Video, Audio and streaming formats

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Q
What is H.264? What are the advantages of H.264?
A
H.264, MPEG-4 Part 10, or AVC (for Advanced Video Coding) is a standardized compression 
and encoding scheme for digital video. H.264 is the result of the combined efforts of two 
standards bodies — the ITU-T and the ISO-MPEG. H.264 incorporated a number of new 
algorithm that allow it to compress video much more effectively than older standards and to 
provide more flexibility for application to a wide variety of network environments.

H.264 can provide 2-3 times compression effeciency at the same or better quality of MPEG-2. 
Because of this efficiency, H.264, an ISO standard, stands to be the likely successor to MPEG-
2 in the professional media industry.

While H.264 is a computationally advanced codec, the video stream can be decoded on
today’s shipping computers with no additional hardware required. Internet-sized content 
(40kbps - 300kbps) will run on the most basic of processors, like those in mobile phones
and consumer-level computers.

H.264 has been ratified as mandatory in both the HD-DVD and Blu-ray specifications for High 
Definition DVD. Recently Adobe Flash has adopted H.264 as the codec of choice.

You can learn more about H.264 @ wikipedia


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Q
What is AAC? What are the advantages of AAC?
A
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is a standardized, compression and encoding scheme for 
digital audio. AAC usually achieves better sound quality than the more popular MP3 format 
when compared at the same bit rate, especially for bit rates below 100 Kbps.

AAC proves itself worthy of replacing MP3 as the new audio compression standard. These are 
the advantages of AAC over MP3:

    * Improved compression provides higher-quality results with smaller file sizes
    * Support for multichannel audio, providing up to 48 full frequency channels
    * Higher resolution audio, yielding sampling rates up to 96 kHz
    * Improved decoding efficiency, requiring less processing power for decode.

You can lean more about AAC @ wikipedia
 

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Q
Does Adobe Flash Player support H.264?
A
Yes, Adobe Flash Player (release 9,0,115,0 and above) supports H.264 and AAC.
 

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Q
What Compression/encoding Standards are used by SmartCast? 
A
SmartCast uses H.264 standard for video compression and 
AAC standard for audio compression
 

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Q
What are different Video and Audio bitrates supported by the SmartCast?
A
SmartCast supports Video Bit rate from 128 kbps to 4 Mbps and
Audio Bit rate from 24 kbps up to 128 kbps.
 

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Q
What frame rates and video resolutions are supported by the SmartCast?
A
SmartCast supports encoding video at frame rates from 1-30 per second.

SmartCast can resize video to resolutions from 160x112 upto 720x480/576
 

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Q
Can I stream video only or audio only data from SmartCast?
A
Yes, with SmartCast you can stream Video only, Audio only and Video & Audio data.
 

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Q
Does SmartCast support recording? What formats are used to store video/audio data?
A
SmartCast has a provision for an optional SD-Card to record video/audio data being 
streamed.

H.264 video and AAC audio data can be recorded in MP4 (.mp4) or MPEG-TS (.mpg) file 
format. These files are compatible to play on many players like Quicktime, VLC, Flash, etc.
 

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Q
Can I change brightness and color of the video input to SmartCast?
A
Yes, you can set the custom color and brightness to the Video input while streaming from the 
SmartCast.
 

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Q
What protocols/formats are used by SmartCast to stream live video/audio?
A
SmartCast supports multiple streaming protocols to stream H.264 video and/or AAC audio 
data.

 Elementary RTP/UDP 
SmartCast streams H.264 video and AAC audio elementary streams using RTP/UDP 
mechanism. These streams compliant with RFC-3984 and RFC-3640 recommendations for 
RTP payload format. Audio and video elementary streams are streamed to a specified 
unicast/multicast IP address on two individual ports as selected by the user. RTP/UDP 
streaming is supported by many broadcast servers like Wowza media server, Apple Darwin 
server, and many media players like Quicktime, Flash, VLC, etc. 
Broadcast servers and players require a SDP file to broadcast or play the streams. SDP file 
can be generated with the Generate SDP feature in the control center.

 MPEG-TS (Transport stream) RTP/UDP  
SmartCast can also stream H.264 video and AAC video muxed in MPEG-TS wrapper. MPEG-
TS streams are streamed to a specified unicast/multicast IP address on user specified port 
using RTP/UDP mechanism. These streams are compliant with RFC-2250 recommendations 
for RTP payload format. H.264 and/or AAC in MPEG-TS streams are supported by broadcast 
servers like Wowza media server and players like VLC.
MPEG-TS packets are self contained for players to initialize and do not require any SDP file.

FastVDO will add other streaming formats like RTSP, RTMP for TCP based streaming in the 
future.
 

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Q
How can i use VLC/Quick Time  Player to play Live Native RTP Streaming from 
SmartCast?
A
Step by step instructions for playing a live native rtp streaming from SmartCast on
VLC/QuickTime player,

   1. Setting up your SmartCast:
        a) Connect the SmartCast box to your router with the  Ethernet cable (provided).
        b) Connect the audio video source to the SmartCast box with the RCA cable (provided).
        c) Power up the SmartCast box with the power supply(provided).
        d) After power up, the PWR and LINK LED should be glowing solid. 
        e) Register with SmartCast control center and add your SmartCast to your account.
        f)  Configure the required SmartCast parameters for streaming on Channel Settings.
        g) Set Stream Format to Elementary stream.
        h) Generate the SDP file and copy the session description text to a new text file and
            name it "myStream.sdp"
         i) Start streaming to the server's IP address. Use server's internal IP address if
            the server is within the same subnet as SmartCast or use the server's external IP 
            address and make sure the ports used for streaming are forwarded to the server's 
            internal IP address. 

     2 A) To play the stream using VLC Player:
       a) Download and install VLC media Player from link.
       b) Go to Media->Open File menu option and select the previously generated
           (refer in step 1(h)) "myStream.sdp" sdp file.

     2 B) To play the stream using Quick Time Player:
       a) Download and install Quick Time Player from link.
       b) Go to File->Open File menu option and select the previously generated
           (refer in step 1(h)) "myStream.sdp" sdp file.

Troubleshooting:
To check if SmartCast is streaming properly:
    1) Refresh the channel settings page to see the bit rate activity in the statistics
        section.
    2) If the bitrates are too low check the audio video cable connection.


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Q
How can i use VLC Player to play Live MPEG-TS Streaming?
A
Step by step instructions for playing a live MPEG-TS streaming from SmartCast on VLC
player,

   1. Setting up your SmartCast:
        a) Connect the SmartCast box to your router with the  Ethernet cable (provided).
        b) Connect the audio video source to the SmartCast box with the RCA cable (provided).
        c) Power up the SmartCast box with the power supply(provided).
        d) After power up, the PWR and LINK LED should be glowing solid. 
        e) Register with SmartCast control center and add your SmartCast to your account.
        f)  Configure the required SmartCast parameters for streaming on Channel Settings.
        g) Set Stream Format to MPEG-TS streaming. Write the destination IP address and
            port number.
        h) Start streaming to the destination IP address. 
   
   2. To play the stream using VLC Media Player:
       a) Download and install VLC Media Player from link.
       b) Go to Media->Open NetworkStream menu option.A new window will Open up.
       c) Select the protocol as rtp and then enter the port number of the mpeg-ts port in
           the port field. No need to give IP address in the address field. 
       d)Then Play the stream.  

Troubleshooting:
To check if SmartCast is streaming properly:
    1) Refresh the channel settings page to see the bit rate activity in the statistics
        section.
    2) If the bitrates are too low check the audio video cable connection.


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