Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DASH-IF Academic Track


The MPEG-DASH standard has raised a huge momentum within both industry and academia. The DASH-IF provides – among others – interoperability guidelines and test vectors and closes the gap enabling interoperable deployments. In recent years, we have seen a tremendous amount of research papers addressing various issues in and around DASH and, thus, the DASH-IF establishes an academic track to:
  • identify research communities working in the area of DASH
  • create awareness of DASH-IF material and promote it within the academic community, and
  • solicit research within and collect results from the academic community
As a first step the DASH-IF created the “Excellence in DASH Award” at ACM MMSys 2016 and is proud to announce the result as follows. The excellence in DASH award was selected by members of the DASH-IF and instead of a first, second, and third place the DASH-IF concluded to give the first price to all three papers which are as follows: “ABMA+: lightweight and efficient algorithm for HTTP adaptive streaming” by Andrzej Beben, Piotr Wiśniewski, Jordi Mongay Batalla, Piotr Krawiec (Warsaw University of Technology, Poland ); “Delivering Stable High-Quality Video: An SDN Architecture with DASH Assisting Network Elements” by Jan Willem Martin Kleinrouweler, Sergio Cabrero, Pablo Cesar (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Netherlands); and “SQUAD: A Spectrum-based Quality Adaptation for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP” by Cong Wang, Amr Rizk, Michael Zink (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA). (see pictures here).

For academics who want to join the DASH-IF Academic Track, please subscribe to the public email reflector dashifat@lists.aau.at via https://lists.aau.at/mailman/listinfo/dashifat.

Everyone is welcome - let's do something! For any comments or questions, please let me know.

Another related activity was the IEEE ICME 2016 Bitmovin Grand Challenge on DASH which is summarized below. We'd like to thank all authors who have submitted their work to the grand challenge and we'd like to congratulate the winner team!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review of ACM MMSys 2016 & NOSSDAV, MoVid, and MMVE

The 7th ACM International Conference on Multimedia System (MMSys 2016) was successfully held in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, Austria from May 10-13, 2016 (http://mmsys2016.itec.aau.at) with the co-located workshops NOSSDAV, MoVid, and MMVE.
We'd like to thank our Gold Sponsors: Adobe and YouTube.
The ACM Multimedia Systems Conference (MMSys) provides a forum for researchers to present and share their latest research findings in multimedia systems. While research about specific aspects of multimedia systems are regularly published in the various proceedings and transactions of the networking, operating system, real-time system, and database communities, MMSys aims to cut across these domains in the context of multimedia data types. This provides a unique opportunity to view the intersections and the inter-play of the various approaches and solutions developed across these domains to deal with multimedia data types.
This year’s MMSys introduced a new format referred to as overview talks which have been held on May 10 starting in the afternoon and concluding in the evening with a get together event at the conference venue. The following overview talks have been given at MMSys: “Using Games to solve Challenging Multimedia Problems” by Oge Marques, ACM Distinguished Speaker, FAU, USA ; “More Juice Less Bits: MediaMelon Content Aware Streaming” by Ali C. Begen, MediaMelon Inc., USA, Ozyegin University, Turkey, IEEE ComSoc Distinguished Lecturer, “MPEG-DASH Spatial Relationship Description” by Omar Aziz Niamut, TNO, The Netherlands, “Mulsemedia: Novelty or Reinvention?” by Gheorghita Ghinea, Brunel University, UK ; and “Smart Camera Systems” by Bernhard Rinner, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria .
ACM MMSys typically comes with keynotes from experts and leaders in industry and academy. The first keynote was about “Ten Thousand Channels to Ten Million Viewers: Technologies for Scaling Video Delivery over IP” by Neill A. Kipp, Comcast VIPER, USA addressing issues with video delivery at scale whereas the second keynote entitled “Advances and Trends in Augmented Reality Systems“ by Dieter Schmalstieg, Graz University of Technology, Austria was related to one of the special session. The third keynote was about “5G enabling the Tactile Internet” by Frank Fitzek, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany providing insights about next generation mobile networks.
Best Paper Award
Best Paper Award
In general, ACM MMSys 2016 attracted 71 full paper submissions from which 20 got finally accepted in the program which has been carefully selected from our experienced members of the technical program committee. In addition to the full paper submissions, MMSys 2016 hosted two special sessions, one on augmented reality and another on media synchronization. A demo session provided researchers, engineers, and scientist to present the opportunity to showcase their research prototypes, systems, and applications to MMSys attendees. An important aspect of MMSys is the dataset track which enables reproducible research thanks to the availability of common datasets across different application areas. In particular, the dataset track is an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to make their work available and citable.
MMSYS26
ACM MMSys hosts three workshops: the 26th ACM Workshop on Network and Operating Systems Support for Digital Audio and Video (NOSSDAV), the 8th ACM Workshop on Mobile Video (MoVid), and the 8th ACM Workshop on Massively Multiuser Virtual Environments (MMVE). The operate with their own committees and review process but benefit from a single registration fee for all events co-located with MMSys.
The 7th ACM MMSys issued the following awards:
  • a best paper award,
  • a best student paper award, and
  • for the first time the excellence in DASH award sponsored by the DASH-IF.
Best Student Paper
Best Student Paper
The best paper award goes to “Distributed Rate Allocation in Switch-Based Multiparty Videoconference” by Stefano D’bronco (EPFL), Sergio Mena (Cisco Systems), Pascal Frossard (EPFL) and the best student paper award goes to “Network-assisted Control for HTTP Adaptive Video Streaming” by Giuseppe Cofano (Politecnico di Bari, Italy), Luca De Cicco (Telecom SudParis, France), Thomas Zinner (University of Würzburg, Germany), Anh Nguyen-Ngoc (University of Würzburg, Germany), Phuoc Tran-Gia (University of Würzburg, Germany), Saverio Mascolo (Politecnico di Bari, Italy).
The excellence in DASH award was selected by members of the DASH-IF and instead of a first, second, and third place the DASH-IF concluded to give the first price to all three papers which are as follows: “ABMA+: lightweight and efficient algorithm for HTTP adaptive streaming” by Andrzej Beben, Piotr Wiśniewski, Jordi Mongay Batalla, Piotr Krawiec (Warsaw University of Technology, Poland ); “Delivering Stable High-Quality Video: An SDN Architecture with DASH Assisting Network Elements” by Jan Willem Martin Kleinrouweler, Sergio Cabrero, Pablo Cesar (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Netherlands); and “SQUAD: A Spectrum-based Quality Adaptation for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP” by Cong Wang, Amr Rizk, Michael Zink (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA).
MMSYS35 MMSYS36 MMSYS34
We would like to congratulate all award winners of ACM MMSys 2016.
Finally, we would like to thank our gold sponsors Adobe and YouTube for their excellent support. In this context, it is worth mentioning the social events including coffee breaks, lunches, get together on the first evening, welcome BBQ on the second evening, and gala dinner on the third evening. These side events are as much as important as the technical papers, demos, and datasets and allow for networking, discussions, and possible future collaborations of conference attendees.
Finally, we’re happy to announce next year’s ACM MMSys (and NOSSDAV, MoVid, and MMVE) in Taiwan with Sheng-Wei (Kuan-Ta) Chen from Academia Sinica.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MPEG Survey on Virtual Reality

As mentioned in my previous blog post, virtual reality is becoming a hot topic across the industry (and also academia) which also reaches standards developing organizations like MPEG. MPEG established an Ad-hoc Group on MPEG-VR (open to everyone) which published a survey on virtual reality. The survey is open until August 18, 2016 and available here...



Within Bitmovin we're working on this topic in a Web context and a demo is available here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MPEG news: a report from the 115th meeting, Geneva, Switzerland


The original blog post can be found at the Bitmovin Techblog and has been updated here to focus on and highlight research aspects. Additionally, this version of the blog post will be also posted at ACM SIGMM Records.
MPEG News Archive
The 115th MPEG meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland and its press release highlights the following aspects:
  • MPEG issues Genomic Information Compression and Storage joint Call for Proposals in conjunction with ISO/TC 276/WG 5
  • Plug-in free decoding of 3D objects within Web browsers
  • MPEG-H 3D Audio AMD 3 reaches FDAM status
  • Common Media Application Format for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming Applications
  • 4th edition of AVC/HEVC file format
In this blog post, however, I will cover topics specifically relevant for adaptive media streaming, namely:
  • Recent developments in MPEG-DASH
  • Common media application format (CMAF)
  • MPEG-VR (virtual reality)
  • The MPEG roadmap/vision for the future.

MPEG-DASH Server and Network assisted DASH (SAND): ISO/IEC 23009-5

Part 5 of MPEG-DASH, referred to as SAND – server and network-assisted DASH – has reached FDIS. This work item started sometime ago at a public MPEG workshop during the 105th MPEG meeting in Vienna. The goal of this part of MPEG-DASH is to enhance the delivery of DASH content by introducing messages between DASH clients and network elements or between various network elements for the purpose of improving the efficiency of streaming sessions by providing information about real-time operational characteristics of networks, servers, proxies, caches, CDNs as well as DASH client’s performance and status. In particular, it defines the following:
  1. The SAND architecture which identifies the SAND network elements and the nature of SAND messages exchanged among them.
  2. The semantics of SAND messages exchanged between the network elements present in the SAND architecture.
  3. An encoding scheme for the SAND messages.
  4. The minimum to implement a SAND message delivery protocol.
The way that this information is to be utilized is deliberately not defined within the standard and left open for (industry) competition (or other standards developing organizations). In any case, there’s plenty of room for research activities around the topic of SAND, specifically:
  • A main issue is the evaluation of MPEG-DASH SAND in terms of qualitative and quantitative improvements with respect to QoS/QoE. Some papers are available already and have been published within ACM MMSys 2016.
  • Another topic of interest includes an analysis regarding scalability and possible overhead; in other words, I'm wondering whether it's worth using SAND to improve DASH.

MPEG-DASH with Server Push and WebSockets: ISO/IEC 23009-6

Part 6 of MPEG-DASH reached DIS stage and deals with server push and Web sockets, i.e., it specifies the carriage of MPEG-DASH media presentations over full duplex HTTP-compatible protocols, particularly HTTP/2 and WebSocket. The specification comes with a set of generic definitions for which bindings are defined allowing its usage in various formats. Currently, the specification supports HTTP/2 and WebSocket.

For the former it is required to define the push policy as an HTTP header extension whereas the latter requires the definition of a DASH subprotocol. Luckily, these are the preferred extension mechanisms for both HTTP/2 and WebSocket and, thus, interoperability is provided. The question of whether or not the industry will adopt these extensions cannot be answered right now but I would recommend keeping an eye on this and there are certainly multiple research topics worth exploring in the future.

An interesting aspect for the research community would be to quantify the utility of using push methods within dynamic adaptive environments in terms of QoE and start-up delay. Some papers provide preliminary answers but a comprehensive evaluation is missing.

To conclude the recent MPEG-DASH developments, the DASH-IF recently established the Excellence in DASH Award at ACM MMSys’16 and the winners are presented here (including some of the recent developments described in this blog post).

Common Media Application Format (CMAF): ISO/IEC 23000-19

The goal of CMAF is to enable application consortia to reference a single MPEG specification (i.e., a “common media format”) that would allow a single media encoding to use across many applications and devices. Therefore, CMAF defines the encoding and packaging of segmented media objects for delivery and decoding on end user devices in adaptive multimedia presentations. This sounds very familiar and reminds us a bit on what the DASH-IF is doing with their interoperability points. One of the goals of CMAF is to integrate HLS in MPEG-DASH which is backed up with this WWDC video where Apple announces the support of fragmented MP4 in HLS. The streaming of this announcement is only available in Safari and through the WWDC app but Bitmovin has shown that it also works on Mac iOS 10 and above, and for PC users all recent browser versions including Edge, FireFox, Chrome, and (of course) Safari.

MPEG Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is becoming a hot topic across the industry (and also academia) which also reaches standards developing organizations like MPEG. Therefore, MPEG established an ad-hoc group (with an email reflector) to develop a roadmap required for MPEG-VR. Others have also started working on this like DVB, DASH-IF, and QUALINET (and maybe many others: W3C, 3GPP). In any case, it shows that there’s a massive interest in this topic and Bitmovin has shown already what can be done in this area within today’s Web environments. Obviously, adaptive streaming is an important aspect for VR applications including a many research questions to be addressed in the (near) future. A first step towards a concrete solution is the Omnidirectional Media Application Format (OMAF) which is currently at working draft stage (details to be provided in a future blog post).

The research aspects covers a wide range activity including - but not limited to - content capturing, content representation, streaming/network optimization, consumption, and QoE.

MPEG roadmap/vision

At it’s 115th meeting, MPEG published a document that lays out its medium-term strategic standardization roadmap. The goal of this document is collecting feedback from anyone in professional and B2B industries dealing with media, specifically but not limited to broadcasting, content and service provision, media equipment manufacturing, and telecommunication industry. The roadmap is depicted below and further described in the document available here. Please note that “360 AV” in the figure below also refers to VR but unfortunately it’s not (yet) reflected in the figure. However, it points out the aspects to be addressed by MPEG in the future which would be relevant for both industry and academia.


The next MPEG meeting will be held in Chengdu, October 17-21, 2016.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Real-Time Entertainment now accounts for >70% of the Internet Traffic

Sandvine's Global Internet Phenomena Report (December 2015 edition) reveals that real-time entertainment (i.e., streaming video and audio) traffic now accounts for more than 70% of North American downstream traffic in the peak evening hours on fixed access networks (see Figure 1). Interestingly, five years ago it accounted only for less than 35%.

Netflix is mainly responsible for this with a share of >37% (i.e., more than the total five years ago) but already had a big share in 2011 (~32%) and didn't "improve" that much. Second biggest share is coming from YouTube with roughly 18%.

I'm using these figures within my slides to motivate that streaming video and audio is a huge market - opening a lot of opportunities for research and innovation - and it's interesting to see how the Internet is being used. In most of these cases, the Internet is used as is, without any bandwidth guarantees and clients adapt themselves to what's available in terms of bandwidth. Service providers offer the content in multiple versions (e.g., different bitrates, resolution, etc.) and each version is segmented to which clients can adapt both at the beginning and also during the session. This principle is known as over-the-top adaptive video streaming and a standardized representation format is available known as Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) under ISO/IEC 23009. Note that the adaptation logic is not part of the standard and open a punch of possibilities in terms of research and engineering.

Both Netflix and YouTube adopted the DASH format which is now natively supported by modern Web browsers thanks to the HTML5 Media Source Extensions (MSE) and even digital rights management is possible due to Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). All one needs is a client implementation that is compliant to the standard - the easy part; the standard is freely available - and adapts to the dynamically changing usage context while maximizing the Quality of Experience (QoE) - the difficult part. That's why we at bitmovin thought to setup a grand challenge at IEEE ICME 2016 in Seattle, USA with the aim to solicit contributions addressing end-to-end delivery aspects which improve the QoE while optimally utilising the available network infrastructures and its associated costs. This includes the content preparation for DASH, the content delivery within existing networks, and the client implementations. Please feel free to contribute to this exciting problem and if you have further questions or comments, please contact us here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Final Call for Papers: ACM MMSys 2016 Full Papers


The autumn shows itself from its best side here in Klagenfurt and this is the final call for papers for ACM MMSys 2016 full papers with YouTube as gold sponsor and featuring the Excellence in DASH Award sponsored by the DASH-IF.

ACM MMSys 2016
May 10-13, 2016
Klagenfurt am Wörthersee, Austria

The ACM Multimedia Systems Conference (MMSys) provides a forum for researchers to present and share their latest research findings in multimedia systems. While research about specific aspects of multimedia systems are regularly published in the various proceedings and transactions of the networking, operating system, realtime system, and database communities, MMSys aims to cut across these domains in the context of multimedia data types. This provides a unique opportunity to view the intersections and the inter-play of the various approaches and solutions developed across these domains to deal with multimedia data types.

MMSys is a venue for researchers who explore:
  • Complete multimedia systems that provide a new kind of multimedia experience or systems whose overall performance improves the state-of-the-art through new research results in one of more components, or
  • Enhancements to one or more system components that provide a documented improvement over the state-of-the-art for handling continuous media or time-dependent services.
Such individual system components include:
  • Operating systems
  • Distributed architectures and protocol enhancements
  • Domain languages, development tools and abstraction layers
  • Using new architectures or computing resources for multimedia
  • New or improved I/O architectures or I/O devices, innovative uses and algorithms for their operation
  • Representation of continuous or time-dependent media
  • Metrics, measures and measurement tools to assess performance
This touches aspects of many hot topics including but not limited to: adaptive streaming, games, virtual environments, augmented reality, 3D video, Ultra-HD, HDR, immersive systems, plenoptics, 360° video, multimedia IoT, multi- and many-core, GPGPUs, mobile streaming, P2P, clouds, cyber-physical systems.

Submission Guidelines
Papers should be between 6 and 12 pages long (in PDF format) prepared in the ACM style and written in English. The submission site is open and papers can be submitted using the following URL: http://mmsys2016.itec.aau.at/online-paper-submission/

Important dates:
  • Submission Deadline: November 27, 2015 December 11, 2015
  • Reviews available to Authors: January 15, 2016
  • Rebuttal Deadline: January 22, 2016
  • Acceptance Notification: January 29, 2016
  • Camera-ready Deadline: March 11, 2016
DASH Industry Forum Excellence in DASH Award
This award offers a financial prize for those papers which best meet the following requirements:
  1. Paper must substantially address MPEG-DASH as the presentation format
  2. Paper must be selected for presentation at ACM MMSys 2016
  3. Preference given to practical enhancements and developments which can sustain future commercial usefulness of DASH
  4. DASH format used should conform to the DASH IF Interoperability Points as defined by http://dashif.org/guidelines/
Further details about the Excellence in DASH Award can be found here.



Friday, September 4, 2015

HEVC, AOMedia, MPEG, and DASH

Ultra-high definition (UHD) displays are available for quite some time and in terms of video coding the MPEG-HEVC/H.265 standard was designed to support these high resolutions in an efficient way. And it does, with a performance gain of more than twice as much as its predecessor MPEG-AVC/H.264. But it all comes with costs - not only in terms of coding complexity at both encoder and decoder - especially when it comes to licensing. The MPEG-AVC/H.264 licenses are managed by MPEG LA but for HEVC/H.265 there are two patent pools available which makes its industry adoption more difficult than it was for AVC.

HEVC was published by ISO in early 2015 and in the meantime MPEG started discussing about future video coding using its usual approach of open workshops inviting experts from companies inside and outside of MPEG. However, now there’s the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) promising to provide "open, royalty-free and interoperable solutions for the next generation of video delivery” (press release). A good overview and summary is available here which even mentions that a third HEVC patent pool is shaping up (OMG!).

Anyway, even if AOMedia’s "media codecs, media formats, and related technologies” are free like in “free beer” it’s still not clear whether it will taste anything good. Also, many big players are not part of this alliance and could (easily) come up with some patent claims at a later stage jeopardising the whole process (cf. what happened with VP9). In any case, AOMedia is certainly disruptive and together with other disruptive media technologies (e.g., PERSEUS although I have some doubts here) might change the media coding landscape, not clear whether it will be a turn to the better though...

Finally, I was wondering how does this all impact DASH, specifically as MPEG LA recently announced that they want to establish a patent pool for DASH although major players have stated some time ago not to charge anything for DASH (wrt licensing). In terms of media codecs please note that DASH is codec agnostic and it can work with any codec, also those not specified within MPEG and we’ve shown it works some time ago already (using WebM). The main problem is, however, which codecs are supported on which end user devices and how to access them with which API (like HMTL5 & MSE). For example, some Android devices support HEVC but not through HMTL5 & MSE which makes it more difficult to integrate with DASH.

Using MPEG-DASH with HMTL5 & MSE is currently the preferred way how to deploy DASH, even the DASH-IF’s reference player (dash.js) is assuming HTML5 & MSE and companies like bitmovin are offering bitdash following the same principles. Integrating new codecs on the DASH encoding side like on bitmovin’s bitcodin cloud-based transcoding-as-a-service isn’t a big deal and can be done very quickly as soon as software implementations are available. Thus, the problem is more on the plethora of heterogeneous end user devices like smart phones, tablets, laptops, computers, set-top-boxes, TV sets, media gateways, gaming consoles, etc. and their variety of platforms and operating systems.

Therefore, I’m wondering whether AOMedia (or whatever will come in the future) is a real effort changing the media landscape to the better or just another competing standard to choose from … but on the other side, as Andrew S. Tanenbaum has written already in his book on computer networks, “the nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from.”