Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Multipoint video conferencing allows participants at more than two sites to
engage in real-time communication by means of a Multipoint Control Unit
(MCU) to which all the participants connect. In multipoint communications
this video bridge device interconnects signals from several sources in the
same fashion that multiple audio lines are intermingled in a telephone
conference call. The key difference in multipoint versus “normal” video
conferencing is the fact that there are multiple participants at multiple
locations rather than a single interaction between two webcams or two
digital video cameras communicating directly through conferencing software.

Is There a Demand for Multipoint Conferencing?

There is an increasing demand for multipoint video teleconferencing for a
number of reasons. Not only does it overcome the expense and delays caused
by travel, but these meetings tend to be briefer and more focused than
face-to-face encounters and thus more productive. Busy executives can budget
their time more effectively when meeting with clients or employees and,
compared to the cost of travel, establishing facilities for a multipoint
video conference is much more cost effective.

How Does Multipoint Video Conferencing Work?

Essentially a conferencing system uses a CODEC, a device which converts and
compresses the video signal into digital data for transmission to a decoder
which reverses the process on the other end. Working in full-duplex mode,
the system encodes and decodes data in both directions simultaneously. The
network over which the data travels may be any kind of broadband or
satellite connection. Speeds as lows as 128 Kbps will produce a decent
quality conference, but for television quality video the minimum data rate
should be around 384 Kbps. There are two modes or formats for multipoint
video conferencing, continuous presence (CP) and voice activated (VA).
Participants in the conference should always be told which method is being
used. Generally a moderator is used in both scenarios to control the
interaction and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Continuous Presence

In a multipoint video conference conducted in continuous presence mode, all
sites can be seen at the same time. Usually at one site participants will
see themselves on one monitor and the remote participants on a second
monitor in smaller windows. This is not an optimal method for displaying any
kind of data other than voice communication because the data will not occupy
the full screen. Microphones can be simultaneously active at all sites
involved and as a result, things can get a bit noisy. Intervention on the
part of the moderator may be required to keep things in order.

Voice Activated

In this method of multipoint video conferencing only the remote site that
produced the most recent audio will appear on the monitors. Again, at a
single site participants will see themselves on one monitor and the source
of the most recent audio will appear on a second monitor. Microphone
settings are critical in voice activated mode. When a site is not speaking,
their microphone should be muted to avoid random noise that will suddenly
place them on screen. Moderation is especially recommended in this mode.

Could Multipoint Conferencing be made Affordable?

Many systems now offer a built-in video conferencing bridge, which has made
multipoint conferencing increasingly affordable. Still, a system capable of
supporting a four-way conference will cost in the $8,000 range. As
multipoint video conferencing continues to grow in popularity, however, and
systems with build-in bridges become more refined, prices will undoubtedly
drop. Multipoint video conferencing allows participants at more than two
sites to engage in real-time communication by means of a Multipoint Control
Unit (MCU) to which all the participants connect. In multipoint
communications this video bridge device interconnects signals from several
sources in the same fashion that multiple audio lines are intermingled in a
telephone conference call. The key difference in multipoint versus “normal”
video conferencing is the fact that there are multiple participants at
multiple locations rather than a single interaction between two webcams or
two digital video cameras communicating directly through conferencing
software.

Is There a Demand for Multipoint Conferencing?

There is an increasing demand for multipoint video teleconferencing for a
number of reasons. Not only does it overcome the expense and delays caused
by travel, but these meetings tend to be briefer and more focused than
face-to-face encounters and thus more productive. Busy executives can budget
their time more effectively when meeting with clients or employees and,
compared to the cost of travel, establishing facilities for a multipoint
video conference is much more cost effective.

How Does Multipoint Video Conferencing Work?

Essentially a conferencing system uses a CODEC, a device which converts and
compresses the video signal into digital data for transmission to a decoder
which reverses the process on the other end. Working in full-duplex mode,
the system encodes and decodes data in both directions simultaneously. The
network over which the data travels may be any kind of broadband or
satellite connection. Speeds as lows as 128 Kbps will produce a decent
quality conference, but for television quality video the minimum data rate
should be around 384 Kbps. There are two modes or formats for multipoint
video conferencing, continuous presence (CP) and voice activated (VA).
Participants in the conference should always be told which method is being
used. Generally a moderator is used in both scenarios to control the
interaction and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Continuous Presence

In a multipoint video conference conducted in continuous presence mode, all
sites can be seen at the same time. Usually at one site participants will
see themselves on one monitor and the remote participants on a second
monitor in smaller windows. This is not an optimal method for displaying any
kind of data other than voice communication because the data will not occupy
the full screen. Microphones can be simultaneously active at all sites
involved and as a result, things can get a bit noisy. Intervention on the
part of the moderator may be required to keep things in order.

Voice Activated

In this method of multipoint video conferencing only the remote site that
produced the most recent audio will appear on the monitors. Again, at a
single site participants will see themselves on one monitor and the source
of the most recent audio will appear on a second monitor. Microphone
settings are critical in voice activated mode. When a site is not speaking,
their microphone should be muted to avoid random noise that will suddenly
place them on screen. Moderation is especially recommended in this mode.

Could Multipoint Conferencing be made Affordable?

Many systems now offer a built-in video conferencing bridge, which has made
multipoint conferencing increasingly affordable. Still, a system capable of
supporting a four-way conference will cost in the $8,000 range. As
multipoint video conferencing continues to grow in popularity, however, and
systems with build-in bridges become more refined, prices will undoubtedly
drop.

These days, there are an unbelievable amount of video formats because of all the various operating systems, mobile phones, Internet formats (like DivX and Flash), etc. etc. etc. To decide what video players are best for the Windows platform, then, we need to find players that support as many formats as possible, including streaming videos, and that are fast, simple, and reliable.

1. VLC Media Player – First designed by a group of French programmers and academics who called their group VideoLAN, it took this player quite a few years to get the respect it deserved. VLC Media Player is far and away one of the top (open-source) video players you can find on any operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux). It supports practically any codec automatically, and is very light and fast. Honestly, its a bit surprising that it hasn’t been relased as the default video player on more Linux distros for that matter.

2. KMPlayer – This rising star is a nerd’s dream, as it easily allows users to capture audio, video, and screenshots in a variety of ways. Additionally, KMPlayer supports tons of container formats like VCD, DVD, AVI, MKV, Ogg Theora, OGM, 3GP, MPEG-1/2/4, WMV, RealMedia, and QuickTime, just to name a few. In their words, “the player provides both internal and external filters with a fully controlled environment.” Sounds pretty sweet.

3. Miro Player – The interesting thing about Miro is that it not only plays tons of video formats, but it can also download videos from websites like YouTube or Yahoo, or even via BitTorrent. It is fully featured with all kinds of constantly updated tidbits. The only drawback perhaps is that its a bit overkill for people who just want a simple, reliable video player.

4. WinAmp – One of the first popular media player ever, WinAmp continues to maintain its fan base because of its awesome skinning options, attractive and easy interface, and wide support of many formats. They continue to think up new features that no other company does. Think of it as Windows Media Player plus iTunes, plus a ton of other stuff. WinAmp is also proud of the wide support it has for streaming formats, including Internet radio, Internet television, XM Radio, Singingfish, podcasts, RSS, and more. It also has extend-able support for portable media players, and users can access their media libraries anywhere via internet connections.

5. RulesPlayer – Not very well known, this video player by AfterVista is a codec lover and also a language lover. RulesPlayer supports all kinds of fonts and subtitles, and pretty much any video file you throw at it. You can even watch video files while downloading them! Light and safe, it deserves more recognition. And honestly, probably its own website!

6. GOM Player – Another not so well known player that deserves more respect. One of the claim to fames of GOM Player is that it can playback broken AVI files by skipping corrupted frames. Also, if you ever toss it a video format that it doesn’t support, it simply brings you to the proper codec download page, installs the missing codec, and you are back in business.

7. BSPlayer – Again, this program is awesome but its a bit overkill it seems. BSPlayer can play TV streams, podcasts, DVDs, and more. It automatically detects and manages most codec types, and is overall pretty reliable.

8. ZoomPlayer – Although not as supportive of every codec under the sun, ZoomPlayer is one of the quickest players around, built to use as few system resources as possible. It is light and attractive, and perhaps worth checking out sometime.

About GordonGus
"Whether selling products, services or information I have helped others succeed online by clarifying goals, simplifying technologies, motivating players and executing tasks. My energy and perseverance has helped others reach their goals. Of course, some wanted to shoot me in the process."
Categories
Recent Tweets
Archives