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My brief experience with the new Oculus Go HMD

Its a great $199 standalone HMD. Battery life is quite short. CG content is poor. This is one of the main limitations of Mobile HMD. I wish it used USB-C instead of Micro USB. 

8K 360VR and 180VR is great. Unfortunately there is not so much today. The majority is 4K or lower resolution. IMHO 360VR and 180VR at resolution lower than 4K is unwatchable. Even 4K is poor. 

 

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MPEG / ITU-T successor to HEVC/H.265 is called Versatile Video Coding (VVC)

The Joint Video Experts Team (JVET), a collaborative team formed by MPEG and ITU-T Study Group 16's VCEG commenced work on a new video coding standard to be known as Versatile Video Coding (VVC) at this meeting. The primary objective of VVC is to provide a significant improvement in compression performance over the existing HEVC standard, aiding in deployment of higher-quality video services and emerging applications such as 360° omnidirectional immersive multimedia and high-dynamic-range (HDR) video. The development of the VVC standard is expected to be completed in 2020. The two bodies issued a joint Call for Proposals, and the responses were evaluated at the San Diego meeting. Responses to the call were received from 32 organizations, with some demonstrating compression efficiency gains of typically 40% or more when compared to using HEVC. The gain was measured in extensive formal subjective tests conducted by independent test labs. Both 360° omnidirectional video and HDR video were tested as well as conventional dynamic range video. Particular effectiveness was shown on ultra-high definition (UHD) video test material. The results of this very successful call led to creation of a first draft, a test model for simulation experiments, and a technology benchmark set for the VVC project. The new standard is expected to enable the delivery of UHD services at bit rates that today are used to carry HDTV. Alternatively, using VVC would enable twice as much video content to be stored on a server or sent through a streaming service

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NAB 2018 Round up

It was a fantastic NAB and we, at NGCodec, were super excited to announce our new products. We demonstrated our highest Quality HEVC Video Encoder for live streaming applications. Also, we announced our new live VP9 encoder for internet streaming applications which also used our Adaptive bitrate encoding technology. Our encoders achieve the best quality at lowest possible bitrates using FPGAs which we demonstrated using Advantech's latest Vega 4000 PCIe board.

The demo set up at  NAB 2018 consisted a PC running a FFMpeg encoding application running on a PC-server with real-time HEVC 1080p60 encoding using the NGCodec encoder on the Advantech board. An identical set up was used to demonstrate ABR streaming with VP9 encoding at 720p, 480p and 240p resolution outputs.

Test our live encoder at AWS here and let us know how you like it. It's completely free for a week! Do let us know any questions you may have and how we can help with your encoding requirements. Click here to send us your request.

Check the video below where Oliver Gunasekara, our CEO explains and showcases the technology.

 

Also, check out Oliver's interview with Jan Ozer at Streaming Media here

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NGCodec Demonstrates the Highest Compression Efficiency Live H.265/HEVC Encoder and adds VP9 Support at NAB 2018

NGCodec will be Exhibiting at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas from April 9th to 12th at LVCC South Upper Hall Booth SU14613

Las Vegas. NGCodec, a pioneer in cloud video processing, is demonstrating the world’s highest compression efficiency cloud video encoders and announcing their availability in the Amazon EC2 F1 Cloud. Broadcast video can now be delivered at the same video quality level as video-on-demand, using state of the art VP9 or H.265/HEVC encoding. Hyperscale social video platforms can enable millions of users to stream with unprecedented quality and low latency. Major broadcasters can scale streaming of live events to reach large, global audiences. The company is demonstrating their solutions for live video streaming on the floor of the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, April 9th through the 12th.

Modern compression technologies such as VP9 and HEVC have required substantial investments in software and infrastructure. These technologies can now be implemented with economic and technical advantages, better justifying migration costs. NGCodec has pioneered low latency video encoding on programmable FPGA processors. Incredibly, each Amazon F1 instance powered by NGCodec replaces 20 C4 instances running open source encoders. This efficiency dramatically lowers the footprint required for broadcast quality live streaming.

Traditionally customers had to live with much lower visual quality (VQ) for live content vs. video-on-demand (VoD). Advance compression required powerful processors and was unable to meet 60 frames-per-second live broadcast requirements. Today, NGCodec delivers the best VQ even for live content by leveraging FPGA instances which are now available in many public data centers. The NGCodec VP9 and HEVC encoders support adaptive bitrate encoding allowing each encoder to simultaneously encode up to 32 multi-resolution streams to maximize efficiency for MPEG-DASH and HLS streaming.

NGCodec is demonstrating their live broadcast quality solutions on the floor of NAB 2018 using the Advantech VEGA-4000 FPGA compute node utilizing Xilinx FPGA. “We are excited to see emerging applications such as NGCodec’s high performance video encoders on the Advantech VEGA-4000,” said Brian Carr, Product Strategist and Marketing Director at Advantech Video Solutions Division. “Deploying reconfigurable FPGA technology for live video broadcast has never been easier for broadcasters and video streaming platforms.”
“We have developed VP9 encoding with the same performance as HEVC for live broadcast applications,” said the company’s new VP of Engineering, Brian Angell. “With over 5 years devoted to the development of our high performance cloud video encoders, NGCodec offers the highest performance encoding solution available in a public cloud with a 10X reduction in encoding costs.”

To book a demo and meeting time at NAB please use the widget on: https://ngcodec.com/nab

 

About NGCodec Inc.
NGCodec® has been in passionate pursuit of next generation video compression since 2012. With the support of investors including Xilinx, NGCodec’s agile startup team has created Reality Codec™, a compressor-decompressor technology optimized for ultra-low latency, high-quality applications. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, NGCodec leverages FPGA acceleration in the Cloud to lower encoding costs by 10x over traditional CPU encoders. Learn more at www.ngcodec.com

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4 Reasons Why VP9 is Important

VP9 video is everywhere even if you don't realize it, thanks to the likes of YouTube and Netflix. But, what is it and why should you care about it?

VP9 is an open and royalty-free codec. That’s one immediate reason why it is a very lucrative option especially for hyper scale internet video services who have embraced it as an upgrade over the immensely popular previous generation H.264 codec. VP9 was developed by Google as part of it's WebM project, and was historically used primarily on YouTube. However, the format has gradually expanded to Netflix and others. When Netflix began using it towards the end of 2016, reports showed they were able to save up to 36% bandwidth by using VP9 encoding together with their video chunking approach. The momentum around upgrading to VP9 has since grown as the codec has garnered the interest of other enterprises and developers alike. In fact, with the highest installation rate amongst the codecs available on the market, it is currently the most relevant codec for online streaming. Here's why:

Huge install base

It’s already an adopted format by Chrome (naturally) and Firefox browsers with a huge install base on several low-end and high-end Android devices. Despite it's incompatibility with Safari, VP9 boasts support on almost 3 Billion devices - nearly double of HEVC's support on about 1.7 Billion devices. More details on this can be found here. With Apple's joining AOM, a possibility of an initial support for VP9 and later addition of AV1 support on Safari can't be ruled out.

High Quality Encoding Tools

With High Quality Encoding tool sets, VP9 delivers a low bandwidth streaming option suitable for an array of resolutions from mobile through 4K. Google claimed in 2015 that this codec actually cuts the size of the average video in half, which is important when it comes to enhancing user experience with lower bandwidths and higher resolutions. Google had earlier stated in their blog post that their vision is for every internet user to enjoy high-quality videos without having to wait a second for them to buffer. VP9 does put them one step closer to achieving that goal with it's incredible compression efficiency thereby enabling a size decrease of HD video to something that can be easily consumed on most internet connections. VP9 video codec is also engineered to get more efficient at larger resolutions than its predecessors making it a natural migration option for 4K services.

It’s free

Unlike other codecs that came before VP9, VP9 is open-source and it’s going to stay that way. Because it’s free to use, more and more developers are reviewing to incorporate it into their products, including some big names in the streaming video industry. Why would you pay for something when you can get a comparable quality codec that's proven and deployed for free?

Established Roadmap

VP9 is the predecessor to AV1 - AOM's next generation video codec that was released this week. While AV1 shows a lot of potential and promise, the reality is that it may be at least a few years away as far as hyperscale mass hardware deployments are concerned. Furthermore, the codec is highly complex and will take time for implementations to come about that have high quality real-time encoding with significant gains. In the meanwhile, VP9 fits in as the perfect option that's available today, with proven deployments and excellent video quality improvements all rolled in to one codec at an excellent price point.

 

Naturally, you can expect to see VP9 continue to grow in popularity as most developers begin to adopt it as their standard video codec. Considering that days’ worth of video is published to YouTube every minute, investing on improving compression and lowering the bandwidth needed for streaming content was a smart move from Google. The reduced size of video files for the same output quality delivered means that, even as 4K videos get added into the mix more often, everyone will get to enjoy pristine quality content with faster loading times and decreased buffering using this new codec. It's only a matter of time until this gets implemented on other mass online video platforms which choose to migrate to VP9 from existing H.264 codec to leverage on all the freebies that come with it.

 

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HEVC Advance’s royalty removal is a step in the right direction. Here’s why.

On March 13, HEVC Advance announced that it has removed its license fees for subscription, title-by-title encoding and distribution for all non-physical media using the Emmy Award winning HEVC video compression standard.

This essentially means that cable, on-air broadcast and satellite streaming will no longer be subject to royalty fees previously sought by HEVC Advance. According to HEVC Advance, this move is part of an effort to accelerate the adoption of HEVC compression especially as 4K resolution content become more and more ubiquitous in streaming-video markets.

Additionally, HEVC Advance also announced it has expanded its discount program for Region 1 (which includes North America, Europe, Middle-east and A-Pac excluding emerging markets like India & China) Lower-Priced Connected Home and Other Devices Category to include units costing up to $80. It also consolidated and reduced it’s enterprise cap to $40M and further expanded it’s Trademark Program discounts to include physical media. This makes HEVC easier to implement in a greater number of devices.

This is, however, not the first move of its kind. Back in 2016, HEVC Advance waived fees on software applications like browsers and media players that implement HEVC encoding and decoding only using a general purpose CPU and no hardware acceleration. Essentially, this move was to drive the market for HEVC by allowing free software implementations on hardware that lacked HEVC acceleration functions but equipped with the horsepower needed to handle HEVC compression in software. Fast forward a year, in October 2017, HEVC Advance again announced discounted royalty rates specifically to increase adoption of HEVC among lower-priced devices

Earlier, there was another major shift in 2017 when Apple, at its Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC17), announced that it would support HEVC in both its computer and smartphone operating systems. This put HEVC at the forefront over other parallel open source compression formats, as the most prominent phone-maker in the world and one of the most popular and well-known computer-makers worldwide was supporting HEVC. This was definitely music to the ears of the video community including companies like NGCodec that had invested heavily in HEVC.  

While Apple’s move and it’s adoption of HEVC in it’s iPhones, iPads and Macs showed a great deal of promise, the adoption rate of HEVC for streaming content still suffered primarily due to the royalty issues that had plagued it for years coupled with the huge market share of royalty-free VP9 codec in browsers and Android smartphones. NGCodec has also publicly stated that both VP9 and HEVC may be required because the Premium segment lead by Apple is HEVC only and Mass market led by Google Android is VP9 Only.Apple has since joined AOM, fueling uncertainties and speculations about the future of MPEG video codecs for streaming applications. Recently, MPEG’s founding chairman Leonard Chiariglione also wrote a critical blog post titled 'A crisis, the causes and a solution' that portrayed a rather bleak future for MPEG Video standards. In his article, it is shown that while there are indeed concerns about the future of video compression technology, there are also solutions available.

HEVC Advance’s latest move is a good step in the right direction towards helping broadcasters and internet video encoding providers provide HEVC as part of their codec portfolio and leverage it’s superior compression gains over the earlier dominant H.264 standard. Broadcasters can now use HEVC’s best-in-class compression royalty-free for their ingest and contribution workflows either on-prem or in the cloud. This will enable providers to expand their offerings to higher resolutions like 4K and also offer higher resolutions for a given bit rate or reduce bandwidth consumption for existing resolutions. MSOs can now effectively use HEVC encoding for distribution over cable, satellite or OTT thereby providing a far richer video experience for consumers.

It should be noted however that HEVC has three patent pools (the other two being MPEG LA and Velos Media) and a host of other patent holders who're not a part of neither pool and it remains to be seen how the other two patent pools respond to this move. HEVC Advance's announcement comes right in time as the industry gears up for the annual NAB show next month in Las Vegas. 

 

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NGCodec Joins New Huawei 5G Cloud VR/AR/MR SIG at Mobile World Congress 2018

Barcelona, Spain. NGCodec, a pioneer in cloud video processing, has joined the 5G Cloud VR/AR/MR Special Interest Group (SIG) established by Huawei’s Wireless Xlabs at the 2018 Mobile World Congress (MWC). The participants include leading VR and wireless technology providers seeking to stream experiences through the cloud targeting upcoming 5G wireless networks. Consumer applications hold the promise of speeding the adoption of 5G, but must break new ground, beyond today’s ubiquitous mobile broadband networks. NGCodec believes that streaming the cloud directly to the user interface can create a new wave of consumer application innovation. This vision is detailed in a new white paper by TIRIAS Research entitled “The Instantaneous Cloud: Emerging Consumer Applications of 5G Wireless Networks” now available at www.ngcodec.com online.

“NGCodec is working actively with service and network providers to demonstrate the synergy between low latency 5G wireless networks and high quality, low latency video streaming technology,” said the company’s new VP of Worldwide Business Development, Ian Jefferson. “Today’s Cloud video streaming technology from NGCodec designed for the most demanding live video streaming applications will continue to develop in support of upcoming cloud VR services on 5G networks.”

“Without new consumer applications, 5G will be unable to drive new models or monetization and risks slow adoption.” said Oliver Gunasekara CEO and Founder of NGCodec. “Taking advantage of the massive improvement in latency with 5G technology can unlock an instantaneous cloud with new and inventive business models. The next generation of immersive, high performance VR/AR/MR applications will be streamed directly to affordable and ubiquitous mobile devices.”

The company’s RealityCodec™  is optimized for low latency, streaming VR over a network with no noticeable difference between the encoded stream and a directly connected head mounted display. Today, this technology delivers broadcast quality H.265/HEVC for real-time streaming in the Amazon EC2 F1 Cloud and low latency H.265/HEVC for interactive virtual reality.

About NGCodec Inc.
NGCodec® has been in passionate pursuit of next generation video compression since 2012. With the support of investors including Xilinx, NGCodec’s agile startup team has created Reality Codec™, a compressor-decompressor technology optimized for ultra-low latency, high-quality applications. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, NGCodec leverages FPGA acceleration in the Cloud to lower encoding costs by 10x over traditional CPU encoders. Learn more at www.ngcodec.com online.

 5G Cloud VR SIG Meeting on Monday 26th February at MWC 2018

5G Cloud VR SIG Meeting on Monday 26th February at MWC 2018

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Top 5 Reasons to Use the Cloud for Your Encoding

Streaming media is facing explosive growth thanks to online consumption of live events, video chats and conferences, TV shows and movies. Cloud video processing and encoding are tools that content creators, editors and providers are increasingly relying on as an alternative to the typical on-prem hardware-based processing, encoding and storage model.

Videos are becoming more ubiquitous each day, and with this ubiquity comes the need to encode and transcode content. In the past, dedicated server farms have been used to encode and transcode videos. These are expensive and maintenance-heavy, and in a world increasingly focused on the importance of video content, versatility is often the name of the game. Content creators and distributors like to have many tools and options at their fingertips, and the ability to make money more easily is certainly a plus as well. Monetization does not necessarily have to be at the top line but potentially could be overall starting at the bottom line.

So, how does cloud-based encoding fit in? 

Here’s the top reasons why content engineers are increasingly using cloud encoding infrastructure over the world of traditional hardware-based encoding:

1. Ease of use

Online encoding tools are, in general, far easier to use than the ones integrated into custom hardware-based on-prem solutions. They’re flexible, offer various codec options and usually much easier to set up and get rolling with minimal intervention and maintenance. This has significant reductions in engineering time and personnel resource management. In short, the Cloud encoding services does most of the automated work, and the parts controlled by the user are generally easier to use.

2. Pay-as-you-go options

Though not inherent to Cloud-based video encoding, Cloud encoding services principally allow users to pay as they go. This means systems can be customized for any level of use, and extra, unnecessary costs are generally avoidable. It enables you to launch a new channel or service with phenomenally low up-front encoding hardware investment. Leading cloud encoding services today provide a variety of customized packages to suit different user needs and scales.

3. Scaling

The benefits of scaling video cannot be underestimated. Resources can be scaled depending on need, meaning as a provider, you’re not forced to provision or pay for resources that are not used. Rather, cloud encoding infrastructure allows you to scale services and resources automatically, taking that job out of the user’s hands and enables better handling of peak demand situations.

4. Monetization

Most Cloud-based video services are very integrated with advertising systems, decision servers and DRM providers, which help bring in money and lock content behind paywalls in order to protect its value. Cloud services also allow even more versatile options, including the ability to incorporate advanced analytics to tailor specific ads.

5. Future-proof

By nature, Cloud-based video encoding services are better equipped than hardware-based ones when it comes to staying ready and vigilant for the future of video encoding. E.g. launching a 4K service today and later upgrading to 8K might be easier done using the cloud than investing in dedicated on-prem hardware. Expert cloud video encoding services keep video infrastructure and software up-to-date and allows them to adapt easily to the ever-changing technological landscape.

In effect, cloud-based encoding is an increasingly viable option for content providers and creators to consider when it comes to putting their videos online. While hardware-based on-prem video encoding has been the norm for a very long time, streaming from the Cloud is an ever-growing option with a wide variety of benefits that cannot and should not be ignored.

Understandably, the biggest benefit of Cloud-based video encoding is versatility. While on-prem hardware can be up-front expensive and cumbersome, the Cloud has made a name for itself as an easy-to-use option that is as deep as you want it to be. The technological world is ever-changing, and the Cloud seems to provide a superior video encoding option that is set to adapt with technology rather than be left behind by it.

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