The next time you see a TV news reporter on location, he may be using nothing more than a FireWire-equipped digital video (DV) camera, a G4 PowerBook, a satellite phone, and
ACT-L3 QuickTime codec
to broadcast his report. The company’s codec has been in use by mobile news crews for a while now, and at next month’s National Association of Broadcasters trade show, Streambox will debut an integrated solution that includes the codec loaded and configured on a G4 PowerBook.
The ACT-L3 QuickTime codec can be used one of two ways: as a method for real-time encoding and delivery of live video, or for compressing and forwarding video assembled with Final Cut Pro or another DV editing application. When employed with live video, the codec offers real-time compression of interlaced video at 352 x 480i (half D1) resolution and 30 frames per second (fps). It also supports full D1 resolution at 15 fps or higher.
Live video can be transmitted over an IP-based network, a satellite phone, an 802.11 wireless connection (such as AirPort), or one of the 3G cell phone networks now coming online. The codec can keep the quality high even at data rates as low as 64Kbps, and advanced forward error correction (AFEC) technology recovers and cancels packets lost during transmission over an IP connection. AFEC also helps smooth jittery video.
On the other end, video feeds can be received through Streambox’s ACT-L3 Video Transport Mac G5 decoder or Windows XP/Intel-based decoder systems with SDI or base-band video output.
Streambox will start shipping their integrated PowerBook and ACT-L3 QuickTime codec solution in April at a price of US$8,900. The cost includes a G4 PowerBook running at 1.25GHz, the minimum speed required for real-time compression of 352 x 480i interlaced video.