Easing Broadcasters' Move to the Web

SAN FRANCISCO (04/11/2000) - Everyone is talking about new broadband content, but what about the TV and radio programs you already enjoy?

At the National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas this week, digital media companies unveiled technologies to help broadcasters use that Digital Subscriber Line or cable modem connection to get you your favorite programs.

On Monday Microsoft made available for download a preview of Windows Media Technologies 7, an Internet streaming platform with improved video support.

Microsoft also announced a streaming screen capture technology and a video capture card for broadcast equipment.

In other developments, RealNetworks announced a worldwide broadband distribution network, and Liquid Audio extended its digital music delivery platform to broadcast markets. Liquid Audio also unveiled E:Cast, a dubbing system that lets production professionals author, review, and deliver CD-quality audio over the Internet and intranets.

Windows Media Update

Besides offering CD-quality audio and built-in rights management, Windows Media Technologies 7 boosts video support from 30 frames per second to the 60 fps used by broadcasters, says Kevin Unangst, group product manager of Microsoft's Digital Media Division. "You get a smoother image and higher quality because we keep more of the original source."

The platform includes the Windows Media Player, File Format, Rights Manager, Encoder, and Software Developers Kit. A beta version is expected in May.

Microsoft also updated its copyright protection technology. Now content providers will be able to preview music and videos in weeklong trials or abbreviated clips.

Useful for training or Web site tours, Microsoft's streaming screen capture technology works through the Windows Media Technologies 7 Encoder. Instructors can record and stream screen images and mouse movements to the Windows Media player.

Cutting Through the Net

RealNetworks wants to improve Internet content delivery from the broadcaster to the consumer, says Peter Zaballos, director of systems marketing at RealNetworks.

Even with DSL and cable modems, you can't deliver multimedia content efficiently, Zaballos says. "You have to bypass congestion on the Internet."

RealNetworks has partnered with satellite services to beam broadcast signals to receptors at Internet service providers, Zaballos adds. And to help TV and radio stations make money off the Net, RealNetworks has launched an advertising service that replaces TV and radio ads with ones for Web broadcasts.

"Broadcasters can sell separate ads for Internet broadcasts," Zaballos says.

Video Capture for PC and Mac

Microsoft and ViewCast.com's Osprey-500WM/DVPro video capture card lets broadcasters input digital video from a camera or digital tape directly into a PC, Unangst says. Rather than create an AVI file, the card encodes directly into Windows Media format, which Microsoft says offers better compression with broadcast-quality streaming.

For Macintosh users, Apple and Matrox announced the RTMac PCI video card for editing as well as video capture and export. Fully configured systems are expected this summer starting under $5000, Apple says. Apple also updated its editing software, Final Cut Pro, with support for wide-screen formats. A free 1.2.5 update will be posted next month for current users, while the full version of Final Cut Pro 1.2 is $999

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