Imaging technology company Beamr demonstrated a video optimisation solution at IBC 2013 that can potentially reduce bit-rates by up to 40% for streamed OTT video.
Bit-rates from physical media such as BluRay discs could be reduced by up to 75%, the company also claimed.
Beamrâ€™s CTO, Dror Gill, emphasised that Beamr Video is not a new type of video compression codec: instead it controls existing video compression systems like H.264 or HEVC, manipulating the encoding process in such a way that, in effect, it lowers the threshold at which bit-rate reductions cause artefacts visible to the naked eye.
44 separate patents have been applied for to create the solution, the company said, which works for adaptive bit-rate and downloading applications as well as standard streaming.
Gill said Beamr Video, demonstrated for the first time at IBC, could offer two benefits: on the one hand, it could be used simply to reduce video bit-rates, lowering bandwidth costs while maintaining quality of experience; on the other hand, it could be used to increase QoE at a given bandwidth. Thus a 480p stream aimed at a portable device using a bit-rate of 2Mbit/s could have its perceived resolution increased to 720p without the need for extra capacity.
If these claims seem extravagant, the side-by-side demonstrations on the Beamr booth were convincing. Asked to guess which of two apparently identical video-streams (quality-wise) was running at the lower bit-rate and which at the higher one, this writer got it wrong every time.
Beamr says it has taken four years of intensive research to develop the optimisation technique. Its claims have been calibrated against the requirements of the ITU BT.500 standard for image quality testing.
Given the ubiquity of UHDTV at IBC 2013 and the strain it is likely to put on existing networks â€“ even using the new HEVC compression solution â€“ Beamr Video, if proven, may emerge as a useful weapon in any 4K broadcasterâ€™s video-encoding armoury.
By Barry Flynn – Barry runs Barry Flynn Communications Ltd at barryflynn.com. He also lectures postgraduate students at Westminster University on Media Management.