Streaming Media Demystified. McGraw-Hill

Michael Topic

*Content Delivery Techniques *Interactive Multimedia *Video & Audio Compression *MPEG-4*Metadata and MPEG-7 *Digital Rights Management and MPEG-21*


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Streaming Media Demystified

I used to read the acknowledgments in other books with a good deal of
skepticism, but having now written a book of my own, I have come to
appreciate just how essential the efforts of other people are in the
process and what a great debt they are owed. I, therefore, offer my humble
thanks and appreciation to the following people:
Peter Symes for suggesting that I write this book and for making the
necessary introductions. I hope my book is half as good as yours. Steve
Shepard—thanks for the helping hand and encouragement when I was
in over my depth on telecommunications protocols and optical networking.
Laura Clemons—thank you for your insight and for taking the time
to write down your thoughts on where the industry was going and where
it had been. Your input was not only authoritative, but also inspirational.

Nancy Arculin Jandorf—I am eternally indebted to you for your
critiques of the first drafts, suggestions for added clarity, unfailing
encouragement, and for continually reminding me that I could do this
project. John Portnoy—thank you for being there over the years and for
your generous information on the film industry and its internal workings.
Ben Roeder—thanks for introducing me to the Kendra project and
for giving me some understanding of what it is like to be a broadband
service provider. Ross Summers—thanks especially for the insights into
the streaming media industry and for tramping through all the trade
shows with me, while protecting “the project” like a lion. Julian
Medinger—thank you for clear-headed thought and for explaining digital
rights management to me in words of one syllable. Ray Baldock,
Mike Cronk, Beth Bonness and Tim Thorsteinson—thank you for granting
me access to the streaming media industry from close quarters and
for your thoughts and ideas on the future of the industry. Without your
help and support, this book could never have been written. Mark
Leonard and Rob Charlton—thanks for helping to debate and clarify
various issues concerning data synchronization on mobile computing
devices and for having the intelligence to play a part in shaping the
industry according to what you can see. There are many people in the
industry, who I met at trade shows and conferences, or else interviewed
as part of my consultancy work, that generously spent time debating
various hot issues with me, adding insight and opinions to my partly
formed views. Listing everybody by name would be an impossible task
and I am sure to overlook somebody vital. Please accept my sincere and
heartfelt thanks for shaping and forming my ideas.

Thanks are due to Steve Chapman, Jessica Hornick, and all the wonderful
“behind-the-scenes” people at McGraw-Hill, for acting as calm,
collected and patient midwives to this project, even when I was struggling
to get the book written. Extra special thanks are due to Patty Wallenburg
of TypeWriting for making my work look so darn good and for
providing me with a much needed “buffer;” to Marion Brady for patiently
reconstructing my awkward sentences and mending all my split
infinitives, and to Joann Woy for proofreading with the eyes of a hawk
and for indexing this diverse, free-ranging subject matter intelligently.

I offer special gratitude and thanks to my staff at Imaginative Engineering,
especially Anne Elliott and Ewan Smith, for keeping things
running while I was deeply immersed in the writing of this book and for
all the trade show support and sheer excellence. I feel truly privileged to
have worked with such outstanding people in my lifetime.
To my parents, I will never be able to adequately thank you or repay
you for working like slaves so that I could get a decent education. Dad, I
especially thank you for teaching me that the world is really very simple
to understand, once you figure out how it works. Nothing is too complicated
to attempt to grasp.

Finally, to Clare, Alexander and Elise, thank you for understanding
when I couldn’t be at places I should have been with you, for accepting
fewer hugs while I was busy writing, locked away in my office, or in
some far-off city working out how streaming media works, for creating
precious peace and quiet when I needed it and for tolerating this obsession
that overtakes you when you begin to write a book. I’ve been working
on this book for your entire life, Elise. Now that it’s done, daddy has
returned to normal. I’m afraid this as normal as it gets, sweetheart.

This book, my first, was written under fairly difficult circumstances.
The project coincided with the birth of my second child and first daughter,
high-pressure project deadlines relating to the Aqua streaming
media encoder, the building up of a business with only bootstrap
finance, a near-death experience and dealing with the negative consequences
of the September 11, 2001 atrocity, the U.S. high-tech recession
and the Nimda virus. I am particularly pleased to have completed this
book during all of that.

The book’s content may strike the reader accustomed to technical
books as somewhat unusual, since there are chapters dealing with the
social, political and business issues relating to the technology. The reason
for including such peripheral information is that I strongly believe
technologists ought to understand their technologies within a human
context. If a technology does not serve humanity and improve people’s
lives, what justification is there for its existence?

Scientists and engineers must take responsibility for what they
thrust upon humanity. I have never agreed with technologists who hide
behind the beauty of their creations in order to avoid having to confront
the problems their technology creates. I also cringe at business decisions
made solely on the basis of technical argument, without some basic
understanding of the people the technology is for, what it will do for
them and why they might buy it. Only by understanding the context
within which a technology will exist can technologists make sound judgments
about how to shape their products, fashion the features and create
solutions that are relevant to people’s real lives. Too many bad applications
and products get made because the designers don’t take into
account the context of their work.

Technical books that failed to give the “big picture” have always tended
to bewilder rather than clarify. The old adage of not being able to see
the wood for the trees always applied. I have endeavored to set my own
explanations of streaming media technology against a background of the
issues surrounding the technology. I hope that my peculiar and particular
viewpoint serves to illumine the process of demystification.

The book could have been very much longer, since there is a lot of
ground to cover in explaining everything about streaming media. Consequently
I have, in places, reluctantly resorted to sketches rather than
detailed examinations of various aspects of the technology and medium.
This is a fast-moving technology, so I expect much of the book to date
very rapidly. By concentrating on the underlying principles rather than
the specifics of various current solutions, however, I hope that the work
will serve the reader for many years to come.
Ripley, Surrey

Table of Contents
Preface xv
Acknowledgments xvii
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 The Medium 9
What Is Streaming Media? 10
A New Distribution Channel 17
No More Downloads 20
Audio/Visual Web Stuff 22
Web Radio 23
Video on Demand 26
Distance Learning 27
Synchronized Multimedia 29
Simulcast 30
Mobile Streaming Media 31
Streaming Chat 32
Corporate Communications 34
Streaming Cameras 36
Special Interest TV 37
Streaming Media and e-Commerce 39
Independent Film Making 41
D-Cinema 42
High-Definition Streaming 45
Time Shifting and Live Pause 47
Streaming and Advertising 49
Interactive Tutorials 52
Information Blitzes and Search Randomizers 53
Streaming from DVD (WebDVD) 54
How Does Streaming Media Work? 55
Compression 59
Bandwidth 65
Pipes 69
The Personal Computer and Streaming Media 75
Players 76
Microsoft Windows Media Technologies 77
QuickTime and Sorenson 96
MPEG-4 100
Content Delivery Networks 121
Edge Servers 124
Quality of Service 127
Real Video and Real Audio 136
Streaming Media Servers 148
Multicasting 149
Audio and Video Cleaning 156
Synchronized Multimedia 157
Peer-to-Peer Replication 159
Rights Management 160
Other Things That Go “Stream” In the Night 168
Why Was Streaming Media Invented? 169
Corporate Communications 171
WANs Are Cheaper than Airlines 172
Distance Learning and Interactive Learning 173
IPTV 173
Microsoft Video for Windows 174
Microsoft NetShow 175
Real Audio 176
Liquid Audio 177
How It Panned Out 178
Why Is Streaming Media Better? 179
Better Than Text 180
On-Demand Viewing 181
A Universe of Choice 181
Global and General 182
Wide Reach 183
Interactivity 184
Enriched User Experiences 184
Targeted Advertising 185
Immediately Measurable Response 186
Enhanced E-commerce 186
Mobile and Portable 187
Distribution 188
Content Production Costs 190
Democracy and Media Control 192
Setting the Agenda 192
Encryption 193
The Joys of Unregulated Media 194
Play It Again, Sam 195
Searching and Filtering 195
Copyrights Rule 196
Fingerprinting and Watermarking 198
Archiving 199
Using Metadata 199
Simulcast Synchronized Multimedia 200
Standards Conversions Obsolete 201
Information Density 202
Tracing Sources 203
Trust Networks 203
Viewer Reviewers 205
Not Dictation 206
The Return of Community 207
Everyone Is Beautiful—Avatars 208
Content is King 208
Who Is Driving Streaming Media’s Innovation? 208
Microsoft 209
Real Networks and Intel Architecture Labs 211
Apple 212
Sorenson 213
The Moving Picture Experts Group 213
Other Vendors 214
Research 215
What’s Wrong with Streaming Media? 216
Audience Critical Mass 217
Profitable Business Models 218
Ubiquitous Broadband Networks 219
Standards and Lack of Adherence to Them 220
Quality of Video Service/ Quality of Experience 221
Quality of Network Service 221
Receivers and Players 224
Content Providers—Where Are the Big Names? 225
Fresh Searches 226
Web Publishing Issues 227
Mobile Networks and Devices 229
Cost-Effective Content Production 230
A Killer Application? 231
When Will Streaming Media Be Ready for Prime Time? 232
Broadband Penetration 233
The Fight for Rights 236
Digital Rights Management 236
Mobile Media 241
Appliances and Receivers 242
Finding a Killer Application 242
When Standards Prevail 243
Sound Business Models 243
Media Search Engines 244
Fast Seeking Support 245
Chapter 3 The Audience 247
Who Will Watch? 248
Demographics 248
The Multitasking Viewer 249
Values 250
Expectations of the Media 251
Community Spirit 252
The Need for Speed 252
Expectations of Search Relevance 252
The Need to Contribute and Interact 253
Respect for Digital Rights 253
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Streaming Networks 254
Protection from Perversion 256
Silver Surfers 257
Serious Business 257
Learners 258
How Will We Watch Streaming Media? 259
The PC Platform 261
Set-Top Boxes and Beyond 261
Mobile PDA and Web Tablets 262
In the Car 263
In Public Places 263
At the D-Cinema 264
On the Fridge 265
Around the House 265
Surveillance Centers 266
When Will We Watch? 267
The Competition for Attention 268
Time Is Precious 269
Saving Time 270
Every Business Is in Show Business 271
Getting What You Need 273
When You Don’t Know 273
When You Want to Know More 274
Anywhere 275
Anytime 275
The Simulcast Experience 276
Personal Streaming Universes 277
Why Watch Streaming Media? 277
Better Than Books? 279
Fast Variety 280
Whenever You Want 281
A Personal Information Shadow 282
Video Beats Text 283
Informative and Interactive 283
The Best Mentors 284
The Best Salesmen 284
Body Language 285
Intimate Connections 286
Natural Modes of Thought 286
What Will We Watch? 288
Hyper News 289
Effective Education 291
Help at Hand 292
Love Interactions 293
Immersive Entertainment 293
D-Features 294
Video Instant Messaging and Mail 294
Special-Interest Magazine Shows 295
Archives and Vaults 295
Streaming Auctions 296
Fly-By, Walkthrough Streaming 297
Extreme Retailing and E-Commerce 297
Honey, I Shrunk the Children 297
Chapter 4 The Business 299
How Will Anyone Make Money with Streaming Media? 300
Was “Free to Air” Ever Really Free? 302
Pay-per-View Streaming 303
Streaming by Subscription 303
Streaming Subsidized by Advertising 304
Streaming Subsidized by E-Commerce 304
Trading Private Data for Streams 305
Government Funded Streaming 305
Protecting Rights 306
Better Bandwidth Utilization 306
Multicasting 306
Stream Fountains 307
Cheaper Bandwidth 308
Mobile Connectivity 308
Replacing Travel with Bandwidth 309
Who Will Make Money? 309
Content Owners and Creators 309
Bandwidth Profligates 310
Optical Network Service Providers 310
Optical Network Equipment Manufacturers 311
Consumer Electronics Industry 312
Desktop Streaming Media Authoring Tool Vendors 312
When Will Streaming Media Make Money? 313
When Will the Audience Reach Critical Mass? 316
When Will Practical, Inexpensive Receivers Arrive? 316
When Will Bandwidth Be Cheap? 317
When Will Connectivity Be Easy? 318
When Will Compelling Content Be Produced? 318
When Will the Quality of Service Be Acceptable? 319
When Will Standards Prevail? 320
When Will Cost-Effective Production Techniques Arrive? 320
When Will The Legal Issues Be Solved? 321
Why Will Streaming Media Make Money? 322
What You Want, When You Want It, Wherever You Are 322
Your Personal Data Shadow 323
Feel the Quality 323
Honest, Doc 324
Trust Me, I’m Streaming Media 325
Everyone’s a Media Mogul 325
Involving, Immersive, and Interactive 327
Overturning the Old Order 327
Rights Guarded 327
Free Samples 328
Uncensored 328
An Enriched World Wide Web 329
Why Digital Television Can’t Compete 329
Chapter 5 Upsides—Downsides 333
How Significant Is Streaming Media? 334
Sizing the Potential Market 334
Sizing the Potential Audience 337
Streaming Media and Democracy 337
Streaming Media and Ignorance 338
Streaming Media and Knowledge Capital 338
Streaming Media and the Speed of Business 339
Streaming Media and Privacy 339
Streaming Media and Community 339
Streaming Media and Advertising 340
What Could Go Wrong? 340
Quality Never Improves 342
Abuse of Privacy 343
Laws Lag Behind Technology 345
Bandwidth Revolution Stalls 346
Business Models Never Mature 348
Receivers Never Materialize 349
Content Owners Don’t Trust the Channel 349
The Audience Is Busy Doing Other Things 350
The Audience Rejects Rights Management/
E-commerce Security 351
Lowest Common Denominator Programming Prevails 352
It’s Outlawed 353
Conclusion 354
Appendix A MPEG-4 Profiles 357
Visual Profiles 358
Visual Profiles for Natural Video Content 359
Visual Profiles for Synthetic and
Synthetic/Natural Hybrid Visual Content 360
Additional Visual Profiles 361
Audio Profiles 362
Graphics Profiles 364
Scene Graph Profiles 365
Appendix B MPEG-2 and MPEG-4
Coding Compared 367
Appendix C Audio and Video Sweetening
Techniques 369
Audio Sweetening 370
Video Sweetening 377
Appendix D Real World Streaming
Media Encoding 383
Encoding Machines 384
Software-Based Encoding Tools 385
Encoding Labs 386
Precompression Signal Conditioners 387
Video Capture Cards 388
Appendix E Video and Audio Compression 389
Introduction 389
Transform Coding 390
Planar Transform 391
Interframe Transform Coding 393
The JPEG Standard 394
Compression Techniques 396
DCT and JPEG 398
The MPEG Standard 400
Basic Provisions 401
Motion Compensation 403
Putting It All Together 404
Profiles and Levels 407
Studio Profile 409
How MPEG-2 Was Tuned for High Quality of Experience 410
MPEG-2 Layer Structure 411
Slices 412
Pictures, Groups of Pictures, and Sequences 412
Vector Search Algorithm 415
Motion Vector Precision 415
Motion Vector Coding 415
Encoder Prediction Loop 416
Dual Prime Prediction Mode 420
Adaptive Field/Frame Prediction Mode 420
Image Refresh 421
Discrete Cosine Transform 422
Entropy Coding of Video Data 425
Spatial and Signal-to-Noise Scalability 428
MPEG-4 Video Compression 429
Very Low Bit Rate Video (VLBV) 430
Shape Coding 430
Texture Coding 431
Boundary Coding 432
Coding Arbitrary-Shaped Video Objects 433
Sprites 433
Advanced Coding Extensions (ACE) 434
Fine Grain Scalability 435
Error Robustness 435
Concatenation 437
Typical MPEG Artifacts 439
SMPTE RP202 440
Digital Audio Data Compression 442
PCM versus Compression 443
Audio Bit Rate Reduction 443
Prediction and Transform Algorithms 447
Processing and Propagation Delay 450
Bit Rate and Compression Ratio 451
Editing Compressed Data 452
Audio Compression Schemes Important to Streaming 452
References 462
Bibliography 463
Web Resources 464
Glossary 465
Sources 481
Bibliography 503
Index 505


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 545 p
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 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc 

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