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Streaming is offering broadcasters new options for revenue generation, and more efficient compression codecs and better Internet connections add to the value of these options by offering the potential for broadcasters to deliver higher-quality content over the Web. Preproduction before encoding can allow broadcasters to take advantage of this potential.

Beginning with the highest quality signal possible going into compression prevents bits from being used to encode noise or artifacts. Adjustments also can be made specifically to improve the end experience for Internet viewers. Broadcasters have the knowledge and the high-end production tools to provide high-quality streams, but not always the time or staff. In these cases, choosing an encoding firm like Seattle-based Flying Spot as an encoding partner may be an option.

Flying Spot's Digital Media Group has done a range of projects including trailers for Dreamworks and Warner Brothers. Experienced operators at the firm provide content producers with “hand-made” encodes by looking at each project individually and using high-end production tools to preserve content quality going into compression.

This type of experience is perhaps the largest benefit encoding firms offer broadcasters. They encode material for the Internet every day, and have learned what to watch for and how the project will turn out. They also offer the benefit of quick turnaround, allowing time to make improvements to the final result.

Sam Atkinson, director of streaming media for the Digital Media Group of Flying Spot, suggests that broadcasters selecting an encoding partner look carefully at the steps the firm takes to maintain quality before encoding/compression. An encoding firm should use two-pass encoding, rather than one-pass, for analysis before encoding.