Captivating HD video can be delivered at a minimum of 1.25 Mbps at 960x540 resolution

Distributing high-definition video over the Internet was once looked at as a futile proposition, because most people didn’t have large computer screens, and the bandwidth necessary to send these data-intensive files was virtually non-existent (at any price). Well those days are history. Now, content creators can offer online viewers a “lean-back” experience over the Web, thanks to advancements in compression algorithms and software acceleration.
Currently, nice-looking HD video can be delivered at a minimum of 1.25 Mbps at 960×540 (slightly smaller than native 720p) resolution. It is, after all, web-based HD video, but the better the available data rate, the better the resolution. There is no set standard defining “HD video” on the web.

To meet the imminent demand-and reach the thousands of people using applications built on Adobe Flash technology-one company now offers a single-box encoder capable of streaming live, HD H.264 (MPEG-4) video to users of Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server software. The Adobe software allows content distributors to stream protected, high-quality video on the web and to mobile devices. Using the Flash media format provides access to these HD files for millions. (Adobe reports that 85 percent of its users have upgraded to the new H.264 version of Flash since it was introduced last year.)

Inlet Technologies, based in Raleigh, NC, has added support for the format in its Spinnaker line, according to director of product management Andy Beach. The model 7000 is a real-time streaming encoder that works with Adobe Flash Media Server 3 to deliver streaming content to Adobe Flash Player users. Designed for streaming live feeds, the product is a result of Inlet’s work with Adobe as a member of the Flash Media Solution Providers Program. Major League Baseball uses the SD version of the Spinnaker encoder for its online games feeds.

Accommodating a wide variety of users, Spinnaker takes in a single live feed and outputs Flash H.264, VP6, VC-1 and Silverlight streams simultaneously, allowing content providers to reach virtually any user on any device. The encoder also supports multiple bit rates, allowing users to simultaneously deliver content streams to up to four different devices, such as a set-top box, computer and mobile device.

Users can also automate streaming for regularly scheduled events or remotely schedule streams in advance for special live events. In addition, the box features signal monitoring capabilities, providing automatic alerts to problems with picture, audio and more. Alerts are displayed on the Spinnaker device and can be emailed to remote users.

At $18,000 for HD streaming capability, the technology does not come cheap, but it looks to be popular with sports broadcasters, corporate video departments, government agencies and small-to-medium-sized media production companies.

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