Thursday, April 26, 2012

HTTP Streaming of MPEG Media

*** Updated with link to MPEG-DASH International Standard, see below ***

During its last meeting, MPEG issued a call for proposals on HTTP streaming of MPEG media. In particular, the following documents have been approved and will are publicly available here.
  • HTTP Streaming of MPEG Media Context and Objectives [doc]
  • Call For Proposals on HTTP Streaming of MPEG Media [doc] - updated Annex A & B according to AhG meeting from 2010/05/12-13 Princeton, NJ [doc]
  • Uses Cases for HTTP Streaming of MPEG Media [doc]
  • Requirements on HTTP Streaming of MPEG Media [doc]
All documents in a single ZIP file can be found here.

MPEG has developed various technologies for multimedia transport, such as MPEG-2 Transport Stream (TS) and ISO Media Base File Format. These technologies have been widely accepted and heavily used by various industries and applications, such as digital broadcasting, audio and video transport over the Internet, mobile phones, etc.

In recent years, the Internet has become an important channel for delivery of multimedia. As the HTTP protocol is widely used on the Internet, it has recently been used extensively for the delivery of multimedia content. However, there is no standard for HTTP-based streaming of MPEG media. MPEG intends to standardize a solution that addresses this need.

The main objectives of this new standard are:
  • efficient delivery of MPEG media over HTTP in an adaptive, progressive, download/streaming fashion;
  • support of live streaming of multimedia content;
  • efficient and ease of use of existing content distribution infrastructure components such as CDNs, proxies, caches, NATs and firewalls;
  • support of integrated services with multiple components;
  • support for signaling, delivery, utilization of multiple content protection and rights management schemes; and
  • support for efficient content forwarding and relay.

Timeline of the calls and preliminary development plan:
  • Final call for proposals: 2010/04 - DONE
  • Ad-hoc Group meeting for editing the HTTP Streaming of MPEG Media Requirements document by improving applicability of requirement and making the document available by 2010/05/13. -  DONE
  • Ad-hoc Group meeting for the evaluation of the received responses on Saturday and Sunday before 93rd MPEG meeting in Geneva (2010/07/24-25)
  • Working Draft: 2010/07 -  DONE (not public though)
  • Committee Draft: 2010/10 -  DONE (available here at SC29 ballot site)
  • Draft International Standard: 2011/01 - DONE (publicly available here)
  • Draft International Standard v2: 2011/07 - DONE (publicly available here)
  • International Standard: 2012/04 - DONE (publicly available here, electronic attachments, schema files, MPD schema)
For discussions related to this CfP, please subscribe to the DASH reflector. Open source implementation of MPEG-DASH is available on http://dash.itec.aau.at with support provided through http://www.bitmovin.net/.

Related work (or a list of candidate technologies, if you like) - in alphabetic order

Disclaimer: this is my personal view and does neither reflect MPEG's view nor my view as chair of this AhG.
Interestingly, all of them (except for Movstreaming for which I cannot confirm) utilize some kind of manifest file and extend the ISO Base Media File Format. The manifest file does not follow any (metadata) standard such as MPEG-7 or MPEG-21 which, I think, could be used for defining the manifest with probably some minor extensions. In any case, this manifest file looks like an interesting use case for the concept of the Digital Item introduced by MPEG-21. Furthermore, it seems there is a need to extend the ISO Base Media File Format in order to support HTTP (live) streaming. Note that MPEG is current defining an amendment for part 12 of MPEG-4 - the home of the ISO Base Media File format - which is called "AMENDMENT 2: Support for sub-track selection & switching, post-decoder requirements, and color information":-) Finally, I've recently seen a paper (presented at MMSys'10) on a Low Overhead Container Format for Adaptive Streaming that proposes an alternative to the MPEG family of file formats for adaptive HTTP streaming. I wonder whether this is worth to consider ...

Recently, the IETF has received a number of new drafts (i.e., see here and here) addressing issues related to HTTP streaming.

DASH-related papers and events:
Related blog posts can be found here including an overview of DASH DIS.

Please let me know in case I've missed something (I'm pretty sure I have or you see an error) and I'm happy to extend (or revise) this list of related work / candidate technologies.
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