Distribution & Display at the 2016 HPA Retreat

Posted By Tom Coughlin on March 03, 2016 08:33 am | Permalink
Digital distribution has undergone enormous changes with the great variety of distribution channels and display devices in use today, sometimes alone, but often in combination. When you take into account the number of display devices in use plus the number of languages and cultures that rich media content may be viewed in, the number of versions of a given piece of content can be enormous.  

In order to make it easier to manage and store all these versions sophisticated metadata and a media file format know as Interoperable Master Format (IMF) have allowed media companies to save considerably on their storage costs to support all these versions and also allowed greater ease in creating these versions.  

IMF is a SMPTE standard based upon the Digital Cinema standard.  It is a video master format that contains assets such as images, audio, subtitling and captioning, and metadata such as technical data and playlists, and is meant to provide a standard way to deliver content from the owners to service providers and distributors. Metadata about a piece of content has a lot of different values as shown in the slide below.

Keeping the changed elements for various versions rather than keeping complete copies of these versions provides a 70 percent reduction in storage costs for Netflix. This is good because Netflix said by the end of 2016 they would be in 273 territories. Even with these economies, Netflix said that they have added 4PBs of relatively expensive Technicolor near-line storage. Also, even as digital storage is becoming cheaper their files are getting bigger with higher resolution and HDR.

Speaking of Nexflix here is an image from an Atlantic article that was shown during one of the HPA talks about the distribution of popular video genres. Note that there are 597 genres about marriage alone.

Pixar showed how they were able to use IMF to create multiple versions of the recent movie "Inside Out" for various markets and language. The demonstration of how they were able to change text, visual elements and even characters for various markets was very impressive.

There was also discussion about wrapping the Motion Picture Accademy ACES archive format in an IMF wrapper as an important element in replacing JPEG 2000 in a current SMPTE Standard activity.

Michael Cioni from Light Iron took 4K Red Cinema Dragon-mastered material to create a collection of videos that he showed using three different displays to film student volunteers in Southern California.  These displays were a Panasonic 60-inch PF11 HD plasma display, a Sony 75-inch X940C 4K LCD display, and an LG 65-inch EF9500 4K OLED display.  

The displays were fed with 25 Mbps HDMI 3.1 Redray Player content, without sound. The three displays he showed the students were...the reaction of the students depended upon various factor displays, including the angle of view. In particular some displays gave a better experience with off-angle viewing. The best overall reaction seemed to be with the LG OLED display with its rich colors.

Cioni finished his presentation by saying that in 2012, video mastering image quality was at a higher level than the available HD display technology. However as shown in the figure below, in 2016 he thinks display technologies have made considerable advances beyond the typical mastering format video quality. This is a sobering truth that video content producers will want to address as higher quality displays become more widely available.

About the Author:

Thomas M. Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a widely respected storage analyst and consultant.  He has over 30 years in the data storage industry.  Dr. Coughlin has many publications and six patents to his credit.  Tom is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics:  The Essential Guide, published by Newnes Press.  Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report, and other reports.  He is also a frequent blogger for Forbes.com, postmagazine.com and other sites.

Tom is active with SNIA, SMPTE, IEEE, and other professional organizations.  He is Education Chair for the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative.  He is Chair of Future Directions for the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society as well as Director for IEEE Region 6.  He is serving his third term as a member of the CE Society BoG and was Vice President of Operations for three years.  Tom is the founder and organizer of the Annual Storage Visions Conference, a partner to the International Consumer Electronics Show, as well as the Creative Storage Conference. He is the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit.  Find out more at www.tomcoughlin.com.