NAB Perspectives: Encompass Digital Media’s Chris Myers Focuses on Accelerated Shift to MPEG-4

The shift toward MPEG-4 transmission has accelerated exponentially in recent years, especially for sports telecasts. Encompass Digital Media EVP of Worldwide Occasional Services Chris Myers does not see this trend halting anytime soon and, as a result, has made it a priority to upgrade the company’s fleet of satellite uplink trucks to MPEG-4 .

“We are really pushing MPEG-4 transmission and making sure that all of our trucks are updated, because it has become the de facto standard at this point,” he said at Encompass’s NAB Show booth in Las Vegas this week.

In addition, Encompass’s sports clients are demanding multipath transmission delivery as a result of the growing second-screen phenomenon that has forced these networks to deliver a variety of feeds to a variety of platforms during live sports events.

“On the sports side, we are seeing lots more multipath transmission work for our trucks from all of the sports broadcasters.,” he added. “All of our trucks now have to carry multiplexers, whereas, a couple of years ago, they didn’t. Customers are wanting to do a lot more camera iso feeds. We are doing a lot more multiplatform distribution for the sports broadcasters. We also might do the domestic and the international feed out of the same truck.”

With the move to MPEG-4 nearing completion, the big question is what is next in the transmission world? With the next-generation compression standard, HEVC (high-efficiency video codec), making its way through the standards-approval process, Encompass and other satellite/fiber providers are preparing for what could be a major leap ahead.

“We got our first request the other day for 1080p over satellite,” said Myers, noting that the request was not made by a sports client. “That got us thinking about where the next step needs to be. 1080p is natively 3G so that means you will have to use a lot more bandwidth. But early indications from some of the manufacturers we’ve heard from say that [1080p will require only] about 25% more bandwidth on the satellite. Those are just early rumors, but, if that is all it is, then we are certainly interested in taking a look at it.”

And Encompass’s truck division has long been known as a Southeast-centric operation, with its home in Atlanta and the majority of its clients in that section of the country. However, that is about to change: Encompass is preparing to roll out its first Los Angeles-based satellite-uplink truck in June.

“We are trying to position ourselves better for our clients on the West Coast, and we think this is a good time to do it,” said Myers. “We are investing in satellite trucks and the MPEG-4 compression and multichannel audio technologies that go along with that to spread across the West Coast.”