2010 Archive - AWS Elemental Blog

Video Processing Perspectives

2010 Archive - AWS Elemental Blog
2010 Archive - AWS Elemental Blog
Submitted by whitney on July 9, 2010

Deserting the satellite

TVs are everywhere. They are commonly spotted at bus stops, gas stations, in airports, in banks, in grocery stores—the list goes on. According to Nielsen Media Research, there are more televisions in the average household than there are people. TV has rapidly progressed since its introduction into people’s living rooms in the 1940s from black and white to color, from rabbit ears to cable/ satellite/IPTV, and now to HD and DVRs, and eventually to 3D.

As TV technology booms, broadcasters must stay in sync with current means of content delivery. Networks long ago deserted the antiquated method of delivering video on reels of tape, advanced to satellite delivery and recently developed new systems like PitchBlue® to automate delivery of syndicated content via satellite. Automated delivery of video creates major efficiencies in the workflows of television broadcasters.  However, many broadcasters transitioning to PitchBlue are unable to immediately experience benefits of the new video delivery system because they often face difficulties transcoding PitchBlue files for play-out.

News-Press & Gazette (NPG), an American broadcasting company, is currently transitioning to the PitchBlue file delivery system at many of its television stations, including KTVZ in Bend, Ore., and KESQ in Palm Springs, Calif. NPG's Director of Technical Operations, Jim DeChant, looks for transcoding solutions to improve the speed and efficiency of his video broadcasting operations.  Huge volumes of programming are delivered across multiple facilities and millions of minutes are wasted each year by time consuming video file conversions.  It can take up to 40 minutes to transcode a single hour program from PitchBlue HD files.  “Real time is just not enough time anymore,” said David Montgomery, operations director at KTVZ.

According to the Big Broadcast Survery 2010, "The top three trends indicate that the broadcast industry is focused on unlocking new revenue streams and creating operational efficiencies while it continues its transition to HTDV operations."

NPG is implementing Elemental Server, a massively parallel, faster-than-real-time transcoding appliance into its workflow and is experiencing positive results.  To read the full story about how NPG has integrated the Elemental Server video processing solution into its daily operations, please read our case study.

Submitted by whitney on June 30, 2010

Broadercasting Logo

Sitting right in the middle of Silicon Forest, Portland is exploding with innovative technology companies, particularly in the video space. Companies such as Tektronix, ArtsBeats and Omneon, actually have a lot in common with Oregon's video technology users, mainly broadcasters, including KGW, KOIN, KATU and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). They're all Oregon-based, constantly innovating and video-centric. Portland is unique because, for a city of its size, it has such a close-knit community; however, Elemental finds that after attending the annual NAB show in Las Vegas and sharing the floor with many of our neighbors, back at home the common connections often get lost. 

We'd like to reverse that trend and so have linked up with our friends at the Oregon Association of Broadcasters (OAB) and OPB to host Broadercasting, a free networking event for Oregon's engineers and broadcasting production professionals, just two weeks from today on July 20, 2010.

This event is an excellent opportunity for everyone who plays a role in the Oregon video technology scene to learn from each other and gain a better perspective on the full scope of video production and distribution technology.  Software engineers will have the opportunity to see the needs of broadcasters first-hand and use that knowledge when developing solutions.  On the flip side, broadcasters will get some insight on the particular challenges that engineers face in product development.  OPB is opening its studio for a tour and a peek inside its control room.  In addition to the educational opportunities that will be offered at Broadercasting, there will be snacks and spirits provided and prizes awarded. 

Although OAB has its great annual conference in October, a networking event that includes the tech side of video has not been done before. We're excited to be taking part in organizing this event.  A successful event will lead to more in the future, so we encourage those interested to come and bring friends and colleagues. 

If you can't make it to Broadercasting on the 20th, but want to stay in the loop on future events join the LinkedIn group "Northwest Video Technology Professionals." 

Event Details:

  • When: July 20, 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Where: OPB Studios, 7140 SW Macadam Ave., Portland, OR
  • Who: You! (engineers, video development programmers, broadcasters etc.)
  • RSVP: (503) 443-2299 or theoab@theoab.org
Submitted by Eli on June 17, 2010
World Cup 2006:  - "Did you see that goal by Brazil?"
                             - "No, I wish.  I'm at work.  I'm tracking the play-by-play online, though.  Was it a good shot?"
World Cup 2010:  - "Did you see that goal by Brazil?"
                             - "Yes, which one do you mean? I saw both! That first one by Maicon was so amazing that I had to rewind my stream to see it again.  I thought for sure the goalie deflected it, but in slow motion you could see that he just bent it right in. Well I need to go file this report!"


In the technology world, four years is an eternity.  So, those of us woking on streaming technology not only understand its evolution in the last four years, but can truly appreciate how the presence of video everywhere has revolutionized coverage of the 2010 World Cup.

World Cup ESPN3 Screenshot

You may have noticed the ease of streaming the World Cup online has created a shift in thinking.  When you're figuring out if you'll be able to watch a game, instead of automatically asking yourself, "Am I going to be near a TV at that time?" the question becomes, "Am I going to be near a TV or a computer at that time?" (not to mention the option of mobile streaming).  Streaming the World Cup online has become a preferred option of many viewers because it's free, it's easy, and it looks good.  I have watched a couple (well, several—it does qualify as research for our work!) of the games on ESPN3.com and the higher quality streams have been superb. 

The streaming is adaptive bit rate, as the best online video experience requires today, and the only really "unwatchable" stream is the one at the lowest bit rate, which I have only been subjected to once.  ESPN EVP Damon Philips told NewTeeVee's Janko Roettgers that ESPN3's users are, on average, "watching the 1.5 Mbps stream," which is a relatively high bit rate and means there are a lot of happy viewers out there. 

In a NewTeeVee poll asking readers how they are watching the World Cup, 49% said on TV, while 50% said online (in addition to ESPN3.com, Univisionfutbol.com is another popular source for live streaming).  Granted, visitors to the NewTeeVee site might provide a bit of a skewed cross-section of all World Cup viewers, but it's still telling.  Would World Cup viewers consider online streaming as good an option if the quality wasn't cutting it? Nope.

One of the best uses of video so far in World Cup coverage has been within ESPN's GameCasts.  For those who like to track the games, ESPN.com provides lineups, play-by-play commentary, and best of all, nearly instantaneous uploads of game highlights as they happen.  Miss that beautiful shot just scored? ESPN will clip the live stream and the video highlight of the goal will be posted to GameCast in a matter of minutes (actually, CBS Interactive's GameSpot is using Elemental Live in a very similar use case this week at E3).

If you haven't experienced World Cup live streaming yet, there's just a few hours until the France v. Mexico game. Get your browser ready!