Home > FFmpeg, Video > BBC R&DTV – Creative Commons Tech TV

BBC R&DTV – Creative Commons Tech TV

In an interesting, and to be applauded, move from the BBC, they are now releasing a technology based television programme under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution licence. R&DTV’s first episode is now available for free download in a number of file formats. There is a full 30 minute version available, a shorter 5 minute highlight version, as well as a complete Asset Bundle, which includes rushes that may not have made it into the final programme versions.

The BBC’s RAD blog has a launch announcement about this, followed up by another post 24 hours later outlining some small fixes.

The programme is PAL 720×576. The aspect appears to be 14:9 anamorphic. The little person inside me who wants the greatest and the best all the time, wonders why the filming wasn’t done in HD, even HDV would do.

I thought the “formats” described on the R&DTV website were a bit vague. What does QuickTime format and Matroska format really mean? Sure, I know about QuickTime and Matroska containers, but this doesn’t say anything about the video and audio essence contained therein. The best way to find out about this is to download each video and let FFmpeg take a look.

QuickTime Format (461.3MB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.mov’:
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 10777 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream #0.1(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 720×576, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 50 tbc

That’s H.264 video with PCM audio. Strange they didn’t use AAC audio in a QuickTime file. Looking at that 10Mbps bitrate though, I’m guessing perhaps the BBC is expecting people to use this version for editing. But then why use H.264, rather than something that’s I-Frame only like IMX50? There’s also an Uncompressed version and another QuickTime version, which we’ll come to later.
 
Matroska Format (28.4MB):

Input #0, matroska, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.mkv’:
Duration: 00:05:59.04, start: 0.000000, bitrate: N/A
Stream #0.0(eng): Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 25 tbr, 1k tbn, 25 tbc
Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: aac, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16

Generic mpeg4 video this time (Xvid perhaps) and here’s our AAC audio!

MP4 Format (65.4MB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.mp4′:
Duration: 00:05:59.10, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 1526 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 25 tbr, 48k tbn, 50 tbc
Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: aac, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16

H.264 video again and AAC audio again. When opening this file with Totem to view, the Comments section says “HandBrake 0.9.3 2008121800″. Nice to know the BBC is using Open Source software for at least some of their video transcoding.

AVI Format (63MB):

Input #0, avi, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.avi’:
Duration: 00:05:59.04, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 1470 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: mp3, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 160 kb/s

Generic mpeg4 video again, but this time with mp3 audio.

FLV Format (37.4MB)

Input #0, flv, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.flv’:
Duration: 00:05:59.07, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 844 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: vp6f, yuv420p, 1024×576, 716 kb/s, 25 tbr, 1k tbn, 1k tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: mp3, 44100 Hz, stereo, s16, 128 kb/s

VP6 for the video codec and mp3 for the audio. No surprises there then. The bitrate is quite low though for VP6 content, quality will suffer.

Ogg Format:

Input #0, ogg, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins.ogg’:
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 683 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: theora, yuv420p, 720×576, PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: vorbis, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 516 kb/s

Theora for the video and vorbis for the audio, again no surprises there. 5.1 audio is a nice touch though. However, again, the bitrate is very low. Why would the BBC do this? The MP4 version, with H.264 video at a higher bitrate, is going to look far superior.

QuickTime 2 Format (155MB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins_2.mov’:
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 3627 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream #0.1(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 720×576, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 50 tbc

H.264 video and PCM audio. This second QuickTime file is found only on the FTP site and not linked to directly from the main page. The bitrate is much lower than the previous QuickTime file.

QuickTime Uncompressed Format (7GB):

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘RDTV_ep1_5mins_uncompressed.mov’:
Duration: 00:05:59.08, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 167428 kb/s
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream #0.1(eng): Video: rawvideo, uyvy422, 720×576, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc

There we go, raw video in the 4:2:2 colour space at 165Mbps, with PCM audio again. I wonder whether the content was filmed at anywhere near this resolution. Given that the programme is only SD, I’m guessing that the highest quality recording would have been done direct to Digital Betacam, which is only the equivalent of 90Mbps, unless of course the whole thing was done tapeless, which I must admit to doubting.

One last puzzlement is why a Dirac version wasn’t supplied, given that this is the BBC’s own R&D developed codec.
 

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Categories: FFmpeg, Video Tags: , , , ,
  1. April 18, 2009 at 16:27 | #1

    Story added

    This story has been submitted to fsdaily.com! If you think this story should be read by the free software community, come vote it up and discuss it here:
    http://www.fsdaily.com/EndUser/BBC_R_DTV_Creative_Commons_Tech_TV

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