The last decade has seen a fundamental shift in the media content market, including an evolution in how users want to consume their media that only seems to be gaining pace. Content is not only pushed out via traditional entertainment mediums such as TV and cinema, but it also is distributed over a variety of new channels, including mobile devices, IPTV and the Internet. To keep ahead of their competitors, content owners need to be able to code and disseminate content in the required formats simply and easily without compromising on quality.
The uptake of consumer calls for HD content presents an additional challenge. While it greatly improves and enriches the viewing experience, it has also raised issues around format and standards conversion and monetization for broadcasters and content owners. Broadcasters may be required to incorporate SD segments into HD programs, archive material in a documentary or sports program, or fill time on HD channels with SD content.
Digitizing and transforming content
AmberFin's iCR technology plays a key role in turning the content that owners have into the content their customers want. It is an open standards, future-proof platform that digitizes and transforms new and archived content. It delivers the best quality pictures at smaller file sizes across multiple delivery platforms, including the Internet, VOD, TV, mobile and other small-screen devices.
The software uses the latest MXF and JPEG2000 functionality for mastering, enabling content owners to create mezzanine masters that can then be transcoded down to the required format. The system also supports SD-to-HD file format conversion, including a new benchmark in software standards conversion image quality.
The iCR product range is a family of software programs that allows users to supply their own open, generic PC hardware to keep entry and support costs to a minimum. It also means that broadcasters can upgrade their PC hardware in line with wider industry developments rather than being tied to a single vendor's dedicated hardware product road map. A good current example is 1080p, which many older dedicated hardware systems may not support at all or only with substantial upgrade costs.
There is a specific need for high-quality 576i upconversion to 720p across Europe — and for file-based standards conversion for international program exchange.
Some specific challenges include scaling pixels up or down to give the sharpest results, remapping interlaced pixels onto a progressive display without artifacts, and exchanging file-based content across continents without the costs, complexity and potential loss of quality of using baseband video hardware converters. Up to now, the broadcast industry has relied heavily on traditional dedicated hardware-based video format and standards converters, but the industry is moving away from hardware to software and away from video to files.
The system also helps content owners address a number of the challenges of today's broadcast industry such as automated transcoding to almost any file format or flavor, allowing content owners to conform content to the Web, mobile, HD, etc., and can provide a 25 percent reduction in file size for equivalent quality video. It allows for integration into core workflows for fully transparent repurposing.
Automated real-time QC capabilities cover almost any observable parameter, allowing report review of quality of hours of video in a matter of minutes, as well as exporting QC reports to give content a “pedigree.” The system can handle full HD ingest, output, repurposing and QC, and it automatically creates low-quality proxies to reduce storage and distribution costs. It features a modular architecture, allowing content owners to buy the tools required for encoding, mastering, repurposing or virtual videotape recording. The system can be used through any number of other industry devices and front ends.
As broadcasters and content owners face new challenges in providing a plethora of content for a growing number of mediums, they are looking for cost-effective systems to help them manage this change. iCR is completely interoperable with existing systems and workflows, and it includes HD/SD up/down/crossconversion for almost any file type.
The solution helps increase the value of archive content by creating high-quality file masters from old tapes. Its automated QC lets users identify picture, sound or data errors quickly to avoid costly and time-consuming reworks.
Mark Horton is a product marketing manager at AmberFin.