Category Archives: NTEK

Better Quality and More Efficient, Why 10 Bit is the Path Forward

I’ve been asked to explain how it is possible that by moving our entire infrastructure to 10 bit color could possibly deliver both better quality images and give us more efficient (ie smaller) streams.  We have been overhauling our delivery of 4K streams in an upcoming release of our engine and have moved the entire process to 10 bit.  This not only allows us to provide a real time delivery of HDR10 streams, but also for SDR displays gives us better quality with smaller streams, saving delivery costs.

Initially when you think about adding more bits per pixel it makes sense that you get better image quality, but getting better efficiency doesn’t seem to make sense, and I’ve been asked “how is this possible”.  By moving the entire workflow to 10 bit, we are able to compress with less errors.   To deliver the best quality video possible, you want to have as few “errors” in the encoded version when comparing it to the original uncompressed version.  The process by which an encoder reduces the file size is called quantization .  Comparing the original image to the resultant image in compression there can be a difference of pixels , however that difference is unaffected by the depth of those pixels.

During the encoding process, a 10 bit image has roughly 20% more data to be compressed.  During the hardest parts of encoding where there is high speed movement or large blocks of the screen ar changed, the higher bit rate allows for higher accuracy in recreating the original image thereby giving a better quality result.  Since we have to encode at the same target bit rates, whether 8 bit or 10 bit, you end up with a better image at the same bit rates.  This is mostly due to the underlying math that generates less errors in 10 bit than in 8 bit.

Given that our mastering process starts with an uncompressed 16 bit image of every frame, we can revisit the original master and rework it through the process using 10 bit target files instead of 8 bit for all displays, whether SDR or HDR and continue to improve the library.  This is especially going to be noticed on SDR displays where banding shows up in the lower bit rates.


UltraFlix Logo

Reducing Startup Latency and Increasing Streaming Performance

Category : 4K Studios , NTEK , UltraFlix

In an effort to further increase our network performance, reduce our startup times, and provide overall network efficiency in the upcoming release of UltraFlix 3.0 I’ve been doing a lot of research into alternative network protocols.  UltraFlix 2.x currently uses https calls for it’s streaming, and while secure and stable, it can be improved upon.  Given the scale we are now seeing closing in on a half million users, small improvements can yield big impacts especially on origin to edge performance which directly impacts startup times.  For 3.0 we are testing the Quick UDP Internet Connect (QUIC)  protocol.

QUIC supports a set multiplexed connections over UDP, and provides security protection on par with TLS/SSL.  QUIC also provides reduced connection and transport latency by using a variable frame/packet size.  QUIC uses bandwidth estimation in each direction providing congestion avoidance.  It also times packet transmissions evenly to help reduce packet loss. The use of packet-level error correction codes also helps reduce the need to retransmit lost packet data, further improving performance.  Finally, QUIC aligns cryptographic block boundaries with packet boundaries.  This means that the impact of packet loss impact is mitigated.

With the goal of decreasing the buffering and setup time we are relying on some of the benefits found in QUIC, specfically the fact that QUIC handshakes typcially require zero roundtrips before sending payload, as compared to 1-3 roundtrips for TCP+TLS calls.  In addition, we have crafted some proprietary techniques to the video stream that optimize the ability to quickly start the stream while buffering is still taking place, further reducing startup time on any bitrates, including the new UHD Blu-ray quality option that can be enabled on homes with > 50mbit internet connections.

NanoTech & Swig

Excited about Ivan joining the team

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Category : NTEK , Swig

I’ve known Ivan for a number of years and am very excited to get to work with him and really leverage the great experience and technology that Swig brings to the team and make the best of what each member brings to the table and really elevate the product offerings.  I think he is the perfect fit for the CEO position.

Swig has some incredible technology that is complimentary to what we have, and combined the offerings to be release will be amazing.