The truth is out there!

Nice to see more conversations about the “elephant in the room of OTT”. We need to work together to build the new infrastructure that enables 4K, VR and all the other new media realities to be enjoyed at home and in the cinema in their true glory. As the recent Kaleidoscope showcase in Sydney demonstrated, leading producers are starting to create some truly amazing VR experiences. Chris Milk’s The Life of Us was a particularly ground breaking 2 person VR experience.  Hollywood is already producing brilliant films like the Revenant and the Martian in 4K. The challenge is to get them to consumers at the quality the producers made them. Fortunately some innovative studios, media companies and telco’s are working on this already! “Join the resolution”!!

Rhett Sampson, CEO & CTO, GT Systems
This post originally appeared on

Home theatre is the future but Telco’s and ISPs can’t deliver

The 5 articles below from Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia highlight the opportunity and the elephant in the room in OTT.

In the first one, a panel of industry heavy hitters at NAB confirms that the Home TV experience is already better than cinema. 4K HDR is how producers and directors want you to see the content they make.  Cinemas can’t do HDR and many aren’t even 4K; AR and VR will just make the experience even better for home and harder for cinemas. But the graphs in the next 4 articles highlight the problem: ISPs cant stream that experience on current average Internet speeds. UHD disc’s won’t solve it. Telco and ISP networks have already been broken by the exponential growth in video and they are desperate for a solution. Workarounds like ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate) are becoming unacceptable: viz. the “spinning wheel of death.” So what do we do?

The problem requires looking at solutions that may be disruptive but work, and adapting them for the “common good”. The antidote often grows next to the poison. But the taint of poison is hard to shake. It requires a lot of work over long periods to build trust. I’m talking about taking peer to peer protocols such as BitTorrent (there, I’ve said it!), adapting them, fixing their shortcomings, combining them with other solutions that work e.g. CDN, making them secure and acceptable to content owners.

Sound impossible? Most people thought so when we started on this journey over 3 years ago. Then we said we’d do it on an open Windows PC and people, especially security guys, literally laughed at us. But now it’s done, we have unconditional approval from a major Hollywood studio, and the patent office has deemed the core of our patent “novel and inventive”, the test for a patent. If you want to find out more about that journey and what we’ve done, there’s a video over at our main site

The content production and OTT world has turned upside down in the last couple of weeks (see our other blog entries here). It’s about to get very interesting indeed. Please get in touch if you want to chat about what we’ve done and how it might be useful to you.

Home to exceed theaters as the gold standard for movies

The immediate future of UltraHD is streaming

Slow 25Mbps adoption an opening for UHD Disc?

4K discs arrive, fail to stem disc sales losses in 2016

Broadband caps and speed limit 4K adoption

Rhett Sampson, CEO & CTO, GT Systems
This article first appeared on

Warner Bros envisions the future of movies and applies for a patent

7 days ago, the Thursday before Easter, a Warner Brothers US patent application was published and the movie business shifted fundamentally into the next era: the era of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Merged Reality (MR), and every kind of reality (xR). While everyone was running around looking for a killer app for AR, Warners correctly intuited that the next thing after 3D goggles in cinemas and at home is AR goggles. And a little over a year ago, they patented it. Which is great if you’re Warners but has some pretty fundamental implications for everybody else.

This patent makes immediate sense. As anyone who has experienced VR and AR will tell you, it leaves 3D for dead. So when a dragon flies out of the screen in AR (the illustration above from the patent), your brain is going to believe a dragon flew out of the screen and is flying around the room. It’s going to require some pretty fancy pre- and post-production processing and data synching, but all very doable. This is, in fact, the main subject of the patent. It’s also going to be “desirable to develop…new methods.. for [producing] cinematic content for VR and AR, that… enhance the appeal and enjoyment of narrative content for new immersive technolo­gies such as VR and AR.” Bring that on!

In the “preferred embodiment” (patent language), headsets will be wireless and served from a single server. It may take a while to get to that, but we can easily imagine (and the patent contemplates) an interim step with a small “personal server” mounted under the seat or the TV, with a Hololens, Meta, Google Glass or some new AR headset connected.

The patent includes various control devices and haptics i.e. bio-feedback. Disney have also done a lot of work in this area and filed a number of patents e.g. a “haptic chair”. Visions of feeling the dragon’s tail swipe as it flies past and swiping back with a “sword”!

A lot of attention is paid to co-ordinating 2D and VR/AR content. This is to allow viewers to take the goggles on and off and stay immersed. Necessary for those who get motion sick and of course for the obligatory visit to the in cinema candy bar.

What is significant about all this is that Warners have thought deeply and for a long time about how this might all work. Including the need for new narrative story telling and production techniques. What the patent is silent on is the technical detail of how this will be distributed to, and within, cinemas and “home theatres”, and what it will play on.

If the OTT Internet video streaming boom has shown anything, it’s that this is a very real challenge. AR and VR data files and executables can be bigger than even 4K movies. Especially if they contain a render of the 2D movie as the patent contemplates. As well as significant bandwidth, AR and VR executables need significant processor and graphics grunt. Traditional distribution via CDN may not cut it. Innovative solutions such as peer to peer have been used in gaming and should be applicable here. This would also work well for in cinema distribution and updates. Security will, of course, be critical.

Luckily some other people have been thinking deeply about this aspect of the problem, perhaps for even longer than Warners. We also applied for a patent. If we all team up, work hard and get lucky, you might just be able to experience the Oasis in cinemas in time for the release of Ready Player One. I’ll be first in the queue!

Rhett Sampson
GT Systems