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Tag Archives: Streaming

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

 

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

 

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.

 

 

 

When ‘Standard’ is the only option

 

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.

 

VIEW® Pro Streaming and It’s Incredibly Versatile RS-232 Control Abilities

 

VIEW® Pro streaming encoders & decoders lead the industry in sending high quality h.264 video and audio over an existing IP network; but you probably already knew that. What you may not have known are the brilliant and flexible control capabilities of this technology.

 

In this post, we’re going to take a look at controlling devices via RS-232 and how you can use this power to take over the world, well, maybe just a client’s displays and audio outputs.

 

As an integrator, you’ve labored for several weeks (and weekends), up and down three flights of stairs, installing a multitude of displays for a client. You’re now hoping to solve the problem of powering on/off monitors, and to make it easy for the end user to select which source to show on any of the multitude of new displays. VIEW® Pro is the answer; allowing you to create an ASCII command list in the Dealer Setup software and then selecting that list using the Serial to Command selection on the Sources tab of any encoder being used  in your streaming project.

 

Dealer Set Up Serial to Command

 

The true efficiency of this “mesh network” setup is that you need only have the command list on one device, then using the magic of AV over IP, you can send those serial commands to any decoder on your network to perform the functions you’ve programmed. These commands can include the Active On/Off of the decoders themselves as well as Monitor Power On/Off which would of course require a serial cable from the decoder to the display. The D210 decoder is designed to mount directly behind a display with its small design, making this feature perfect for that model.

 

Additionally, commands such as Source Select can be used to change which sources are being played on any decoder on your network. Using a 3rd-party controller, such as a Crestron device, connected to the serial port of any available encoder or decoder, a savvy integrator could then program a stylish interface for powering displays on and off as well as providing the client an easy-to-use GUI for changing what video and audio is being played throughout the organization.

 

To expand on this ability, integrators can use VIEW® Pro’s new 2 way rs-232 pass through allowing use with ANY of the popular control system such as Utelogy, AMX, and the aforementioned Crestron to “pass-through” any driver over IP and extend the power and reach of the control system.

 

This control feature is included with all of our VIEW® Pro streaming product lines, with no additional upgrade or licensing. Competitors don’t offer this method of control with their streaming devices. Think about the possibilities you can provide for your clients. Not only are you giving them the industry leading 4:4:4 color space of vibrant, crystal-clear video with the lowest latency times;  you’re offering built-in control that allows you to provide a professional AV over IP solution with fewer devices and affordable upgrade licensing across their existing networks.

 

Look into ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro streaming encoders & decoders for your next project and see why we are taking the industry by storm with our network media streaming solutions. You know us for audio, and now you know why “we do video.