What are some of the more significant issues currently holding back the streaming industry for both video and audio? Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, Chair, Streaming Media Conferences, and CMO, id3as, asks deadmau5, DJ & musician, equity partner, Stream Voodoo, for his takes on the lingering technical limitations in the streaming world.
“It sounds like you’ve paid a lot of attention to codec development,” Schumacher-Rasmussen says. “So within the streaming industry, H.264 is still sort of the industry standard, right?”
“Well, because it’s the common denominator,” deadmau5 says. He emphasizes that the overall issue and the roots of limitations in video streaming is a one size fits all general mentality in tech. “It’s like Chromium and all that,” he says. “It’s super easy to build in. It’s just all pre-packaged stuff like that, and then external app designs are designed by programmers that can make tax file return programs, you know what I mean? They’re like, just give me the API for, you know, whatever, and they’ll jam it in there, and then we’ll make it a thing. To my knowledge, there has been really no video-centric streaming platform plugin, whether it’s privatized from point-to-point or through a network and server delegation that’s done by someone who fully understands and appreciates streaming technology. I’ll tell you, Zoom was not built with video in mind! Until about five years in, and I see that a lot with a lot of programs. So it’s not like a big thing. It’s so departmentalized with these big AAA products, like a video game. You want really good sound from a video game. Chances are you’re not going to have an audio lead on that team that knows DSP. You’re just going to get a guy that says, ‘I kind of know FMOD, let’s throw that in,’ right? Sell our game for $500 million. And that’s fine. That’s acceptable for most people because it just works.”
“Exactly,” Schumacher-Rasmussen says. “And we found at Streaming Media, when we started doing our virtual conferences in 2020, like everybody else, we looked at all sorts of video conferencing platforms at webcasting platforms, and even those, we found the thing that broke was the video or the thing that that failed was the video. And I’m not going to name names…”
Deadmaus5 says it comes down to what he calls the “two massive problems” with streaming video and live audio, essentially categorizing the problems into output issues and input issues. “One, it’s the encapsulation and buffering of that to go out,” he says. He mentions issues on the output side such as a camera battery dying, codec problems, or a lack of GPU RAM. Then, on the user side, he says, there can be issues with the bandwidth. “They’re like, oh, no, no, it works really good,” he says. “This is just a bad internet connection.” He laughs and says, “I’m like, ‘Well, case in point,’ you know?’”
“Right, exactly,” Schumacher-Rasmussen says. “We settled on using Zoom because even though it wasn’t necessarily built with that in mind, it worked pretty reliably, you know?”
“Because that’s just a simple numbers game,” deadmaus5 says. “It’s because they had the money and the infrastructure to set up about, you know, half a billion Azure points to make sure that they had server redundancy across the world on a massive scale. We have entire data centers, whereas point-to-point does not.” Commenting on the very video call that they are talking on, he says, “We do not on this. This is straight through.” With a slight shrug he says, “You’re a little 18 FPS, but, it’s clear…”
Learn more about codecs and streaming technology issues at Streaming Media East 2023.
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