By now, most of us have seen the data and know that online video consumption is soaring at a rate that is historically unrivaled. It’s no surprise that in the crux of the streaming era, so many companies are looking to innovate and figure out how to make their workflows or customers workflows better, less expensive, and faster.
In Episode 4 of The Video Insiders, we caught up with streaming veteran Tim Siglin to discuss HEVC implementation trends that counter previous assumptions, notable 2018 streaming events, and what’s coming in 2019.
Tune in to hear The Video Insiders cover top-of-mind topics:
- HEVC for lower resolutions
- Streaming the World Cup
- Moving from digital broadcast to IP-based infrastructure
- What consumers aren’t thinking about when it comes to 4K and HDR
- Looking forward into 2019 & beyond
Tune in to Episode 04: 2018, the Year HEVC Took Flight or watch the video below.
Want to join the conversation? Reach out to TheVideoInsiders@beamr.com
TRANSCRIPTION (lightly edited to improve readability only)
Mark Donnigan: 00:00 On today’s episode, the Video Insiders sit down with an industry luminary who shares results of a codec implementation study, while discussing notable streaming events that took place in 2018 and what’s on the horizon for 2019. Stay tuned. You don’t want to miss receiving the inside scoop on all this and more.
Announcer: 00:22 The Video Insiders is the show that makes sense of all that is happening in the world of online video, as seen through the eyes of a second generation Kodak nerd and a marketing guy who knows what I frames and macroblocks are. Here are your hosts, Mark Donnigan and Dror Gill.
Mark Donnigan: 00:40 Welcome, everyone. I am Mark Donnigan, and I want to say how honored Dror and I are to have you with us. Before I introduce this very special guest and episode, I want to give a shout of thanks for all of the support that we’re receiving. It’s really been amazing.
Mark Donnigan: 00:59 In the first 48 hours, we received 180 downloads. It’s pretty amazing.
Dror Gill: 01:06 Yeah. Yeah, it is. The industry is not that large, and I think it’s really an amazing number that they’re already listening to the show from the start before the word of mouth starts coming out, and people spread the news and things like that. We really appreciate it. So, if it’s you that is listening, thank you very much.
Mark Donnigan: 01:29 We really do aim for this to be an agenda-free zone. I guess we can put it that way. Obviously, this show is sponsored by Beamr, and we have a certain point of view on things, but the point is, we observed there wasn’t a good place to find out what’s going on in the industry and sort of get unbiased, or maybe it’s better to say unfiltered, information. That’s what we aim to do in every episode.
Mark Donnigan: 01:57 In this one, we’re going to do just that. We have someone who you can definitely trust to know what’s really happening in the streaming video space, and I know he has some juicy insights to share with us. So, without further ado, let’s bring on Tim Siglin.
Tim Siglin: 02:15 Hey, guys. Thank you for having me today and I will definitely try to be either as unfiltered or unbiased as possible.
Mark Donnigan: 02:21 Why don’t you give us a highlight reel, so to speak, of what you’ve done in the industry and, even more specifically, what are you working on today?
Tim Siglin: 02:31 Sure. I have been in streaming now for a little over 20 years. In fact, when Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen came on as the editor at StreamingMedia.com, he said, “You seemed to be one of the few people who were there in the early days.” It’s true. I actually had the honor of writing the 10-year anniversary of Streaming Media articles for the magazine, and then did the 20-year last year.
Tim Siglin: 02:57 My background was Motion Picture production and then I got into video conferencing. As part of video conferencing, we were trying to figure out how to include hundreds of people in a video conference, but not need necessarily have them have two-way feedback. That’s where streaming sort of caught my eye, because, ultimately, for video conferencing we maybe needed 10 subject matter experts who would talk back and forth, and together a hundred, then it went to thousands, and now hundreds of thousands. You can listen in and use something like chat or polling to provide feedback.
Tim Siglin: 03:31 For me, the industry went from the early revolutionary days of “Hey, let’s change everything. Let’s get rid of TV. Let’s do broadcast across IP.” That was the mantra in the early days. Now, of course, where we are is sort of, I would say, two-thirds of the way there, and we can talk a little bit about that later. The reality is that the old mediums are actually morphing to allow themselves to do heap, which is good, to compete with over the top.
Tim Siglin: 04:01 Ultimately, what I think we’ll find, especially when we get to pure IP broadcast with ATSC 3.0 and some other things for over-the-air, is that we will have more mediums to consume on rather than fewer. I remember the early format ways and of course we’re going to talk some in this episode about some of the newer codec like HEVC. Ultimately, it seems like the industry goes through the cycles of player wars, format wars, browser wars, operating system wars, and we hit brief periods of stability which we’ve done with AVC or H.264 over the last probably eight years.
Tim Siglin: 04:46 Then somebody wants to stir the pot, figure out how to either do it better, less expensively, faster. We go back into a cycle of trying to decide what the next big thing will be. In terms of what I’m working on now, because I’ve been in the industry for almost 21 years. Last year, I helped start a not-for-profit called Help Me Stream, which focuses on working with NGOs in emerging economies, trying to help them actually get into the streaming game to get their critical messages out.
Tim Siglin: 05:18 That might be emerging economies like African economies, South America, and just the idea that we in the first world have streaming down cold, but there are a lot of messages that need to get out in emerging economies and emerging markets that they don’t necessarily have the expertise to do. My work is to tie experts here with need there and figure out which technologies and services would be the most appropriate and most cost effective.
Mark Donnigan: 05:46 That’s fascinating, Tim.
Tim Siglin: 05:48 The other thing I’m working on here, just briefly, is we’re getting ready for the Streaming Media Sourcebook, the 2019 sourcebook. I’m having to step back for the next 15 days, take a really wide look at the industry and figure out what the state of affairs are.
Dror Gill: 06:06 That’s wonderful. I think because this is exactly the right point, is one you end and the other one begins, kind of to summarize where we’ve been in 2018, what is the state of the industry and the fact that you’re doing that for the sourcebook, I think, ties in very nicely with our desire to hear from you an overview of what were the major milestones or advancements that were made in the streaming industry in 2018, and then looking into next year.
Dror Gill: 06:39 Obviously, the move to IP, getting stronger and stronger, now the third phase after analog and digital, now we have broadcast over IP. It’s interesting what you said about broadcasters not giving up the first with the pure OTT content providers. They have a huge business. They need to keep their subscribers and lower their churn and keep people from cutting the cord, so to speak.
Dror Gill: 07:04 The telcos and the cable companies still need to provide the infrastructure for Internet on top of which the over-the-top providers and their content, but they still need to have more offering and television and VLD content in order to keep their subscribers. It’s very interesting to hear how they’re doing it and how they are upgrading themselves to the era of IP.
Tim Siglin: 07:30 I think, Dror, you hit a really major point, which is we, the heavy lift … I just finished an article in ATSC 3.0 where I talk about using 2019 to prepare for 2020 when that will go live in the U.S. The heavy lift was the analog to digital conversion. The slightly easier lift is the conversion from digital to IP, but it still requires significant infrastructure upgrade and even transmission equipment to be able to do it correctly for the over-the-year broadcasters and cable.
Dror Gill: 08:07 That’s right. I think on the other hand, there is one big advantage to broadcast, even broadcast over-the-air. That is the ability to actually broadcast, the ability to reach millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people over a single channel that everybody is receiving. Whereas, because of historic reasons and legacy reasons in IP, we are limited, still, when you broadcast to the end user to doing everything over unicast. When you do this, it creates a tremendous load on your network. You need to manage your CDNs.
Tim Siglin: 09:30 I want to reiterate the point you made on the OTA broadcast. It’s almost as if you have read the advanced copy of my article, which I know you haven’t because it’s only gone to the editor.
Dror Gill: 09:42 I don’t have any inside information. I have to say, even though we are the Video Insiders.
Mark Donnigan: 09:47 We are the Video Insiders. That’s right.
Dror Gill: 09:49 We are the Video Insiders, but …
Mark Donnigan: 09:49 But no inside information here.
Dror Gill: 09:51 No inside information. I did not steal that copy.
Tim Siglin: 09:55 What I point out in that article, Dror, I think which will come out in January shortly after CES is basically this. We have done a good job in the streaming industry, the OTT space of pushing the traditional mediums to upgrade themselves. One of the things as you say with OTA, that ability to do essentially a multicast from a tower wirelessly is a really, really good thing, because to get us to scale, and I think about things like the World Cup, the Olympics and even the presidential funeral that’s happened here in December, there are large-scale events that we in the OTT space just can’t handle, if you’re talking about having to build the capacity.
Tim Siglin: 10:39 The irony is, one good ATSC transmission tower could hit as many people as we could handle essentially globally with the unicast (OTT) model. If you look at things like that and then you look at things like EMBMS in the mobile world, where there is that attempt to do essentially a multicast, and it goes to points like the World Cup. I think one of the horror stories in the World Cup was in Australia. There was a mobile provider named Optus who won the rights to actually do half of the World Cup preliminary games. In the first several days, they were so overwhelmed by the number of users who wanted to watch and were watching, as you say, in a unicast model that they ended up having to go back to the company they had bid against who had the other half of the preliminaries and ask them to carry those on traditional television.
Tim Siglin: 11:41 The CEO admitted that it was such a spectacular failure that it damaged the brand of the mobile provider. Instead of the name Optus being used, everybody was referring to it as “Floptus.” You don’t want your brand being known as the butt of jokes for an event that only happens once every four years that you have a number of devotees in your market. And heaven forbid, it had been the World Cup for cricket, there would have been riots in the street in Sydney and Melbourne. Thank goodness it was Australia with soccer as opposed to Australia with cricket.
Tim Siglin: 12:18 It brings home the point that we talk about scale, but it’s really hard to get to scale in a unicast environment. The other event, this one happened, I believe, in late 2017, was the Mayweather fight that was a large pay-per-view event that was streamed. It turned out the problem there wasn’t as much the streams as it was the authentication servers were overwhelmed in the first five minutes of the fight. So, with authentication gone, it took down the ability to actually watch the stream.
Tim Siglin: 12:53 For us, it’s not just about the video portion of it, it’s actually about the total ecosystem and who you’re delivering to, whether you’re going to force caps into place because you know you can’t go beyond a certain capacity, or whether you’re going to have to partner up with traditional media like cable service providers or over-the-air broadcasters.
Mark Donnigan: 13:14 It’s a really good point, Tim. In the World Cup, the coverage that I saw, it was more of, I’d almost say or use the phrase, dashed expectations. Consumers, they were able to watch it. In most cases, I think it played smoothly. In other words, the video was there, but HDR signaling didn’t work or didn’t work right. Then it looked odd on some televisions or …
Tim Siglin: 13:40 In high frame rate …
Tim Siglin: 13:43 20 frames a second instead of 60 frames a second.
Mark Donnigan: 13:48 Exactly. What’s interesting to me is that, what I see is, the consumer, they’re not of course walking around thinking as we are, like frame rate and color space and resolution. They are getting increasingly sensitive to where they can look at video now and say, “That’s good video,” or “That doesn’t look right to me.” I know we were talking before we started recording about this latest Tom Cruise public service announcement, which is just super fascinating, because it …
Tim Siglin: 14:24 To hear him say motion interpolation.
Mark Donnigan: 14:26 Yeah. Maybe we should tell the audience, for those, since it literally just came out I think today, even. But you want to tell the audience what Tom Cruise is saying?
Tim Siglin: 14:38 Essentially, Tom Cruise was on the set of Top Gun, as they’re shooting Top Gun. Another gentleman did a brief PSA for about a minute asking people to turn off motion interpolation on their televisions, which motion interpolation essentially takes a 24-frame per second and converts it to 30 frames per second by adding phantom frames in the middle. Because Mission Impossible: Fallout is just being released for streaming, Cruise was concerned and obviously others were concerned that some of the scenes would not look nearly as good with motion interpolation turned on.
Tim Siglin: 15:17 I think, Mark, we ought to go to a PSA model, asking for very particular things like, “How do you turn HDR on? How do you …” Those types of things, because those get attention in a way that you and I or a video engineer can’t get that attention.
Dror Gill: 15:33 How do you know if what you’re getting is actually 4K or interpolate HD, for example?
Tim Siglin: 15:38 Especially in our part of the industry, because we will call something OTT 4K streaming. That may mean that it fits in a 4K frame, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that number of pixels being delivered.
Dror Gill: 15:52 It can also mean that the top layer in your adaptive bit rate stream is 4K, but then if you don’t have enough bandwidth, you’re actually getting the HD layer or even lower.
Tim Siglin: 16:01 Exactly.
Dror Gill: 16:02 Even though it is a 4K broadcast and it is 4K content. Sometimes, you can be disappointed by that fact as well.
Mark Donnigan: 16:11 I have to give a very, very funny story directly related, and this happened probably, I don’t know, maybe, at least 18 months ago, maybe two years ago. I’m sitting on an airplane next to this guy. It’s the usual five-minute, get acquainted before we both turn on our computers. Anyway, when someone asks, “What do you do?” I generally just say, “I work for a video software company,” because how do you explain digital encoding? Most people just sort of stop at that, and don’t really ask more.
Mark Donnigan: 16:44 But this guy is like, “Oh, really?” He said, “So, I just bought a 4K TV and I love it.” He was raving about his new Samsung TV. Of course, he figured I’m a video guy. I would appreciate that. I said, “Hey.” “So, you must subscribe to Netflix.” “Yes. Yes, of course,” he says. I said, “What do you think of the Netflix quality? It looks great, doesn’t it?”
Mark Donnigan: 17:10 He sort of hem and hawed. He’s like, “Well, it really … I mean, yeah. Yeah, it looks great, but it’s not quite … I’m just not sure.” Then, I said, “I’m going to ask you two questions. First of all, are you subscribed to the 4K plan?” He was. Then I said, “How fast is your Internet at home.” He’s like, “I just have the minimum. I don’t know. I think it’s the 20 megabit package,” or whatever it was. I don’t remember the numbers.
Mark Donnigan: 17:38 I said, “There’s this thing.” And I gave him like a 30-second primer on adaptive bit rate, and I said, “It is possible, I have no idea of your situation, that you might be watching the HD version.” Anyway, he’s like, “Hah, that’s interesting.” I connect with the guy on LinkedIn. Three days later, I get this message. He says, “I just upgraded my Internet. I now have 4K on my TV. It looks awesome.”
Mark Donnigan: 18:04 On one hand, the whole situation was not surprising and, yet, how many thousands, tens of thousands, maybe millions of people are in the exact same boat? They’ve got this beautiful TV. It could be because they’re running some low-end router in the house. It could be they truly have a low end bandwidth package. There could be a lot of reasons why they’re not getting the bandwidth. They’re so excited about their 4K TV. They’re paying Netflix to get the top layer, the best quality, and they’re not even seeing it. It’s such a pity.
Tim Siglin: 18:37 I had a TSA agent asked me that same question, Mark, when I came through customs. I’m like, “Sure. I’ll stand here and answer that question for you.” The router was actually what I suggested that he upgrade, because he said his router was like this (old unit).
Mark Donnigan: 18:53 In a lot of homes, it’s a router that’s 15 years old and it just isn’t (up to the task).
Tim Siglin: 18:58 But it brings out the point that even as we’re talking about newer codecs and better quality, even if we get a lower sweet spot in terms of 4K content (streaming bandwidth), or as we found in the survey that we worked on together, that using HEVC for 1080p or 720p, if the routers, if the software in the chain is not updated, the delivery quality will suffer in a way that people who have a tuned television and seen the consistent quality aren’t certain what to do to fix when they use an over-the-top service.
Tim Siglin: 19:34 I think this is a key for 2019. As we prepare for ATSC 3.0 on over-the-air broadcast where people will be able to see pristine 4K, it will actually force those of us in the OTT space to up our game to make sure that we’re figuring out how to deliver across these multiple steps in a process that we don’t break.
Dror Gill: 19:54 You really see ATSC 3.0 as a game-changer in 2019?
Tim Siglin: 19:59 What I see it as is the response from the broadcast industry to, A) say that they’re still relevant, which I think is a good political move. And, B) it provides the scale you were talking about, Dror. See, I think what it does is it at least puts us in the OTT space on notice that there will be in certain first world countries a really decent quality delivery free of charge with commercials over the air.
Tim Siglin: 20:31 It takes me back to the early days of video compression when, if you had a good class-one engineer and an analog NTSC transmission system, they could give you really good quality if your TV was tuned correctly. It only meant having to tune your TV. It didn’t mean having to tune your router or having to tune your cable modem, having to tune your settings on your TV. I think that’s where the game-changer may be, is that those tuner cards, which will send HDR signaling and things like that with the actual transmission, are going to make it much easier for the consumer to consume quality in a free scenario. I think that part of it is a potential game-changer.
Mark Donnigan: 21:19 That’s interesting. Tim, we worked together earlier this year on a survey, an industry survey that I think it would be really, really interesting to listeners to talk about. Shall we pivot into that? Maybe you can share some of the findings there.
Tim Siglin: 21:38 Why don’t you take the lead on why Beamr wanted to do that? Then I’ll follow up with some of the points that we got out of it.
Mark Donnigan: 21:46 Obviously, we are a codec developer. It’s important for us to always be addressing the market the way that the market wants to be addressed, meaning that we’re developing technologies and solutions and standards that’s going to be adopted. Clearly, there has been, especially if we rewind a year ago or even 18 months ago, AV1 was just recently launched. There were still questions about VP9.
Mark Donnigan: 22:19 Obviously, H264 AVC is the standard, used everywhere. We felt, “Let’s go out to the industry. Let’s really find out what the attitudes are, what the thinking is, what’s going on ‘behind closed doors’ and find out what are people doing.” Are they building workflows for these new advanced codecs? How are they going to build those workflows? That was the impetus, if you will, for it.
Mark Donnigan: 22:49 We are very happy, Tim, to work with you on that and of course Streaming Media assisted us with promoting it. That was the reason we did it. I know there were some findings that were pretty predictable, shall we say, no surprises, but there were some things that I think were maybe a little more surprising. So, maybe if you like to share some of those.
Tim Siglin: 23:12 Yeah. I’ll hit the highlights on that. Let me say too that one of the things that I really like about this particular survey, there was another survey that had gone on right around that time that essentially was, “Are you going to adopt HEVC?” What we took the approach on with this survey was to say, “Okay. Those of you who’ve already adopted HEVC, what are the lessons that we can learn from that?”
Tim Siglin: 23:36 We didn’t exclude those who were looking at AV1 or some of the other codes, even VP9, but we wanted to know those people who used HEVC. Were they using it in pilot projects? Were they thinking about it? Were they using it in actual production? What we found in the survey is that AVC, or H.264, was still clearly dominant in the industry, but that the ramp-up to HEVC was moving along much faster than at least I … I believed. Mark, I told you when we started the survey question creation, which was about a year ago and then launched it in early 2018, I expected we wouldn’t see a whole lot of people using HEVC in production.
Tim Siglin: 24:23 I was pleasantly surprised to say that I was wrong. In fact, I think you mentioned in our recent Streaming Media West interview that there was a statistic you gave about the number of households that could consume HEVC. Was it north of 50%?
Mark Donnigan: 24:40 Yeah, it’s more than 50%. What’s interesting about that number is that that actually came from a very large MSO. Of course, they have a very good understanding of what devices are on their network. They found that there was at least one device in at least 50% of their homes that could receive and decode, playback, HEVC. That’s about as real world as you can get.
Tim Siglin: 25:06 What was fascinating to me too in this study was, we asked open-ended questions, which is what I’ve done in the research projects for the last 25 years both the video conferencing and streaming. One of the questions we asked was, “Do you see HEVC as only a 4K solution or do you see it as an option for lower resolutions?” It turned out overwhelmingly, people said, “We not only see it for 4K. We see it for high-frame rate (HFR) 1080p, standard frame rate 1080p, with some HDR.”
Tim Siglin: 25:40 Not a majority, but a large number of respondents said they would even see it as a benefit at 720p. What that tells me is, because we had a large number of engineers, video engineers, and we also have people in business development who answer these questions, what it tells me is that companies know as we scale because of the unicast problem that Dror pointed out in the beginning that scaling with a codec that consumes more bandwidth is a good way to lose money, kind of like the joke that the way a rich man can lose money really fast is to invest in an airline.
Tim Siglin: 26:19 If indeed you get scale with AVC, you could find yourself with a really large bill. That look at HEVC is being not just for 4K, HDR, or high frame rate in the future, but also for 1080p with some HDR and high frame rate. It tells me that the codec itself or the promise of the codec itself was actually really good. What was even more fascinating to me was the number of companies that had AVC pipelines that were actually looking to integrate HEVC into those same production pipe.
Tim Siglin: 26:55 It was much easier from a process standpoint to integrate HEVC into an AVC pipeline, so in other words, H265 into H264 pipeline than it was to go out of house and look at something like AV1 or VP9, because the work that was done on HEVC builds on the benefits that were already in place in AVC. Of course, you got Apple who has HLS, HTTP Live Streaming, and a huge ecosystem in terms of iPhones and iPads, laptops and desktops supporting HEVC not just as a standard for video delivery, but also with the HEIC or HEIF image format, now having all of their devices shoot images using HEVC instead of JPEG. That in and of itself drives forward adoption of HEVC. I think you told me since that survey came out, probably now seven months ago, you all have continued to see the model of all-in HEVC adoption.
Dror Gill: 28:03 This is what we promote all the time. It’s kind of a movement. Are you all in HEVC or are you doing it just for 4K, just where you have to do it? We really believe in all-in HEVC. Actually, this week, I had an interesting discussion with one of our customers who is using our optimization product for VOD content, to reduce bit-rate of H.264 (streams). He said, “I want to have a product. I want to have a solution for reducing bit-rates on our live channels.”
Dror Gill: 28:32 So, I asked them, “Okay. Why don’t you just switch your codec to HEVC?” He said, “No, I can’t do that.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “You know compatibility and things like that.” I asked, “Okay. What are you using? What are you delivering to?” He said, “We have our own set-top boxes (STB), IP set-top boxes which we give out to our customers. Well, these are pretty new.” So, they support HEVC. I’m okay there. “Then we have an Apple TV app.” “Okay, Apple TV has a 4K version. So, it supports HEVC. All of the latest Apple TV devices have HEVC. That’s fine.” “Then we have smartphone apps, smart TV apps for Android TV and for the LG platform.”
Dror Gill: 29:15 Obviously, TV’s support 4K. So, I’m okay there. With delivering to mobile devices, all the high-end devices already support HEVC. He was making this estimate that around 50 to 60% of his viewers are using devices that are HEVC capable. Suddenly, he’s thinking, “Yeah, I can do that. I can go all in HEVC. I will continue, of course, to support H.264 for all of the devices that don’t support HEVC. But if I can save 50% of the bandwidth to 50 to 60% of my customers, that’s a very big savings.”
Mark Donnigan: 29:48 What’s interesting about this conversation, Dror, is first of all I’m pretty certain that the operator you’re talking with is different than the operator that I shared, found the exact same thing. This is a consistent theme, is that pretty much in developed parts of the world, it really is true that 50% or more of the users can today receive HEVC. This number is only growing. It’s not like it’s static It is just growing. Next year, I don’t know if that number will be 60% or 70%, but it’s going to be even bigger.
Mark Donnigan: 30:27 What’s fascinating is that, again, we’ve said earlier, that the consumer is getting just more aware of quality, and they’re getting more aware of when they’re being underserved. For operators who are serving to lowest common denominator, which is to say, AVC works across all my devices, and it’s true. AVC works on all the high-end devices equally well, but you’re under-serving a large and growing number of your users.
Mark Donnigan: 31:01 If your competitors are doing the same, then I guess you could say … well, “Who are they going to switch to?” But there are some fast-moving leaders in the space who are either planning or they’re shortly going to be offering better quality. They’re going to be extending HEVC into lower bit rates or lower resolutions, that is, and therefore lower bit rates, and the consumers are going to begin to see like, “Well, wait a second. This service over here that my friend has or we have another subscription in the household, how come the video looks better?” They just begin to migrate there. I think it’s really important when we have these sorts of conversations to connect to this idea that don’t underserve your consumer in an effort to be something to everybody.
Tim Siglin: 31:57 I would add two other quick things to that, Mark. One is, we’ve always had this conversation in the industry about the three-legged stool of speed, quality and bandwidth in terms of the encoding.
Mark Donnigan: 32:09 That’s right.
Tim Siglin: 32:09 Two of those are part of the consumer equation, which is quality and bandwidth. Then, oftentimes, we’ve had to make the decision between quality and bandwidth. If the argument is ostensibly that HEVC as it stands right now, had a couple years of optimization, can get us to about, let’s say, 40%. Let’s not even say 50%. For equivalent quality, it can get us to 40% bandwidth reduction. Why wouldn’t you switch over to something like that?
Tim Siglin: 32:39 Then the second part, and I have to put a plugin for what Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen and the Streaming Media team did at Streaming Media West by having Roger Pantos come and speak, Roger Pantos being of course the inventor of HLS, and I’m not a huge fan of HLS, just because of the latency issues. But he pointed out in his presentation, his tutorial around HLS that you can put two different codecs in a manifest file. There is absolutely no reason that an OTT provider could not provide both HEVC and AVC within the same manifest file and then allow the consumer device to choose.
Tim Siglin: 33:22 When Dror mentioned the company who has the OTT boxes that they give away, they could easily set a flag in those boxes to say, “If you’re presented with a manifest file that has AVC and HEVC, go with HEVC to lower the bandwidth, overall.” The beauty is it’s a technical issue at this point and it’s a technical implementation issue, not a ‘can we make it work?’ Because we know that it works based around the HLS.
Mark Donnigan: 33:54 This is excellent. Tim, let’s wrap this up, as I knew it would be. It has just been an awesome conversation. Thank you for sharing all your years of collective experience to give some insight into what’s happening in the industry. Let’s look at 2019. I know we’ve been talking a little bit about … you’ve made references to ATSC 3.0. Some of our listeners will be going to CES. Maybe there’s some things that they should be looking at or keeping their eyes opened for. What can you tell us about 2019?
Tim Siglin: 34:35 Here’s what I think 2019 is bringing. We have moved in the cloud computing space and you all are part of this conversation at Beamr. We’ve moved from having cloud-based solutions that were not at parity with on-premise solutions to actually in 2018 reaching parity between what you could do in an on-premise solution versus the cloud. Now, I think in 2019, what we’re going to start seeing is a number of features in cloud-based services, whether it’s machine learning, which the popular nomenclature is AI, but I really like machine learning as a much better descriptor, whether it’s machine learning, whether it’s real-time transcoding of live content, whether it’s the ability to simultaneously spit out AVC and HEVC like we’ve been talking about here that the cloud-based solutions will move beyond parity with the on-premise solutions.
Tim Siglin: 35:35 There always will be needs for the on-premise parts from a security standpoint in sort of the industries, but I don’t think that will inhibit cloud-based in 2019. If people are going to CES, one of the things to look at there, for instance, is a big leap in power consumption savings for mobile devices. I’m not necessarily talking about smartphones, because the research I’ve done says the moment you turn GPS on, you lose 25% of battery. Tablets have the potential to make a resurgence in a number of areas for consumers and I think we’ll see some advances in battery (capacity).
Tim Siglin: 36:19 Part of that goes to HEVC, which as we know is a much harder codec to decode. I think the consumer companies are being forced into thinking about power consumption as HEVC becomes more mainstream. That’s something I think people should pay attention to as well. Then, finally, HDR and surround sound solutions, especially object placement like Dolby Atmos and some of these others, will become much more mainstream as a way to sell flat panels and surround sound systems.
Tim Siglin: 36:56 We sort of languished in that space. 4K prices have dropped dramatically in the last two years, but we’re not yet ready for 8K. But I think we’ll see a trend toward fixing some of the audio problems. In the streaming space, to fix those audio problems, we need to be able to encode and encapsulate into sort of the standard surround sound model. Those are three areas that I would suggest people pay attention.
Mark Donnigan: 37:25 Well, thank you for joining us, Tim. It’s really great to have you on. We’ll definitely do this again. We want to thank you, the listener, for supporting the Video Insiders. Until the next episode. Happy encoding!
Announcer: 37:39 Thank you for listening to the Video Insiders Podcast, a production of Beamr Imaging Limited. To begin using Beamr’s codecs today, go to Beamr.com/free to receive up to 100 hours of no cost HEVC and H.264 transcoding every month.