Searching for an Ideal High-definition Video Streaming Technology

Kellie Welborn
Chauncey Eugene Frend
Edgar Huang, Ph.D.
School of Informatics, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

Findings

2. nanoCosmos' nanoStream 3D Live Video Encoder

Overview:

nanoStream 3D Live Video Encoder is a piece of software for stereoscopic video encoding from multi-camera views. The Encoder incorporates Direct Show filters and codecs. nanoStream coding components are used for encoding to H.264, MPEG and WMV (WindowsMedia) video and streaming to Flash based streaming servers. It is also possible to stream in HD over UDP. All components are optimized to perform well with the latest, mulitcore CPUs in the marketplace today.

Features and Benefits:

Computer System Requirements:

nanostream flowchart

Evaluation of Media Production End:

  1. set-up time
    • Hardware: The equipment utilized in this scenario consisted of two Panasonic DV cameras (which when they did not work were swapped out for two Logitech C600 Webcams with 2 Megapixel Glass Sensor, 1600 x 1200 Video Capture, 8 Megapixel Image Capture, Built-in Microphone, USB-Powered with HD Video Recording), a tripod with multi-mount head, and two firewire inputs (switched to two USB ports) on different processors in the computer. It is necessary to ensure that the cameras be aligned identically toward to the video subject while keeping the distance of the lenses approximately 2.5 inches apart (the average width between human eyes), to get a 3D image closest to natural human vision. The entire set-up process should take about 10-12 minutes. (In order to utilize regular SD or HD cameras that this software states that it supports, a camera must be compatible with the software (awaiting a list of these) and/or a computer with HDMI inputs (or piece of hardware that allows this action. - i.e. The BlackMagic Intensity card.
    • Software: The software download of NanoCosmos' NanoStream 3D Live Encoder was painless, and took less than 30 seconds. There was also a plug-in that had to be installed as well. The test version of NanoStream did not come with any instructions regarding how to input the Streaming Destination, nor did it come with a list of cameras that would work with the software. Due to the fact that the compay is located in Germany, it took time to get the answers we needed to continue our testing, and had to forgo the testing of DV cameras as a result. Due to our camera troubleshooting issues, the time was pared back to what the set-up would take without the compatibility issues present in our study. nanoStream interface

    The above is a look at the nanoStream interface, which is laid out well and, for the most part, easy to understand.

  2. price
    • Hardware: The cost of the cameras utilized varies greatly, based on preferred resolution. Since our attempts at testing the software with the Panasonic cameras failed, we utilized HD webcameras instead. The cost of high-quality webcams can range from $50-150 each, depending on the features (microphone, autofocus, facial recognition, zooming, etc.). A tripod is also needed to perfectly position the cameras and secure them to ensure there is no movement during filiming ($150). If an actual SD or HD digital video camera is used, it is most likely that a computer with HDMI inputs or two HDMI input cards are needed. The latter will run $190/each, if two Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro HDMI and Analog Editing Cards with one HDMI input each are purchased. A computer that meets the requirements of the software (quad processor, fast graphics card) can be purchased for $700-$1,099. TOTAL = $1,430-$3,274
    • Software: NanoCosmos' NanoStream 3D Live Video Encoder costs 500 Euro (about $600 depending on the exchange rate). TOTAL = $600
    • Streaming Server: A free streaming service, such as UStream can be utilized. But for best video quality and high viewer penetration rate, we recommend streaming via Flash Media Server. (See Searching for an Ideal Live Video Streaming Technology study). The costs associated with Flash Media Server set-up are: Flash Video Encoder: Part of Flash CS5 Professional Suite: $699, Flash Interactive Media Server: $4500 (or Flash Media Streaming Server: $995), Dell PowerEdge 1950 (Base) as a streaming server machine: $1,000. TOTAL= $2,694-$6199
  3. portability — Extremely portable if a high-speed laptop with fast graphics card is purchased.
  4. ease of use — Number of issues with software/hardware incurred. The downloading of software was easy. However, downloading of plug-in was also necessary. Once the software was installed, the Panasonic HDV cameras were not recognized. Apparently, not all digital video cameras are compatible with the software. The company did not have a list of compatible cameras. If utilizing an HD video camera, the media producer will need a computer with HDMI inputs to recognize HD video cameras, (Use of Blackmagic Intensity card or similar interface allowing for HDMI input into computer is necessary.) However, our HD webcams were recognized (plugged in via USB). We were able to mux the two signals into an anaglyph image at the following resolutions and frame rates:
    • 320x240 at 30 fps
    • 352x288 at 30 fps
    • 640x388 at 30 fps
    • 640x480 at 25 fps (frame rate lowered due to the webcam's limitations)
    • 720x576 in the Nanostream interface drop down list (768x480 in the pop-up window) at 20 fps
    • 800x600 at 15 fps
    • 960x720 at 10 fps
    • 1280x960 (1280x720 in the pop-up window) at 5 fps
  5. camera control — Yes.

Evaluation of Media Viewer End:

  1. set-up time – Minimal time to log onto web, link to stream's address and put on their anaglyph glasses.
  2. price – The costs associated with viewing the 3D anaglyph images is minimal to the computer user, as a pair of anaglyph glasses can be purchased for approximately $1–$1.50 per pair.
  3. portability – The glasses are highly portable, and video can be viewed anywhere on any computer.
  4. ease of use - Incredibly easy for viewers as all they need is a pair of red and cyan anaglyph glasses, a computer and a web connection.
  5. video/image quality – The color accuracy with anaglyph viewing is not the best 3D experience, as it is not in true, full-color as polarized and active 3D technology is. However, for the majority of computer users who do not have a 3D-ready monitor, or a polarized projection system, this is a great, cost-effective way to allow them to view a live, 3D streaming video. Below are two examples of the size of a streaming image at a resolution of 352x288 pixels, and the one below it at 800x600 pixels, in a browser window, for comparison. The images below these are of a piece of this image from a screen capture, blown up to 1000%, to show any artifacts or noise in the signal at both 352 and 800 pixels respectively.
  6. ability to view in 2D - With the anaglyph muxing method, the viewer could not choose to demux the signal to a 2D image once on the web. However, an alternative is to stream just one camera's image to the streaming site, through nanoStream, if the majority of an audience did not have 3D glasses. In addition, there are other settings that the nanoStream software would allow for, such as 3D views for polarized and active 3D viewing, such as side-by-side imaging, that can be muxed by special 3D-ready monitors and TVs made to work with these kinds of signals.

nano in page at 352nano in page at 800

nano CU 352 nano CU 800

 

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