Filmmakers prepare to take their festival bicoastal

By Eugene Grygo, InfoWorld |  Networking

MANY BUSINESSES have been frustrated in their attempts to derive benefits from videoconferencing over the Internet, mostly due to the poor reliability, performance, and quality of digital video transmissions.

If these hurdles could be cleared, a variety of industries would reap the rewards of broadband transmission. Traders at global securities firms could react faster to breaking events and major trades if they could see co-workers in other parts of the world in real time. The same is true for fashion designers, surgeons, and manufacturers, who could improve their collaborations by using high-definition digital images. Broadband transmission is also useful for live events.

Such is the hope of the backers of the annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, who were investigating ways to transmit their event from New York to Los Angeles without the hassle of the Internet and the cost of satellite transmissions.

Although Web-based broadband technologies would seem the logical means to transmit digital video files of the short films screened at the festival, Nicholas Mason, director of the event, chose another option.

"It was always our vision to bring this festival to as many people as possible," Mason says. "[But] I think it loses something on the Internet."

The 4-year-old festival, dedicated to promoting the work of promising new filmmakers, decided to employ the services of GeoVideo Networks, which has an IP-based, private fiber-optic network stretching from coast to coast.

Mason says the broadcast quality and real-time presentation of images over the GeoVideo network were far superior to the offerings of vendors who stream video over the Internet, and GeoVideo made the multicasting of a live event possible.

"Every little bit, every little packet of video has to be there just in time," says W. Bryce Combs, COO of GeoVideo. "Unlike when you download graphics off the Internet [and] can afford to wait a few minutes for the next line to come in, with video, because it's a sequential process, you can't wait."

If even one of the video packets falls apart or is corrupted, "then the whole video can potentially fall apart," Combs says. "One error can make your signal break up for 30 seconds or up to 2 minutes."

On Sept. 23, the festival will screen the winners of its annual review of films and broadcast them via a 45Mbps DS-3 broadband fiber-optic connection from Union Square Park in New York to the Gershwin Hotel West in Los Angeles.

The festival transmission will deliver broadcast-quality video in a two-way interactive format with a delay of less than 35 milliseconds from New York to Los Angeles and approximately 70 milliseconds for "a round-trip" between the two points, Combs says. The transmission will use ATM lines.

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