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Friday 28 May 2004

Digital video - options, options, options. [brit]

I can't be the only one with this problem.
We have a gazillion hours of footage stored on tape; covering everything from Umatic to digital media in various formats (my personal favourite being the various Ogg Vorbis audio streams. In short, if it's a medium used for storing audio/video, we have it, and we have truck loads of it.
A few years ago, some bright spark bought a Mediahawk 2000 series. You probably won't have heard of this unless you work in the broadcast arena, but it's the sort of thing Sky and NTL use to deliver video on demand - or in their case, pay per view movies. The system runs PowerMax OS which is basically a Flash based OS and is a complete and utter nightmare.
So, I'm in a quandry. The assets we have, both in terms of hardware and media cover off pretty much the whole spectrum - and I need to sort a single entry and delivery point; and more importantly format, for the whole lot; on the MediaHawk itself there are some 6,000 ads (covering only the work we do here) at both MPEG1 and MPEG2, with various 0.5-1TB arrays holding the rest on other systems.
Faced with this scenario, what is your thinking in terms of choosing a single format for both video and audio? The target audience for this is user's desktops on the internal network here (to start with) - given that it's a Gbps backplane and 100Mbps to the desk, the actual file size of each asset isn't really an issue.
As far as I can see, there are four options:
1. Microsoft Media (HTTP/MMS) 2. Apple Quicktime (HTTP/RTSP) 3. Real Media 10 (HTTP/RMS) 4. MPEG 4 via either DivX or Xvid
Each has it's positives, each has it's negatives; either way, I'm happy to hear what anyone has to say on this subject as it's taken me weeks to research each and set up test beds, and I'm still not convinced any of them deliver 100% of our requirements (quality of stream, web compatibility, embedded player, downward compatibility with previous versions of player, ease of encoding etc).
As far as audio, I know that it's MP3 at 192kb/s and that's that; as we have practically every radio ad ever broadcast in storage already.


  1. Hmm, I'd say it depends if you want to stream and what trade offs you want to make on size vs encoding time.Reading it a bit more carefully. Is there a reason you don't want to use MPEG2? Your sources already are? Why are you transcoding in the first place? You've also specified streaming protocols in the three proprietary systems so it makes me think that this is somehow a factor. I would personally use an MPEG4 simple profile (to cut down on encoding time) and chuck that over http. The question is file encapsulation more than anything else really - you'd need to check with Quicktime for compatibility. I know it plays MPEG4 but I'm not sure what forms of encapsulation. Presumably you'd be wanting to use the QT player on the Mac.

  2. my cats name is mittens

  3. Thanks for that Joe.

  4. .. my cat's breath smells like cat food

  5. now someone is stealing my identitiy, that last pointless comment was not mine :)

  6. He lies. I am the real vagga and I know my cat's breath smells like cat food because we tongue regularly.

  7. I'm going with vagga, he sounds like he knows what he's talking about.