Content may be forever king but our enjoyment of it goes hand in hand with tech developments. That’s been the case since at least Gutenberg (Johannes not Steve) invented the printing press circa 1450 or Edison and the Lumière brothers et al birthed the film camera and hence cinema.
Stefan Lederer, co-founder and CEO of Bitmovin, wants to shout out some of the more recent tech developments lest they go under the radar.
“It’s the overall experience driven by technology that delivers outstanding, high-end streaming across all devices that determines how long [people] stay [on streaming services],” he argues at OTTVerse.
His back-end technology picks include SMPTE 2110 which has he says modernized traditional broadcasters with new digital workflows.
“The most recent adjustments allow for greater flexibility compared to SDI connectivity by specifying how to deliver compressed and uncompressed video and audio streams. This will allow broadcast content providers — once the de-facto format for television — to compete more readily with the leading streaming video platforms. It also means that consumers will have additional choices in their content selection, offering more options than ever before.”
Do or DAI
AVOD is booming but it would not be possible without the advertising component and in particular Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI).
As Lederer points out, DAI may not be new but “advancements in latency and customization capabilities have allowed streaming services to seamlessly insert ads without any technical issues that could hinder the viewing experience.”
Those innovations can be attributed to the artificial intelligence built into each part of the DAI workflow, he says. “By using consumer information more efficiently, the latest DAI tech allows streaming content providers to deliver ads that are relevant to both the viewer and the content the viewer chooses to watch.”
Fine Tuning the Stream
OTT services also benefit from the development of Context Adaptive Content Delivery Workflows (commonly known as CAD) that employ multiple methodologies to produce an optimal end-user experience. Adaptive Bitrate Ladder (ABR), which compresses (encodes) and delivers content at the ideal resolution at a given bitrate, is the most well-known method.
“The true streaming innovations are coming from various technologies that apply ABR throughout their workflows, such as future codecs like AV1, HEVC, and VVC,” Lederer says. “Better still, Cloud-Based Per-Title Encoding makes it possible to provide viewers with top-notch streaming quality while reducing the costs of storing and streaming content.”
High Dynamic Range
The development of technologies capable of getting more of the contrast and nuances of light and color into the picture is, for many, a more dramatic improvement than upping pixel count.
Federer focuses here on Dolby, one of the many companies which has helped take HDR into the cinema and home streaming.
While Dolby Atmos uses “superior audio depth and spatial metadata” to extend “aural bliss” Lederer says Dolby Vision, provides the HDR features “necessary for rich and vibrant visuals.”
“Instead of streaming in the stone age — or at the very least limiting consumers with a mishmash of quality that varies per service — it is now possible for all streaming platforms to deliver prestige results. This is as exciting for consumers as it is for the hardworking content developers, who are now free to deploy their entertainment without any technological limitations.”
I might still be inclined to highlight the role of tech vendors across the industry in getting higher resolution pictures to screen — from 4K cameras and encoding tools to device displays capable of showing it.