Streaming and the need for continued innovation


Jon Schorah - new TV-Bay Magazine
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In a fast-changing world, audio producers need to adapt quickly in order to keep up.

Media consumption is changing - fast. Almost without anyone noticing, we have passed the tipping point. Only a few years ago we were discussing streaming as an emerging technology; yet now, according to a recent Deloitte survey, streaming has overtaken live TV as the preferred viewing method in the U.S. YouTube viewing figures continue to surge. In 2015, 18-to-49-year-olds spent less time watching TV and more - much more - time watching YouTube; in fact, YouTube viewership rocketed up an astonishing 74% in the same year. These trends are also mirrored in the music industry, with 2015 being the year in which digital revenues finally overcame physical media and download volumes began to dwindle. We already live in a world where media is predominantly streamed.

Streaming services are flexible

The dominance of streaming services has repercussions for the listener. Among younger viewers, media is primarily streamed using mobile devices or PCs - laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Not only do many of these devices suffer from poor playback quality, but the media is often consumed in a less-than-ideal environment in which background noise can be a significant issue. This raises questions and challenges for audio production. Preserving dialogue intelligibility in a noisy environment can be difficult, and highly dynamic material can make quieter sections of audio difficult to hear over the ambient background noise - causing the listener to constantly reach for the volume control. Whilst it is relatively simple to re-purpose audio for different environments using advanced offline processes (such as our own DynApt algorithm) to adapt the loudness range of the production, it can be difficult to know what to aim for in such a complex consumer environment. Preparing a soundtrack for consumption on the subway via a mobile phone is a very different proposition than designing sound for a home-cinema 5.1 system.

Slowly, a streaming standard designed predominantly for mobile platforms is beginning to emerge. Coming alongside the accepted broadcast standards of EBU R128, ATSC A85 et. al, AES TD1004.1.15-10 is the first to define a recommended practice for streamed audio, with a louder recommended average loudness level between -20 and -16 LUFS. This louder target level takes into account the more challenging mobile listening environment, as well as the likelihood of encountering a playback system with insufficient gain to replay lower-level content at a suitable level for clarity.

At the moment, most delivery services make no distinction. The same stream is supplied to all, inevitably leading to compromise somewhere along the line. One approach being investigated by some of the major broadcasters is to produce high-quality, dynamic original content, and then re-purpose this for mobile streaming services using a high-quality process such as DynApt to adapt the content for the web version. One complexity that still needs to be resolved, however, is that many televisions and hi-fi systems are now "web equipped," meaning the listening environment is not easily determined by the chosen method of delivery.

Streaming services use audio data compression

When delivered as a data stream to the consumer, today's audio is often heavily compressed. In the world of television production, we are all familiar with the EBU and ATSC recommendations for maximum true-peak level, designed to ensure that codec distortion is kept to a minimum. However, with the meteoric rise of streaming, the landscape has shifted yet again, and audio data compression is reaching un-imagined ranges of bit-depth. Again, whilst it is possible to optimise original audio content for different codecs and bit-depths, what is the ultimate goal? As with audio dynamic considerations, do we need to be considering different versions for different delivery bandwidths?

Consumer choice

Today's digital supply chain is immensely complex, and consumer behaviours are diversifying exponentially. There is certainly an argument to be made for producing original content to the highest possible standard and then re-versioning it for less-than-ideal environments from this point. However, at the moment there is almost no room for the user to return information about the listening environment in order to select an appropriate stream. It's simple to imagine a situation where the same user, in the same environment, might even desire a different stream with differing audio dynamics at different times of the day. In fact, one national radio station is indeed considering exactly this, having identified that its listeners prefer less audio dynamic during the breakfast/drive-time slot (due to increased background noise) and increased dynamics during the day, during which a more controlled listening environment is able to take advantage of a wider loudness range.

Whatever the outcome, it's clear that technological innovation is causing a vast increase in diversity of consumer habits, and production practices need to continue to innovate at an accelerated rate in order to keep up. Clearly, today's consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and ready to rapidly adopt services that offer the most advantages for their own listening experience.

Consumer choice

Today's digital supply chain is immensely complex, and consumer behaviours are diversifying exponentially. There is certainly an argument to be made for producing original content to the highest possible standard and then re-versioning it for less-than-ideal environments from this point. However, at the moment there is almost no room for the user to return information about the listening environment in order to select an appropriate stream. It's simple to imagine a situation where the same user, in the same environment, might even desire a different stream with differing audio dynamics at different times of the day. In fact, one national radio station is indeed considering exactly this, having identified that its listeners prefer less audio dynamic during the breakfast/drive-time slot (due to increased background noise) and increased dynamics during the day, during which a more controlled listening environment is able to take advantage of a wider loudness range.

Whatever the outcome, it's clear that technological innovation is causing a vast increase in diversity of consumer habits, and production practices need to continue to innovate at an accelerated rate in order to keep up. Clearly, today's consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and ready to rapidly adopt services that offer the most advantages for their own listening experience.


Tags: iss123 | nugen | audio | streaming | youtube | Jon Schorah - new
Submitted by Jon Schorah - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
New workflows floating on the horizon
Lee Sheppard - new The way in which we consume content has fundamentally changed. We want to watch what we want, when we want, where we want and how we want, and we want to find programmes quickly, preferably in HD or increasingly UHD. Content is king and in order to satisfy consumer requirements it is essential media companies can locate their material quickly and easily.
Tags: iss123 | mam | pam | sgl | Avid | Grass Valley | Marquis | SAM | VSN | CatDV | Lee Sheppard - new
Submitted by Lee Sheppard - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
What Virtual Dreams Are Made Of
Mike Jacobs - new As you might expect, virtualisation is now a very common topic in terms of the questions we get from customers and partners and it also appears in almost all RFPs that we take part in.
Tags: iss123 | cinegy | nvidia | ip-based broadcast | cloud | Mike Jacobs - new
Submitted by Mike Jacobs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel from Blackmagic Design - Reviewed
Rebecca Goodeve - new Blackmagic's new, more affordable control surface for professionals is probably the most perfect panel I've ever used......
Tags: iss123 | blackmagic design | minipanel | davinci | grading | Rebecca Goodeve - new
Submitted by Rebecca Goodeve - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
OBs are still outside and so are broadcasts
Mike Ransome - new With the advent of new and emerging technologies, and with the one getting the most oxygen at the moment being video over IP, a number of people are asking whether the ability to move control rather further way from an event has, or will, change the nature of OB production.
Tags: iss123 | remote production | ob truck | presteigne | ip | Mike Ransome - new
Submitted by Mike Ransome - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
What is the future of video contribution?
Mark Andrews - new Live Streaming is a generic term and can apply to any part of the process from capture on the camera where video is immediately streamed, to the process of playout on any device. Playout is a huge subject in itself. However "video contribution" is considered the terminology used to capture at the camera end, and to deliver live video from the camera to where ever it needs to go.
Tags: iss123 | soliton systems | streaming | hevc | telecaster | 3g | 4g | h.265 | lte network | Mark Andrews - new
Submitted by Mark Andrews - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
5G Streaming - The Rollout
Steve Plunkett - new 5G will bring significant improvements in bandwidth per device, capacity per network and reduced latency per session. These are all very important features for video both today and going forward. The growth of new formats such as UHD, AR, VR and 360 video place much greater demand on the networks that serve consumer devices, so 5G will be essential to accommodate this demand.
Tags: iss123 | vod | 5g | ott | ericsson | virtual reality | vr | 360 | Steve Plunkett - new
Submitted by Steve Plunkett - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Pushing the Boundaries for OTT
Yaniv Ben-Soussan -new OTT video consumption is gaining traction in Western Europe, with 55 percent of UK broadband households and 51 percent of homes in France watching TV programming and movies online, according to Parks Associates. OTT subscriptions are especially popular with today's Millennial population, as Parks Associates found that 23 percent of Millennial heads of household in the U.S. are OTT-only households.
Tags: iss123 | ott | cloud | harmonic | pure compression engine | Yaniv Ben-Soussan -new
Submitted by Yaniv Ben-Soussan -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How to illuminate a better shot
Chuck Edwards LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology built for the general lighting market is designed to meet very different criteria than the critical lighting requirements for image capture. While LEDs may be a suitable lighting option for some photography and videography, critical applications, such as feature film, production requires users to understand the limitations, capabilities and advantages of the many types of LED technologies and fixtures available on the market today.
Tags: iss122 | led | lighting | cct | rpt | remote phosor technology | Chuck Edwards
Submitted by Chuck Edwards Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A transformation in aquisition technology
Malcolm Harland KitPlus spoke with Malcolm Harland of Garland Partners to find out how the requirements and capabilities of acquisition technologies have changed since the early 2000s and what the state of play now is.
Tags: iss122 | garland partners | liveu | lu600 | h.265 | hevc | Malcolm Harland
Submitted by Malcolm Harland Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Future of Bournemouth Air Festival
Georgia Tolley For the past two years I have had the opportunity to present live at the Bournemouth Air Festival (BAF), which, as a Television & Broadcasting student from the University of Portsmouth, was a fantastic way to see first-hand how an outside broadcast works...whilst getting paid!
Tags: iss122 | portsmouth uni | citv | baf | bournemouth air festival | Georgia Tolley
Submitted by Georgia Tolley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec HFMP out of the box review
KitPlus Just before we all broke up for Christmas we took delivery of a new 'thing' at KitPlus HQ. Our first reaction was surprise and a little curious as to how it was going to make itself useful. What's the point?
Tags: iss122 | libec | hfmp | monopod | idx | hands free monopod | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Transistion in Audio Monitoring
Shane Toven As signal chains have become increasingly complex, the challenges involved in managing and monitoring these paths have multiplied exponentially. Over the past few decades, we've migrated from handling a single channel of content using composite video and analog audio pairs, to elaborate multi-channel facilities routing HD video with embedded audio over SDI or in many cases discrete AES pairs. These audio signals are often a mix of 5.1 and stereo programs and in many cases encoded to or decoded from Dolby at some point in the chain.
Tags: iss122 | aes | ebu r128 | atsc a85 | aes67 | Shane Toven
Submitted by Shane Toven Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec TH-X Tripod review
Nick Robbins It is worth highlighting that I am primarily an Editor. Like many of us, over the years I have regularly been involved in the entire creative process in some capacity but increasingly I am asked to go out and film the simpler corporate jobs such as exhibition stands or a 'piece to camera' for YouTube, Vimeo etc. and embedded into the customer's web site. These tend to be the jobs which wouldn't happen at all if the client had to pay for the whole package; camera, sound, director, kit hire, etc.
Tags: iss122 | libec | th-x | tripod | Nick Robbins
Submitted by Nick Robbins Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The now and how of LED Lighting
Tama Berkeljon LED lighting has come a long way from the days when companies like Outsight were ridiculed by major manufacturers at trade shows because, the manufacturers asserted, technology couldn't be entrusted with the requirements of our industry.
Tags: iss122 | led lighting | outsite | cri | tlci | dmx control | Tama Berkeljon
Submitted by Tama Berkeljon Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine