Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Netflix needed a way to improve video streaming quality for consumers in emerging economies watching movies and TV shows on the go. The company came up with a new method for video encoding called Dynamic Optimizer that reduces the amount of data in the video file without losing image quality. The Netflix team trained an AI to compress the video specifically based on the complexity of a given scene. The Dynamic Optimizer system expected to roll out in the coming months. Continue reading Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

W3C to Host Workshop This Week on Web and Virtual Reality

WebVR development, VR content, 3D audio, user interfaces, codecs, file formats and standardization will be among the many topics addressed at this week’s W3C Workshop on Web & Virtual Reality (October 19-20) in San Jose, California. The goal “will be to establish the overall roadmap to standardization to make the Web a robust platform for Virtual Reality,” explains organizer Dominique Hazaël-Massieux. Through presentations and breakout sessions, the workshop plans “to bring together practitioners of Web and Virtual Reality technologies to make the Open Web Platform a better delivery mechanism for VR experiences,” notes the event page. Continue reading W3C to Host Workshop This Week on Web and Virtual Reality

Netflix Debuts Open Source Tools for IMF and Image Testing

Netflix has long collaborated with rivals, most notably on cloud computing open source projects. Now, it’s released “Meridian,” a 12-minute movie that acts as test footage to allow hardware manufacturers, codec developers and engineers to evaluate imagery. The company is also releasing open source tools to encourage the use of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF), developed as a standard by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for exchanging master files between studios, distributors and services such as Netflix. Continue reading Netflix Debuts Open Source Tools for IMF and Image Testing

CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

Philips has joined Panasonic and Samsung in announcing a 4K UHD Blu-ray player with support for high dynamic range. The BDP7501 offers upscaling for non-4K content and includes HDMI, Wi-Fi and Ethernet for connectivity. It also includes built-in support for HEVC and VP9 codecs, which should make it ideal for streaming 4K content from services such as Netflix and YouTube. What may set it apart from early competition, however, is its unique compact design, more akin to a set-top box than a standard disc player. The BDP7501 is expected to ship this spring for under $400. Continue reading CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

Boon for 4K: HEVC Advance Lowers Video Licensing Rates

The prospects of 4K video have brightened. That’s because the HEVC Advance group that licenses the H.265/HEVC video format enabling 4K’s higher data rate to traverse through existing pipes just adjusted its royalty rates. Up until now, the group wanted steep rates, even from free outlets, and without a cap. With the new, revamped licensing scheme, HEVC Advance not only cuts rates in half but sets a yearly cap between $2.5 million to $40 million per year, depending on the service or device type. Continue reading Boon for 4K: HEVC Advance Lowers Video Licensing Rates

SMPTE 2015: Examining HDR Tech Challenges and Solutions

High dynamic range is lauded for its more vivid colors and life-like imagery. Initially introduced by TV set manufacturers, an increasing number of gear manufacturers have introduced HDR capabilities and SMPTE just released standard specifications. But implementing HDR into production, post production and distribution can also create problems that degrade the image, with artifacts and banding. Several experts talked about the challenges in implementing HDR, and the potential solutions to them. Continue reading SMPTE 2015: Examining HDR Tech Challenges and Solutions

MPEG LA Calls for Patents to Organize Joint DASH License

MPEG LA announced a call for patents for MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP), to the dismay of many industry watchers. When MPEG-DASH first debuted in 2011, the issue of royalties wasn’t raised and DASH was quickly and widely deployed, in everything from browsers to smart TVs. The problem is that DASH is an integral part of HTML5, which is beginning to displace Flash. With the specter of patents looming, some software vendors could find royalties to be an obstacle to staying in business. Continue reading MPEG LA Calls for Patents to Organize Joint DASH License

New Patent Group Wants Royalties for 4K HEVC Video Codec

HEVC Advance, a new patent group, has warned that it will demand royalties for the HEVC video codec that allows 4K streaming within the same bandwidth now used for 1080p streaming. HEVC, which also can provide 1080p streaming in half the bandwidth, has been seen as the best solution for cost-effective 4K, and the current threat could torpedo its adoption. Currently, HEVC-supported smart TVs have enabled Netflix’s 4K services on those receivers; some smartphones also use HEVC. Continue reading New Patent Group Wants Royalties for 4K HEVC Video Codec

CES: DTS Demos New Format That Offers Object-Based Audio

At CES, DTS demonstrated its new DTS:X codec that separates audio into objects rather than traditional channels (for example: dialogue or gunshots, instead of left, right, front, rear). The immersive sound technology is similar to Dolby Atmos, but DTS:X keeps dialogue separate, so the volume can be controlled independently during viewing. The company showed how DTS:X works with a television’s built-in speakers by screening a soccer match and switching audio between teams, sideline microphones and broadcast announcers. Continue reading CES: DTS Demos New Format That Offers Object-Based Audio

NAB: Panasonic to Preview 4K VariCam with New Image Sensor

During the NAB show in Las Vegas in two weeks, Panasonic plans to preview a newly developed 4K version of its VariCam digital camera. The Varicam 35 — designed for film, TV production and live event coverage — will feature a new super 35mm MOS image sensor that supports 4096 x 2160 using Panasonic’s AVC-Ultra codecs for 4K. The company says the camera, scheduled for fall availability, offers 4K, 2K and HD capture, in addition to 4K RAW output. Continue reading NAB: Panasonic to Preview 4K VariCam with New Image Sensor

CE Manufacturers Concerned Over Lack of Global 4K Standards

Journalist and ETCentric community member Adrian Pennington published a story last week regarding the need for global UHD standards, which included comments by Pixel Power CTO Nick Wright. “The staggered introduction of Ultra HD 4K production, distribution and display equipment risks fragmenting the market, adding unnecessary cost and yet again ending any chance of fielding a single, worldwide television standard,” writes Adrian. “The issue is causing concern among many manufacturers.” Continue reading CE Manufacturers Concerned Over Lack of Global 4K Standards

CES Microcosm: Sony Press Events Focus on End-to-End 4K

It began Monday night with a low cost 4K camcorder, new 4K TVs and a 4K streaming partnership with Netflix, all announced during Sony’s press reveal. But CEO Kaz Hirai kept the news coming during his 2014 International CES keynote Tuesday morning, as Sony introduced new cloud-based streaming TV and gaming services. These events clearly helped set the tone for a show that was dominated by every aspect of the 4K pipeline, especially TVs, and somewhat surprisingly, streaming services. Continue reading CES Microcosm: Sony Press Events Focus on End-to-End 4K

Samsung to Unveil Wireless Streaming Speaker and More at CES

At CES, Samsung plans to demo a new wireless streaming speaker controlled by the Shape mobile app and audio system. The company also announced it will showcase two Shape-compatible soundbars, the HW-H750 (320W of sound for large TVs) and the HW-H600 (designed for 32-55 inch TVs). In addition, Samsung will unveil a new home entertainment system that features six speakers, subwoofer and amplifier, and a Blu-ray player capable of upscaling to 4K resolution. Continue reading Samsung to Unveil Wireless Streaming Speaker and More at CES

Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 4K Feature Too Much for a Phone?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was recently released in the U.S., and one of its most notable features is 4K video. But this option has some wondering why such capabilities are necessary for a smartphone. Recording in H264 MP4s at about 48mbits per second is not very high for four times the resolution of HD, suggests Philip Bloom, who questions the compression, codec and stabilization. Overall, Bloom says the Ultra HD is a decent feature — but it will likely go under-utilized by users. Continue reading Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 4K Feature Too Much for a Phone?

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