The Applicability of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) to Broadcast Workflows

The broadcast industry is faced with new challenges related to advanced file-based workflows. The adoption of an increasing number of distribution channels and localized content versions points to several editorial versions and output versions being required. Furthermore, broadcasters are starting to produce UHD content, which raises even more questions in terms of file handling, workflow efficiency and compression technologies.

The Interoperable Master Format (IMF) has capabilities that might make it a suitable candidate to solve many of today’s challenges in the broadcasting industry. However, it doesn’t yet appear to be sufficient for broadcast applications.

This article suggests a way of adapting IMF to broadcasters’ requirements by giving an insight into possible extensions to the IMF structure. It will be of interest to broadcasters, distributers and producers who need an efficient master format capable of accommodating today’s workflow challenges.

The achievements, presented in this paper, are part of a collaborative master thesis, realized at the EBU and the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

By Melanie Matuschak

Is Virtual Reality Streaming Ready for Primetime?

Virtual Reality is poised to revolutionize many industries including live video streaming. Join us as we cover the techology and possibilities of it opening the door to new markets.

By Mark Alamares

HbbTV 2.0: Could This Standard Become the Future of Television?

The next version of HbbTV is bringing a much more powerful toolset with it, and has the potential to change the current worldwide television landscape.

By Nicolas Weil

Standards-Based, Premium Content for the Modern Web

These days, a person is just as likely to be watching a movie on their laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, as they are to be sitting in front of a television. Cable operators are eager to provide premium video content to these types of devices but there are high costs involved in supporting the wide array of devices owned by their customers.

A multitude of technological obstacles stand in the way of delivering a secure, high-quality, reliable viewing experience to the small-screen. This four-part blog series describes an open, standards-based approach to providing premium, adaptive bitrate, audio/video content in HTML and how open source software can assist in the evaluation and deployment of these technologies.

By Greg Rutz, Lead Architect, CableLabs


An interesting article about MPEG-DASH.

Subtitles in an IP World

An end-to-end demonstration of EBU-TT-D subtitles being delivered via MPEG DASH and displayed by a client.

The Structure of an MPEG-DASH MPD

This article describes the most important pieces of the MPD, starting from the top level (Periods) and going to the bottom (Segments).

Interoperable Master Format (IMF) - Application 2 and Beyond

The State of MPEG-DASH 2015

An interesting article by Nicolas Weil, presenting the past, present, and future of MPEG-DASH.

How to Encode Multi-bitrate Videos in MPEG-DASH for MSE Based Media Players

An interesting article by Streamroot in 2 parts:
Part 1
Part 2

MPEG-DASH Content Generation Using MP4Box and x264

An interesting article describing how to produce MPEG-DASH content with open source tools.

RGB Networks Announces an Open Source Software Transcoder Initiative

RGB Networks has announced that it is developing an open source version of its popular TransAct Transcoder. Called ‘Ripcode Transcoder’, after the company Ripcode, which was acquired by RGB Networks in 2010 and which originally developed TransAct, the new, cloud-enabled software transcoder will provide RGB Networks’ customers with greater control, integration and flexibility in their video delivery workflows.

In a pioneering move, and harnessing the industry momentum toward developing cloud-based solutions, RGB Networks is actively welcoming operators and vendors to be part of a community of contributors to the open source project.

RGB Networks’ CloudXtream solution for nDVR and dynamic Ad Insertion for Multiscreen (AIM) environments, launched in October 2013 and built on the industry standard open source cloud operating system OpenStack, has paved the way for this latest innovation. The company intends to build on this success with Ripcode, which will be an “open core” project, where the core technology from the TransAct Transcoder is being used to create the foundations of the open source project.

Suitable for a variety of applications, the Ripcode Transcoder will include the full feature set expected of an industrial-strength, professional transcoder, leaving customers open to select and integrate the packaging solution of their choice necessary to produce their desired Adaptive Bit Rate output formats.

The intended feature set of the open source Ripcode Transcoder will include:

  • Both Linear (live) and Video on Demand (VOD) transcoding
  • Full cluster management, load balancing, and failover
  • Linear and VOD transcoding of MPEG2, H.264, H.265, AAC, AC3, and other industry leading video and audio codecs
  • File-to-File watch folders
  • Full reporting and logging of events
  • Commercial-grade GUI
  • RESTful APIs

Unlike other open source projects, an open source transcoder is more difficult to release due to built-in professional codec licensing. RGB Networks will release Ripcode Transcoder with only the codecs that can be legally used with open source software. Additionally, in order to facilitate use of the transcoder in professional environments that require licensed, third party codecs and pre/post processing filters, the Ripcode transcoder will include a plug-in framework, that will allow use of best-of-breed codecs and filters.

A number of vendors of such components and related technologies have expressed interest in participating in the Ripcode initiative including the following:
  • Video Codecs (including H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC): eBrisk Video, Intel Media Server Studio, Ittiam Systems, MainConcept (A DivX company), Multicoreware, NGCodec (providing HW acceleration for H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC), Squid Systems, Vanguard Video
  • Audio Codecs: Dolby Laboratories, Fraunhofer IIS
  • Video Optimization: Beamr

The release of the first version of Ripcode Transcoder – 1.0 – with all the appropriate licensing is targeted for Q1 2015.

Source: RGB Networks

SMPTE Publishes Archive eXchange Format Standard

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers published a standard that codifies the Archive eXchange Format. An IT-centric file container that can encapsulate any number and type of files in a fully self-contained and self-describing package, AXF supports interoperability among disparate content storage systems and ensures content’s long-term availability, no matter how storage or file system technology evolves.

Designed for operational storage, transport, and long-term preservation, AXF was formulated as a wrapper, or container, capable of holding virtually unlimited collections of files and metadata related to one another in any combination. Known as “AXF Objects,” such containers can package, in different ways, all the specific information different kinds of systems would need in order to restore the content data. The format relies on the Extensible Markup Language to define the information in a way that can be read and recovered by any modern computer system to which the data is downloaded.

AXF Objects are essentially immune to changes in technology and formats. Thus, they can be transferred from one archive system into remote storage—geographically remote or in the cloud, for instance—and later retrieved and read by different archive systems without the loss of any essence or metadata.

AXF Objects hold files of any kind and any size. By automatically segmenting, storing on multiple media, and reassembling AXF Objects when necessary, “spanned sets” enable storage of AXF Objects on more than one medium. Consequently, AXF Objects may be considerably larger than the individual media on which they are stored. This exceptional scalability helps to ensure that AXF Objects may be stored on any type or generation of media. The use of “collected sets” permits archive operators to make changes to AXF Objects or files within them, while preserving all earlier versions, even when write-once storage is used.

The nature of AXF makes it possible for equipment manufacturers and content owners to move content from their current archive systems into the AXF domain in a strategic way that does not require content owners to abandon existing hardware unless or until they are ready to do so. In enabling the recovery of archived content in the absence of the systems that created the archives, AXF also offers a valuable means of protecting users’ investment in content. By maintaining preservation information such as fixity and provenance as specified by the OAIS model, AXF further enables effective long-term archiving of content. Resilience of data is ensured through use of redundant AXF structures and cryptographic hash algorithms.

AXF already has been employed around the world to help businesses store, protect, preserve, and transport many petabytes of file-based content, and the format is proving fundamental to many of the cloud-based storage, preservation, and IP-based transport services available today.

Source: TV Technology

DASH AVC/264 Support in GPAC

This article shows you how to setup GPAC for your OnDemand and Live contents.

CableLabs Boots Up 4K Video Sharing Website

CableLabs has launched a 4K-focused microsite that provides access to Ultra HD/4K video clips to help platform developers, vendors, network operators and other video pros conduct tests with the emerging eye-popping format.

CableLabs said it’s offering the content under the Creative Commons License, meaning it can be used freely for non-commercial testing, demonstrations and the general advancement of technology.

As vendors utilize content from the site to test new technology, CableLabs helps the industry get one step closer to standardizing 4K content and delivering to the home.

As of this writing, the site hosts seven videos, all shot with a Red Epic camera. The longest of the batch is a fireman-focused clip titled “Seconds That Count” that runs 5 minutes and 22 seconds.

On the site, CableLabs has integrated an upload form for anyone who wants to share their 4K videos for the purpose of testing. Interested particiapnts are directed to provide a lower bite-rate HD file for preview purposes along with a 4K version. CableLabs is accepting pre-transcoded versions using MPEG HEVC or AVC, or Apple ProRes version. CableLabs will take on the task of transcoding the content into two high quality versions available for download on the website. CableLabs notes that uploaded content might be used for demos at forums, shows, and conferences.

CableLabs is launching the site as the cable industry just begins to develop plans around 4K. Among major U.S. MSOs, Comcast plans to launch an Internet-based, on-demand Xfinity TV 4K app before the end of the year that will initially be available on new Samsung UHD. The MSO is also working with partners on a new generation of boxes for its X1 platform that uses HEVC and can decode native 4K signals.

On the competitive front, DirecTV president and CEO Mike White said on the company's second quarter earnings call that the satellite TV giant will be ready to deliver 4K video on an on-demand basis this year, and be set up to follow with live 4K streaming next year or by early 2016.

Source: Multichannel News

DVB MPEG-DASH Profile Specification

The DVB MPEG-DASH Profile Specification defines the delivery of TV content via HTTP adaptive streaming. This includes the following:
  • A profile of the features defined in MPEG DASH (referred to by MPEG as an "interoperability point") largely based on the "ISOBMFF live" profile defined by MPEG.

  • Constraints on the sizes or complexity of various parameters defined in the MPEG DASH specification.

  • A selection of the video and audio codecs from the DVB toolbox that are technically appropriate with MPEG DASH constraints and/or requirements for the use of these, without mandating any particular codec.

  • Using MPEG Common Encryption for content delivered according to the present document.

  • Use of TTML subtitles with MPEG DASH.

  • Requirements on Player behaviour needed to give inter-operable presentation of services.

  • Guidelines for content providers on how to use MPEG DASH.

Overhead and Performance of Low Latency Live Streaming using MPEG-DASH

HTTP Streaming is a recent topic in multimedia communications with on-going standardization activities, especially with the MPEG DASH standard which covers on demand and live services. One of the main issues in live services deployment is the reduction of the overall latency. Low or very low latency streaming is still a challenge.

In this paper, we push the use of DASH to its limits with regards to latency, down to fragments being only one frame, and evaluate the overhead introduced by that approach and the combination of: low latency video coding techniques, in particular Gradual Decoding Refresh; low latency HTTP streaming, in particular using chunked-transfer encoding; and associated ISOBMF packaging.

We experiment DASH streaming using these techniques in local networks to measure the actual end-to-end latency, as low as 240 milliseconds, for an encoding and packaging overhead in the order of 13% for HD sequences and thus validate the feasibility of very low latency DASH live streaming in local networks.

By Nassima Bouzakaria, Cyril Concolato and Jean Le Feuvre

DVB Approves UHDTV HEVC Delivery Profile

A significant step in the road to Ultra High Definition TV services has been taken with the approval of the DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification at the 77th meeting of the DVB Steering Board. The specification includes an HEVC Profile for DVB broadcasting services that draws, from the options available with HEVC, those that will match the requirements for delivery of UHDTV Phase 1 and other formats. The specification updates ETSI TS 101 154 (Specification for the use of Video and Audio Coding in Broadcasting Applications based on the MPEG-2 Transport Stream).

The new DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 will allow images with four times the static resolution of the 1080p HDTV format, at frame rates of up to 60 images per second. Contrast will be drastically improved by increasing the number of bits per pixel to 10 bit. From the wide range of options defined in the HEVC Main 10 profile, Level 5.1 is specified for UHD content for resolutions up to 2160p. For HD content, HEVC Main profile level 4.1 is specified for supporting resolutions up to 1080p.

The DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification takes into account the possibility that UHDTV Phase 2 may use higher frame rates in a compatible way, which will add further to the image quality of UHDTV Phase 1.

“HEVC is the most recently-developed compression technology and, among other uses, it is the key that will unlock UHDTV broadcasting,” said DVB Steering Board Chairman, Phil Laven. “This new DVB–UHDTV Phase 1 specification not only opens the door to the age of UHDTV delivery but also potentially sets the stage for Phase 2, the next level of UHDTV quality, which will be considered in upcoming DVB work,” he continued.

Also approved was the specification for Companion Screens and Streams, Part 2: Content Identification and Media Synchronization. Companion Devices (tablets, smart phones) enable new user experiences for broadcast service consumption. Many of these require synchronisation between the Broadcast Service at the TV Device and the Timed Content presented at the Companion Device. This specification focuses on the identification and synchronisation of a Broadcast Service on a TV Device (Connected TV or STB and screen) and Timed Content on a Companion Screen Application running on a Companion Device. Part 2 outlines the enabling factors for the identification of, and synchronisation with, broadcast content, timed content and trigger events on TV devices (for example a Connected TV or STB) and related content presented by an application running on a personal device.

Another specification to gain approval from the Steering Board was the MPEG-DASH Profile for Transport of ISO BMFF Based DVB Services over IP Based Networks. This specification defines the delivery of TV content via HTTP adaptive streaming. MPEG-DASH covers a wide range of use cases and options. Transmission of audiovisual content is based on the ISOBMFF file specification. Video and audio codecs from the DVB toolbox that are technically appropriate with MPEG-DASH have been selected. Conditional Access is based on MPEG Common Encryption and delivery of subtitles will be XML based. The DVB Profile of MPEG-DASH reduces the number of options and also the complexity for implementers. The new specification will facilitate implementation and usage of MPEG-DASH in a DVB environment.

The three new specifications will now be sent to ICT standards body ETSI for formal standardisation and the relevant BlueBooks will be published shortly.

Source: Advanced Television

CEA: UHDTV is 8-bit, 3840x2160

The Consumer Electronics Association has announced updated core characteristics for ultra high-definition TVs, monitors and projectors for the home. As devised and approved by CEA’s Video Division Board, these characteristics build on the first-generation UHD characteristics released by CEA in October 2012.

These expanded display characteristics (CEA’s Ultra High-Definition Display Characteristics V2) – voluntary guidelines that take effect in September 2014 – are designed to address various attributes of picture quality and help move toward interoperability, while providing clarity for consumers and retailers alike.

Under CEA’s expanded characteristics, a TV, monitor or projector may be referred to as Ultra High-Definition if it meets the following minimum performance attributes:

  • Display Resolution – Has at least eight million active pixels, with at least 3,840 horizontally and at least 2,160 vertically.
  • Aspect Ratio – Has a width to height ratio of the display’s native resolution of 16:9 or wider.
  • Upconversion – Is capable of upscaling HD video and displaying it at ultra high-definition resolution.
  • Digital Input – Has one or more HDMI inputs supporting at least 3840x2160 native content resolution at 24p, 30p and 60p frames per second. At least one of the 3840x2160 HDMI inputs shall support HDCP revision 2.2 or equivalent content protection.
  • Colorimetry – Processes 2160p video inputs encoded according to ITU-R BT.709 color space and may support wider colorimetry standards.
  • Bit Depth – Has a minimum color bit depth of eight bits.

Because one of the first ways consumers will have access to native 4K content is via Internet streaming on connected ultra HDTVs, CEA has defined new characteristics for connected UHDTV displays. Under these new characteristics, which complement the updated core UHD attributes, a display system may be referred to as a connected ultra HD device if it meets the following minimum performance attributes:
  • Ultra High-Definition Capability – Meets all of the requirements of the CEA Ultra High-Definition Display Characteristics V2 (listed above).
  • Video Codec – Decodes IP-delivered video of 3840x2160 resolution that has been compressed using HEVC* and may decode video from other standard encoders.
  • Audio Codec – Receives and reproduces, and/or outputs multichannel audio.
  • IP and Networking – Receives IP-delivered Ultra HD video through a Wi-Fi, Ethernet or other appropriate connection.
  • Application Services – Supports IP-delivered Ultra HD video through services or applications on the platform of the manufacturer’s choosing.

CEA’s expanded display characteristics also include guidance on nomenclature designed to help provide manufacturers with marketing flexibility while still providing clarity for consumers. Specifically, the guidance states, “The terms ‘Ultra High-Definition,’ ‘Ultra HD’ or ‘UHD’ may be used in conjunction with other modifiers,” for example “Ultra High-Definition TV 4K”.

*High Efficiency Video Compression Main Profile, Level 5, Main tier, as defined in ISO/IEC 23008-2 MPEG-H Part 2 or ITU-T H.265, and may support higher profiles, levels or tiers.

Source: TV Technology

H265 - Technical Overview

A nice introduction to HEVC by Fabio Sonnati.