May 22, 2024
BBC iPlayer to Increase Video Quality

BBC iPlayer to Increase Video Quality

Posted August 13, 2008 at 12:38pm by iClarified
BBC iPlayer starting this week is going to be encoding video content in H.264 format at 800Kbps.

BBC iPlayer to Increase Video Quality

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the good news for those looking for video quality improvements in BBC iPlayer is that, starting this week, we're going to be encoding our content in H.264 format at 800Kbps. Additionally, our media player now supports hardware acceleration in full-screen mode, giving a greatly improved image at lower CPU usage than before.

Along with the change to H.264, the soundtrack in our video programmes is changing to AAC+, another new compression technology that delivers better sound at a lower bitrate. The bass is deeper, the treble tighter, the overall effect is a noticeably better listening experience, particularly if you listen with headphones or hook up your computer to your TV or home sound system.

However, given that we're on the (leading) edge here, with our CDN network and video compression partners only now being able to support our requirements, we're going to play it safe and introduce H.264 in two phases:

In the first phase, starting this week, we're going to create our content in both On2 VP6 and H.264 format, and provide a button to let you choose which works best for you and your internet connection, Normal or High:

Initially, the default will continue be On2 VP6, which will remain the choice for users on slower internet connections. However, if your internet connection speed is 1Mbps or higher, try the "HIGH" H.264 version.

In the second phase, we're going to add automatic bitrate detection, so that our media player software automatically chooses the right version for your computer and internet connection speed - we'll likely introduce this auto-detection feature in September. This will make it as easy as possible for all users to get the best quality of service possible with the equipment they have.

Initially the H.264 option will only be offered to people who have the latest version of Flash installed, and will be offered incrementally as new content rolls out through our encoding chain. We'll also be making a number of tweaks and enhancements over the coming weeks as our video compressor suppliers deliver more software updates, so look out for further improvements over the next few weeks.

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