Smooth Streaming 3D concept previewed at NAB

NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show 2010 wrapped up yesterday in Las Vegas. Among the Silverlight and Smooth Streaming announcements and demos at this year’s NAB were:

  • Silverlight availability on Broadcom and Intel systems-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions, which will enable set-top-box manufacturers to run Silverlight applications on their devices
  • IIS Media Services 4.0 with support for Smooth Streaming over multicast networks, transmuxing support for similar HTTP-based adaptive streaming formats such as the one for Apple iPhone/iPad, low latency delivery, and Smooth Streaming H.264 DRM (PlayReady AES) support – beta availability in Q3 2010
  • Silverlight Media Framework 2 with a new, more modular architecture featuring an extensive plug-in API for 3rd-party developers and partners
  • Silverlight Analytics Framework for integrating business intelligence analytics into Silverlight applications
  • Expression Encoder 4 with support for Live Smooth Streaming

Among other news, we’ve announced that Silverlight plug-in adoption has reached 60% globally. On Tuesday we officially launched Visual Studio 2010 and on Thursday we released Silverlight 4, a mere 3 years since our original release of Silverlight 1.0! Remember, Visual Studio 2010 lets you develop Silverlight applications not just for the desktop, but also for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 devices. Make sure to install the latest Silverlight 4 runtime here:

Full coverage of Microsoft’s Silverlight announcements at NAB 2010:

The demo that generated a lot of buzz at the Microsoft booth and one that’s very close to my heart was the demo of Live 3D HD video streaming powered by IIS Smooth Streaming and Silverlight. We partnered with TVN Group, Inlet Technologies, Level(3) Communications and THX to deliver a compelling demo showing that Smooth Streaming can be used to efficiently deliver stereoscopic 3D video over the Internet to multiple screens and display technologies.

TVN Group set up a stereoscopic camera rig in a radio station in Hannover, Germany (the radio station was chosen because it operates 24/7, allowing us to have an active live feed in Las Vegas even when it’s nighttime in Germany). They converted the two 1080i feeds into a single 1080i25 side-by-side feed which was then fed into an Inlet Spinnaker 7100 encoder. The encoder produced Smooth Streaming output at 4 quality levels: bottom one at 400×224 @ 500 kbps, top one at 1280×720 @ 3 Mbps. The streams were published to an IIS7 origin server on Level3’s network and carried by Level3 to their edge servers in the United States where we consumed them at our NAB booth (over the open Internet; we didn’t use a dedicated connection).

At our booth we demonstrated 2 playback scenarios:

  1. Our regular demo pods were running a Silverlight player application (built on Silverlight Media Framework) inside the browser and were connected to conventional LCD displays. Using pixel shader effects in Silverlight (the code for which I hope to make available in the near future) we dynamically converted the side-by-side stereoscopic video into a red-cyan anaglyph image, viewable using widely available anaglyph glasses such as these. We also demonstrated Silverlight’s ability to display only a 2D “mono” version of the stream (left-eye only view), as well as the ability to dynamically switch between different anaglyph methods (monochrome and color).
  2. In our living room area, we had another PC running the same Silverlight application out-of-browser as well as THX Media Director software. This PC was connected via HDMI to a 3D-ready 120Hz Panasonic plasma display (THX certified) equipped with active shutter glasses. With a click of a button, the Silverlight application would switch to side-by-side full screen view and send a command to the THX software which in turn would inject appropriate 3D metadata into the HDMI output stream, instructing the HDMI 1.4a compatible TV to automatically switch to frame-compatible side-by-side 3D mode. The TV would then deliver the video as frame sequential 120Hz video to the active shutter glasses, creating a superior 3D video experience.

We didn’t make any announcement at NAB regarding support for 3D video yet, but our demo (hopefully) showed that Smooth Streaming is a great way to deliver stereoscopic 3D video over the Internet to a variety of displays while fully utilizing the power and scalability of HTTP adaptive streaming.

Two videos of me talking about the 3D demo:

About Alex Zambelli

Alex is a Product Manager at Discovery in Bellevue, WA. Prior to his current job he was a Product Manager at Hulu and iStreamPlanet (Turner), and Technical Evangelist for media technologies at Microsoft. He has been professionally involved with development of digital video and streaming technologies since 2002.
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