One of the best ways to stream video to or from a remote location is deploying an IP system architecture. Doing so resolves a lot of the vulnerabilities associated with traditional analog video distribution, including quality and distance, which is why analog is being phased out in favor of higher quality digital equipment. Until now, the biggest challenge with distributing digital signals has been the need to send large amounts of bandwidth. However, thanks to new technology like Opticomm-EMCORE’s HD4-E and HD4-D high-definition H.264 video, audio and USB Encoder/Decoders, you can break free from traditional limitations and send HD video over your IP network without compromising quality, cost or bandwidth.
Currently, we see IP video distribution being used in the following industries:
- Corporate Communications
- Medical and Military Command/Control
- Retail Stores
- Concerts and Events
- Houses of Worship
- Digital Signage
What is H.264?
H.264 (high definition MPEG-4) is an open video compression standard. It’s the first compression format to be formulated by a collaboration between members of both the IT and telecommunications industries. What makes H.264 unique is that is able to compress raw video into much smaller, digitized video packets without losing too much video quality.
In control rooms, for example, there has been a push for higher resolution monitoring and faster frame rates without any compromise on image quality. Accomplishing this wasn’t possible with conventional compression formats, but with H.264 there is a lower bitrate and lower bandwidth, and consequently reduced storage requirements. Lowering the bitrate allows for higher resolutions and refresh rates over the same network infrastructure.
How Streaming Video Remotely Over IP Works
Let’s say that your video source is a camera, which provides raw video from its output port. This could be one of the legacy analog outputs (such as s-video, composite, or component) or one of the newer digital outputs (such as HDMI or 3G-SDI). Raw video means that it is uncompressed and therefore is too large to send through any Internet connectivity options available today. The solution is video encoding/decoding.
Once a video is compressed (encoded), it can then be injected into a video server that takes the video IP stream and enables it to be pushed to or pulled by users over the IP network. This distribution is achieved by sending packetized video through standard local area network (LAN) equipment with CAT5e or CAT6 network cabling. Finally, a software application or hardware such as Opticomm-EMCORE’s HD4-D takes the encoded video in and decodes it to display on the end-user’s screen. For optimal connectivity, you should use a wired and dedicated IP network connection to avoid the latency, jitter and loss that can negatively affect video performance.
To help you visualize the IP video streaming process, we’ve created this list outlining the steps:
- Video Source
- IP Encoder
- Transfer Over the Internet
- Video Server (or Content Delivery Network)
- End User Decoder
Advantages of Video Over IP
There are many advantages to distributing video over IP. First, IP-based video distribution has no distance limitations. While Ethernet segments may be limited to 100 meters (330 ft), a switch or repeater may be used for extension over longer distances. For extremely long distances, such as running video between buildings, Ethernet media converters can be used to convert signals from electric to optical for transport over fiber cabling. Overall, an IP transport network is advantageous because it is cost-effective, easy to implement and scalable, and isn’t confined by distance or quality loss problems.
Why Use Opticomm-EMCORE’s HD4-E and HD4-D for Video over IP?
The HD4-E encoder and HD4-D decoder is an advanced, high performance, cost effective H.264 transport solution. It is unique because it delivers crisp, broadcast-quality video with audio and USB at extremely low bit rates, all at a reasonable price compared to similar devices. The HD4-E supports HDMI 1.4a and VGA inputs along with analog stereo audio and USB-HID (mouse protocol). The HD4-D decoder accepts an IP input and decodes H.264 to HDMI, audio and USB, which makes it an ideal choice for high-quality KVM over standard Ethernet networks. The HD4 can be used for Baseline, Main, or High Profile encoding, and works for both unicast and multicast IP streams. In addition, the HD4 encoder acts as a simultaneous decoder, so that video, audio and USB can be streamed in both directions over the LAN.
Because digital communications needs have spread to business, public areas and educational institutions, organizations now require a better way to distribute high definition 21st-century content. An AV to IP solution is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to achieve this. With reduced maintenance cost, easy system scalability and no distance limitations, the business case for an IP multimedia system is undeniable.