HandBrake has been a handy tool for media creators for over a decade. The free, open-source application makes it easy to convert and encode media of almost any format. HandBrake recently crossed an important milestone in its development, having finally reached an official version 1.0.0 release:
After more than 13 years of development, the HandBrake Team is delighted to present HandBrake 1.0.0. Thank you to all of our many contributors over the years for making HandBrake what it is today.
Here are some features included in HandBrake 1.0.0:
– New online documentation at https://handbrake.fr/docs
– Completely overhauled the official presets
– New general use presets for broad compatibility
– New device presets, now more up-to-date for common devices
– New web presets
– New Matroska (MKV) presets, including VP9 video with Opus audio
– Official presets from HandBrake 0.10.x are still available under “Legacy”
– New JSON-based preset system including command line support
– New JSON-based API for interacting with libhb
– Improvements to audio/video sync engine to better handle difficult sources
– Many miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements
– VP9 video encoding via libvpx
– Intel QuickSync Video H.265/HEVC encoder
– Requires Intel Skylake or newer CPU
– Ultra HD / 4K color pass through (support for BT.2020)
– Additional standard frame rate selections in the graphical interfaces
– New Auto anamorphic mode maximizes storage resolution, replaces Strict anamorphic mode
– New Pad filter (command line only for now)
– New Decomb/Deinterlace filter settings and improved defaults
– Rotate filter now available in all graphical interfaces
– New NLMeans filter tunes Tape and Sprite for analog tape recordings and vintage video games, respectively
– Assembly optimizations NLMeans filter improve performance up to 10%
– Assembly optimizations in x264 encoder improve performance for faster presets by 5-10%
– x265 encoder quality improvements, especially when using tune grain
– High bit depth encoding support via external shared libraries (video pipeline is still 8-bit 4:2:0)
– x264 10-bit
– x265 10-bit and 12-bit
To learn more about HandBrake 1.0.0, click the link at the top of this article. HandBrake is available as a free download for macOS, Windows, and Linux, as a well as a command-line version of the application.
Popular video-streaming service Netflix made a significant change to how it works when it recently announced it’d allow users on mobile devices to download complete videos, instead of offering only streaming. It was a smart move on behalf of Netflix, as it gives mobile users the ability to download movies and TV shows on Wi-Fi and then consume those videos where they may have limited (or no) internet access.
And while that flexibility may solve one problem (access to Netflix content), it can create another; maxing out available storage. Modern mobile devices run the range from 8GB to 128GB of storage. And with modern devices doing more and more, internal storage exists at a premium. The new offline mode provided by Netflix wouldn’t get much use if it filled up users’ devices after one or two sessions. With this in mind, Netflix had to devise a way for those downloaded files to use as little space as possible:
One of the biggest differences between shows you download and shows you stream on Netflix is the video format, or codec, the company is using. For streaming, Netflix has been using H.264/AVC almost exclusively. However, users who download Netflix shows to most Android devices instead receive content encoded with VP9 — an open source video codec developed by Google that uses a bunch of advanced encoding tricks to deliver the same video quality with significantly less data, or a better video qualities with the same amount of data.
As VP9 is a Google-developed codec, it’s not currently supported by Apple. For now, Netflix is using a slightly modified version of H.264 on iOS devices. Apple hasn’t yet indicated if it will support VP9 in the future.
Media-streaming service Livestream is offering a special holiday discount on its streaming service, along with a free Mevo camera:
Get 20% off any annual Livestream platform plan through December 23. Receive a free Mevo, the pocket-sized live event camera, with your Enterprise purchase.
This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to take their live internet broadcasting to a new level in 2017. Livestream has proven to be one of the most robust and reliable media-streaming services available, with an array of professional-grade applications that make it easy to get a live stream up and running in short order.
Livestream’s holiday deal is sweetened by the inclusion of a free Mevo camera. The Mevo is a compact but powerful 4K camera that makes it easy to do multi-camera style productions with just one camera:
The app allows users to select specific sections of a live video and then “cut” to those sections as closeups, creating a multi-cam experience for the viewer. Filming a concert and you’d like to cut between a wide shot of the stage along with closeups of invidicual players? No problem. Just tap on one of the performers in the Mevo iOS app and the camera does the rest for you, switching seamlessly from the wide shot to the closeup.
Livestream’s 20% holiday discount and free Mevo camera are available to enterprise users only. For more information, click the link at the top of this article and fill out the form to be contacted by Livestream sales staff.
Online video distribution service Vimeo has been working hard to build its reputation as “the world’s best creative community.” Vimeo launched when the internet video market began to take off during the previous decade. Realizing that the company would never be able to compete with YouTube on a macro level, Vimeo refocused itself as a purveyor of tools and services for independent video producers and filmmakers. Over time, Vimeo has introduced things like digital sales and subscription services that make it easy for producers to sell their videos online.
In its latest move to expand its offerings, Vimeo is introducing Vimeo Business:
…our community is the driving force behind Vimeo Business. Over time, you’ve given us tons of feedback about what you need most: the ability engage with customers and generate leads, market new products, and seamlessly collaborate with colleagues. We built Vimeo Business precisely to address all those things and more.
Some key features of Vimeo Business:
- Unlimited bandwidth in the Vimeo player with no weekly limits, and the ability to upload up to 5TB total of video.
- In-depth video stats when you connect Vimeo to your Google Analytics dashboard.
- Work seamlessly with colleagues, clients, video pros, and more — add up to 10 team members to help manage your account and videos.
- Generate leads with clickable CTAs and e-mail capture in the player, then send the info to MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor.
- Powerful privacy: password protection, domain-level privacy, and private link sharing.
- Player customization: add your colors, logo, and more.
- Upload videos from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box.
A Vimeo Business membership is available now for $599/year.
Video streaming company Livestream recently upped its game in terms of its video-production offerings. Livestream’s portable Studio HD550 and Studio HD51 video production systems are now both available for preorder as 4K editions. Livestream made this announcement in conjunction with its showing at the recent IBC show in London:
Launching at IBC 2016, Livestream’s portable (Studio HD550) and rackmount (Studio HD51) live production switchers are now available in 4K edition for pre-order. Featuring 5 inputs and one output with full size HDMI and SDI connectors. The 4K Edition also features upgraded hardware all around: 64GB RAM, 8 Core Intel i7 CPU (16 Virtual threads), Windows 10, 2TB SSD drive. Pre-order now from Livestream or one of our resellers at store.livestream.com. Shipping in November 2016.
Livestream’s Studio HD series of products provide an all-in-one solution for live-video production. The HD51 is geared more for studio work while the Studio HD550 is a better fit for mobile producers at remote locations. Both models have plenty of inputs to make it easy to connect multiple video sources. Livestream’s Studio Software is included, making the Studio HD series a feature-rich video switcher capable of capturing and/or broadcasting live events. The Studio HD550 even comes with its own protective carrying bag, which makes it easy to transport to different locations.
The original Studio HD series and the new 4K editions can be found in the Livestream Store. Pricing varies, depending on which model you need.
Microsoft has endured a lot of criticism lately over its aggressive policy of pushing software updates onto customers. This was probably demonstrated most noticeably over the company’s unwillingness to let users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 stay with their current operating systems, and constantly badgering (and in some cases, forcing) them to upgrade to Windows 10. Now it looks like the Redmond, WA-based tech monolith is about to receive a new round of hate, as its recently released Windows 10 Anniversary Update is causing many webcams to stop working:
Microsoft made a significant change with the release of Windows 10 and support for webcams that is causing serious problems for not only consumers but also the enterprise. The problem is that after installing the update, Windows no longer allows USB webcams to use MJPEG or H264 encoded streams and is only allowing YUY2 encoding.
Because of this change, which Microsoft tried to defend but then realized the scale of the impact this change has caused, means that when a webcam tries to use MJPEG or H264, the device will freeze. If you use Skype and your webcam freezes after about a minute, this is the reason.
Microsoft is hoping to deploy a fix for this problem next month. If you’re experiencing webcam issues after the Anniversary Update and you can’t wait until then, check the bottom of the article linked in the above paragraph. One resourceful user has found a registry hack that should make your webcam usable again.
Time waits for no one. Nor does the inevitable progress of higher-resolution video. It still feels like true HD video has just barely been normalized here in the United States. And yet the push beyond HD, into 4K and even 8K, has begun. The latest example of the move forward comes from Japanese public broadcasting agency NHK (also known as Japan Broadcasting Corp.) as the company has begun testing both 4K and 8K broadcasts.
Of course, most viewers who can tune into these test broadcasts won’t really be able to see the full depth of the video transmissions, as 4K video is still riding the bleeding edge of consumer technology, and 8K is little more than a pipe dream today. Regardless, NHK will have public displays of the technology available at its broadcast centers across Japan.
NHK is hoping to make 4K and 8K video a regular part of its broadcast set by 2018. The broadcasting company hopes this move will help popularize the new formats in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympics in Tokyo.
Traditionally, Japan has always been ahead of markets like the U.S. in terms of adoption of new technology. So there’s a good chance NHK will meet its goal in time for the Olympics. 4K TVs are currently available in most markets and are priced affordably. But I couldn’t find any estimates on what an 8K set might cost.
Video streaming platform Livestream should know a few things about producing live-streaming events. Livestream is one of the first companies to offer live media streaming as a service. And while it may have some bragging rights in terms of longevity, many platforms have come up over the years to compete. YouTube, Twitter (via Periscope), and Facebook all offer a live-video component. That competition has caused Livestream to constantly grow and improve its services. Now, Livestream is going after the live-streaming market with a recently released Guide to Livestreaming Events ebook.
The Livestreaming Guide contains some interesting facts about live video:
- In 2015, 374M people watched video content on Livestream
- By 2019 there will be over 28M cord cutters – homes without paid TV services – in the United States alone
Lifestream’s guide is squarely aimed at brands, and it mentions noteworthy success stories from big companies that are producing live-streaming content:
- Every Wednesday, Experian hosts a #CreditChat livestream on Twitter and YouTube to connect with their social audience and share information and data about building credit and eliminating debt
- Southwest Airlines recently livestreamed from their operation control center to reassure customers during a spate of bad weather that was delaying flights
- Big brands like Adidas, Taco Bell, DKNY and GE are also using livestreaming to share candid moments with their audiences, from press conferences to contract signings with celebs and behind-the-scenes moments
If you’d like to see what else Livestream has to offer in its guide, you can download the ebook for free after filling out a form.
Creating a multi-camera video shoot has always been a challenge. Producers have to set up different cameras, assign camera operators, run those cameras thru a switching device, assign a technician to the switcher, and have the capacity to direct everything (and everyone) in real time. Video products like NewTek’s TriCaster have made the process easier. But TriCasters don’t come cheap, and now that we’re all walking around with devices that have built-in HD cameras, it seems only obvious that we should be able to put those devices to work in a multi-cam setting. And that’s exactly what Switcher Studio was made to do.
Switcher Studio allows producers to record video and stream live to a number of popular platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Ustream, Twitch, and other RTMP-compatible services. The video production is managed using Switcher Studio’s Director Mode feature:
Use Director Mode to record 1080p HD video. This feature allows you to disable the built-in camera on the main mixing device and connect up to 4 additional iPhones or iPads as sources. Tapping “Rec+Broadcast” triggers a recording on each connected device so you have full quality video from each angle regardless of any glitches or hiccups on the network.
When the production is complete you can composite the video from all angles with any edits made during your event. The final video can then be uploaded directly to YouTube or sent to your computer so you can make additional edits using Final Cut Pro X. Director mode can also be used in combination with a streaming video platform so you can broadcast at a lower bitrate while capturing full HD video to upload for on-demand playback after your production.
Switcher Studio offers a full suite of effects and features to make professional-looking videos:
- Manage transition type(s) and duration or use the multi-view feature to cue multiple sources simultaneously
- Select from layouts like dashboard, slots, flap and picture-in-picture or layer other content in your production
- Add photos from your camera-roll or insert an image during your production
- Prepare lower third graphics and logos to include in your broadcast
- Take photos with another device and link with your iCloud account to update assets on the fly
- Bring your computer screen in as a source (Pro account required)
- Connect the primary Switcher to a TV or projector for viewing using a HDMI adapter or Apple TV via AirPlay support (Pro account required)
The most impressive feature of Switcher Studio is its ability to connect and control different mobile devices as individual cameras:
You can use the built-in camera of your mixing device as the primary camera or wirelessly sync up to 4 other iOS devices for multi-camera productions. Simply install Switcher Studio on any iOS device and select “Use as camera” from the welcome screen to connect as a source on the primary device. All devices communicate over a local wifi network and you can easily increase the distance between devices by expanding your network. Use Switcher Studio and capture unique perspectives to go where no one has gone before.
Switcher Studio is available under three different tiers. The free tier allows users to broadcast for up to 30 minutes a day for free. The Basic tier is $20/month and it unlocks more of Switcher Studio’s features. The Basic tier also has no limit on the amount of time video streams can last. For $25/month or $299/year, users can pay for Switcher Studio Pro, which offers the service’s full suite of options, including being able to connect up to four different iOS devices as cameras.
Creating video files can be a real hassle. Different devices, different operating systems, different web browsers and applications, all have their own requirements when it comes to presenting video. Ideally, video producers could just offer one “master” file for distribution, and all of those different outlets would adapt that master file to their needs. But it truly is less than an ideal world when it comes to video distribution. That’s why it’s important to be able to offer video productions in as many formats as possible. But it’s not always easy to know which formats to use or how to create them. That’s where the WinX Video Converter application from Digiarty comes in.
WinX Video Converter is available for both Windows and MacOS. Here are some of the program’s features:
- Video converter that supports 1080p multi-track video MKV, M2TS, AVCHD, HDTV and BDAV
- Convert video between AVI, MP4, H.264, WMV, MPEG, FLV, MOV, 3GP, QT, TS, MOD, TOD, and more
- Support for merging, croping, trimming and adjusting parameters to control output size and quality
- comes with diverse device presets for iPad Pro/mini 4/Air 2, iPhone SE/6S/6 (Plus)/5S, Apple TV (4), iTunes, Android, Samsung Galaxy Note 5/S6 edge+, HTC One M8, Google New Nexus 7, Chromecast, Amazon Kindle Fire, Surface Pro 3, WP8, Xbox, PSP, and more
Digiarty is offering a special free version of Video Converter thru Monday, July 11th. The Mac version can be downloaded here. The Windows version can be downloaded here.