Associated Press’ SNAPfeed Utilizes Windows Media 9

Reprinted from a Microsoft press release:

At NAB2003, the National Association of Broadcasters convention, the Associated Press (AP) and Microsoft Corp. today highlighted SNAPfeed, a new software application developed by AP Broadcast Technology Group that allows journalists to transmit news video using Windows Media 9 Series into newsrooms from remote locations around the world, in a fraction of the time of MPEG-based technology and in better quality than traditional store and forward systems. SNAPfeed takes Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 Series and Windows Media Video 9 and integrates them as an add-on application to AP’s Electronic News Production System (ENPS), used by more than 43,000 reporters, writers, editors and producers in nearly 500 newsrooms in 40 countries. SNAPfeed is intended for reporters in the field working under difficult physical conditions and demanding deadlines, and gives them the control they need to tell the story and work efficiently to deadline using a Windows XP-based PC laptop.

“SNAPfeed has reduced a complex decision making process for a reporter to one question: ‘What is your deadline?'” said Mike Palmer, director of Technology/Development for AP Broadcast. “When working in remote and demanding situations, reporters need an easy process that removes complexities of encoding and transmission – they are there to communicate a story and need speed and simplicity. We designed SNAPfeed around automating the process and tapping the excellent quality of Windows Media Video 9 to get the best-quality video at the lowest possible bit rates into the newsroom on time, ready for air.”

“AP’s SNAPfeed solution demonstrates in a totally new way the value of delivering the best-quality video in the smallest file size,” said Amir Majidimehr, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “SNAPfeed and Windows Media 9 Series deliver more than just considerable cost savings in terms of bandwidth or reduced storage costs; it delivers a journalist’s important story to air via a single satellite phone or the Internet in a way other technology can’t today.”

How SNAPfeed Works
SNAPfeed taps Windows Media Video 9 to help cut transmission time for reporters, enabling them to send video with the best possible quality, and meet their deadline in one-third to one-half the time of other MPEG-2- or MPEG-4-based technologies. In the SNAPfeed application, patent-pending, AP-developed technology built on top of Windows Media 9 Series simplifies video encoding and compression on a Windows XP-based PC laptop for reporters in the field.

The SNAPfeed laptop can be connected to a companion SNAPfeed server through standard dial-up telephone lines, ISDN, DSL, cable modem or satellite phones. This flexibility helps field reporters and photographers beat deadlines based on combinations of quality settings, video file sizes and connection bandwidth. SNAPfeed automatically takes into account the available bandwidth, deadline, video resolution, duration and quality, and optimizes compression and transmission for both speed and quality. This helps field reporters and photographers effectively work to deadline and use every bit of time and resource available to them.

SNAPfeed works with nonlinear editing applications (NLEs) to enable field staff to edit, compress and transmit video while using the same laptop and data connection to simultaneously write stories, read news wires, and exchange messages with other ENPS users. Producers waiting for incoming video will receive constant status updates from ENPS, and once received, the video can be accessed via any ENPS workstation and manipulated as part of scripts and program playlists. Eliminating the time-consuming delays typically associated with copying and physically moving material, the video also can be automatically transferred to compatible air-ready file servers via the Media Object Server (MOS) protocol.

AP provides technology for many of the world’s largest and most demanding broadcasters. The ENPS system offers powerful, easy-to-use features including management of running orders, planning, contacts, messaging, news wires and third-party devices, as well as scriptwriting in almost any language, a fully integrated search engine and remote access capabilities for field staff.

The new solution illustrates how Windows Media 9 Series’ breakthrough video quality and compression is helping some of the leading software developers in the industry transform professional broadcast production and content delivery. SNAPfeed is being demonstrated in the AP-ENPS booth, No. SU6271, and is available for purchase at NAB and for integration by appointment and mutual scheduling afterwards. The solution also will be highlighted in the Microsoft booth, No. SL136.

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