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Multimedia streaming and control and digital signage

What is 4:4:4 color and why should I care?

Written on March 15, 2017 at 5:45 am, by

 

In the AV industry we pride ourselves on providing the best-quality audio and visual communication to our clients.  One way in which we can do that is to offer video solutions in 4:4:4 color.

 

 

When digital video was first introduced, video files sizes were large in relation to storage and transmission capabilities.  One of the ways to address these larger file sizes was to introduce “chroma sub sampling.”  In digital video there are two main components; Luminance and Chrominance.  Luminance (or contrast) is the difference between the lightest and darkest parts of an image.  Chrominance is the color saturation of an image.  The human eye is very sensitive to small changes in contrast (Luminance) and is less sensitive to changes in color saturation (Chrominance).

 

 

To make digital video files more manageable, compression was introduced.  A true-color video signal (4:4:4) includes all of the red, green, and blue color information of each pixel.  In a 24-bit system, there are 8 pixels for each color and thus 24 bits in true color.  Chroma subsampling reduces file size by removing color.  In the AV world, the most common color space is 4:2:0, which is DVD quality. However, with 4:2:0 quality, the viewer is only seeing 50% of the available color.  To make up for that loss of color, the pixels that were removed are recreated by borrowing or “interpolating” from the adjacent pixels.  In some instances 4:2:0 quality is perfectly acceptable.  In other instances however the chroma sub sampling provides the viewer an experience that is less than optimal.

 

 

I can think of at least three instances in which 4:4:4 color is required:

 

  1. Telemedicine:  Surgical procedures streamed over a network require extremely accurate color information on the receiving end.
  2. Spreadsheets: Small text on a spreadsheet in color is virtually unreadable at anything other than 4:4:4 quality.
  3. Corporate Branding: Accurate color representation in a company logo.  Think of how some iconic brands might appear if the colors were not accurate represented.

 

 

If two video streams with identical content are placed next to each other, one at 720P 4:4:4 color and the other at 1080P 4:2:0, chances are extremely high that the average viewer will choose the lower resolution image with the true color as the more impactful.  Color trumps resolution pretty much every time.  So the next time you are specifying a streaming solution make sure to factor in which color space is most appropriate for the application.

 

Learn More about our VIEW® Pro streaming product lines and see the difference.

 

 

 

The Power of AV over IP

Written on November 2, 2016 at 11:04 am, by

 

Traditionally, AV content is distributed using fixed hardware matrix solutions – a method still being used in some projects. This method will have one piece of hardware with fixed number of inputs and fixed number of outputs; all the sources and destinations being connected to this same box.

 

 

There are some major disadvantages in using this traditional method. To name just a few:

 

a) Multiple racks of equipment and more footprints are needed
b) Expensive, specialized, and source-dedicated cables are  needed
c) Complex installation and maintenance is required
d) Cable restriction for length limitation is a consideration and even it may pick up noise and distortion
e) Rigidity is a reality – the system is neither scalable nor flexible. For example: Starting with one 16×16 (sources x destinations) unit, a customer would face purchasing another entire 16×16 system should they need to add just two more channels…a 32×32 system in which only 18×18 are being used.

 

The modern and new way of distributing AV contents is through TCP/IP Ethernet network. To explain simply, the source devices are connected to a device called an “Encoder.” The destination devices are connected with a device called a “Decoder.” The Encoders and Decoders are connected with an Ethernet Network Switch.

 

 

There are countless advantages in using this new method. To name just a few:

 

a) Highly scalable: Any source to any destination in any combination of the inputs/outputs can be connected in the system. Add a device when needed and if needed.
b) No distance limitation in the network.
c) Highly flexible, including video, audio, data, and control – all in the same network. Can extend the system by increment of 1 unit (unlike the purchasing scenario above!)
d) Highly reliable with high-quality signal transmission over standard Ethernet networks, using standard CAT5e/6 cables.
e) Internet Protocols are matured and standardized for interoperability and are future-proof.
f) Highly affordable, using the existing IP network infrastructure that includes the switches and cables.
g) Ease of installation and maintenance.

 

 

ClearOne’s StreamNet technology – a high-quality, AVoIP streaming solution that provides digital media distribution with unmatched scalability and ease of deployment on existing IP networks. It supports all types of AV sources to be distributed through existing Ethernet networks to all types of endpoints – from video wall screens to single, large-display screens and laptops or mobile devices.

 

ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro delivers the highest-quality multimedia streaming & distribution on an existing IP network with 1080p60 resolution, and an H.264 codec with ultra-high-quality 4:4:4 color-space video, ultra-low latency, low & adjustable network bandwidth, self-discovery, built-in control, RTSP/UDP streams for 3rd party products interoperability.

 

 

 

NOTES FROM THE ROAD… CLEARONE SALES ROADSHOW TOUR

Written on October 24, 2016 at 4:04 pm, by

 

We’re traveling the states showing off our newest products. Read about our adventure at each stop on the ClearOne Sales Roadshow Tour and be on the look out for us at a city near you.

 

HOUSTON – 1/12/17

This fabulous trek comes to an end in the Lone Star State. The Houston AV practitioners really helped us end on a high note, with unique interest in the Network Media Streaming solutions. The demos and even the networking of peers was a great ending to a productive series of meetings.  We hope to be on the road again in the near future, as we look ahead to more releases, and new innovations!

DALLAS – 1/10/17

 

We started off 2017 with the next-to-last Roadshow in Dallas – the mild weather in direct contrast to the high energy and interest of our attendees as we did hands-on demos of all the Pro Audio, Network Media Streaming, Wireless Mics, and Video Collaboration solutions. The UNITE 200 PTZ camera was of special interest, as well as the overall integration of products, bringing together the best in audio and visual communications with the flexibility to fit any environment!

 

SAN FRANCISCO – 12/8

Rainy San Francisco played home to our last Roadshow of 2016 (Seems strange to call it the last -but  we’ll  be back in January with more locations!)

 

Local Integrators and Consultants learned quite a bit about our latest solutions and found some very interesting possibilities with current projects that may now find some huge cost savings and a wealth of features with audio and video conferencing/collaboration. Many were introduced to the power of our streaming solutions, many not having previously done many of these types of installations. Wireless mics were of great interest with the simple integration and security offered with any pro audio installations.  The simplicity and flexibility of ClearOne’s integrated options really helped open everyone’s world to new solutions!

 ANAHEIM 12/6

Just next door to “the happiest place on earth” we found quite a few smiles of our own, as our local west-coast Integrators and Consultants were opening their worlds to all the newest ClearOne solutions.

 

The hands-on demos lasted quite a long time, as our attendees were finding more and more options for integrated solutions – adding industry-leading video collaboration to their pro audio installations, or vice versa, finding that video conferencing and media collaboration installations would be so much more natural and immersive with ClearOne professional audio integration.

 

Interest in streaming technology were answered with the unique ability to run powerful audio, video, and control over a single cable in a client’s existing TCP/IP network – something that opens up a lot of people’s worlds when no new wiring is required to have an easily installed mesh network for media streaming.

 

ClearOne’s wireless mics held everyone’s attention with the breadth of features and security found in such affordable packages. The flexibility of installations and the ease of use with field-upgradable products made the new wireless mics solutions a hit with everyone.

 

WASHINGTON DC – 11/10roadshow-dc

 

Our nation’s capital seems to be relatively calm after such a heated election season. We had a very productive meeting with attendees in Washington DC, with a session full of insightful questions and interactive dialogue. We heard from many consultants and integrators who were excited about all the newest ClearOne solutions and the expanded offerings they could provide for upcoming installations. Others now had the possibility of revisiting large projects already underway with the ability to offer clients solutions with the full range of features at a lower price than what may have been originally suggested.

All in all, we had a great time in Washington DC and will stay in close touch with our new contacts.  Will we see you at the next stop?

 


TORONTO – 11/1

 

Wroadshow-torontoe reached the far north this week with a visit to Toronto as our team of AV experts ran through the demos of the latest CONVERGE® Pro 2 Pro Audio DSP innovations, Spontania and COLLABORATE® Pro cloud-based videoconferencing and media collaboration (respectively), our affordable – and more importantly, highly secure – new wireless microphones, and the powerful flexibility of VIEW® Pro and its ability to stream across existing TCP/IP Ethernet networks.

 

The Canadian stop was very well-received and we thank everyone who attended! We’ll stay in touch with contacts old and new to support everyone with the latest solutions as a one-stop manufacturing resource.

 

Now it’s on to the next stop – hopefully we’ll see you there!

 

 


 

 

NEW YORK – 10/20

 

The “Big Apple” of AV practitioners’ eyes

 

 

roadshow-nyc

In the shadow of the Empire State Building, the historic Hotel Pennsylvania played host to ClearOne’s second Sales Roadshow.  High above the never-ending NYC  bustle, integrators and consultants learned all about ClearOne’s latest – ending with a hands-on tour of each major group of solutions.

 

Pro Audio has been redefined- AGAIN!  A live-listening demo of CONVERGE® Pro 2’s noise cancellation provided real-time examples of the latest and most powerful adaptive audio DSP algorithms, including acoustic echo cancellation, noise cancellation, feedback elimination, gain and level control, and microphone gating.

 

The Beamforming Microphone Array 2 raised everyone’s brows, representing the second generation of the most powerful beamforming & adaptive steering technology in the industry – something others are just beginning to explore.  The beautiful, sleek design was preserved, with some new back-panel updates and the  addition of color-matched “feet” to completely blend in with the entire piece. In addition, a standard projector mount option is now available with different suspension column lengths.

 

The affordable new DIALOG® 20 wireless microphone system proved that good things come in small packages. Just two channels, it is the affordable choice for smaller venues requiring few wireless mics – with the option to daisy-chain to expand with more channels- or even be combined with options such as the Beamforming Mic Array 2 & CONVERGE Pro 2!

 

VIEW® Pro again displayed the ease of use with auto-discovery and AV over IP streaming on existing networks. The idea of creating a full video wall and video windowing configuration using PANORAMATM in minutes without running any new cable was astounding.

 

COLLABORATE® and Spontaniatrade; video collaboration solutions fit the new work environments with their multi-use appliance and built-in cloud-based conferencing. Huddle rooms and large conference rooms alike can easily add everything from simple in-room wireless presentation to full, remote media collaboration, all with a single appliance.

 

The UNITE® 200 PTZ camera represented the most flexible and future-proof PTZ solution for video conferencing & media collaboration, with options for USB, HDMI, and IP connections.

 

nyc-sm1

Our next stop will be Toronto – more updates to come!

 

 


 

 

BOSTON – 10/18

 

The ClearOne Sales Roadshow Tour is well underway, and Boston started off the series with a bang! Attendees learned all about the latest ClearOne solutions and experience hands-on demos of all the newest powerful technology.

roadshow-boston

The CONVERGE® Pro 2 and Beamforming Microphone 2 led the charge, as a double-shot of redefined Professional Installed Audio, providing, respectively, a completely new DSP mixer line and next-gen beamforming technology when any others are just beginning to explore the possibilities. Attendees listened in with headphone stations to experience the true power of unbeatable noise cancellation and pristine clarity.

 

DIALOG® 20 2-channel wireless mics represented a new market solution for environments requiring few wireless mics,; but still with the need for professional-quality sound. The mics were not only there to experiment, but had a starring role in the sound reinforcement for all the presenters.

 

VIEW® Pro Network Media Streaming showed the agility and power of it’s single-cable audio, video, and control streaming – with the latest PANORAMAS software for video walls and video composition. The simplicity of the software and it’s powerful self-discovery on existing IP networks could be shown on a tabletop – creating a video composition setup in minutes.

 

COLLABORATE® and SpontaniaTM provided live demos of video and cloud-based web conferencing for all attendees. The hybrid appliances now provide a full spectrum of possibilities from wireless presentation and full video conferencing- all within a single box! Attendees could download the Spontania app on mobile devices and immediately join a live conference as ad-hoc attendees at any point.

 

It’s on to New York for October 20th and more live demos – we’ll see you there!

 

 

HDCP isn’t just another useless acronym

Written on October 11, 2016 at 6:15 am, by

Have you ever heard of HDCP?  Ever wondered what it really means or why it exits?

 

HDCP is an acronym for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection.  It is a form of digital copy protection that was developed by Intel with the intention of preventing the copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. Being that HDCP is a digital technology, HDMI and DVI cables are used.

 

HCDP becomes relevant when it comes to moving audio and video signals over a network…..AV over IP Video Distribution.   If a signal is protected by HDCP, once that signal is put into a video distribution system, it will pass if the device the signal is flowing into is HDCP compliant.   There are two general standards in the HDCP world….1.4 and 2.XX.  Without getting into the details on either, suffice it to say that in a professional AV Distribution System, the equipment you use should be compliant with both in order to provide both a legal solution and one that is flexible for your clients needs.

 

In our industry one of the main challenges that integrators face is with Apple.  Using an Apple device as a source into an Encoder can create an issue even if the content being played is not HDCP protected.  AV Integrators have told me that their customers often call and say that their Apple Device is not passing audio and video even when the content being played is not HDCP encrypted.  By default Apple has HDCP Content protection enabled on their devices.  Apple has presumably taken this route so they will not be liable for the actions of an end user.

 

To get around this, some encoding and decoding devices have a switch that enables them to turn HDCP off.  In theory this appears to be a viable solution.  The reality however is that the HDCP licensing agreement that all manufactures who wish to be in compliance sign, does not allow for this work around.

 

With ClearOne’s View Pro System we fully support the HDCP standards of 1.4 and 2.XX.  Our View Pro AV over IP Streaming Solution will never block protected or unprotected content. There is never a need to turn HDCP off.  ClearOne has taken the position to comply with HDCP Licensing to the letter of the law.

 

For more information on HDCP, visit the link below.

 

http://www.digital-cp.com.

 

As a leader in the AV community, we must provide equipment to our partners that protect their interests and their customers.

 

 

Why Limit Yourself When It Comes To Signal Distribution?

Written on September 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm, by

 

Why AV over IP?

 

Back when I first started my career in AV, signal distribution was much simpler. As we progressed in this exciting industry; along came the need of distributing signals further with much larger matrices. We then began to see the influx of UTP and Category cabling.

 

The AV industry thought these concepts and said, “Hey we can utilize this!” But this presented the problem of the number of pairs. Category cabling only has four pairs, which means distributing audio, video, and control at the same time becomes a challenge… four pairs just aren’t enough. In order to make things work, we needed to packetize. We needed to become digital – which, as you know is exactly what happened; and, to this day, works extremely well.

 

It begs the questions why haven’t we completely adopted this as an AV industry standard?

 

 

Here are a few points to think about when signal distribution is on your plate.

 

  • Will my design need to expand in the future?
  • Do I already have category cable in place?
  • Will I need to control the device at the destination of the signal or the source for that matter?
  • Do I have the need for a processing of my signal such as video wall modes?

 

All network media solutions are not the same.  ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro allows you to design signal distribution systems that are completely future-proof and fully expandable. VIEW Pro gives you the ability to take any audio, video, or control signals and stream them to virtually any location. This is what you would expect; and what most manufactures offer. However, ClearOne solutions also have processing built right in that allows you to adjust virtually every single part of your signal. In addition, we also have other integrated options such as video-wall processing and composition modes.

 

 

VIEW Pro 2×3 Video Wall Composition (6 displays)

VIEW Pro 2×3 Video Wall Composition (6 displays)

 

 

Regardless of what your distribution needs may be, please take a moment and review ClearOne’s innovative Network Media Steaming offerings. You may just find yourself also asking why this isn’t the AV Industry standard!

 

 

We’re here to help. We’d love to hear from you and discuss your AV distribution needs.

 

 

Contact Us today and let’s chat!

 

 

 

IT/AV – AVoverIP Connected Devices and Privacy Concerns – Our Viewpoint

Written on September 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm, by

 

IT/AV’s latest issue (September 2016) has a great article written by Shonan Noronha, EdD and  titled, “Viewpoint: Security and Privacy Concerns. How do you ensure data security and user privacy?

 

The increased use of collaborative applications, mobile devices and IP-connected AV devices such as streaming appliances, along with the explosive growth of social media integration into applications such as digital signage has brought security and privacy concerns to the forefront…
Michael Braithwaite

ClearOne’s Senior Vice President, Michael Braithwaite, CTS shared his viewpoint on the topic and had this to say:

 

“…ClearOne is serious about state-of-the-art security and individual privacy for our largest, most demanding national security customers, as well as our smallest private enterprise users…”

 

 

READ HIS FULL RESPONSE HERE  and the rest of the article for more detailed insight into this topic.

 

Let us know your thoughts on today’s network security as it pertains to streaming media.

 

 

 

What do you mean “Video DSP?”

Written on August 9, 2016 at 11:46 am, by

Many of you reading this ClearOne blog today may have worked on conferencing rooms with our award-winning Pro Audio solutions over the past 35 years.  So it may be safe to say that you would never design a commercial conferencing room without an Audio DSP right?  Why is that?  Couldn’t you just connect a series of microphones to a pre amplifier or cross bar switcher, connect your speakers to an amplifier, and then just switch to your desired source and sum all the microphones into your codec?

 

Oh my, no way could you do that!  At a minimum, you’d need acoustic echo cancellation, you would want first-microphone priority, perhaps some filtering, some noise reduction, some equalization, and so on.

 

However, the most important reason for using an audio DSP such as our CONVERGE® Pro line is for what you don’t know: such as an air handler (not part of the original design) that is now right next to your microphone array; or a large projector that, when hot, turns on some loud fans three feet from one of your microphones.

 

Most AV professionals would not design a conference room without an audio DSP, however these same professionals deploy AVoIP every day without any “Video DSP” and this is a shame.  To be honest most AV designers would not know what a video DSP even is; the explanation being the goal of this post.

 

Video DSP is the ability to modify, change, and mix the video imaging in many ways:

  • Modifing the color space of an image
  • Chroma subsampling or compressing to save bandwidth
  • Scaling the image from one resolution to another, removing lines or pixels from the image
  • Changing the orientation of the image, frame rate
  • Mixing multiple images together or layering the video
  • and many more

 

You may know that ClearOne has a line of AVoIP products called VIEW® Pro and all of these devices contain video DSP that allow you to manipulate the video depending on the end-user requirements. Some of these video DSP features require an option license to be applied to the device; but many others are available with the free software from our website. One valuable example is the multi-image feature, in which you can blend any number of video sources together into a single video output even if all of these are different source types, video types, resolutions, or frame rates.

 

Competing brands of AVoIP do not have video DSP in the devices (encoders and decoders) and instead require you to purchase another black box that connects to the network and take up rack space, switch ports and power for multi-imaging.

 

Video DSP can also help you to build video walls, and remove scrolling text from sources, or remove channel logo’s from the image just by creating video layouts with our free VIEW® Pro PANORAMA™ software.

 

If your project has requirements for multi-imaging, or video walls, then the built in video DSP features from the ClearOne VIEW Pro system will save you money on the system and provide more capabilities that any other AVoIP or matrix type system on the market today.

 

Please contact your local ClearOne sales or send us an email to VIEWPRO@CLEARONE.COM and we will be happy to help assist you with any designs or to provide any demo equipment to test your video DSP needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When ‘Standard’ is the only option

Written on July 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm, by

 

A lot can be said for standards. For instance, could you imagine how difficult it would be if the gas pedal wasn’t always on the right? Look at the recent troubles several car manufacturers have had, including lost lives over messing around with how an automatic transmission’s shift level works.

 

Standards work in all parts of life. So, as AV professionals, why have we had a variety of non-standard ways of delivering content?

 

The excitement of AV over IP products implies that maybe we will start using standards to replace balun and HDBaseT products for a more standards-based approach. But the more IP products that come to market, the more proprietary streaming products that emerge. The trouble with a proprietary stream is it locks the end user into a single solution, with limited expansion capabilities.

 

With a true standards-based solution, you can build an eco-system of devices, but are not tied to a single manufacturer, you can mix and match based on budget, features and the architecture of the system. ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro streaming solution leverages the power of H.264 streaming, thereby using visually Loss-Less streaming algorithms, to allow crystal-clear, ultra-high-quality audio and video at very low latency, all at a very low overall bandwidth (typically 8MBb/s). Additionally, based on what the clients’ needs are, we can control and manipulate streams that we don’t even encode, such as those natively streamed from an IP security or PTZ camera, or a conferencing codec with H.264 capabilities or from a computer on the network. Similarly, if perfect frame synchronization is not required, or the need for video windowing, or other advanced features is not required at some displays, there are many, easy, low-cost ways to decode the stream, such as Apple® TV or other H.264 stream viewers, or simply watch the stream on a PC, MAC, IOS or Android device.

 

By leveraging the power of Standards, we open the client to an eco-system of devices that will be a viable signal distribution infrastructure that will stand the test of time. To take this one step farther, ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro solution leverages H.264 streams, yet provides ULTRA low latency, low bandwidth and the best possible image quality, yet provides advanced capabilities like Video Wall processing, windowing processing and other neat features like USB HID and native RTSP and UDP streaming.

 

If you haven’t tried VIEW® Pro yet, why not? I’m sure it will exceed you current standard.

 

ClearOne is a rAVe 2016 WINNER!

Written on June 22, 2016 at 10:39 am, by

 

rave Award

You voted and they listened….or at least tallied the votes. Either way, ClearOne is a 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards Winner!

 

Favorite Manufacturer-Based Training Program

ClearOne University

 

 

Thank you to all the people who voted for us and a gargantuan, humongously colossal thank you to the valuable and wise ClearOne University trainers and staff.

 

 

 

 

<takes bow>

</takes bow>

 

An Industry Outlook on The Future of AV Infrastructure

Written on June 16, 2016 at 12:33 pm, by

 

ClearOne CEO and Chairman, Zee Hakimoglu was recently discussing the direction of the AV industry with some colleagues and was asked an intriguing question that we felt should be shared with the AV community. Hopefully this sparks some positive dialogue between your own colleagues and is a catalyst for new ideas and innovative thinking that will lead to new opportunities.

 

What do you see as the biggest trends or challenges in the coming years for AV infrastructure?

 

“I think the greatest challenge is not the technology itself but the psychology of overcoming that AV and IT are really, Really, REALLY converging and going to continue to converge.  The AV practitioner may no longer find himself or herself in a safe zone of pure AV without IT.  Nor will the IT practitioner find himself or herself in a safe zone of pure IT without AV.  The trend for even islands (rooms) of Audio or just Video are disappearing.  Audio and Video systems are in themselves converging even tighter than ever thru cloud and other macro IT related systems.”
Zee Hakimoglu, President & CEO, ClearOne

 

The AV/IT practitioner now has more and more to choose from but most of it will be strung through standard Ethernet networks.  Lots of fun and business growth ahead for those who are willing to learn and have the courage to take the leap!