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Encoders, Transcoders Spark New Applications

Latest systems support streaming to computers, mobile devices

VBrick’s 9000 Series When the Department of Defense undertook enhancing patient care at the National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., just outside the nation’s capital, officials turned to VBrick encoders and video distribution products to beef up training, improve bedside services and start the recovery process sooner for the wounded warriors.

The challenge was how to wire the facility to deploy a video-distribution network that could deliver video to multiple devices and was still secure enough for the military hospital. The answer was to install a VBrick-powered distribution solution that now streams video to 1,200 television sets and 6,000 computers throughout the facility.

The centerpiece of the VBrick line is the 9000 Series H.264 Encoding Appliance, which enables anyone to encode video from an uncompressed source — such as a camera or television broadcast — and stream it live onto a network for viewing, said Steve Kossar, VBrick director of product management.

The encoder is the first portable device that streams 1080p60 HD video from multiple sources at the same time, and the first-line of encoding appliances to support up to four channels of HD video, Kossar said.

“These are appliance-based devices that are built just for encoding,” Kossar said. “It’s the same operating system that’s in the rovers on Mars,” he added.

As the interactive communication universe continues to expand, cutting-edge encoders and transcoders are becoming more essential. Those devices are used by government producers to simultaneously post computer-generated video and audio over the Internet to a broad array of devices. That includes to smartphones, tablets and laptops, which use various formats and bitrates. So see below for information on some of the companies producing such encoders and those products.


Adtec Digital EN-81 Multi-Codec Encoders The DoD agency Defense Media Activity recently purchased three Adtec Digital EN-81 Multi-Codec Encoders to handle video-compression/modulation production in a new DMA satellite truck.

“The EN-81 is a perfect choice for a truck because of its ease of use,” said Daniel Morgan, Adtec’s key accounts manager, U.S. west. “It’s a one-rack unit and will take the video feed, and — inside the same box — can put it up and get it ready for a satellite modulator,” he said.

The EN-81 offers redundant AC power supplies, enhanced control and monitoring via its front panel, Morgan said. The device provides video support, including SD, 2D-HD and 3D AVC 422 with support for MPEG 2 or 16 channels of phase-aligned audio and vertical blanking interval support. The EN-81 can encode and concurrently transport services via ASI, Internet protocol and DVBS/ S2. The DVBS/S2 modulator is available in IF or L-band with modulation modes ranging from QPSK up to 32APSK.

The company also offers the YUV2QAM, a dual-channel, high definition MPEG 2 broadcast distribution encoder with QAM modulation and RF upconversion built in. And, government digital television service operators can use the company’s DTA-3050 Multiplexer to aggregate and process MPEG, ATSC, Digicypher, or DVB based services for traditional (satellite, cable and broadcast) services. It is built with 10 ASI inputs, each supporting wire speed, a three-way mirrored ASI output, GIGE and an optional SMPTE-310.


Starting at the top and moving clockwise are Contemporary Research’s QMOD-YPB2, the QMOD-HDMI1.5 and the QMOD-SDI1.5. “Flex encoding” is a feature of all new units in Contemporary Research’s QMOD series, according to the company. The QMODSDI1.5, the QMOD-HDMI1.5 and the QMOD-YPB2 are the “next generation” of its HDTV modulation technology.

Flex encoding enables the units to convert non-ATSC video formats into a QAM cable channel. For example, if a public-, education- or government-channel producer is using consumer HD cameras that shoot at nonbroadcast 60 Hz refresh rates, the QMODs will accept those signals while conventional SDI modulators cannot. In addition, all QMODs will up-convert SD video to HD, and an optional upgrade key enables a range of up- and down-conversion and scaling features, the company says.

Users have found the video-encoding ability of the QMOD series to be above average, said Scott Hetzler, Contemporary Research’s president and chief engineer. The QMOD’s next-generation hardware and software platform enables the units “to encode in anyway,” he said.


Digital Rapid’s StreamZHD The popular StreamZHD ingest and encoding system is Digital Rapids’ “Swiss Army Knife” for encoding solutions, said Mike Nann, director of marketing and communications. It encodes to files or streams from live sources or decks and transcodes from existing media files, all in a single system, Nann said.

The devices offers flexible support, the ability to incorporate new formats, superior visual quality, output to multiple formats, resolutions and bitrates simultaneously and smart automation, according to Nann. “We offer a comprehensive range of encoding and transcoding solutions tailored to various workflows,” he said. Those functions include capturing and encoding live video-signal inputs into files, transforming live-video inputs into Internet protocol-output streams and transcoding input files into other output-file formats, he said.

The StreamZHD can be used to stream council meetings, government proceedings and events on the Web to mobile devices; to create on-demand video of such activities for viewing online or over mobile devices; and to encode high-quality, filebased archives and to digitize existing videos from prior forms (such as from video tape) for long-term archive, storage and retrieval.


Discover Video’s Multimedia Encoder Nomad Specializing in providing video-streaming solutions to government and education clients is Discover Video. The company offers its Discover Video Multimedia Encoder Nomad, which is a portable video streaming platform that delivers HD quality video in a transportable package, said Mike Savic, the company’s vice president of business development.

The DVME Nomad streams and captures both live camera audio/video and full-motion desktop videographics- array from virtually any source, according to Savic. It also supports multiple video-encoding formats including H.264, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Windows Media/VC1 and MPEG-2.

“Our government customers typically use our streaming solutions to deliver legislative/town government meetings live and on-demand to citizens for viewing on mobile devices and computers,” Savic said. Discover Video provides video encoders to capture and stream video from cameras and microphones and from Internet-streaming services, he said. That video is delivered to viewers in about 100 U.S. cities and towns, as well as across the states of Rhode Island, Maryland and Oregon, he said.


Haivision’s Makito X2 Encoders are part of the equipment on unmanned aerial vehicles, which are used by the military, the Department of Homeland Security and by law-enforcement agencies. Haivision, based in Montreal and Chicago, produces a series of low-latency encoders designed for most streaming challenges, including those used in UAV feeds, said Andy Vaughn, Haivision’s vice president- U.S. federal sales.

Low-latency systems have the least amount of delay between signal capture and display on an output device. Therefore, low-latency systems are central components of law enforcement and military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs. “If you are flying an unmanned drone and there is a long delay, the bad guy will get away,” Vaughn said.

Haivision’s new Makito X2 delivers HD encoding while reducing bandwidth needs by as much as 50 percent, Vaughn said. The Makito X2 can achieve 1080p60 H.264 encoding density by supporting up to 12 sources in a single-rack-unit chassis, he added. The device also supports multi-bitrate streaming and can output four stream bitrate profiles per source (from 32 kbps to 25 Mbps) over MPEG transport stream or RTMP.

In addition, Haivision is working with a Texas law enforcement agency to get video feeds transmitted from the agency’s helicopter onto the department’s handheld Android devices, according to Vaughn. “We don’t make the helicopter or the camera or the Android devices, but we do everything in the middle that makes them work together,” he said. “Low latency and highly-efficient encoding at the source are key,” he added.


Roland Systems Group VR-50HD Providing a line of integrated audio and video switchers that enable users to produce live content, and record and stream all in a single unit, is Roland Systems Group’s VR Series, said Rob Read, the company’s marketing communications manager.

The newly released VR-50HD is an all-in-one audiovisual mixer with output for Web streaming and recording, Read said. It integrates an audio mixer, video switcher, multi-viewer touch screen and USB video/audio streaming into a standalone device. The video side of the VR-50HD includes a 12-input, four-channel multi-format video switcher that includes a still store channel for graphics, logo or frame capture, he said. Inputs can be 3G/HD/SD SDI, HDMI, RGB/component and composite.

On the audio side, the VR-50HD uses a 12-channel, digital audio mixer with inputs from analog sources or embedded in the four SDI or four HDMI inputs. Connect the USB 2.0/3.0 output to the USB port of a computer to enable Web streaming and recording, according to Read. The VR-50HD is designed for schools, council meetings, sports, for training, or any production going live to the Web, he said.

Roland also offers the VR-3, a portable, battery/ AC powered audiovisual mixer that incorporates a video switcher, audio mixer, preview monitors and streaming-ready USB output in a single unit, Read said. Equipped with four video inputs, six audio inputs, transition and keying effects, the VR-3 can be used with existing video cameras or public address equipment.

Switched video images can be output to a PC for Internet distribution through the USB port, while using a projector or large TV monitor at the same time, Read said.


New compression formats such as “high efficiency video coding” (H.265) are beginning to attract attention, according to Nann at Digital Rapids. However, he anticipates that a number of factors — such as the lack of availability of compatible playback devices and support infrastructure — will keep the new format from becoming fully mainstreamed until at least next year.


Adtec Digital

Contemporary Research

Digital Rapids

Discover Video


Roland Systems Group