{short description of image}Graphics, animation, games & multimedia (incl. digital TV)


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CONTENTS:
Graphics, animation and multimedia resources | Multimedia explained! | Multimedia Authoring Guidelines | Broadband content design | Streaming media resources | New Media Knowledge | International Webcasting Association | Be Operating System (BeOS) | Journals, embedded multimedia | Multi-vendor media asset management | Microsoft and new media | Video games | Consoles, device of choice? | Games on the move | Microsoft Xbox | Sony Playstation2 news Sega Dreamcast news | Nintendo game platform news | 3D games - how its done | Games news online | Europe | DVD standardisation | DVD product compatibility | Writable DVD formats | Digital video recorders (DVRs) | Digital light processing technology | 3D photography | 3D solid modelling on the desktop | Multimedia broadcasting | Web-based broadcasting | "Cinema on demand" in Germany | Advanced Interactive Content Initiative | MPEG and broadcasting | Pro-MPEG Forum | Digital broadcasting | Training | Audio | Internet radio | News clips for web casters | Music scores and the web | Foundations of music research | MPEG Layer-3 (MP3) | Online music for professional users | Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) | Audio Resources | Synthesis of the singing voice


Graphics, animation and multimedia resources

Multimedia explained!

Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality is "a unique hybrid publishing project that joins ArtMuseum.net with our partner in print, W.W. Norton & Co., to present the untold history of multimedia". We have noted from reading the site, however, that the current content is heavily biased towards a US version of events.

The project will unfold over the next nine months: beginning with the current Overture and multimedia Pioneers timeline; followed in the autumn by a rare collection of seminal essays with vintage documentation by pioneering artists and scientists; and concluding in the spring of 2001 with the print edition.

The on-line project, developed in close collaboration with Intel's ArtMuseum.net, plans to provide "a valuable resource for students, teachers, artists, and critics probing the interactive media arts, as well as those attempting to make sense of this burgeoning medium that is transforming our art and our culture". 14/07/00

URL: http://www.artmuseum.net/w2vr/contents.html

Multimedia Authoring Guidelines

The Multimedia Authoring Guidelines from The University of Queensland have been developed as a resource for staff of the University who are considering using, or developing, multimedia for use in their teaching. 20/06/00

URL: http://www.tedi.uq.edu.au/mas/

Broadband content design

TV meets the Web ran a broadband content design seminar which is now on the web as a streaming video event. The key note speech by Simon Birell of Silicon Artists is a "must watch" experience if you want to know about what works in broadband. From experience with a VR roadshow touring small towns in Spain in the mid-1990s, to why 3D shopping malls don't work, to collaborative environments for children in hospital, the presentation covers the results of continuous experience with what works and what doesn't in broadband content design. Simon is one of the people who has moved from videogame design to broadband and transferred ideas from one area to the other. 05/01/01

URL: http://www.tvmeetstheweb.com/broadbandseminar/webcast.php

Streaming media resources

Australia: Streaming is not broadcasting

The Australian Federal Government, in the context of changes to their broadcasting legislation, have declared that audio and video streaming will not be considered as a form of broadcasting. 15/08/00

URL: http://www.internetnews.com/intl-news/article/0,2171,6_420041,00.html

Streaming Media Alliance

Initial details of an organisation calling itself the Streaming Media Alliance have been published on the web. It is unclear from the documents published on the site who is behind the formation of the alliance, although details of its objectives are outlined in a section entitled: "Task Forces and Objectives".

Issues that are highlighted, which the alliance plans to address, include: Internet media rights, bandwidth access, Internet and civilization, streaming technology wireless and appliances, global commerce, education, capital growth, advertising and sponsorships, establishment of a Streaming Media Foundation. 23/06/00

URL: http://www.geocities.com/streamalliance/

Net broadcasting - Euro consortium

Eurocontent.com is styled as a pan-European streaming union, consisting of five founding members: CanalWeb (France), Kamera Interactive (Sweden), Men@Work (Belgium), Nomad Online Agents (Switzerland) and A: work in Progress (Netherlands).

Members of the consortium, the first of its kind in Europe, plan to "promote and exchange content and know-how". The consortium's goal is "to improve the development and distribution of streamed audio and video content throughout Europe". 31/05/00

Further details are available from the group's web site.

URL: Eurocontent.com http://www.eurocontent.com/
URL: CanalWeb http://www.canalweb.net/
URL: Kamera Interactive http://www.kamera.com/
URL: Men@Work http://www.menatwork.be/
URL: Nomad Online Agents http://www.nomad.ch/
URL: A: Work in Progress http://www.workinprogress.nl/

MetaStream reviewed

The Webreference Update newsletter of January 18, 2000 includes: a feature which takes a closer look at MetaCreation's new MetaStream 3D technology; and a collection of resource links and web news on XML.

URL: Webreference Update http://www.webreference.com/
URL: MetaStream http://webreference.com/3d/lesson84/
URL: XML Resources http://webreference.com/authoring/languages/xml/

Java Media Framework 2.0 released

Sun Microsystems is making available the Java Media Framework 2.0 API specification and reference implementation. Developed by Sun and IBM, Java Media Framework 2.0 (JMF) technology is a unified architecture for the playback, synchronisation, capture, and transmission and transcode of media - including streaming audio and video - across most major operating systems.

URL: http://java.sun.com/products/java-media/

Windows Media developer resources

Microsoft has released a new unified Windows Media SDK, which it claims is "the most comprehensive set of tools for developing [Windows Media] digital media applications". The software is aimed at independent software vendors (ISVs), hardware manufacturers and web professionals wishing to integrate Windows Media based audio, video and digital rights management technology into applications.

The SDK is available from The Developer Center Web site, which also features a new eight-hour Windows Media Technical Training Seminar, available online using Windows Media or via order on CD-ROM in December.

The SDK includes the following:

Further details of all these items are available from the Developer Centre site.

URL: Developer Center http://msdn.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/

Web Review reviews iMovie

Web Review has put together a comprehensive review of "iMovie", in which it announces very positively that it believes that this could be the application that will allow developers to "put quality multimedia on the web". The review also includes step by step tutorials on how to use the software.

URL: http://webreview.com/pub/1999/11/05/feature/index.html

Guide to media streaming

Optibase is making its "Media Streaming Handbook" available free of charge for a "limited period" - order it from the web site or via the email below. The 63-page, pocket-sized, book is a concise primer on streaming media content and details the various kinds of video and audio formats, networking protocols, and technologies used in media streaming applications.

URL: http://www.optibase.com/telecom/
URL: mailto:info@optibase.com

Web Review is publishing a special section devoted to streaming media technologies. Among a number of tutorials, product reviews and articles, there is an SMIL primer which demonstrates how to create the master SMIL document that integrates the RealAudio, RealVideo, RealText and RealPix components of a slide-show presentation. There is also a list of links on SMIL and how to apply it under the heading: "SMIL Resources". There are plans to develop the section in the future, including product reviews and case studies. For additional information on SMIL see the web and web-like technologies pages on El.pub.

URL: http://webreview.com/wr/pub/streaming?wwwrrr_streaming
URL: SMIL Resources http://webreview.com/wr/pub/98/01/09/feature/resources.html?wwwrrr_streaming

The Web Review also considers the effectiveness of the authoring tools for developers, and player utility for users, of Windows Media Technologies, RealNetworks and QuickTime. Also provided is a "performance comparison" table, showing how various players handled streamed content from four different test sites on the web.

URL: http://webreview.com/pub/?wwwrrr_19990910.txt

QuickTime and web multimedia

Web Review considers in detail QuickTime's ability to provide real time streaming, and provides tips to developers on how to use QuickTime to develop multimedia for the web.

URL: http://webreview.com/wr/pub/1999/07/23/feature/index.html?wwwrrr_19990723.txt

Apple's QuickTime TV network (QTV) is based on the company's QuickTime technology. "Intercasters", providing the audio and video content, on the QTV network include ABC News, Disney, ESPN, TheKnitting Factory, RollingStone.com, VH1 and Virgin Radio. They join BBC World, Bloomberg, FOX News Online, FOX Sports Online, HBO, NPR, WGBH Boston and The Weather Channel. To use the network users must install the QuickTime 4 Player which is available as a free download.

URL: QuickTime 4 Player download http://www.apple.com/quicktime
URL: QuickTime TV http://www.apple.com/quicktime/showcase/live/

Advice on streaming media

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for August 8, 1999 concentrates on streaming media and suggests ways to offer previews of multimedia content that are both user friendly and "band-width efficient".

URL: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990808.html

Web Review news

An email alerter service is available from the online journal Web Review, updating subscribers on recent features and news published on the site. Recent features include articles entitled:

There is also a technology report from the RealNetworks' 1999 Developer conference. Subscribe to the alerter service at the web address below.

URL: Web Review subscribe http://webreview.com/wr/pub/universal/newuser/register1.html
URL: Dynamic HTML article http://webreview.com/wr/pub/98/07/24/feature/index.html?wwwrrr_19990528.txt
URL: RealAudio article http://webreview.com/wr/pub/1999/05/28/stream/index.html?wwwrrr_19990528.txt
URL: Streaming Media article http://webreview.com/wr/pub/1999/05/14/index.html?wwwrrr_19990604.txt

Streaming Media World

Streaming Media World is an internet.com web site designed for webmasters and multimedia designers which includes news and resources concerned with streaming media on the web. The site features the technologies, standards and products for creating serving and playing audio and video on the web. The site also features a section on synchronising web multimedia using both standards-based approaches, such as SMIL/SYMM (SYMM is the acronym created by the W3C for SYnchronized MultiMedia), and proprietary products.

New Media Knowledge

New Media Knowledge is a publicly-funded business resource for individuals and companies working in the UK's new digital media arena. The project offers support and training to freelancers and small businesses at the heart of the new creative industries. It does this by running a full programme of courses, publications, industry events, seminars and networking events.

The web site is an online resource for anyone working in the new media industry, providing links, reports and other information. The site also features a freelance noticeboard, allowing new media freelancers to advertise their skills to potential employers.

New Media Knowledge has two advisory groups. The Industry Advisory Group consists of major players from the new media industries in the television, telecoms, consultancy and IT sectors. The West London Steering Group consists of new media production companies and meets on a monthly basis to advise on the programme and to develop new products and services. The project is also part of a European network of new media industry initiatives. Partners include: VIZO Centrum (Belgium), GRETA du Velay (France), IFOA (Italy) and Noribic (Northern Ireland).

URL: http://www.nmk.co.uk/

International Webcasting Association

In response to the growing acceptance of video and audio services over the Net, leading streaming media companies have formed the International Webcasting Association. Companies making up the Founding Board include Microsoft and RealNetworks. The long term goal of the IWA is to ensure universal, world-wide access of permanent audio and video connection via the Internet or other digital networks. It aims to recruit members from:

URL: IWA http://www.webcasters.org

Be Operating System (BeOS)

Journals, embedded multimedia - help required

Gerry McKiernan, Theoretical Librarian at Iowa State University, has sent a note requesting information concerning "other" electronic journals that have integrated or incorporated a multimedia component within their issues for listing in M-Bed.

M-Bed, a Registry of Embedded Multimedia Electronic Journals, lists about three dozen embedded multimedia e-Journals. Common types of multimedia include audio and video files as well as two-dimensional and 3-D models, and supplemental datasets.

Also available is a bibliography of key works on web multimedia that includes web sites, books and articles, other relevant publications for inclusion in the bibliography are also being requested.

URL: M-Bed http://www.public.iastate.edu/~CYBERSTACKS/M-Bed.htm
URL: Gerry McKiernan mailto:gerrymck@iastate.edu

Other resources

IPIX - immersive imaging technology

Interactive Pictures Corporation (IPIX), developer of immersive imaging for the Internet, and the University of California Digital Media Innovation (DiMI) Program are working with researchers at the UC Berkeley Multimedia Research Center (BMRC) to advance the development of IPIX images as a digital media format.

Interactive Pictures' technology delivers an immersive photograph (called an IPIX) that allows viewers to "step inside" an image, looking in any direction from left to right and floor to ceiling, as if they are actually inside the picture.

UC-BMRC and IPIX researchers will work together to add features and functionality to IPIX still images and to continue the development of V360, the IPIX video technology which allows viewers the IPIX freedom of navigation within a moving picture.

BBC Online to use IPIX

The UK's public service broadcaster, the BBC has selected IPIX technology for BBC Online, reportedly one of the world's largest entertainment and information web sites. IPIX images will be used to "allow visitors to take virtual tours of musical performances, festivals, studios and studio sets".

"We are always concerned to make visits to our sites as pleasurable as possible and these images certainly offer something extra," said Bradley de Souza, Head of Technology at BBC Online. BBC Online uses the IPIX technology to provide a virtual tour of a classical music concert and a virtual tour of a Radio Studio.

URL: IPIX http://www.ipix.com/
URL: BBC Online http://www.bbc.co.uk/


Multi-vendor media asset management

The Media Asset Management Association (MAMA) is an industry consortium promoting interoperable multimedia asset management solutions. Media Asset Management includes the tools and technologies that enable organisations across a range of industries to manage video, audio, image, and text-based assets.  Media Asset Management also includes the rights and usage management of these media.  MAM enables organisations to search, find, reuse and manage their media effectively.

URL: MAMA http://www.mamgroup.org


Microsoft and new media

TV Technologies in Windows

Microsoft intends to make available a set of software components that enable "any PC-type device to deliver Enhanced TV". The software, Microsoft TV Technologies, is scheduled to be available in select future versions of the Windows operating system.

The company is keen to stress that this announcement does not affect Microsoft's commitment to deliver Enhanced TV through the set-top box, the vehicle through which the company believes most consumers will access Enhanced TV services, such as personalisation, PVR support, electronic programming guide and interactive programming.

With digital television now being transmitted over multiple network types, including satellite, cable and terrestrial, by a variety of providers and in formats defined by multiple standards, including ATSC, DVB-S, DVB-C and DVB-T, the company believe that "Microsoft TV Technologies will shield developers from the complexities in supporting all these network types and broadcast standards... allowing content to be integrated into applications easily". 26/09/00

URL: http://www.microsoft.com/tv/

M/S Content Developer Program

In a related announcement, Microsoft has extended its TV Content Developer Program worldwide, following its introduction over the last three months in the United States. The programme is designed to help developers and content producers develop enhanced TV programming based on the Microsoft technologies. Current resources include a Content Developer Kit (CDK), development instructions including online and offline training, resources and education. 26/09/00

URL: http://www.microsoft.com/tv/

DirectX 7.0 released

Microsoft has shipped the final release of DirectX 7.0 application programming interface (API). According to the company this newest update to the multimedia API, delivers enhanced three-dimensional graphics and sound effects and a significant performance boost.

A set of advanced multimedia system services built into the Microsoft Windows operating system, DirectX provides software developers (particularly games developers) with a common set of instructions and components for quick, transparent access to a broad range of hardware peripherals without the requirement to write hardware-specific code. DirectX was first introduced in 1995, and this is the sixth major release of the software.

The DirectX 7.0 SDK may be ordered from the DirectX developer downloads web page. Users can upgrade to DirectX 7.0 by using the Windows Update feature in Windows 98. The latest version of DirectX is also available for download from the DirectX user home page.

URL: DirectX 7.0 SDK http://www.microsoft.com/directx/developer/downloads/default.asp
URL: DirectX 7.0 users http://microsoft.com/directx/homeuser/downloads/default.asp

Other DirectX resources


Video games

Internet access from consoles

US company Proteus has launched a new division focused on developing web applications for next-generation, internet-enabled home game consoles. The news highlights the increasing move towards developing web sites and content aimed at delivery to an increasing number of end-user devices, such as games consoles and also wireless phones and PDAs.

The first project for the Proteus gaming division will be a site for the GameShark.com division of InterAct Accessories, a gaming accessory manufacturer. Proteus plans to optimise the Gameshark web site "for use with the Sega Dreamcast game console and the soon-to-be-launched Sony PlayStation 2". 19/05/00

URL: http://gaming.proteus.com/
URL: Proteus http://proteus.com/

Web future for games consoles

SRI Consulting, Business Intelligence Center, Media Futures Group predict that: "more than 50 million households worldwide will use advanced game consoles to access the web by year-end 2005" in a new research report, "Video-Game Consoles: Web Interface of the Future". 24/03/00

URL: Creative technology news page base02ct.htm

Consoles, device of choice?

The video game industry is poised to enter a period of significant expansion as console manufactures prepare to release new video game systems. According to a new report from the Yankee Group's Media & Entertainment practice entitled: "Let the Games Begin: The Changing Video Game Market", the number of homes in the US with a video game console will grow from 35.9 million in 1998 to 43.5 million by the end of 2003.

Next-generation consoles will account for 85 percent of this installed base, as existing console household's upgrade, and non-console households are enticed by new product features. By adding new networked functions like web browsing, e-mail, chat, e-commerce, and multi-player gaming, next-generation consoles are quickly evolving from dedicated game platforms into home entertainment systems.

At the same time, most new systems also offer the ability to play audio CDs and DVD movies all in the same box. As Sega, Sony, Nintendo, and others release these next-generation consoles they will challenge other interactive platforms such as PCs and digital cable and satellite set-top boxes for a key position in the evolving market of networked digital entertainment. The report is available for purchase from the Yankee Group.

URL: http://www.yankeegroup.com/

Games on the move

In Fusio, a games and animation developer for the mobile phone, and Webraska, a provider of real-time mapping and guidance services for WAP mobile phones, are joining forces to create location-based games for mobile phones.

The move is an attempt to mimic the popularity of pocket games consoles (such as Nintendo's Gameboy) through using the mobile phone platform. The companies are hoping that In Fusio's expertise in developing, customising and animating games for mobile phone added to Webraska's know-how in real-time mapping displayed directly on a GSM telephone screen, space search, and guidance services are set "to break new ground in mobile phone interactive entertainment".

URL: In Fusio http://www.in-fusio.com/
URL: Webraska http://www.webraska.com/

LEGO robots

LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotics Invention Kits are tipped to turn out to be the hottest "geek gadget" gift for Christmas in the US, see the Forbes Magazine article. In anticipation of this, O'Reilly have released a new book entitled, "The Unofficial Guide to LEGO MINDSTORMS Robots".

In publicity announcing the launch of the book, the author Jonathan Knudsen claims that: "LEGO robots go way beyond being cool toys. Combine a bunch of LEGO bricks, a standard robot brain, a talented and highly motivated online community, and your own imagination, and you've got an advanced tool for learning and teaching about robot design and programming".

Based on hands-on robot projects, the book includes descriptions of advanced mechanical techniques, programming with third-party software, building your own sensors, working with more than one kit, and sources of extra parts. The book includes numerous illustrations and code examples. Many URLs are listed to serve as an introduction to the thriving online MINDSTORMS community.

URL: book http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/lmstorms/

Microsoft X-Box

Microsoft are entering the video game console market with a product code-named X-Box. The console will be developed under the new Microsoft Games division and is expected to be "high spec" and, perhaps unusually for a console, to feature an 8GB hard disk. 17/03/00

URL: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2000/03-10xbox.asp

XBox launch announced

Microsoft has announced key elements of its Xbox manufacturing and logistics plans which include working with Flextronics International Ltd. to establish Xbox manufacturing facilities in several regions of the world. If everything goes to plan XBox, Microsoft's games console, will be launched in North America and Japan in Autumn 2001 and in Europe in the first quarter of 2002.

The company has apparently signed more than 200 of the world's top game developers and publishers to create Xbox games. For example, it announced last week that Electronic Arts will provide up to 10 titles during the Xbox launch period. 16/01/01

URL: Xbox http://www.xbox.com/

Information on Xbox

GameSpy Industries has developed a new website called "PlanetXbox.com", designed to supply information for those interested in learning more about Microsoft's video-game console release, Xbox. The site joins "sister" sites: PlanetDreamcast.com (with information on Sega's "Dreamcast" console), and PlanetPS2.com (with information on Sony's "PlayStation 2" console).

The sites are specifically aimed at providing information to users of the systems. X-box is scheduled to be released in the autumn of 2001. 27/06/00

URL: GameSpy Industries http://www.gamespyindustries.com/
URL: PlanetXbox.com http://www.PlanetXbox.com/

Xbox SDK ships

Microsoft has shipped its first Xbox software developer kits (XDKs) to game designers worldwide, enabling them to create games for the future-generation Xbox video game system that is scheduled to ship in the autumn of 2001.

The company estimates that by the end of this summer, more than 1,000 XDKs will be deployed to more than 100 companies developing Microsoft-approved Xbox games. Like Xbox, the XDK is based on an Intel and NVIDIA chip design and Microsoft'sDirectX 8 API development tools. 10/08/00

URL: SDK announcement http://www.microsoft.com/PressPass/press/2000/jul00/XboxWorldwidePR.asp
URL: X-Box announcement http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2000/03-10xbox.asp

Microsoft recruits games developers

Microsoft has announced that it has signed some leading games development companies to create exclusive content for the Xbox video game console under the Microsoft label.  Microsoft unveiled a list of 18 development studios, including United Kingdom-based Lionhead Satellites, and several US and European development studios.

The recent acquisition of Bungie Software Corp. has also increased Microsoft's internal games group to more than 700 designers, programmers, testers and producers. 12/09/00

Sony Playstation2 news

PlayStation 2 US launch, October

Sony claims that the PlayStation 2 console will bring together games, music and movies, and will "redefine the entertainment lifestyle, eventually serving as a network platform in the broadband era".

Scheduled to launch in North America on October 26, 2000, the new console will support both the audio CD and DVD-Video formats, and will support the existing PlayStation software catalogue of more than 800 titles. The suggested US retail price is $299. The console will incorporate a bay for a 3.5" hard disc drive, together with single USB and i.LINK (IEEE1394) ports. 23/05/00

URL: http://www.playstation.com/

Sega Dreamcast news

Broadband Dreamcast

Sega has announced that it is planning to start a high-speed Internet connection service through broadband system using Sega's Dreamcast on July 15, 2000, in cooperation with about 40 leading CATV companies in Japan.

The company is developing content for broadband services such as online games, movies, cartoons, karaoke, and music, in collaboration with various CATV companies. 13/06/00

Dreamcast photography

Further evidence of the move by games consoles developers to provide a wider range of digital applications is evidenced by the demonstration of a Dreamcast digital camera solution, by Sega and PictureIQ, at the recent E3 show. Announced in Japan in February, the new Dreamcast digital camera will ship with PictureIQ's Dream PhotoFun, photo manipulation and management software.

After taking pictures with the digital camera, consumers plug it into one of the game controller ports on the Dreamcast game console and use the software to view, enhance, and be creative with their still pictures directly on the TV using only the standard Dreamcast game controller. Sega expects that the digital camera and software will be available in Japan in the second quarter of this year. 23/05/00

URL: PictureIQ http://www.pictureiq.com/

Product placement in games

The placement of products, where a manufacturer sponsors (pays) for the use of particular branded products in scenes, in broadcast TV programmes and films is well established. It was bought to our attention this week that a similar concept is being used within the games industry with the announcement of a joint marketing agreement between Sega Europe and Salomon, the international ski and snowboard manufacturer.

The announcement coincides with the European release of Snow Surfers, a snow-boarding game from Sega. Salomon are the only "in-game partner", and Snow Surfers will feature merchandise from the current winter collection of both Salomon and its snowboard clothing division, Bonfire. Gamers choose from a selection of three Bonfire outfits and from the complete brand new range of Salomon snowboards available for this season. The pistes, on which the virtual snowboarders race against the clock, also feature Salomon-branded banners and advertisements.

Sega Europe will also be working closely work with Salomon at snowboarding competitions and industry events to market the game and the Dreamcast platform on which it runs.

URL: adidas-Salomon http://www.salomonsports.com/

Dreamcast - building a web community

In Sega Europe's Sonic Adventure competition contestants from across Europe download a specially designed version of the Sonic Adventure Emerald Coast course from a web site which is only accessible with their Sonic Adventure game CD. Users play the game against the clock, their time is then uploaded to the web site, with the fastest time winning the competition.

The competition is an interesting development in that it combines sponsorship from Reebok (through product placement in the competition game), with a hybrid web / offline game playing scenario. This hybrid approach is seen by Sega as a first step in creating Dreamcast's on-line community. The prizes too reflect the game's sponsors and include a personalised Dreamcast pod and 1,000 UK pounds worth of Reebok sportswear.

Sega have also announced that sales of the Dreamcast console have passed the one million unit mark in North America.

Dreamcast retail record

Sega Europe announced that Dreamcast, the world's first console with a built-in modem allowing users to surf the web or send emails from their television, has set a UK retail record with pre-orders of more than 40,000 units. Available from 14 October 1999 in the UK at under 200 UK pounds, the 128-bit, Internet-ready Sega Dreamcast is the most powerful video game console ever created. Consoles from rivals Nintendo and Sony are currently in development and are expected on the market during 2000.

The sales of the Dreamcast games console throughout Europe topped 185,000 which equates to a retail value (including related software and peripherals) of over 52 million UK pounds, in 4 days. Dreamcast provides gamers with free pan-European Internet access through the consumers' television sets. BT claim that some 25,000 people registered for Internet use, via Dreamcast, in the first hours of the launch weekend.

A press release from Sega Europe, claims that 200,000 users, of an estimated 700,000 Dreamcast purchasers, have signed-up for online access via the system's free ISP. 18/02/00

CE Toolkit 2.0 for Dreamcast

The latest version of the Windows CE toolkit for Sega Dreamcast includes modules for interactive music and Internet technology which will, according to Microsoft, "aid developers in building audio special effects, and online multiplayer capabilities" into games.

Nintendo game platform news

The future Game Boy

Nintendo has made the initial announcement of the successor to its Game Boy, hand held game platform. Called, Game Boy Advance, it will use a 32-bit RISC CPU developed by Cambridge, UK based ARM corporation, a developer of CPUs for cellular phones. Game Boy Advance will apparently be enabled to connect to a cellular phone to access the Internet, thus allowing users to download game software, participate in multi-player games, chat and exchange E-mail. The company believe that the addition of communication features to the Game Boy will result in new kinds of network entertainment. In effect, Game Boy Advance will become a personal communications terminal in addition to a gaming system.

Developments of the Game Boy are expected to mirror those of the next generation of Nintendo's game console, code named "Dolphin", enabling the two devices to connect and interoperate. Nintendo are hoping that Game Boy Advance will be released during August 2000 in Japan and by the end of 2000 in North America.

Nintendo's "Dolphin"

Applied Microsystems and Nintendo of America are working together on the development of software and hardware tools for the developers of games for Nintendo's next-generation game system, code named "Dolphin". It is understood that Applied will be drawing on its expertise in the embedded market, such as development of set top boxes, games, and Internet devices - "enabling game developers to utilise development technologies that are entirely new to them".

Nintendo's next generation Dolphin home video game console will feature the IBM "Gekko" 400 MHz central processor, a custom designed 200 MHz graphics chip from ArtX and a proprietary DVD drive from Matsushita. The new system should be available worldwide for Christmas 2000.

URL: Applied http://www.amc.com

Mobile games projections

After PCs, consoles, the Internet and interactive TV, mobile phones are the next platform to emerge for playing games. Mobile phone penetration has reached high levels among consumers, growing even more rapidly than the Internet in some countries.

According to "Wireless Gaming", a new report just published by Datamonitor, by 2005, 200 million people in western Europe and the US will be playing Internet games via mobile phones - representing 4 out of 5 mobile users.

Key findings to emerge from the report reveal:

As new handsets allow for easy browsing, consumers will increasingly leave mobile operator portals to play on independent gaming sites. 20/09/00

URL: press release http://www.datamonitor.com/press/prtemplate.asp?id=tc000905+Wireless+Gaming
URL: Datamonitor http://www.datamonitor.com/

Online gaming sites

i2e2 is a web site being designed for online games players. The site is planning to host "live events"- that will target all levels of organised gameplay, from recreational beginners to professional "hardcore" gamers. The developers are also planning to establish online gaming as a recognised sport through the introduction of player ranking systems, similar to those seen in other world sports such as tennis.

According to the announcement, online gaming is one of the fastest growing segments of the US$ 6.5 billion a year games and interactive entertainment industry. Currently, a US$ 200 million a year business, it is expected to increase ten-fold and reach US$ 2 billion by 2003.

URL: http://www.i2e2.com/

Online games store - secure

Kaleidoscope Networks, the owners of online games magazines: Games Domain, Console Domain and Kids Domain - is launching what it calls a "totally secure online gaming store". Called Clubdisc, the digital distribution project uses encryption technology developed by Panlok and Kodak, and is due to go live in November.

Customers register as Clubdisc members and receive a unique keydisc which allows them to buy games from Clubdisc, which are downloaded directly to their hard drive. Games can then be copied from PC to PC, but can only be played when the keydisc is in the drive. 15/09/00

URL: Panlok http://www.panlok.com/

Online gamers go private

Lack of available wide area bandwidth is often cited as a key factor holding back the development of the on-line gaming environment. A move in the US, which allies the GameSpy Industries' ISP Alliance and Speakeasy Networks' national high-speed DSL network, creating a private broadband network for online gamers, may signal a change to this perception. 16/05/00

URL: Speakeasy http://www.speakeasy.net
URL: GameSpy Industries http://www.GameSpy.com/

Video games - UK buyers' opinions

Online computer games site, Games Domain, has joined forces with MCV (a UK computer games trade magazine) - to launch a survey of public opinion on computer games. The survey invites visitors to the Games Domain web site to reveal which computer games they are most likely to buy that month, as well as asking for their opinion on a series of topics, such as: "Is the Nintendo 64 a dead format?".

The week's results are analysed by MCV experts and published as a regular weekly chart called "Consumer Watch".

Games news online

GameDaily.com is a web site which claims to provide, "the latest breaking news in the games industry".

URL: http://www.GameDaily.com/

Games content syndicated

Games Domain, a UK online games magazine, has won a deal to become the exclusive games content provider to the Excite UK search site. The information will be published on a new games section of the Excite UK site. Games Domain are hoping that through its presence on a search site the content will draw users back to its own site.

URL: Games Domain http://www.gamesdomain.com/

3D games - how its done

The Numerical Design web site contains a number of white papers on technology used in their NetImmerse game engine and related products. The latest describes Continuous Level of Detail, a technique for reducing detail in objects viewed from longer distances. Earlier papers include an analysis of the business case for buying versus building a games engine. The NetImmerse engine will be on view in the Prince of Persia 3D game due to ship in late 1999.

URL: http://www.ndl.com/

Motorola Streamaster

Motorola plans to develop a family of "Intelligent Broadband Access" and "Intelligent Internet Access" products. Branding the overall architecture, Streamaster, the previously announced Blackbird Home Media Platform, will be the first Streamaster-compliant product. The company claim that set-top boxes based on the Motorola architecture will support interactive 3D graphics, Java, MPEG digital video, high-fidelity audio, Internet access, electronic commerce and broadband networking in a single integrated unit.

Europe

The Open Microprocessor Systems Initiative (OMI) of the European Commission's DGIII held a meeting with leading video games developers in Europe to address some of the more significant imbalances in the video games market in Europe. A 70 page report was published outlining the more significant concerns relating to the threats faced by European games publishers from publishers in the US and Asia. In addition an agreement has been made for the establishment of a pan-European Video Games Special Interest Group (SIG) through DG III.

To download the full report (Word 6, PC-zipped) go the downloadable studies page on this site.

Further information concerning the SIG are available from Jean-Yves Roger

URL: mail to: Jean-Yves.ROGER@DG3.cec.be


DVD standardisation

DVD product compatibility

The DVD Forum have announced a plan to prevent possible conflicts among DVD formats and thus assure and enhance the future compatibility of DVD products. The plan, called DVD Multi, is not a format, but rather will set hardware specifications to enable disc compatibility for virtually all formats officially created by the DVD Forum, both for consumer electronics and personal computers.

A logo identifying DVD Multi products will also be prepared. "The DVD Multi specifications, will be finalised this fall [Autumn], and the first DVD Multi products should be ready for sale early next year," said Acting-Chairman Koji Hase of DVD Forum, an industry association whose members include all major DVD manufacturers as well as major DVD software developers around the world. 08/08/00

URL: http://www.dvdforum.org/

Writable DVD formats

In response to the ongoing debate over disparate writable DVD standards, the US Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) has formed a subcommittee to develop and deploy a new specification that will enable conforming CD and DVD optical drives to read all types of CD media (CD-Audio, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW), DVD-ROM and DVD-R media, and media from the first two announced rewritable DVD formats (DVD-RAM and DVD+RW).

This initiative builds upon OSTA’s efforts in developing the MultiRead specification, which was created to ensure compatibility among all classes of CD discs and CD/DVD devices. To date, 29 participating optical technology companies have signed up to participate in the new subcommittee, which includes "most" of the major proponents of DVD-RAM and DVD+RW technologies.

URL: http://www.osta.org


Digital video recorders (DVRs)

A new product category called digital video recorders (DVR) is poised to explode into retail by the autumn of 1999, potentially revolutionising the way consumers watch television, according to a new research report from International Data Corporation (IDC).  Companies such as RePlay Networks, TiVo, Microsoft, and others are providing the technology to enable consumers to take greater control over television.  DVRs not only enable consumers to record desired programmes much more easily and with better quality than traditional VCRs, but also enable users to actually pause live broadcast video and proactively record programmes based on viewer interests.

"DVR devices are on a constant, individualised programming hunt - finding and recording your favourite types of shows 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and across numerous channels", said Kevin Hause, program manager for IDC's Consumer Devices research program, publishers of the report.

URL: http://www.idc.com

Digital video recorder storage

MbTV Networks, a developer of "personalised television products", has announced that it plans to use SeaStream technology developed by Seagate Technology in its new MbTV software suite.  MbTV software is being created for use in digital video recorders (DVR), enabling "these products to learn viewers' television viewing tastes, create viewer profiles, and deliver television content tailored to the preferences of the viewer". SeaStream technology will be integrated into MbTV in order to control the disc drive recording device, optimising the delivery of video streams and managing acoustic and power levels.

URL: http://www.seagate.com

First German DVR

C-Cube Microsystems technology is being used in Germany's first Digital Video Recorder (DVR), TV-Server from FAST. Along with TV-Server, FAST is offering an Internet service that allows consumers to select shows that they would like to view at a later time. The shows are broadcast directly to the consumer's TV-Server DVR and can then be viewed on-demand on the consumer's television.

Using C-Cube's DVxplore MPEG-2 CODEC with MPEG-2 compression algorithms, TV-Server can to store up to 30 hours of video in MPEG-2. TV-Server also allows users to perform TV timeshifting (pause, fast-forward, rewind and instant replay of live or recorded broadcasts).

URL: C-Cube http://www.c-cube.com/

Set-top boxes on the rise

According to research carried out by US-based, Allied Business Intelligence, the global installed base of digital set-top boxes will reach 252 million units by year-end 2004. Two key factors driving the demand will be the use of digital set-top boxes by both DBS and cable subscribers. Growth in terrestrial digital TV decoder boxes are likely to be significantly slower than for those for DBS and cable, according to the findings in: "Digital Set-Top Boxes: World Markets, Architectures and Vendors". Details of the study can be found on the ABI web site.

Personal TV in the US

The Philips Personal TV Receiver with TiVo's Personal Television Service is being sold throughout the US at major national consumer electronics retailers. The Philips Personal TV Receiver is a "digital video recording set-top device that allows TV viewers to control live television and personalise their viewing options in a simple way by using the TiVo Personal Television Service". Further information is available on the web.

URL: TiVo http://www.tivo.com/


Digital light processing technology

Mitsubishi Digital Electronics have made an agreement with Texas Instruments to produce projection televisions using TI's Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology. This fully digital display technology will replace cathode ray tubes (CRTs) in a number of future Mitsubishi projection televisions, the first of which could be on sale by late 2000.

TI supplies DLP subsystems to over 25 of the world's leading projector manufacturers, who in turn supply over 50 DLP-based products. The technology has received very favourable reviews and exhibits signs of great potential in the developing "home theatre" market.

At the heart of TI's Digital Light Processing technology is the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD), an optical semiconductor chip that has an array of microscopic mirrors mounted on a standard logic device.  These tiny mirrors operate as optical switches to create a high resolution, full colour image. Further information on TI's DLP technology is available on the web.

URL: DLP http://www.ti.com/dlp
URL: Mitsubishi http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com


3D camera

Minolta and MetaCreations have joined forces to create a camera that captures images as 3D objects. The Minolta 3D 1500, is an integrated 3D image capture/viewing system that incorporates all key software and hardware components. With the Minolta 3D 1500, anyone can view 3D images without special software or equipment. Its standard output file format - the MetaStream format developed by MetaCreations and Intel - allows users to view images with web browsers equipped with 3D plug-in software.


3D solid modelling on the desktop

3D Systems and SensAble Technologies will work together to promote "3D desktop publishing" worldwide. The companies are collaborating to demonstrate the benefits of new modeling software and solid imaging technologies. Using SensAble Technologies' FreeForm modeling software and PHANTOM Desktop, with an IBM IntelliStation, an artist "sculpts" an object, such as a toy, within his computer. When finished, the object is downloaded to 3D Systems' ThermoJet Solid Object Printer, which faithfully replicates the object in solid, usable form. The whole process takes place in an office setting. 3D Systems publicity refers to '3D faxes'. This is one of the first real signs of the transfer of stereo-lithography technology from the factory / design centre to the desktop / office.

URL: http://www.3dsystems.com/


Multimedia broadcasting

Asia broadcasting news

e-broadcastnewsasia is a regular e-mail newsletter sent worldwide to senior engineers, management executives, manufacturers and others related to radio plus TV terrestrial broadcasting, and the satellite, cableTV, Internet and Broadband sectors who are interested in business developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

The publisher is Gerald Brown, an established Media Consultant in Hong Kong in association with the audited Broadcast&Broadband Asia Pacific print publication (previously Broadcast Asia Journal) which is read in 40 countries and territories of Asia-Pacific. 26/09/00

URL: http://www.topica.com/lists/e-broadcastnewsasia/

Multimedia, streamed media

News from RadioWave.com, takes the concept of embedding additional content (eg. banner ads) into streamed media a step further. The company "creates customised interactive audio players that coordinate graphics, interactive advertising and e-commerce with streamed audio", and has announced that it has secured $20.5 million in its first round of private financing to develop these services..

The company has also announced a non-exclusive agreement with EMII to produce branded, Internet-only, radio channels. The channels provide a 24x7 stream of music, artist biographies and discographies and allow consumers to link to a retailer to purchase music and related merchandise. Blue Note Radio, was created by RadioWave.com and Blue Note Records and launched two weeks ago. Additional branded channels are currently under development. 17/03/00

URL: http://www.bluenote.com/
URL: http://www.radiowave.com/

Web-based broadcasting

One of the areas on the web receiving increasing attention is multimedia broadcasting. Many traditional broadcasters believe that the web or some extension of it will play an important part in the future of broadcasting. Experiments are starting and almost every week some new content appears. At present a browser plugin or "helper" is required to view broadcast material, RealPlayer from Real Audio and VDOLive are two of the most popular.

An example of news broadcasting that shows both the possibility of current news feeds and ways in which text and archive news clips can be combined to provide an in-depth report is the new UK-based ITN news site. Another is the German MediaWeb TV site, which currently includes a number of recorded lectures (1-2 hours each) from last summer's Documenta X event in Kassel. Even at 28kbps a good idea as to the potential for broadcasters is evident.

URL: Real Audio http://www.realaudio.com/
URL: VDOLive http://www.vdo.net/
URL: ITN news site http://www.itn.co.uk/
URL: MediaWeb TVhttp://www.mediaweb-tv.com/

Seeing the Big Picture with Interactive TV

IBM article which explains how "interactive television (iTV) is about to change the broadcast model of TV into a personal, on-demand interaction that will open new frontiers for entertainment, commerce, and consumers". 09/01/01

URL: http://www.ibm.com/services/feature/interactive_tv.html

Interactive TV growth in Europe

Research from Strategy Analytics forecasts that the audience for Interactive TV is set to grow by 180% in 2000. By the end of this year the analysts expect nearly 17 million homes worldwide to have access to online shopping, banking, email and other services via their TV sets.

These conclusions are presented in a study entitled "Interactive Digital Television: Worldwide Market Forecasts". Among the report's findings are that Europe is leading the way in rolling out interactive TV services, and accounts for 81% of the world market. But operators in the US and elsewhere are expected to introduce interactive services over the next year or so.

By 2005, Strategy Analytics projects that 179 million homes worldwide will access online services via their TV sets. The study also identifies the world's leading digital TV markets. The UK is now the world's most advanced market, with an expected 29% of homes having switched to digital by the end of 2000, followed by the US (24%), France (15%) and Spain (15%). 27/06/00

URL: http://www.strategyanalytics.com/

Interactive TV revolution figures

Massive improvements to the infrastructure for TV-centric information appliances over the past few years and lower costs per home for interactive service deployment will foster an interactive TV revolution. This is the conclusion of researchers at IDC, who forecast that use of NetTV in the US is likely to increase tenfold, from about 1 million in 1999 to more than 10 million by 2004. This pattern is likely to be replicated globally with worldwide activations are expected to increase from 6.1 million in 1999 to 19.5 million in 2004 meaning more than 81 million NetTVs will be installed in 2004.

The figures are drawn from IDC's report: "NetTV Market Forecast and Analysis, 1999-2004" which provides analysis of the NetTV market, including an analysis of the current delivery models. 17/10/00

URL: http://www.idc.com/Hardware/press/PR/DMT/DMT100300pr.stm

TV meets the web - news

"TV Meets the Web" is a new free email newsletter published by Van Dusseldorp & Partners. The editorial mission states that the newsletter aims to "help clients in Europe position themselves for media convergence". The unit responsible for publishing the newsletter monitors broadcasters' use of the Internet, the use of video online, the integration of PC functionalities within the TV set, and additional developments related to broadband communications infrastructures and content.

The news letter includes details of events, news, and links (with comment) to news stories and articles published on the web. A selection of items covered in the first issue includes: "MSN to sponsor Eurovision"; "Announcement of the creation of the European Digital Media Network (EDMN)"; "All Change in the UK: Interactive TV is moving forward fast"; "Wembley unveils TV and Internet venture"; "OpenTV First to deliver Digital Interactive Cable TV in Germany". 09/05/00

URL: http://www.tvmeetstheweb.com/
URL: subscribe mailto:deborah@vandusseldorp.com
URL: Van Dusseldorp & Partners http://www.vandusseldorp.com/

TV meets the web conference proceedings

The Second Annual TV Meets the Web Seminar which was held May 18-19, 2000 in Amsterdam, and organised by Van Dusseldorp & Partners, brought together representatives of Internet, broadcasting and broadband communications companies actively positioning themselves for media convergence. Complete coverage of the Seminar, including video streams of each session, text summaries, photos, videotaped interviews, and speaker bios, can be accessed online. 02/06/00

URL: http://www.tvmeetstheweb.com/may2000/

Internet video on demand

Television quality, pay-per-view movies from the Internet will soon be a reality, according to MeTV.com. encoding.com, a full-service provider for encoding movies and music for the Internet, has signed an agreement with Internet video-on-demand start-up MeTV.com to encode and host 750 full-length feature films.

encoding.com has completed digitising 20 movies that may now be viewed on the MeTV.com web site, and the remaining films will be added continuously in preparation for MeTV.com's official consumer launch in spring 2000.

The partnership believe that they have a business model that will, "usher in a new era in home entertainment". MeTV.com plans to stream the movies at full-screen resolution to broadband Internet users at two speeds, 375K and, for the first time at 700K, which according to the company, "matches broadcast television quality".

The companies' moves are based on the expectation that the broadband user base will expand, an assumption concerning which, a number of industry experts have raised significant commercial and technological doubts.

URL: encoding.com http://www.encoding.com/

Internet, telephone and TV integration

US West is one of the first telephone companies in the US to announce plans for expanding Internet access to non-PC platforms. The company plans to provide customers with a TV set-top box equipped with a speakerphone and software to receive and make telephone calls and access Internet-based features on TV screens. In addition to access over conventional connections, US West will also offer high-speed networking based on XDSL, VDSL and ADSL technologies.

URL: http://www.uswest.com

For further information on web multimedia products see the Web and virtual reality products page on this site.

"Cinema on demand" in Germany

A joint "Cinema on Demand" project will be launched by QSC AG, a supplier of DSL-based broadband infrastructure in Germany, and media[netCom] AG from Marburg. The company claims that following extensive product testing, private households subscribing to an SDSL line from QSC will be able to access the central film server at media[netCom]. TV viewers can then download even full-length films of their choice at transmission speeds of up to 2 Mbps. QSC is also planning to offer further digital services in the future. 03/11/00

URL: http://www.qsc.de/

Advanced Interactive Content Initiative

Key actors from the broadcast HTML, VRML and MPEG-4 communities are co-operating to set a new standard for interactive 2D, 3D and streaming content for digital television. The timetable they are setting is short, with a second draft available, the architecture specification is set to be finalised in December 1998 and working implementations in March 1999. The AICI home page provides pointers to the draft requirements documents.

MPEG and broadcasting

The ATLANTIC project addresses the requirement for containing the costs and maintaining the Technical Quality of future TV production through the ability to handle and process the video and audio signals as much as possible in compressed form. This project, within the ACTS programme, aims to develop the technology which will enable the signal to be kept in compressed MPEG2 format throughout the complete broadcast chain. The main objectives of ATLANTIC are:

The technical tasks involved in this project are development and implementation of :

There are a number of additional position and technical papers published at the Atlantic site.

URL: ATLANTIC http://www.bbc.co.uk/atlantic/
URL: ACTS http://www.at.infowin.org/ACTS/

Pro-MPEG Forum

The main focus of the Pro-MPEG Forum is to promote interoperability of professional broadcast systems based on MPEG-2 compression technology. The Forum is an association of broadcasters and programme makers, equipment manufacturers and component suppliers. Specifically, its objectives are to:

The Forum will also be considering how to integrate compressed video from legacy and alternative formats such as Motion JPEG, Digital Betacam and DV based systems.

URL: http://www.pro-mpeg.org


Digital broadcasting

Digital AM radio

The recent adoption by the International Telecommunication Union, of a worldwide standard on digital sound broadcasting promises to open up a new era of quality sound broadcasting for long, medium and shortwave transmissions. Digital AM radio offers many substantial advantages to broadcasters seeking to recapture market shares.

For consumers, the decision means additional sources of programmes at FM like quality with low-cost, simple to use receivers. Digital AM radio is expected to reach mass market by 2003. 28/11/00

URL: http://www.itu.int/

Broadcast content markup patent

Gotuit Media has announced that it has been issued with a media mark-up patent for a system using marking signals and associated metadata to alter and personalise recorded and time-shifted TV and radio broadcasts. These technologies underlie the Company's proprietary audio and video mark-up software.

According to the company, "Gotuit's patented technologies allow radio, TV and Internet broadcasts to be combined with metadata. With these 'marking' techniques, television viewers and radio listeners can navigate through recorded program material in much the same way as browsers surf the Web".

Patent No. 5,986,692 complements Gotuit Media's suite of patents spanning technologies in the digital media realm, such as pausing and buffering live broadcasts, downloading personalised audio streams to hand-held players, and bookmarking and navigating stored media content.

URL: http://www.gotuit.com/

UN TV Forum

The UN TV Forum is an attempt to challenge the television industry to develop initiatives that use television to help more of the world's population engage in, and benefit from, the digital revolution. The Forum site includes webcast highlights of the TV Forum 1999 along with further details of aims and charter. 28/11/00

URL: http://www.un.org/tvforum/main.html

Future of digital TV production

The final report from a task force considering: "Harmonised Standards for the Exchange of Television Programme Material as Bit Streams" focusses on the future of digital TV production. It is published jointly by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE), and is available as downloadable pdf files. The preamble to the report, which is reproduced as an edited version below, highlights the issues involved in the move towards digital TV.

"The motion imaging industry is poised at the verge of a technological change that will be as profound as the one the print industry underwent in the past 30 years. In some parts of our industry, such as electronic graphics, computerisation came early and the changeover is well under way. In others, such as live studio production, there has been hardly any impact. With the adoption of digital film intermediate techniques by studios worldwide, film production and post-production, both for features and for television, will be affected as well.

"With the introduction of digital broadcasting, TV systems worldwide will have to be rebuilt over the next three to ten years. As this happens, there will be an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of the benefits offered by the ability to exchange program material and related data as bitstreams. The benefits of such full exchange is undisputed; even so, it is unclear whether their magnitude is fully appreciated throughout our industry. Until now, digital TV systems have largely been designed and constructed in the same manner as traditional analog systems, with the simple replacement of analog program paths with digital ones. Where implemented, full exchange of metadata and control along with the program material has been restricted to islands within the plant. Usually, this is because the systems involved have been closed due to differences in implementation among different manufacturers. The few facilities that have been built to take full advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies have generally been designed, built, and provisioned by a single large manufacturer, so compatibility has not been an issue."

"The work of the EBU/SMPTE Task Force for "Harmonization of Standards for the Exchange of Program Material as Bitstreams" has been focused on isolating and identifying the roadblocks to interoperability so they can be removed through development and implementation of standards. Most of this work will be undertaken by SMPTE."

"The shift of technologies will create a tremendous need for training. The existing skill sets of most technicians in the industry are ill matched to the needs of the plants of the future. The pace of the changeover makes the need for training even more urgent. It is likely that in ten years' time, the conversion will be complete, and the industry will have undergone a change greater than that experienced with the introduction of videotape."

URL: report download http://www.ebu.ch/pmc_es_tf.html
URL: European Broadcasting Union http://www.ebu.ch/index.html
URL: Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers http://www.smpte.org/
URL: EBU Production Technology Management Committee http://www.ebu.ch/pmc_home.html

ITC - Digital TV resources

The Independent TV Commission's (ITC) web site provides a wide variety of baseline resources concerned with Digital TV. The resources range from an Introduction to Digital TV and the technology that underpins it, through to links concerned with Digital TV research. 10/11/00

URL: http://www.itc.org.uk/

EU digital TV report

A report entitled, "Development of Digital Television in the European Union", prepared by IDATE for the Commission has been published on the web. The report is downloadable in PDF format. 04/08/00

Intel and digital programming

Intel Corporation has announced new technology for "creating enhanced digital television (DTV) programming, which can be received and displayed by specially-equipped PCs and other devices". The company will give royalty-free licenses to television broadcasters wanting the innovation.

The license is for a reference design specification called "Data Enhancement Framework" (DEF) and is targeted to be available to the television industry in the second half of this year. DEF supports such broadcast formats as ATVEF (Advanced Television Enhancement Forum) in addition to the common web authoring language HTML.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which is collaborating with Intel on a number of enhanced DTV programming projects, is the first licensee. The technology is targeted to be made available at Intel's Center for Datacasting Innovation (CDI) in Santa Clara, USA, where television broadcasters, content creators, tools vendors, and computing manufacturers can test their solutions for release in 2000 and beyond.

The DEF technology helps make it possible for producers of digital television programming to use HTML to combine content-rich material (text and graphics) with the video portion of a digital television signal. For example, program guides, sports statistics, biographical or other descriptive information could be inserted into a digital television program for a viewer to access while watching. 21/04/00

URL: http://www.intel.com/

Worldwide TV standards

Worldwide TV standards - a web guide is the title of web pages which introduce the technology behind current TV broadcasting systems. Topic covered (which include links to related resources) include:

Broadcasters on the Internet

A list of national and international TV and radio broadcasters, together with other relevant links, categories include: list of broadcasters; satellite information (information concerning commercial satellite services); newsgroups; museums; other sources.

URL: http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/archive/publishers/broadcast.html

New Interactive TV Forum launched

The Interactive Forum is an initiative by Cylo and Phosphorus to set standards for interactive television. The first meeting and the official launch will be in early September. Its intention is to bring together all sides of the new industry and find the best ways to help it develop standards and procedures, building an understanding between the different areas within this rapidly changing environment. A key aim will be to align the realities of the technologies with the needs of advertisers, agencies, production companies, broadcasters and platform providers to ensure that interactive television delivers on its enormous promise as quickly as possible. It will look at standards, procedures and new developments, as well as facilitating the development of understanding of the industry and its potential. 18/08/00

URL: http://www.interactive-forum.org/
URL: http://www.cylo.co.uk/
URL: http://www.phosphorustv.com/

The Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) project

The Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) project is the European initiated project to start digital TV / digital broadcasting in 1993 has over 200 members worldwide, and considers a family of standards.

URL: http://www.dvb.org

DVB MHP decision unanimous

The DVB Steering Board for the advancement of the DVB-MHP specification has approved the principles for the incorporation of existing software technologies into the specification. The agreement of the DVB-MHP (Multimedia Home Platform) specification is seen as the precursor to the development of compatible software and hardware from a wide variety of vendors.

URL: http://www.dvb.org/dvb_latestnews.htm

DVB-MHP moves ahead

The European Standards body ETSI approved the DVB - Multimedia Home Platform (DVB-MHP) specification in July, 2000 opening the way to deployment under European legislation. Content will now be available from different providers through a single device using the MHP common API that makes it completely independent of the hardware platform it is running on. This creates a truly horizontal market for content, services and applications from which the consumer can choose.

DVB-MHP was launched at IBC 2000 in Amsterdam (8-12 September, 2000). Technical demonstrations highlighting well known and newly created MHP applications including Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs), outboard information services, interactive advertising, interactive programmes (games shows and light entertainment), an interactive lottery numbers selector, as well as news and stock tickers. 12/09/00

URL: download the MHP spec. http://www.etsi.org/
URL: http://www.dvb.org/

ATVEF compliance demo

BroadLogic and Intel are running interactive TV demonstrations, enabling consumers to watch digital TV programmes on PCs and simultaneously access interactive content on their PC screens simply by clicking on graphic and text overlays.

The demonstrations employ BroadLogic's TerraCast digital TV receiver for PC to deliver data, video and audio content written under the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) specification. The ATVEF specification includes the use of MPEG-2 video compression and streaming, and Dolby AC-3 audio compression.

According to Broadlogic, "more than 120 (US) stations have adopted the standard, giving 60 percent of the nation access to digital television services".

URL: BroadLogic http://www.broadlogic.com/

German interactive TV trials

Bertelsmann Broadband Group, the subsidiary for interactive broadband services of media giant Bertelsmann AG, is trialling interactive TV in Germany. Using a media servers and settop boxes developed by nCUBE, the service will be offered through regional cable networks utilising ADSL.

Services planned will allow subscribers to select movies, music videos, interactive advertising, games, documentaries and travel programming. It will also be linked to Internet content provided by AOL Europe, jointly operated by Bertelsmann and American Online. The services are expected to be supported through "basic fees, service-based fees, advertising".

URL: Bertelsmann http://www.bertelsmann.com/
URL: http://www.ncube.com/

Hong Kong's Interactive TV trial

Liberate Technologies and Star TV (a subsidiary of The News Corporation), have signed an agreement to use Liberate TV Navigator in technical trials for interactive TV in Hong Kong. The technical trials will be conducted between November 1999 and February 2000.

Star TV has made an application for a pay television license for the operation of a new service called DTV, based on the technology and offering: "multi-channel television, digital radio, e-mail, web browsing and e-commerce, through a single remote control and infrared keyboard".

URL: http://www.liberate.com/

Interactive TV arrives in the UK

Pace Micro Technology, one of Europe's leading manufacturers of digital set-top boxes has announced that Interactive TV services on its DOCSIS-compliant set-top boxes are available for Cable & Wireless Communications' customers in Northwest England.  According to the announcement, customers of the C&W service will be offered: "high-speed Internet services such as concert ticket purchase, retail shopping, financial services and e-mail through their television sets, from October 1999".

The Di4100 settop box includes a Cisco Systems DOCSIS-compliant cable modem, Hitachi's super SH3 chip, Broadcom's integrated, front-end transmission chip and will run US-based Liberate Technologies' software, which enables web browsing and e-mail using a remote control.

URL: http://www.pace.co.uk/

Public Service TV in Europe

The European Institute for the Media has published a report (in paper) which highlights the increasing problems that will have to be addressed by public broadcasters in Europe. The study contributes to this ongoing debate by:

URL: mailto:english@eim.de

Films on the web

Always Independent Films (AIF), a web site for exhibiting and distributing independent films have announced that users can now watch full-length independent films on the Internet via broadcast.com, a leading aggregator and broadcaster of streaming media programming on the web. Gary Zeidenstein, president of AIF says of the move, "Always Independent Films.com provides today's independent filmmakers the ability to showcase their work regardless of an agent, relative in the film business or acceptance into film festivals". The AIF Archives provides filmmakers with a platform to exhibit completed films, trailers/previews, production and biography information, production photo stills and behind-the-scenes video to web viewers.

A UK site called My Movies is also offering movie trailers, press packs and information on new film releases. Developed by a company called Artistic Licence the site is independent but the film trailers are supplied directly from the film industry.

URL: http://www.alwaysindependentfilms.com
URL: http://www.broadcast.com
URL: My Movies http://www.mymovies.net
URL: Artistic License http://www.artisticlicence.net

A few further sources on the web for those interested in the development of film on the web and the film industry:

Guide to web-based films

The indieFILMguide, features articles about the online independent film industry and interviews with those who are developing this area of web entertainment. Additionally, the guide will direct users to web sites such as AtomFilms and iFilm where they can view short films over the web. 25/02/00

URL: indieFILMguide http://www.live-at.com/feature/indie/index.html
URL: iFilm http://www.ifilm.net/

Screen International online

Screen International, a weekly, trade paper for the international film business, has launched a daily, on-line news service.  Screendaily.com features global news, film reviews and box office comment from every major territory as a free of charge service, delivered via email or over the web. The intention of the daily is to go someway to redressing the balance of news away from that dominated by North America.

Screendaily.com joins two other focussed Internet sites from UK publisher Emap: totaltele.com, aimed at the global telecommunications industry and produxion.com, a web portal for the UK television production sector expected to launch on January 27, 2000.

URL: http://www.screendaily.com/

DV digital video resource site

Next Wave Films runs a film resource site for low-budget film makers. The site has extensive information on DV-format digital video for professional film makers, reports and articles on low-budget film making and links to other resource sites. The site includes views on the impact of the Internet and digital video on independent film production.

URL: http://www.nextwavefilms.com/
URL: http://www.nextwavefilms.com/ulbp/dvresources.html

Virtual TV programme marketplace

TV Files is a worldwide interactive service for the buying and selling of TV programming which combines Internet and satellite technologies to market programming online. Owned and operated by Interface-Telemarket in association with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), according to the company more than 50 networks, (including BBC, Canal Plus, Channel 4, France 2, France 3, TF1, RAI, ZDF) in over 30 countries, have signed-up to use the service.

Programmes are selected from a database via the Internet, the selected files are then broadcast by satellite back to the requester. TV Files has also introduced Carousel, a weekly round-up of current promo-clips submitted by producers and distributors around the world, which it broadcasts to it's users.

URL: http://www.tvfiles.com/home.html


Training

The EAVE Europe AV-MM programme

Since 1988 - under the MEDIA programme's umbrella - EAVE has created and organised "professional training programmes for European producers/entrepreneurs in film, television, creative documentary and interactive multimedia production". These programmes have led to the establishment of a "network of about 500 independent producers" throughout Europe. EAVE's methodology is based on "the development of real-life projects".

URL:http://www.eave.org/


Audio

Web music survey released

Some 13 million Americans have downloaded free music files from the Internet that they do not own in other forms such as CDs or cassette tapes, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Only 2% of online Americans, fewer than 2 million people, say they have paid for the music they have downloaded.

The findings are based on a phone survey of 1,345 Internet users during April 2000. Further, the Pew Internet Project's analysis of activity on Napster suggests there could be as many as 1 billion music files available for free on Napster users' computers.

A copy of the full report (in pdf) is available for download from the Pew Internet Project's web site.

The Pew Internet Project is an independent research center that explores the social impact of the Internet-that is, its effect on families, communities, education, health care, politics and civic life and the work place. 23/06/00

URL: report http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=16
URL: Pew Internet & American Life Project http://www.pewinternet.org/

emplive.com relaunched

emplive.com, is the web extension to Experience Music Project (EMP), Seattle's soon-to-open interactive music museum. "The energy and ideas behind EMP are not confined within the museum walls," said Diane Andolsek, director of online development for EMP. "Our new site strives to offer users interactive web technologies that complement and expand on the physical exhibits, bringing the ultimate music experience to enthusiasts anywhere in the world." 20/06/00

URL: http://www.emplive.com/

Online recording studios

Rocket Network is offering a network of Internet Recording Studios. Emagic has combined elements of its Logic Audio series with Rocket technology to produce Logic Rocket - "software which enables musicians to collaborate and produce original work online". Logic Rocket is available free at the URL below. According to a company press release, HarmonyCentral users can play in free public studios with unique themes. They can also purchase their own private studio space to control and record their session. 18/04/00

URL: http://www.harmony-central.com/Rocket/

Internet radio

News.com features a number of articles focused on Internet music. A number of issues are aired, with the cover page stating: "With all the activity in the online music space of late, only one thing is certain: all the parties involved show no signs of agreeing on an array of major issues".

URL: http://www.news.com/SpecialFeatures/0%2c5%2c37067%2c00.html?dd.ne.txt.05 26.10

One of the news items covers negotiations concerning fees for online music transmission between Internet radio firms and record companies.

URL: http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,37047,00.html

The Digital Media Association (DiMA) web site features a number of position papers and resources concerning commercial web casting.

URL: http://www.digmedia.org/

News clips for web casters

Kamera Interactive has signed an extended contract with Associated Press for pan-European distribution of APTN (Associated Press Television News) video clips on the Internet. Under the contract, Kamera Interactive will market and distribute the APTN video material to Internet sites across Europe. Kamera Interactive operate KameraOne - Europe's first online store for streaming media content. On KameraOne you find video clips available for immediate release on your website, as well as others that can be prepared for your website on a moments notice. 22/08/00

URL: http://www.kamera.com/
URL: http://www.kameraone.com/

Music scores and the web

Sibelius is an advanced music score authoring package which apparently offers the option to save music scores as web pages. Scores published on the web, can be viewed without the need for the authoring software through a free viewer plugin which is available from the Sibelius site.

URL: http://www.sibelius.com/

Foundations of music research

The Belgian Fund for Scientific Research is supporting a "society" which is discussing the foundations of a computational approach to music research based on sound signals, Gestalt-theory, using an interdisciplinary approach.

URL: http://next.rug.ac.be/nfwo/nfwo.html

MPEG Layer-3 (MP3)

Guide to MP3 published

O'Reilly's, "MP3: The Definitive Guide", aims to cover all aspects of this de facto Internet audio standard. It delves into detail on obtaining, recording, and optimising MP3 files using both commercial and Open Source methods, covering four platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux and BeOS.

In addition, it informs readers of the complex legal issues surrounding the use and distribution of MP3 files. Further information about the book, including a table of contents, index, author biography, along with an article by the author are available from the O'Reilly web site. 10/03/00

URL: book http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/mp3/index.html
URL: article http://web.oreilly.com/news/mp3_industry_0200.html

MP3 audio links

The Website: MP3.com provides all you need to know about MP3, the compressed digital audio format based on MPEG, including software for creation and playing of MP3 files and the music itself. The section of the site entitled: "MP3 for Beginners" provides a comprehensive introduction and step-by-step guide to MP3 encoding and playback technologies, along with download links to suitable software.

URL: MP3.com http://www.mp3.com/
URL: "MP3 for Beginners"http://www.mp3.com/dummies.html

Webtools: MP3 tool kit

On-line resource, Webtools, has compiled overview articles, how-to's, and news all focusing on MP3. The resources are aimed at helping developers of audio, based on the MP3 format.

URL: MP3 tool kit http://www.webtools.com/mp3.html?ls=TWH_990223_TOOLSmp3
URL: Webtools http://www.webtools.com

MP3 promotion association

Five of the pioneers in the rapidly expanding market for downloadable music: GoodNoise, MP3.com, MusicMatch, Xing Technology, and Diamond Multimedia Systems, have formed the MP3 Association. This industry trade group has three primary goals:

URL: GoodNoise http://www.goodnoise.com
URL: MP3.com http://www.mp3.com
URL: MusicMatch http://www.musicmatch.com
URL: Xing Technology Corporation http://www.xingtech.com
URL: Diamond Multimedia http://www.diamondmm.com

MP3 most popular music on the web

BMI, the US performing rights organisation that represents the copyright interests of more than 200,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers has announced the results of its most recent BMIMusicBot survey of music on the web. Through an analysis of nearly 1,000,000 web pages, the BMIMusicBot determined that the use of the MP3 file format on the web has grown from 4% of total files found in an October 1997 study to 36% of files analysed last month.

With a 36% share of all files in the survey, MP3 becomes the most popular file format on the web in the April study. Use of .wav files, once the premier download file format, fell from 31% of total files surveyed to 8%. The BMIMusicBot searched nearly 1,000,000 web pages and more than 70,000 multimedia files found on the web in March and April 1999. The study included more than 75,000 entertainment-oriented .com sites, primarily located in the US.

Other survey results showed that the RealMedia/RealAudio's formats remained the dominant streaming software choice. Other streaming file formats being actively adopted in the marketplace, according to the survey, include Active Streaming Format (.ASX), Xing/Streamworks, Shockwave, and VIVO. The top five file formats ranked by share of total files found were MP3, RealMedia/Real Audio, MIDI, .wav and .au files.

BMI plans to release additional data, including a global survey on Internet music trends, this summer. The BMIMusicBot is part of BMI's Horizon Project, an initiative to manage copyright in the digital age, further details from the BMI site.

URL: http://bmi.com

Portable MP3 players

Sony plans to introduce the next generation of its Walkman personal stereo, the Memory Stick Walkman (NW-MS7) in January 2000. The NW-MS7 will be able to record music from a digital audio source (including MP3) onto Sony's MagicGate Memory Stick media and play it back with digital quality sound. Memory Stick, is Sony's compact storage media designed to store digital information, including images and audio.

The NW-MS7 will come with a 64MB MagicGate Memory Stick media that will be able to store up to 80 minutes of digital audio. The unit connects to a universal serial bus (USB) port for high-speed music file transfer, downloading an hour of music in just over three minutes. PC-based music recording and editing software will be included in the package. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is expected to be US$ 399.95.

URL: http://www.sony.com/

The Diamond Multimedia Systems Rio PMP300, is a portable MP3 music player that stores and plays-back up to 60 minutes of digital quality music. The player is based on MP3 compression, and flash memory technology and includes Jukebox MP3 software (licensed from MusicMatch and Xing Technology), which allows users to convert CD tracks into MP3 format using a PC. In addition Diamond has licensed MP3 content from MP3.com and GoodNoise. The player is being distributed through Diamond Multimedia's online store, mp3.com, goodnoise.com and musicmatch.com.

MPMan is a portable walkman-like digital audio player that plays MP3 files without requiring tapes or CDs. MPMan uses a 16 MB flash memory which is expandable to up to 64 MB.

URL: Diamond Multimedia http://www.diamondmm.com
URL: MP3.com http://www.mp3.com
URL: Goodnoise.com http://www.goodnoise.com
URL: MPMan: http://www.mpman.com/

MP3 standardisation and development

MP3 was devised by the Moving Picture Expert Group (MPeg). Details on current status ofstandardisation are available.

Fraunhofer IIS is one of the leading European research institutes in the field of high quality low bit-rate audio coding. The institute has been one of the main developers of advanced audio coding schemes, such as MPEG Layer-3 (MP3) and MPEG-2 AAC (Advanced Audio Coding). Fraunhofer IIS also plays a major role in the MPEG-4 standardisation process and contributes to many other standards bodies.

Complementing the audio expertise the Institute also has video activities including work on the combination of high quality audio coding with small-sized video using the H.263 coding scheme. The site provides a wealth of resources and links to research including software downloads.

URL: http://www.iis.fhg.de/amm/index.html

Thomson and MusicMatch collaborate on MP3

MusicMatch, makers of MP3 music management software (Jukebox), and Thomson Multimedia, are planning an alliance to develop MP3 audio software applications. Thomson, co-developer of the MP3 digital compression format and worldwide manufacturer and marketer of RCA and THOMSON brand consumer electronics products, plans to take a 20 percent equity share in MusicMatch. The companies are participating with the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) Forum to develop "secure solutions for downloading and playing MP3-based audio".

Thomson co-developed the MP3 compression format with the Fraunhofer Institute and acts as the licensing administrator for Thomson and Fraunhofer MP3 intellectual property.  MusicMatch Jukebox is currently being bundled with the Diamond Rio and Creative NOMAD portable MP3 players.

URL: http://www.musicmatch.com

Legal action against MP3 failed

In a move to protect the creative content of the music industry, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), joined by the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, filed a complaint against San Jose-based Diamond Multimedia. The RIAA charged that Diamond’s portable MP3 recording device, Rio (see above), violated the US Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA), and in doing so, encouraged consumers to infringe the rights of artists by trafficking in unlicensed music recordings on the Internet. The complaint, filed in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, failed.

Apparently the RIAA has been attempting to shut down infringing Internet sites that illegally traffic in copyrighted music.  In one afternoon alone, the RIAA uncovered as many as 80 MP3 sites containing a total of more than 20,000 MP3 files, virtually all of which were unlicensed music recordings of American artists.  The RIAA has been concerned about the recent development of MP3 portable recording devices because they capitalise on, and may exacerbate the problem of, illegal MP3 music files.  Industry observers remain doubtful that there would be a market for portable MP3 recording devices but for the thousands and thousands of illicit copies of songs on the Internet.

URL: RIAA http://www.riaa.com/
URL: Diamond Multimedia http://www.diamondmm.com

See also the Legal and regulatory issues topic page on this site.

MP3 Anywhere launched by X10

X10 has launched a system for beaming MP3 from the PC to home stereo equipment. Until now it has not been possible to play MP3 encoded tracks on a home stereo, but a new device from X10 beams MP3 from the PC to a home stereo system up to 100 feet away. The new device is on sale at US $88 in North America.

URL: http://www.x10.com

Synthesis of the singing voice

Ken Lomax's D.Phil thesis is entitled: "The analysis and synthesis of the singing voice". The research is working towards the ability to synthesise the voice of great singers from the past singing new songs and to transform the voice of a user into that of a famous singer in real time.

Some progress has been made towards both goals. The paper contains six chapters: the first provides an overview of past research in speech and singing synthesis; the second to fifth describe the development and implementation of the singing synthesiser; whilst the final chapter describes a related application termed the singing impersonator.

Online music for professional users

ACTS Newsline, reports on a system for online searching and distribution of music with studio quality. The music distribution system called Audience, is the result of a collaboration between two European companies, Media Technology Group, from Spain, and Media Transfer, from Germany. The system is targeted at professional users, including movie producers, TV and radio companies, advertising and multimedia companies. The system is based on a CD-ROM that contains a database with about 50,000 track references (not the complete music tracks). This reference database is integrated with an online remote server system, enabling users to download complete tracks in real time and with studio quality.

URL: Audience http://www.mtg.es/

Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI)

The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) aims to bring together the worldwide recording industry and technology companies to "develop an open, interoperable architecture and specification for digital music security". Whilst the SDMI name and concept has been promoted vigorously for the past year or so by actors in the audio market, threatened by developments such as MP3, finding anything more substantive than messages of support for the SDMI, has been difficult.

The SDMI has now launched a web site which includes the SDMI Specifications, news, member lists, details about the SDMI, its documents and meetings, along with contact information. Among the information available is:

URL: http://www.sdmi.org

Audio Resources


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