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Virtualization Meets Video Processing at NAB 2014

If anything is certain about the video business, it’s this: the volume of change is daunting and every change tends to make life more complicated, not less.

This is certainly true at the sharp end of the business -- digital video processing – where  “multiscreen” video, new video formats and new video technologies are together creating a perfect storm of complexity. Once there was SD over MPEG2 delivered to TVs. Now there is SD, various flavors of HD and, soon, 4K; and MPEG2, AVC and now HEVC; plus a wealth of encapsulation schemes and DRMs; And even more screen sizes and resolutions as the number of device to be supported grows ever larger.

The number of permutations of all these options is truly dizzying. Every permutation is a potential video “workflow” to be implemented – and the number of permutations is expanding rapidly, apparently endlessly and it’s exponential. Today Cisco deals with some media companies that have over 80 video workflows for their content. One more video format – for instance 4K – and this potentially doubles to 160. Another compression scheme – HEVC perhaps -- and now we have 320. And so on.

Keeping track of all these “workflows” is one thing, but Read More »

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Cisco @ NAB: We’ve Got Your 4K, HEVC, OTT, IP, SDN, NFV — Right Here!

There’s a reason the superlative term “broadcast quality” is the measuring stick and euphemism for “highest possible video quality” — and the people that make it happen are all here this week for the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention.

If you’re reading this, chances are high that you’re on your way or already here, perhaps for the second or third time this year — and it’s only April. We’re there too, not surprisingly, with a lot to share with our colleagues in broadcasting.

By “a lot to share,” I mean the new Videoscape Virtualized Video Processing solution, for handling the massive array of inputs, outputs, and related workflows; solutions for 4K/UltraHD video; advanced HEVC compression; new advancements enabling greater compression with no loss of video quality for MP2 and AVC; and a clear path for our broadcast television colleagues to swiftly transition to IP video, from production to ad insertion to delivery.

Probably the most exciting demo at Read More »

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The Low Rumble of the 4K Resolution Revolution

It hasn’t been all that long since HD-quality video gained widespread acceptance as an industry standard. Yet a new resolution standard is capturing the attention of the broadcast world. It’s known as 4K (or Ultra High Definition – UHD), and it offers viewers four times the picture resolution of standard HD. At CES 2014, one of the hot trends among TV set manufacturers, along with sets that curve and flex, was a 4K display. It’s the new standard for TVs, and while it currently has a price point that keeps it firmly high-end, the story sounds familiar: 4K TV sets will only get cheaper to manufacture, consumer demand will grow, and broadcasters will need to adapt.

So is change inevitable? Actually, no.

For 4K to truly develop into an industry standard, it will require several players in the video value chain to row in the same direction at the same time. This could certainly happen, but by no means is this assured. For instance, 4K TVs need content filmed in 4K. Will this become a new standard? Perhaps, but this would require significant and costly changes for an industry that only recently embraced the HD standard.

Even if Read More »

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The 4K / HEVC Video Roadmap: Follow Cisco’s at CES 2014

Ken Morse1207_-138By Ken Morse, CTO, Connected Devices Business Unit, Cisco

One of the trending topics here at CES in Las Vegas this week, without question, is 4K video/ 4K television, and its consumer-facing brand, “UltraHD.”

Like HD did, 4K redefines TV and this is what CES is all about – compelling new technologies that ultimately draw dollars from consumer wallets.  This year, examples of 4K video will be everywhere (including in our demo suites at The Wynn Hotel…)

But there’s another angle, outside of the visual wow that comes with 4K’s pixel doubling, faster frame rates, deeper blacks, and brighter whites. And it’s all about the shape our industry is going to take. 4K is a disruptor and when there is a disruption, there are winners and losers and speed counts.

For instance: Read More »

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CES 2013: An Explosion of Innovative New Devices

The annual Consumer Electronics Show, held last week in Las Vegas, has been called the “Super Bowl of Technology.” This year’s event was no exception. The largest in the 45-year history of CES, it featured 3,250 exhibitors, 150,000 attendees, and more than 20,000 new products unveiled. But while it may have been impossible to nail down every trend, breakthrough, and future implication, some key themes emerged as I wandered the sea of vendors and engaged in many customer discussions.

Particularly from a service provider perspective, here are a few of the most important trends that seemed top of mind throughout the show:

  1. An Explosion of Endpoints. In recent years at CES, particular devices, such as the iPad, or new technologies, such as 3D, proved dominant. This year, however, the show was characterized by the sheer, massive breadth of innovative new devices. This vast permutation of media-rich gadgets is the result of accelerated innovation that is bringing ubiquitous, mobile access to all endpoints. Even the TV is “becoming mobile” as it gains the ability to access content wirelessly. At the same time, these devices are getting “touchy-feely,” if you will, as touchscreen technology grows equally ubiquitous.
  2. Going Ultra. One new technology, Read More »

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