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Intel Indeo® Video 5

Technical Overview

Indeo® video 5 is the latest release of Intel's video compression and decompression software. It features greatly improved visual quality, better compression, and playback performance enhancements for MMX™ technology and the Pentium® II processor. The new release also features an exciting new feature called Progressive Download, which allows high-quality, scalable video to be played back from Internet and intranet Web pages.

New in Indeo Video 5

Indeo video 5 supports virtually all of the features of the previous 4 releases, but with greatly improved performance. Enhancements in the new release include:

Progressive Download

Progressive Download is a feature which allows Internet videos to be scalable. Video files on a Web server can be created in such a way that lower resolution, lower frame rate video can be viewed almost immediately, allowing the user to quickly decide if they wish to continue viewing the video or download it to their hard drive. Given more download time, and/or a faster Web connection, a Progressive Download file will continuously improve in both quality and frame rate until all of the video data is downloaded from the Web server to the client PC.

This gives Web authors the ability to create high-quality video content, and viewers to use fast connections and, optionally, longer download times to get that high quality video on their PCs. Those connected to the Web at slower speeds, however, can still access video of good quality without unreasonable waits and download times.

To create a Progressive Download file a video producer first creates a standard .AVI file using a video editing/compression tool such as Adobe Premiere or Asymetrix Digital Video Producer*. When creating the file Indeo video's Scalability compression option is turned ON.

The file is then modified using Intel's Indeo video 5 Progressive Download Publisher tool. This tool opens and re-saves the file, creating the Progressive Download file structure and optionally compressing the audio into Intel's new Indeo audio format as it does so. To learn more about this process read about how to use the Indeo video 5 Progressive Download Publisher tool.

Getting Indeo video drivers

Intel distributes Indeo video codecs free of charge to all PC users. You can incorporate them into your products royalty-free. The Download Area page at Intel's Indeo video 5 web site guides you through the download process.

Video access protection
Many multimedia developers are concerned about the illegal distribution of their copyrighted material. The Indeo video 5 codec helps prevent misuse of video clips by using access keys. Applications need the password to play video clips encoded with an access key.

Key frame flexibility
The Indeo video 5 codec offers control and flexibility over the use of key frames. The key frame interval is unrestricted, allowing for a variety of values:

NOTE: Because Indeo video 5 can generate higher quality at lower data rates, the default key frame interval is now 15.

Along with this flexibility in key frame intervals, Indeo video 5 allows for non-periodic key frames. This means that during editing, the encoding application can tell the Indeo video 5 codec to place a key frame at any location. Video producers can then specify access points anywhere within a video sequence, or better control video quality by placing key frames on scene change boundaries.

Application interactivity
Indeo video 5 incorporates features that make it possible to include video in interactive multimedia applications and games, challenging the traditional notion of video as having a fixed size and rectangular shape.

For years, the movie and television industries have used the technique of chroma keying (sometimes called blue-screening) to place foreground objects over synthesized backgrounds. One example of chroma keying is when TV meteorologists appear to be standing in front of a wall-sized map, when in fact, they are standing in front of a blue wall. Chroma key circuitry electronically separates the foreground pixels representing the meteorologist from the blue background pixels and overlays the meteorologist on an electronically-generated weather map. The Indeo video codec supports this type of transparency. During encoding, a compression application can send information to the codec describing a color or range of colors that represent a transparent background (such as the blue wall in the meteorologist example). Indeo video 5 then analyzes each frame, separates the background pixels from the foreground, and makes the background pixels transparent, encoding only the foreground objects as compressed video.

The Indeo video 5's transparency encoding is flexible, allowing for arbitrarily-shaped multiple foreground objects. Foreground objects can also move from frame to frame, allowing you to create what might be called video sprites. Video sprites are transparent video objects that can overlay other video or bitmap backgrounds. During playback, foreground objects can be composited dynamically over different backgrounds. For example, the meteorologist can appear over different weather maps on PCs with sufficiently powerful Pentium processors. A foreground object can even appear over another video stream, as in the case of a tornado.

Local decode
Sometimes an application needs to display only part of a decoded video image. For example, in a game, you might look through the periscope of a submarine where your view would be limited to a small subset of the entire image. This subset changes as the video plays, depending on where the periscope is rotated.

In this case, much of the source image does not need to be displayed, and it's preferable not to waste processor resources decoding it. Indeo video 5 provides this capability through a feature called local decode.

The playback application can tell Indeo video 5 to decode only a rectangular subregion, called the view port, from the source video image. The minimum possible size of the local decode viewport is defined during compression, but the display size and location of the viewport can be changed dynamically during playback.

Real-time video effects
The brightness, contrast, and color saturation of Indeo video 5 files can be modified interactively during playback. This makes it possible to simulate different lighting conditions, or to tailor the appearance of the video playback to particular graphics environments and preferences.

For more information

Read more about these features and how to use them at the Indeo video 5 release Web site on the documentation page.

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