Revenge of the Codecs Part 1 – JPEG XS

The standard vehicle for IP video switching, Motion JPEG 2000, is a new technology to many AV integrators but is quite old, dating back to 2001. The codec, initially designed for compressing video for archiving, found a broader application today for IP video switching and distribution.

Its architecture is perfect for the application, as the stream is a continuous series of JPEG images, it’s easy to switch between frames. With 20:1 compression, a 4K 60 stream can be carried over a standard 1G network. The advanced intoPIX codec, used by Dante AV and Crestron, can process video with a low latency of 10 milliseconds. And to top it off, MJP2000 is royalty-free. What could be better?

Well, there’s a wish list of new features from 4K/8K video producers and broadcasters. They want uncompressed performance with the bandwidth savings of compression, largely so they can use their existing 1G IP and 3G SDI copper infrastructure. A codec designed for 4K/8K video from the ground up, and a lighter approach to compression with less demanding processing than the old MJP2 engine. Most importantly, latency in the microsecond range. And royalty-free (there is a nominal cost from the codec vendor, but very low compared to Dolby or MPEG). 

Welcome to JPEG XS

That’s the specs for the new JPEG XS, which stands for eXtra Small (bandwidth, processing and name). The codec will be finalized this year, available next year for CPU, FPGA and ASIC processors. 

As most AV IP Switching codecs run on an FPGA processor, vendors could switch to the new codec with an update, gaining uncompressed level video quality and microsecond latency. intoPIX is one provider, so this could be an easy step for Dante and Crestron. This is a very competitive space, and the JPEG XS can separate the winners from the honorable mentions.

In the long term, equipment costs may reduce, as JPEG XS can run on lower-cost processors. 

So keep an eye out – this transition could happen as fast as, well, JPEG XS.

Audinate Drops the InfoComm Bomb – Dante Now Routes 4K Video as well as Audio

A small one-paragraph blurb in the InfoComm 2018 Show Daily is the biggest story of the show – Audinate announces Dante AV. A perfectly timed article, “Making the Case for AV-0ver-IP,” in the June 2019 Sound & Communication magazine, written by Audinate’s Brad Price, reveals a bigger picture. 

The short story is this – Dante AV accepts up to 4K60 4:4:4 10-bit video and 8 audio tracks, routing AV streams over 1G IP as easily as Dante audio, all in sync with a master clock. Audinate makes the new Dante AV interface that’s inside, and other vendors add Motion JPEG 2000 encoding/decoding as well as pass-through RS-232 and IR. Network routing, discovery, master clock, and control is handled by Dante, with assured interoperability between suppliers’ transceivers. 

The bigger vision for the new innovation is presented with clarity in the article, written before Dante AV was revealed at the show. AV-over-IP has great potential, but as in the early days of network audio, manufacturers have created a mish-mosh of choice, an irregular, branded mix of codecs, networking schemes, control commands and proprietary features. Pixel Perfect vs PURE3? What does that even mean?

For the AV-over-IP to grow, a consistent standard is required. To meet the needs of both the AV and IP communities,  a standard must be set that answers requirements for security, scalability, interoperability, performance, and market adoption. An ecosystem made of many partners offers more options than domination by one brand, or niches owned by a few. 

For many reasons, AV-via-Dante can be a strong foundation for that ecosystem. After all, they did emerge as the defacto standard for IP audio – why not AV? 

Crestron is the market leader for many good reasons, but Dante-friendly Q-Sys programming is quickly gaining ground. Other major players will arise shortly – Yamaha is already an Audinate AV partner, with products in development. As Crestron plays well with other standards, they could incorporate Dante AV as well. 

However all this plays out, Dante AV should open the door to new innovation in AV-over-IP!