NAB Show Reflections: Elemental Technologies

In the final instalment of SVG Europe’s reflections on April’s NAB Show, Elemental Technologies’ chief marketing officer, Keith Wymbs, discusses the rise of software-defined video and its integrated solutions within the Primetime TV platform.

What was the main story of NAB as regards Elemental?

Software-defined video – and market acknowledgment that the pace of innovation in the video market can only be matched with software infrastructure.

With more than 15 billion video-capable mobile devices forecasted by 2020, software-based processing has reached an inflection point. These devices will use a range of video formats and bit rates, requiring software that will be able to accommodate any of them. Traditional hardware-based approaches can’t keep up.

So, at NAB 2014, Elemental unveiled its strategy for software-defined video to enable streaming of video-on-demand and live linear content to multiple devices at the lowest possible total cost of ownership and the highest level of quality.

Our approach lets customers around the world economically optimize infrastructure for their particular video processing application with the best architecture and processor combination. Elemental’s software-defined video implementation runs on multiple processing architectures, including appliances, blade solutions, virtual machines and the cloud.

As new software features continue to be introduced to keep pace with consumer habits and technology, the benefits of adopting a software-defined approach will become even greater. For example, Elemental’s implementation of software-defined video enables rapid innovation, including industry-leading live HEVC encoding for up to 50% efficiency gains compared to H.264 and the first live 4K UHD TV HEVC video delivery over IP, satellite, a CDN and the Internet globally.

What was the overall reaction to your latest developments at the show?

Customer endorsements and multiple awards! At NAB, media industry leaders’ reactions to the software-defined video approach was very positive. Ericsson  described Elemental video processing software as the industry’s best, and revealed that Elemental software was the first to be integrated into the Ericsson Virtualized Encoding (EVE) solution. MobiTV, a leader in enabling delivery of live and on-demand TV Everywhere, disclosed that it isusing Elemental for cloud-based streaming of more than 40 HD TV channels to hundreds of devices, increase its processing capabilities, and ready its infrastructure for HEVC. [Meanwhile] Elemental and Adobe have integrated solutions within the Primetime TV delivery and monetisation platform. Elemental supports delivery of live, linear and VOD content for Adobe Primetime-supported TV Everywhere deployments.

At NAB, Elemental was the recipient of major industry awards for our real-time HEVC implementation, 4K HEVC solution, and Elemental Cloud. Just after the show, we received news that Elemental led the scoring in a recent multiscreen encoding competitive assessment by ABI Research. Elemental and 18 other vendors were evaluated based on overall innovation and implementation in the market. ABI Research describes Elemental as “a clear innovator in the video encoding market” with strong reference customers and aggressive implementations of next-generation technologies such as HEVC, cloud and virtual data centers.

What are the specific elements that make NAB so important to your annual calendar?

Everything is changing in our industry – how we create, manage, consume and monetise content. Preparing for and attending NAB is a great opportunity to keep a constant finger on the pulse of the industry across the entire value change from producers, to studios, sports programmers, and pay TV operators.

To help our customers stay ahead of rapidly changing consumer behaviour and the transition to IP video sweeping across the industry, Elemental maintains an intense and rapid pace of technology innovation. NAB itself has transitions, and now is a gathering place for broadcasters, pay TV operators, OTT and mobile providers as well as many institutional video professionals. It’s a really efficient way for us to connect with our existing and target customers, share our latest solutions, and to learn.

Aside from the Elemental stand, what else caught your eye at NAB 2014?

One of the big takeaways for me from NAB 2014 is that 4K is a real evolution that will occur. It will take time, but it will happen. Two remarkable demonstrations supporting this really stood out …

First was the Akamai demo showing a linear 4K stream from Elemental. The demo showed live 4K video being encoded to HEVC MPEG-DASH at 60fps, compressed to 15Mbps and streamed for the first time over a public CDN. Elemental is Akamai’s first partner for direct DASH and HDS ingest. Just three months earlier at CES, we partnered with Akamai and Qualcomm to show a 30fps HEVC MPEG-DASH live stream – which tells you have quickly this industry is moving!

Another demo that caught my eye was the 4K demo taking place in the Level 3 mobile truck parked outside the South Hall. Elemental partnered with Level 3 to provide the industry’s first demonstration of a real-time 4K Ultra HD video stream in MPEG-DASH using HEVC.  The workflow included content acquired on a Sony F55 4K camera which was carried over the Level 3 CDN, encoded and packaged by Elemental, decoded on a custom-built set-top box and displayed on a 65” Sony 4K Bravia TV. The key achievement here is that the HEVC/MPEG-DASH implementation allows delivery of 4K content at bitrates equal to HD content – and an adaptive-bitrate streaming solution that works on any platform.

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