Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fwd: 3D CineCast

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From: 3D CineCast
Date: Sun, Nov 13, 2011 at 4:20 AM
Subject: 3D CineCast

3D CineCast

Rapid Adoption of ID System Speeds Multiscreen Rollouts

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 07:56 AM PST

A simple but essential new pan-industry method for keeping track of entertainment content and the metadata that's essential to monitoring usage and enabling navigation and other applications is already paying off in activities across the digital landscape. Known as EIDR (Entertainment ID Registry), the platform employs numerical IDs to provide a solution for identifying digital movie and TV content in commercial distribution, regardless of platform or distribution channel.

"The film and TV industry hasn't been very good at tracking compared to what we see in retail stores," says Jud Cary, vice president and deputy general counsel at CableLabs, one of the founding entities in the EIDR initiative. "What we're doing is very similar to UPC (the Universal Product Code barcode system) in dry goods."

People and applications alike can search the registry via Web user interfaces or Web service APIs using the numerical ID that's been assigned to a given piece of content submitted by a content owner or other registrant to immediately access all the metadata descriptions associated with that content. The numerical tags create a uniform basis for tracking content usage and developers can use the APIs to integrate the registry features with their applications and automated workflows.

"When you're trying to deliver content in multiple formats to multiple devices, it gets exponentially complex to keep track of each movie or TV program and to make the back office work efficiently," Cary says. "You can have hundreds of permutations of a given piece of content once you start talking about clips, different cuts, different encoding and distribution formats."

EIDR, which began over two years ago as a development project spearheaded by MovieLabs, CableLabs, Comcast and Rovi Corporation with backing from many individual studios and other entities, launched in early 2011 and now is anchoring content initiatives across the ecosystem.

"Complete, accurate and consistent metadata is key to our products and features such as browse, search, filter and recommendations," notes Steve Heeb, vice president of business development at Comcast. "The use of EIDR will enable us to develop a robust and accurate database of program metadata from multiple sources that can be used across multiple platforms, including VOD, linear and online."

A big advantage for content producers is the impact EIDR is likely to have on monetization, leading to more aggressive use of online distribution. "EIDR makes it easier for content producers to track and get paid for ad impressions and the use of their assets," Cary says.

For example, Warner Bros. has invested in several technology initiatives to streamline and automate online interactions with retailers, vendors and consumers, says Darcy Antonellis, president of Warner Bros. technical operations. "EIDR is a key component of these initiatives, providing a global, unique identifier for content assets as they move from creation to consumption," Antonellis explains.

"Just as our advertising colleagues have seen a need to use a unique ID system for ads, the need for a unique ID to track media and entertainment flowing online also has become obvious," she continues. "We are actively integrating EIDR into our content workflow and are working with retailers like Microsoft to incorporate the standard over the coming months."

Similarly, Disney has made EIDR part of its infrastructure supporting multiple digital initiatives, says Arnaud Robert, Disney's senior vice president of distribution technology. "We have implemented EIDR into our metadata and internal digital workflows, and, working with our distribution partners, we intend to extend its usage to our various distribution channels," Robert says.

Rovi, a major holder of metadata from movies and programming going back to the dawn of broadcast TV, played a major role in contributing records to "prime the pump," Cary says. Comcast and others with significant data bases contributed as well.

The non-profit EIDR operation is designed to draw as much content into the database as possible, he adds. "The idea is the fees to join are so ridiculously low anyone can participate," he says, noting that costs are tiered for contributors to where the highest level is only $5,000, which "gives you unlimited access and registrations." At the promoter level, where the fee is in the $35,000 range, entities are entitled to be on the EIDR board.

An important new factor in driving participation is the support of two influential industry organizations – The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), a Hollywood marketing engine, and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS). The two are working together to help drive adoption among studios, post-production houses and service providers.

Source: ScreenPlays

Not Just Mobile: Adobe is Abandoning Flash on TVs as Well

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 07:06 AM PST

Adobe announced Wednesday that it would be abandoning its work to enable rich applications on mobile devices through Flash, and would be focusing on HTML5 and Adobe AIR apps instead. But at the same time that it was working on bringing Flash video and applications to mobile devices, it was also hoping to bridge the divide between web video and what could be watched on connected TVs. So what happens to those efforts?

While the market for TV apps is incredibly fragmented, it doesn't appear that Adobe's Flash will provide a solution. The company confirmed through a statement that like mobile, it will no longer focus on porting the Flash plugin into web browsers on CE devices, but believes developers should build native apps on those devices instead. An Adobe spokesperson writes:

"Adobe will continue to support existing licensees who are planning on supporting Flash Player for web browsing on digital home devices and are using the Flash Player Porting Kit to do so. However we believe the right approach to deliver content on televisions is through applications, not a web browsing experience, and we will continue to encourage the device and content publishing community down that path."

Adobe's efforts to bring Flash to connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices, like its mobile Flash plans, were part of its Open Screen Project, which aimed to create a consistent app runtime across multiple devices. The idea was that developers would be able to create a Flash application once and be able to distribute it across web browsers, mobile devices and TVs.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Adobe announced a number of partnerships with OEMs and system-on-chip vendors such as Broadcom, Intel, STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors and Sigma Designs to embed the Flash player into their silicon. But the number of TVs and other CE devices that support the Flash player have been limited to those from Sony and Logitech running the Google TV operating system. And Google TV has hardly been a success.

Now, Adobe is taking a step back from those plans, but not abandoning the TV app segment altogether. Instead of pushing multi-screen browser-based Flash applications, Adobe is hoping to convince developers to create native apps on mobile and TV devices using the Adobe AIR framework. Already some developers are taking advantage of that framework, with publishers like CNet, Epix and YouTube building TV apps for Samsung TVs based on Adobe AIR.

By Ryan Lawler, GigaOM

MPEG DASH: The File Format of the Future?

Posted: 12 Nov 2011 06:52 AM PST

"If HLS were perfect, DASH would not exist," said Thierry Fautier, Harmonic's senior director of telco solutions, referring to Apple's proprietary HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol and the newer MPEG-backed Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG DASH) standard specification.

"What Apple has introduced to IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) is merely an informational draft," added another panelist on the five-person panel. "We don't see that they're necessarily planning to push HLS as a true internet standard."

The MPEG DASH panel, led by Microsoft's Iraj Sodagar, who has chaired the MPEG subcommittee on DASH for the past year, was a hot ticket at the 2011 Streaming Media West show, held this week in Los Angeles.

"More than 50 companies and 90 experts have contributed to the MPEG-DASH specification," said Sodagar during his introductory remarks, "including Apple, Adobe, and all the companies represented here today. The proposed first-step of MPEG DASH is on the verge of completion, and we feel we took best of best practices and incorporated them into the standard."

"The growth of video over mobile networks is exponential, from a Qualcomm perspective," said Mike Luby, Qualcomm's vice president of technology. "As such we see getting standardization around video as very important and we participated heavily in the standards committee to make sure there was an adaptive-optimized common format that can be delivered via standard web servers, using common encryption."

The Common File Format (CFF) that Luby refers to is based on the UltraViolet CFF that the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) published along with a Common Encryption (CENC) scheme that uses five distinct Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes in an interoperable manner.

"We also see a value in unmuxed audio and video," added Luby, using an example of non-multiplexed elementary audio streams in a variety of languages for an "online DVD" equivalent as an example. "Above all, we welcome the chance to use a modern file format all delivered in an open standard."

Will Law, Akamai's principal architect for media engineering, offered his perspective from a Content Delivery Network (CDN) perspective.

"We're pushing 8.5 terabits today," said Law, referring to a recent peak record that Akamai set for simultaneous CDN content delivery. "We've spent the past five years delivering a variety of adaptive video formats—Smooth Streaming, HLS and HDS—all of which are 80 percent the same but 100 percent incompatible," said Law.

"We need to use HTTP to keep up with the demand curve for video on the web, but we can't do it with proprietary servers, since that means splitting our resources into three parts and trying to deliver equally to all three parts," he added. "What we really need to do is use all our edge cache servers for one standard, so that we and our users can focus on content and marketing rather than replicating the same thing three times for three separate streaming server solutions."

Asked by an audience member about the benefit of an HTTP solution, using standard HTTP servers, for Akamai as a CDN, Law said he felt Akamai's intelligent cloud could do some interesting things at the edge of DASH that standard HTTP servers cannot do.

A representative from Netflix, senior engineer Mark Watson, said that MPEG-DASH was a natural extension of what his company is already doing to deliver fragmented MPEG-4 video via HTTP to a large number of streaming customers.

"We're already using these file formats, and we see huge cache efficiencies of a single file format," said Watson. "We feel we can lower CDN costs by using a standard web but we also see the DRM agnosticism of MPEG DASH across multiple consumer electronics devices using Common Encryption (CENC) will benefit premium content owners whose content we deliver.

Watson also alluded to the online DVD equivalent, thanks in part to the use of elementary streams (those not multiplexed together like Apple's proprietary HLS protocol).

"We see unmuxed audio and video elementary streams as a way to effortlessly allow multi-language experiences," said Watson, "mimicking the offline multi-audio DVD experience. In doing so, we see a huge benefit to having an open standard that's a collaboration of a number of companies in the streaming space."

Fautier also said that, in connected TV space in Europe, there's a move to go to MPEG DASH.

"We expect to see a common file format with common encryption beginning in 2012," said Fautier, "perhaps using Marlin, one of the five DRM schemes, as a standard. France and Spain will be implementing first."

By Tim Siglin, StreamingMedia

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