Category AV/IT

Codecs, Bandwidth, and Latency

In our Video Over IP post, we touched on the encoding and decoding process that makes it possible to send video signals over the network. Now let’s take a brief overview of the codecs — which are encoding and decoding protocols — that employ these processes.

Codecs that use about 10Mbps (megabits per second) are ideal for transporting networked AV since they won’t allow the signals to monopolize your network.  Conversely, a 10Gbps (gigabits per second) codec will use up all the available bandwidth on a 10-gigabit network link. On the plus side, the latency — the delay caused by the process of encoding and decoding a video signal — will be low for this bandwidth-heavy codec.

Mezzanine, Intra-frame, and Inter-frame

Mezzanine, intra-frame, and inter-frame codecs will look at the source signal in different ways before compressing it for transmission. You want to have the most bandwidth-efficient codecs handling your signals. Even though there will be a trade-off in latency, that trade-off can be acceptable.

  • Mezzanine: These include TICO and DSC compression codecs. Latency is very low, but they also use the most bandwidth.
  • Intra-frame: These are JPEG2000 and VC-2 codecs. More efficient than Mezzanine in terms of bandwidth, but unable to stream to laptops and mobile devices.
  • Inter-frame: H.264 and H.265. H.264 AVC is the most common codec in use today. H.265 HEVC is the next generation. Latency will be about 200ms in the best case, which is considered acceptable.

Crestron’s “State of Networked Video and Integrated System Design” offers an easy-to-understand overview of these codec types, and the areas you need to address to have an integrated system of video distribution and devices — including network management, control, and security.

Download Crestron’s paper “The State of Networked Video and Integrated System Design” >

Video Over IP — How It’s Done

In a previous post, you learned why video over IP makes sense. Now we’ll look at how to make it happen.

First, let’s define a couple of terms:

  • Encoding: When you encode data, you’re making it suitable for transmission over an Ethernet network. So an encoder distributes high-definition AV signals over an IP network. Video In can be HDMI, and Video Out is Ethernet. An example of an encoder is Crestron’s DM-TXRX-100-STR.
  • Decoding: As you’d expect, this means you’re making the signal suitable for an uncompressed HDMI transmission. So a decoder receives high-definition AV signals over an IP network. Video In is an Ethernet stream, and Video Out can be HDMI. An example of a decoder is the Crestron DM-RMC-100-STR.

In a point-to-point network, you can send a signal from a computer over your LAN to a display in another room. Both areas can have Crestron’s DM-TXRX-100-STR, and they don’t need a matrix switcher. You can also multicast from a single encoder that sends signals to each room that has a decoder and display.

You can also use those rooms as collaboration spaces, where you connect your computer so that your content appears on the display. The Crestron DGE-100 has the ability to receive the LAN stream, and also can take a local connection from a laptop. Watch this Crestron video to see how easy it is to create a network AV solution.

The Ease and Benefits of Video Over IP

A recent Crestron video shows why sending your organization’s video signals over IP makes sense. It also shows how surprisingly easy it is.

  • No distance limitations — Using the Ethernet, you’re sending those video signals across buildings, campuses, and geographic distances. So that ambitious plan you have to distribute digital signage and IPTV isn’t quite as daunting as initially thought.
  • Use your existing network infrastructure — You don’t need a new, dedicated AV network to carry this data. Choosing that path will not save you money over the traditional copper or fiber solution. Plus, you want to be able to mix copper, fiber and network AV on the same platform.
  • Scalability —  You buy the encoder/decoder you need, drop it on the network, and add more units at any time. That’s what I mean by easy.  In today’s ecosystem of BYOD, that expandability is essential to keep everyone in a growing company connected and empowered to use their own devices.

With video over IP, you don’t need to buy a matrix switcher to share the same content on displays in different rooms. In my next post, I’ll look at some of the specific Crestron solutions that can create the system you need to send and receive video over the network anywhere, and we’ll define encoders and decoders. In the meantime, watch the Crestron video below that inspired this post.

Why Microsoft Surface Hub is the Hottest Demo at InfoComm This Year

Part 2 of 3 in our InfoComm series. Contributed by Linda Civitillo, AVI-SPL VP of UCC Solutions.

In the first blog post of our InfoComm series, we introduced the three trends we expect to drive much of the conversation this year: 1) The Modern Workplace, 2) The Internet of Things, and 3) The Convergence of AV and IT. At our booth, we’ll be showcasing the Microsoft Surface Hub because (both 55” and 84” versions) it’s the perfect device to illustrate the three trends we’re talking about.

Trend #1: The Modern Workplace  

New work spaces and new user expectations for how teams and groups should collaborate are shaping the investments that AV and IT departments are making in communications technologies. Today, you can look to the features of a group collaboration device like the Microsoft Surface Hub to see just how the workplace is transforming:

  • Users Expect Natural, Inviting and Collaborative Workspaces: Surface Hub illustrates this idea that teams want to be able to share ideas and create something together. The device supports not only a touchscreen, but also multi-ink capabilities with the Surface Hub pen on the digital whiteboard, meaning more than one person can write on the screen at the same time as fluidly as pen on paper. Additionally, two built-in wide angle HD cameras and motion technology work with Skype for Business so remote team members can catch all of the discussion in the room and participate in real-time collaboration, making it easier for teams to make decisions and get work done.
  • Connect Remote People and Teams: Surface Hub includes Skype for Business integration to easily connect to people virtually anywhere in the world to brainstorm with you as easily as if they were in the room. We think of the Surface Hub as a natural extension of the enterprise-wide Skype for Business implementations we are doing for clients – now that we have individual employees connected, let’s go get the conference rooms and pop-up meeting spaces connected to Skype for Business as well.
  • Quick Meeting Start: The idea of a “group huddle” is that meetings are more productive because they are more spontaneous. So, it’s important that users don’t spend 5-10 minutes getting ready to start a meeting. With Surface Hub, you can walk up and join a Skype for Business meeting with a single tap, which immediately connects all participants, and start sharing content immediately, so your time is spent connecting to people rather than technology.
  • Connected Devices: Look around any meeting room. At some point, people are sharing something on their phones or devices with the person beside them. Surface Hub allows the team to connect their mobile and personal work devices to the large screen so that they can share their content with the whole team, not just the person sitting next to them. And with pen capabilities, people can take notes directly on the digital whiteboard as the ideas flow, and share with the group after the session, too.
  • Take the Content With You: Once the team has landed on the next great idea, they can take the meeting content with them. Surface Hub ships with Microsoft OneNote to capture all the notes, data from other applications and ink. Since Surface Hub is a Windows 10 device, you can also save content from any Universal Windows application that you have running on the device. And because nothing is stored locally on Surface Hub, once you are done with your meeting the device wipes itself, keeping your data secure and preparing the space for the next meeting or informal brainstorm, with no extra effort on your end.
  • See What We’re Talking About Here:

Trend #2: IoT

There are dozens of sessions and lots of buzz this year about the Internet of Things. We think IoT creates new opportunities for AV and IT professionals to add more value in helping their business colleagues solve problems and generate new ideas. The two scenarios that we will showcase using the Surface Hub are centralized management, and harnessing data from connected devices to make better business decisions. After all, these are devices on the network that can be managed centrally by AVI-SPL through remote monitoring, management, and administration where we monitor dashboard views that include everything from alert notifications to advanced reporting on key ROI metrics like utilization rates. Then our clients can use Surface Hub to view and manipulate that data in real-time.

Trend #3: The Convergence of AV and IT

We see the continued blending of the roles of AV and IT, with IT being much more involved in decisions around AV systems. This convergence playing out in real-time with devices like the Surface Hub which includes capabilities that cross over the AV and IT spectrum. To learn more about this trend, come hear AVI-SPL’s Senior Vice President of Unified Communications and Collaboration, Joe Laezza, talk about “AV and IT: What’s Working, What Needs Improvement:” on Wed, June 8th from 8:00-10:00 AM in Room N258.

So, on that mental check list of things to see at InfoComm this year, it’s critical to add Microsoft Surface Hub to the top of the list. You can see the device in action in our booth (N1218) or at the start of our Guided Technology Tour. RESERVE YOUR SPOT on our Guided Collaboration tour and your guide will be an AVI-SPL expert taking you through the best of the show and what these top 3 trends mean for you this year.

AVI-SPL Energy Project Featured in IT/AV Report

The spring issue of IT/AV Report is out, and it features an in-depth look at AVI-SPL’s integration work for the Calgary headquarters of energy company Enbridge. In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • Challenges we faced with placing AV gear on the Enbridge network
  • How we made new meeting rooms easy to locate and use
  • What we did to keep the rooms up to date over the course of this multi-year project

This article also delves into the specifics of the equipment used for spaces like training areas, executive rooms, and security operations.

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