e-Video: Producing Internet Video as Broadband Technologies Converge (with CD-ROM)

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9780201703146: e-Video: Producing Internet Video as Broadband Technologies Converge (with CD-ROM)
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Computer engineer Alesso describes such technologies as digital encoding and editing, compression and streaming, and high-capacity data transmission and argues that their convergence makes video over the Internet both viable and inevitable. He addresses either webmasters who want to get into video or video producers wanting to get onto the web. The CD-ROM contains example code and streaming video demonstrations; software can be downloaded from an associated web site. There is no bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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From the Inside Flap:

Overview

If you can recall the special effects from Star Wars, then you can already appreciate the impact of video.

Someday, when you go on-line to make a purchase, you'll see a video demonstration of the product in action. If it needs assembly, instead of piecing it together from a single sheet of indecipherable instructions, you'll go back on-line for step-by-step video instructions. And you'll be able to ask questions and receive answers in real-time.

Someday, you will attend school classes only if you want to because much of your education and training will be available on Web video.

Someday, video will be everywhere. Someday. But not today!

Today the delivery bandwidth just isn't there yet. But, don't be concerned. Broadband technologies are converging at breakneck speed, and higher quality video is on the way. But what will you do in the meantime?

If you knew just how TV, phone, and cable broadband technologies were converging, couldn't you make better multimedia choices? For example, have you ever tried to add a video product demo to your Web site, only to be frustrated by hardware and software incompatibilities? Are you trying to start a video Web-based business, but find yourself thwarted by server and network limitations? Have you found your video application software development plans stymied by the chaos of technology standards?

Good news! This book offers powerful insights into the synergism between producing Internet video and technology convergence. This book will enable you to make the most knowledgeable investments in hardware and software to produce Web video and anticipate future trends. It provides the necessary How-To information for putting video on your business Web site today, without the hazard of imminent obsolescence.

So, if you need to make the best decisions today to prepare for that someday, this book is for you. Background

When Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, he gave us the freedom to select and play music in our own home at our own convenience. It took another century until the VCR became widely available and we gained the ability to similarly select and play videos. But Edison's contribution wasn't just the invention of the phonograph, or the light-bulb, or even the 1,093 inventions for which he received a patent. He helped found an industry, the industry of electric power and analog appliances that transformed the twentieth century in both the home and the factory.

Now another industrial transformation is underway, the digital revolution. It can be traced to Tim Berners-Lee's creation of the graphical interface, which allowed the Internet to become a popular communication tool. As a result, within only six years the Internet had reached 80 million users. This is astonishing compared to past communication media successes.

The Internet had existed for decades mostly for scientific workers and the military. When in 1989, while working at the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN) in Geneva, Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext system he called the World Wide Web. It could link more than just text--it could link graphics, sound, and video to create an entire hypermedia system. Instead of a single database, the basis for his World Wide Web would be the Internet, the vast network of networks around the world.

Over the next couple of years, Berners-Lee and his collaborators laid the groundwork for the Web, inventing and refining the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for linking Web documents, the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) for formatting Web documents, and the Universal Resource Locator (URL) system for addressing Web documents. These days, most of us reach the Web through commercial browsers, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. The first contact most Internet users had with streaming data started with Progressive Network's RealAudio releasing its RealAudio Server and client programs. RealAudio started playing as soon as the user chose a selection. It was a cross-platform program that could be played from Windows, Unix, and Mac systems.

The first true streaming videos ran during 1994 over the experimental Mbone (Multicast Backbone) network. This protocol is a form of Internet Protocol (IP) multicasting, which replicates streaming videos to thousands of servers. Access to these events was initially confined to users with high-end Sun workstations. The primary media server distributed its signal to other repeater servers on the network.

Streaming media started with the Internet's first streaming player, RealAudio. In April 1995, it allowed listeners to hear audio as it was being downloaded. The first Internet streaming video player was Xing Technologies' StreamWorks, released in August 1995. It was based upon Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG) compression and provided jerky "talking heads" images the size of a postage stamp. This was followed shortly by VDOLive from VDOnet Corp. In early 1997 Progressive Networks, renamed RealNetworks, released RealVideo along with an all-in-one audio-video player called RealPlayer.

As the use of streaming media has increased, competition for customers in the streaming media market has intensified. While RealNetworks has emerged as the clear leader as of 1999, rapid changes in compression-decompression (codec) standards offers many new challengers. Increasingly, however, the question is asked, How do Microsoft's Windows Media and other formats stack up against the RealNetworks?

Microsoft entered into the streaming video market in 1997 with its buyout of WebTV Networks and Vxtreme. Microsoft introduced its Active Streaming Format (ASF) in conjunction with the developing MPEG-4 standard. This protocol provides a standard method of synchronizing audio, video, and multimedia. Competition between ASF and RealNetworks' G2 emerged in 1999, as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) endorsed Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL). SMIL provides a text-based tag markup format for streaming multimedia, freeing developers from proprietary formats and enabling multiple vendors to supply software tools. Other groups developed open standards with Java-based applets that didn't require preinstalled players in order to stream video.

Macromedia's Shockwave and Flash protocols first produced streaming animation. Authoring platforms for real-time delivery of animation during streaming videos have become available. They allow multimedia-style animation and interactive controls to be linked with broadcast-style audio and video.

Regardless of which vendor you choose, the equipment and software used in multimedia production is often on the cutting edge and not as fully developed as products in the more established computer desktop applications. As a result, there are often compatibility issues that must be resolved in making a set of software and hardware choices to complement your production system.

The actual making of the multimedia content involves the following five basic steps:

Preparing the content source material Capturing the audio/video using a computer with a video capture card Editing the video and saving the large uncompressed file Compressing the video Delivering the movie content over the Web

Each of these steps can be optimized toward improving the final client video. For example, optimizing computer capture hardware requires a balanced understanding of data-flow versus choke points within the PC capture process. A high speed Pentium III, with 256MB RAM, an 8.4GB (8 millisecond) hard drive, and wide-SCSI-3 bus can demonstrate up to 40Mbps throughput while capturing video. Unfortunately, many low-to-medium-priced capture cards provide a throughput of only 2 to 5Mbps (even after optimal configuration), producing a limiting choke point in your systems.

But even after heroic efforts on your part in optimizing the source video, the hardware and software, and the editing and compression process, there remains a significant barrier to delivering your video over the Web. This is the "last mile" connection to the client. The Bandwidth Problem

The bandwidth of Internet communications has been steadily increasing due to the overall pressures to improve performance from users. The important point is that the infrastructure provided by the Internet has become widespread and has developed enough performance to allow rapid transmission of large volumes of data. Now it is becoming ready for video.

The problem with video, however, has been trying to push it over digital networks where it clogs and chokes the critical connections. The arrival of data compression has reduced the problem of transmitting video data to more manageable levels. The technology has only recently reached the point where video can be digitized and compressed to levels that allow reasonable quality of appearance following distribution over digital networks. The Bandwidth Solution

Yogi Berra once said, "Predictions can be tricky, especially when you're talking about the future." And looking forward is certainly more perilous

From the Back Cover:

Today, we are standing on the brink of an Internet revolution. As compression technology, streaming techniques, and transmission lines grow in efficiency, speed, and capacity, Internet video is fast becoming both viable and inevitable.

This resource-packed guide to producing, encoding, editing, compressing, and serving video over the Internet lets you in on this coming "killer app." It presents the current tools and technologies that make Internet video possible, and reveals likely future developments, allowing you to make knowledgeable investments in technology and equipment that anticipate these trends.

The book covers bandwidth requirements for video delivery-from low-end broadband to the ultimate high-speed HDTV transmission. It follows the video preparation and production process, demonstrating various software tools for developing, encoding, and editing content. You will also find in-depth information on the state-of-the-art in video compression and streaming technology. In addition, the book explains how the networks and servers currently support Internet video, and describes future developments in the works.

You will learn about such specific topics as:

  • e-commerce, educational, and entertainment opportunities made possible by
  • streaming e-video
  • The desktop video production cycle
  • Data compression fundamentals and algorithms
  • Streaming video codec standards
  • RealVideo and other software tools from such vendors as Microsoft and Apple
  • MPEG streaming
  • The transition from electronic routers and switches to optical nodes
  • Innovations in network caching and data storage on the Internet

Filled with examples, experience-based techniques, and available tools, this book serves both as a compendium of information and a hands-on tutorial. The code and video demos for all the examples are included on the accompanying CD-ROM.



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