Advanced video compression, satellite coding to usher in SNG rethink

Soon, stations, groups and network SNG operators will reconsider how newsgathering assets are deployed, as advanced video compression techniques take hold
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TANDBERG Television’s EN5990 MPEG-4 encoder delivers three-times greater compression of HD signals than what’s possible with MPEG-2 compression.

Recently, DIRECTV announced it would begin using MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) along with new satellite coding to support the expansion of its DBS offerings.

In fact, the advanced video compression and satellite coding techniques are so powerful that together they will let DIRECTV make more than 1000 local HDTV channels available via satellite.

These same compression and satellite coding techniques will soon offer station, group and network SNG operators the opportunity to save money on satellite backhaul of standard definition transmissions and offer an affordable transmission solution as HD news acquisition becomes a reality.

According to Matthew Goldman, director of technology for TANDBERG Television, MPEG-4 currently offers at least a 2-to-1 improvement in compression over MPEG-2 in terms of video. “We know SD is going to be a two-times savings and HD will be two- to three-times savings in required bandwidth with MPEG-4 vs. MPEG-2 compression,” he said.

Such compression is “a huge gain” because it will allow news organizations to move twice the content, use half the satellite availability or combine the two to reshape to save backhaul costs, he said.

With SNG – as opposed to ENG - there’s an even bigger gain. A separate set of channel codes called Turbo codes Digital Video Broadcasting-Satellite version 2 (DVB-S2) increase the channel coding efficiency more than 30 percent. “So a combination of 30 to 50 percent channel coding savings and two to three times gain in video (with advanced data compression), and there could be a huge savings in backhaul or SNG -easily a 3x savings,” Goldman said.

Advanced video compression techniques like MPEG-4 also will reshape how and when satellite transmission of news from the field is done. Greater compression without a loss of image quality is likely to expand use of wireless broadband and even ordinary telephone lines in the future, forcing news directors and news operations personnel to rethink how newsgathering assets and crews are deployed.

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