way they can get that is with a DLP Cinema projector and a DCI-compliant system. With all due respect to my friends at AMC, if you are going to show a movie to an audience, and they are going to pay standard ticket price, then they deserve the best quality that technology can deliver."

Currently National Cinema Network pre-show advertizements NTSC, 720 x 480, Digital Betacam (DigiBeta), 16:9 Letterbox - 16:9 Anamorphic
It's not know what resolution their Film releases will be at.

"The concern with these experiments with less than 2K (resolution) is you start to chip away at the idea of a single global system, and the whole thing could dissolve into some chaos of standards," said Charles Swartz, executive director and CEO of the Entertainment Technology Center at USC. "We may lose the opportunity to get to the single inventory system." hollywoodreporter

AMC Entertainment, the second largest cinema chain in the United States with more than 3,500 screens, is using its technology to bring the movies to a small number of its theatres.

Back in July AMC was acquired by Marquee Holdings Inc., an investment vehicle owned by JPMorgan Partners ("JPMP"), the private equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), and Apollo Management, L.P. ("Apollo"), a private investment firm. I can help but wonder of this move away from the DCI system with Lyons Gates had anything to do with the acquisition?

AMC representative Rick King said the equipment used by AMC is much less costly than the $130,000 to $150,000 US per screen estimate for theatre installation once standards have been arrived at.

Final Cut , Film web site

Lions Gate to use satellite distribution system

Sony, Matsushita, Sharp to launch Blu-ray Disc camcorders in 2005
, 10.07.04, 11:00 AM ET - AFX News Limited
TOKYO (AFX) - Firms that are supporting one of the next-generation optical DVD formats, the Blu-ray Disc, plan to release camcorders that record on smaller versions of the discs as early as 2005, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported, without citing sources.

Sony Corp, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd and Sharp Corp plan to develop smaller, 8-cm discs for recording, that are 4 cms smaller than current Blue-ray discs, the report said.

The firms also plan to introduce camcorders that use these smaller discs, which will have a capacity of about 15GB, 40 pct less than standard Blue-ray discs, with prices about triple the price of normal camcorders, the report said.

Firms backing the Blu-ray format have been competing with the other next-generation DVD format, HD-DVD, which is supported by such companies as NEC Corp and Toshiba Corp.

I don't know if I agree with the article below but it's worth the read.
Blu-Ray Has Already Won from

Toshiba will release laptops with HD-DVD under its high-end Qosmio brand and plans to ship one million units in the first year to Europe, the U.S. and China, as well as Japan. The company claims the slimline HD-DVD format is more suitable to laptop PCs than the rival Blu-ray Disc format.

Digital Cinema Comes to India
Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition has joined hands with Chennai-based Kalasa Entertainment Media Private Limited (KEMPL) for digital delivery of movies in the southern states of India. Mukta Adlabs, the joint venture between Adlabs Films and Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts, already has a presence in other parts of the country. With this alliance, the joint venture plans to establish a foothold in the strong southern movie market.

Mukta Adlabs will take care of the digital conversion of the southern movies as part of the operational partnership with Kalasa. The JV will also supply e-cinema audio interface systems and provide maintenance support to Kalasa. Singapore-headquartered GDC Technology will provide the digital servers. Kalasa, which launched its digital cinema initiative in June, plans to double its digital cinema installations to 10 in Tamil Nadu within a month. The company expects to install 65 theaters and release about 30 films in digital format in its first year of operations.

"Machie", starring Dushyanth, was the first film to be released in August as part of a "digital cinema initiative for south India", launched by Kalasa.

Kalasa managing director Ramesh V. Subramaniam says as many as 250 digitizing projects, which will help cut production costs and combat video piracy, have already been completed.

Kalasa has received $ 0.5 million from Sat Pal Khattar, a founding partner of Singapore-based law firm Khattar Wong and Partners. "We are expecting another $ 2.5 million from foreign investors in the next two months," says Kalasa CEO Ramesh V Subramaniam. Indian venture capitalists from Mumbai and Bangalore have also showed interest in investing in digital cinema, he adds.

One of the theatres in Tamil Nadu where Kalasa has installed digital cinema system

Kalasa prefers 'A2' class theatres (which fall between A and B class theatres) in South India, while Mukta Adlabs has been targeting the 'B' and 'C' class theatres in other parts of the country for a digital cinema roll out.

"Ticket rates in the A2 theatres range between Rs 15 - Rs 25 ( 32¢ to 54¢ cents US) while in 'A' class theatres it is between Rs 25 - Rs 40.( 54¢ to 87¢ cents US) We are not targeting theatres in the 'C' category as ticket rates in such centers are very low. Recovering costs take a longer time," says Subramaniam.

Kalasa, set up in early 1998, has been specializing on all aspects of film sound recording and audio post-production. The company was restructured in April 2004 as it got into distribution of movies in the digital format.

Related Stories:
GDC to Serve Networks in China, India and Europe 9/12/2004
Round the world digital production DSR service system KALASA south India digital cinema in Chinese

Fisher FVD-C1
The first completely tapeless camcorder, it records onto a tiny SD memory card for fast transfer to PCs. It made the leap above just a digital camera with spurts of motion image capture. Fisher retails the device for $899 US.

More info here

Review here

Great Links
Video Formats: Why Bother Composite video, S-video, component video; we explain the differences and tell you how to get the best picture. Cool site for Linux PVR's

EETIMES June 08, 2000 , Battle over DTV standards goes global

TI plans live TV for mobile phones
Texas Instruments is prepping a new single-chip solution designed to bring live broadcast television to mobile phones and other portable devices. Dubbed "Hollywood", the chip is designed to receive signals broadcast on the recently established digital TV broadcast standards for wireless devices. Although there are multiple competing specifications, TI anticipates that the two open specifications of Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H) in North America and Europe and Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial (ISDB-T) in Japan will be the dominant players and supports both.

The new networks are expected to offer 24 frames per second (fps) video streams with full audio support. Content will presumably be the same as conventional television broadcasts, simply on another frequency. Later additions may include pay-per-view and other on-demand and metered services. Eventually TI hopes that "mobile phone TV will do for mobile phones what HDTV did for home TVs".

The chip is still a ways off, however. TI expects samples of the chip to be available in 2006, with commercial deployment in 2007. Field trials with early test equipment are already in progress, however.


Copyright © 2004, John L. Sokol
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