Image Processing Reference
Introducing Real Networks Media
The Real Networks story began with the delivery of audio at low bit rates in the mid-
1990s, when the company was called Progressive Networks. This became attractive to
music-based Web sites and radio stations all over the world, which started to live-encode
their programs and broadcast them on the Internet.
In 1997 the first examples of streamed video were delivered, and we were all aston-
ished by this low-bit-rate, low-quality, postage-stamp-sized video at very jerky frame
rates. Nevertheless, it was the precursor of the present online video services. Some experts
consider this to be the future of TV delivery. There were a few other small companies
doing similar work during the 1990s, but Progressive Networks quickly became domi-
nant. Over the years, the company has evolved and is now known as Real Networks.
Real Networks media version 10 is the latest incarnation of the codec and was released in
January 2004. The company claims it is more efficient than all the other codecs, including
WM9 and the H.264 codec. Although unverified, this is possible, because the Real
Networks encoder does a very good job of exploiting the compression tools it has avail-
able. The improvements all take place in the version 10 encoder, allowing the content to
play back in the version 9 player. Going on the assumption that a coding standard defines
the bit-stream syntax for a decoder, this doesn't really warrant calling it a new codec. It is
just a more efficient model of the previous one.
The RealOne player is available on a wide variety of platforms. Figure 24-1 shows
what it looks like on a Mac OS X system:
The player now plays back QuickTime movie files courtesy of the QuickTime SDK.
This is interesting because the only way you can create Real Networks video files is
through their SDK or through the QuickTime codec plug-in that Real Networks launched
during late 2004.
Real Networks: http://www.realnetworks.com/