Digital Video: from VLBR to High Definition
Ya-Qin Zhang
Sarnoff Corporation
Princeton, New Jersey
Keynote Speech
The 1998 International Workshop on Very Low Bitrate Video Coding


A revolution has begun to reshape the video and multimedia industry, compelled by the confluence of several factors including advances in compression algorithms, progress in semiconductor technology, explosive growth of Internet, and convergence of international standards. This revolution is profoundly changing every aspect of video, from production to display, from storage to transmission, from representation to manipulation.

This talk addresses this digital video technology revolution and its impact on TV, Internet, and consumer electronics industries by:

- reviewing the US DTV standards, formats, technologies, history, current status, and FCC-mandated DTV deployment and transition plan
- discussing the low bit rate image and video compression and transmission technologies, business models, and challenges with applications to Internet
- Exploring the convergence and synergies of traditionally distinct disciplines: signal processing, computer vision, and communications, as applied to digital video representation
- Sharing some related research results and commercialization plan currently undertaken by Sarnoff and its partners

Some trends are observed:

- DTV is quickly unfolding and becoming ubiquitous: in high-definition and standard-definition, from studio to broadcasting to home, via satellites, cable, and terrestrial;
- While the device-driven industry is governed by the Moore's Law, the Internet's growth and economic model is dominated by the Metcalfe's law which dictates a O(N2) growth;
- Instead of the "centralization" and "convergence" model, new technologies enable a much wider spectrum of products and services to consumers than ever before. The true power of digital video and Internet is the ability to create more customerized and "decentralized" and "divergent" products and services faster, cheaper, and better; and
- The completion of digital video and multimedia standards promotes, stimulates and intensifies new research activities in digital video coding and representation, instead of eliminating the need for fundamental research in the field. The R&D efforts, of course, not only lies in pure reduction of bits (although it's still important), but also extends to intelligent representation of manipulatable, editable, and searchable visual information from pixel-based to block-based to object-based. Topics such as creation and segmentation of visually meaningful objects, high-level extraction, analysis and representation of visual objects in both spatial, temporal, 2D/3D domain, interpretation of the semantics of visual information, efficient and reliable transmission and synchronization of multiple objects, bring in convergence of several research disciplines in signal processing, computer vision, pattern recognition, and communications;

About the Speaker:

Ya-Qin Zhang is the Director of Multimedia Technology Laboratory (MTL) at Sarnoff Corporation in Princeton, NJ. MTL is engaged in research, development, and commercialization of HDTV, videophone, Internet, multimedia and consumer video in partnership with over a dozen government and commercial clients. He was with GTE and Contel from 1989 to 1994. He has published over 150 refereed papers and has 30 patents granted or pending in image/video compression and communications, wireless, and medical imaging. He was an adjunct faculty at George Washington University and Tufts University in 1990 and 1994. Dr. Zhang serves as the Editor-in-Chief for IEEE Transactions on Video Technology. He is the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Visual Signal Processing and Communications of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. He also serves on editorial boards of seven other professional journals, and over a dozen conferences. He represents Sarnoff in the ISO/MPEG and ITU-T standardization efforts. He is a Fellow of IEEE. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Science and Technology of China in 1983 and 1986, and Ph.D from George Washington University in 1989.