From the Floor: Sorenson Media Announces MPEG-4 Beta

| Macworld/iWorld Expo

As some Observers may already know, Sorenson Media provides codecs that give us the quality QuickTime movie and streaming playback we all know and love. We had an opportunity to speak with Ammen Harper, Director of Product Management, who gave us an update on this technology, as well as the many exciting things happening at Sorenson Media.

Of greatest interest was Sorenson announcing the release of a beta MPEG-4 codec. For the uninitiated, MPEG-4 is a proposed standard that will offer streaming media over the Internet. As noted in a recent article, Apple is one of many companies which are part of the Internet Streaming Media Alliance, a group that would like to provide streaming media using this standard. We were able to view a demo stream, and were very impressed with the video and audio quality of the results. If other industry players, such as Real and Microsoft, also adopt this standard, it will benefit the entire Internet population. Stay tuned...

Also shown was Sorenson Video 3, the latest version of their QuickTime encoding and playback codec, which was announced at the QuickTime Live show. Compared to Sorenson Video 2, the codec included with the current QuickTime 4 Player, Video 3 will offer several enhancements, including better performance and quality, support for alpha channel/chroma key, watermarks, and media key support. A demo of this codec, using a QuickTime movie, was as impressive as the MPEG-4 demonstration. Look for Video 3 to be released at the same time as the final version of QuickTime 5.

To round things out, we saw the release version of Sorenson Broadcaster 1.1, the subject of a recent Mondayis Mac Gadget. Basically, this software can broadcast live video and audio to a large number of users, who only need the free QuickTime Player. This is serious software, and was used to broadcast this weekis keynote address to about 31,000 viewers.

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