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T - U - V
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Y - Z
A method for smoothing the jagged edges (stair steps) often seen in graphics
or video. The method reduces the jagged edges by placing intermediate
shades of color or gray around the steps.
Active Streaming Format. A Microsoft file format for digital video playback
over the Internet, or on a standalone computer. Kind of a wrapper around any
of a number of compression types, including MPEG. Part of Netshow, a proprietary
streaming media solution from Microsoft. Biggest competitor is Real Networks.
While this 'wrapper' support many standard formats, ASF files are themselves
Feature of a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera that enables it to follow a speaker either by voice detection
(usual), by a color pattern recognition or by Radio signals (rare). Helps to allow the speaker to move
freely during a videoconference.
Audio Video Interleaved. A Microsoft format for digital audio and video playback
from Windows 3.1 Somewhat cross-platform, but mostly a Windows format. Has
been replaced by the ASF format, but still used by some multimedia developers.
The presence of extraneous lines.
A measure of the amount of data that can fit on a network. Measured in Hertz
or bits per second. For example, a regular Ethernet line has a bandwidth of
10Mbps (10 million bits per second.) Note that bandwidth is sometimes measured
as the bandwidth in one direction, and sometimes as the total in both directions.
Be sure you understand which it is for the system you are looking at.
The number of data bits per second that can flow in a communications circuit.
Some common speeds are 56K (for dial up modems), 384K (for most video
conferencing) and 10 Megabits (for a low-speed Ethernet).
Basic Rate Interface. An ISDN connection utilizing 2 64Kbps B
channels (bearer) and a single 16Kbps D Channel (Delta).
The process by which a codec stores temporarily captured video frames before encoding or decoding
them in order to ensure regular and timely transmission or reception. In videoconferencing, buffering
is very limited, since communications must take place in almost real-time, which allows for delays of
only a fraction of a second.
A video format that supports both NTSC and PAL signals. CIF is part of the ITU
H.261 videoconferencing standard. It specifies a data rate of 30 frames per
second (fps), with each frame containing 288 lines and 352 pixels per line.
Stands for Coder/Decoder (a telecommunications term) or Compressor/Decompressor
(a computer term). A codec is a piece of hardware or software that compresses
and decompresses digital audio and/or video.
The portion of a video signal that specifies what color each portion of the
picture is to be. See also Luminance, S-Video and Composite Video.
A method of carrying video information, which combines chrominance and
luminance on a single wire, resulting in lower video quality than S-Video
A piece of hardware or software that is used to convert video or audio (typically)
from the digital form used in transmission or storage into a form that can
Audio that has been encoded in a digital form for processing, storage or
Giving the illusion of new color and shades by combining dots in various
patterns. This is a common way of gaining gray scales and is commonly used
in newspapers. The effects of dithering would not be optimal in the video
produced during a videoconference.
De-Militarised Zone. A Term borrowed from the military where two forces
are separated by a physical boundry. In networking the term is used to represent
the area between a public network (Internet) and a private network. In
firewalls, the DMZ host is forwarded all incomming connections from the public
Echo suppression is a crucial portion of all videoconferencing systems.
If echo is not suppressed, the speaker hears his own audio coming back from
the other end of the circuit, after a small time delay. Th fault always lies
with the far end, although they do not perceive any problem.
A hardware or software based system that filters network traffic based on
a set of rules. Simple firewalls normally block access to specific ports.
Sending data in both directions at the same time. Usually higher quality
but requires more bandwidth. In videoconferencing, full duplex will be
much more natural and useable. Cheap speakerphones are half duplex, whereas
more expensive ones are full duplex.
A family of ITU standards for audio compression.
In the H.323 world, the gatekeeper provides several important functions.
First, it controls access to the network, allowing or denying calls and controlling
the bandwidth of a call. Second, it helps with address resolution, making
possible email type names for end users, and converting those into the appropriate
network addresses. They also handle call tracking and billing, call signaling,
and the management of gateways. They also handle call tracking and billing,
call signaling, and the management of gateways.
Gateways provide a link between the H.323 world and other videoconferencing
systems. A common example would be a gateway to a H.320 (ISDN) videoconferencing
ITU standard for video coding for videoconferencing. H.261 is a discrete
cosine transform (DCT) based algorithm for video in the 64kb/s to 2mb/s range.
All H.323 compliant videoconferencing system are required to support this
ITU standard for video coding within videoconferencing. H.263 offers better
compression than H.261, particularly in the low bitrate range used by modems.
The latest ITU standard for video compression. It is based on MPEG-4 and renders roughly equal video
quality with H.263, but at half the bit rate (e.g. 256 Kbps instead of 512 Kbps for an H.263 stream.
It was ratified in July 2003.
ITU standard for videoconferencing over ISDN and fractional T1 lines.
ITU standard for videoconferencing over networks that do not guarantee bandwidth,
such as the Internet. H.323 is the standard that this cookbook is recommending
that most users in the education community should be using. For more detailed
information on this and the other ITU standards see the bibliography of this
ITU standard for videoconferencing over standard phone lines.
H.350 is a series of Recommendations (standards) from the International Telecommunications Union, the
branch of the United Nations that addresses global telecommunications standards. H.350 standardizes the
way that multimedia conferencing information is stored in LDAP directories, so that multimedia
collaboration can integrate with enterprise directories for scalability, manageability and security.
Documents in the series include the base H.350 document, and sub documents H.350.1, H.350.2, etc. each
addressing a particular conferencing protocol.
A telecommunications system where data can only flow in one direction at
a time. Cheaper speakerphones are a good example of this, where only one person
can talk at a time.
Internet Engineering Task Force. A group that develops and publishes
new standards for use on the Internet.
Internet Group Management Protocol. This protocol is used in multicasting.
Activity of human brain when it is "filling in" the missing frames in visual data stream, i.e. extrapolating
visual information that is presented in two consecutive frames.
The Internet Protocol. IP is the basic language of the Internet. It was developed
by the government for use in internetworking multiple computer networks together.
A system for sending IP transmissions out only one time, but allowing for
multiple users to receive it. This would reduce the bandwidth required for
audio and video broadcasting over the Internet, but it is not widely used
Integrated Services Digital Network. This set of standards allows multiple
digital channels at 64Kbps to be used on top of the standard Public Switched
Telephone Network (PSTN) infrastructure. BRI and PRI are common configurations
of ISDN connections.
The change in latency with time. This is a network problem that is very important
to video quality. Significant jitter destroys video.
Kindergarten to grade 12 or graduation.
Kerberos is a network authentication protocol developed by MIT. It is designed
to provide strong authentication for client/server applications by using secret-key
The length of time it takes a packet to move from source to destination;
The size of imagery presented on the display is equal to that of real objects or person.
Lightweight directory access protocol; a set of protocols for accessing information directories.
LDAP is a simplified protocol based on standards within X.500. Unlike X.500, LDAP supports TCP/IP and
therefore Internet access and services.
A testing often found in the menus of videoconference systems. It creates a virtual connection with
itself, and allows the user to see the video and hear the audio signals they are transmitting.
Refers to data compression techniques in which no data is lost. For most
types of data, lossless compression techniques can reduce the space needed
by only about half. Only certain types of data can tolerate lossy compression.
Lossless compression technique when compressing data and programs.
Refers to data compression techniques in which some amount of data is lost.
Lossy compression technologies attempt to eliminate redundant or unnecessary
information. Most video compression technologies, such as MPEG, use a lossy
The portion of a video signal that specifies how bright each portion of the
picture is to be. See also Chrominance, S-Video and Composite Video.
Multicast Backbone. The MBONE is a system of transmitting audio and video
over a multicast network. Mostly available at universities and government
facilities, the MBONE can be thought of as a testbed for technologies that
will eventually be promulgated across the larger internet. The MBONE has been
replaced on the vBNS and Abilene by native multicast support.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface is a standard for connecting electronic
musical instruments and computers. MIDI files can be thought of as digital
sheet music, where the computer acts as the musician playing back the file.
MIDI files are much smaller than digital audio files, but the quality of playback
will vary from computer to computer.
MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) is a series of ISO standards for digital
video and audio, designed for different uses and data rates.
MPEG-1 - The initial MPEG standard, designed to encode full motion video
so it could be played back off of a CD (150 kb/s). The bit rate of a standard
MPEG1 is 1.5Mbps. MPEG-1 has a frame size of 352x240 pixels, which gives
a picture quality slightly better than VHS videotape. MPEG-1 included
three audio standards, most video systems use MPEG-1 layer 1 or layer
2 audio. MPEG-1 layer 3 audio (commonly known as MP3), is being used widely
for audio on the Internet.
MPEG-2 was a follow-on standard supporting higher data rates, and thus higher
quality. MPEG-2 is the standard used in DVD video players, most digital satellite
systems in North America, and in the new North American Digital TV system.
MPEG-3 was abandoned, as its planned functionality was included in MPEG-2.
MPEG-4 is a draft standard that will be better suited for use on the Internet.
MPEG4 delivers video at comparable quality to MPEG1 at a much lower bit rate.
MPEG-4 also supports a wide variety of elements that can be transmitted separately
and combined to form the video frame, such as a talking head in one stream
and the background in another. That is, MPEG4 allows manipulation of objects
within the video stream (addition, subtraction, object manipulation, etc.).
If you don't like where a chair is in the video, you can move it (providing
the chair has been coded as a moveable object, of course). Approval is expected
in the first half of 1999.
MPEG-7 is a developing standard for the description of multimedia objects.
Not a video encoding format, it is a way to describe elements in a multimedia
stream so that they can be accessed via database. For example, it would be
useful to be able to search a multimedia database for instances of 'red wagons.'
Multipoint Conferencing Server (MCS) (also MCU)
A hardware or software H.323 device that allows multiple videoconferencing
(or audio or data) users to connect together. Without an MCS typically
only point-to-point conferences can take place. Commonly supports voice
activated switching, where whoever is talking is broadcast to all users,
but new systems support "Hollywood squares", where multiple windows show
each participant. ITU-T standard H.231 describes the standard way of doing
this. Many current systems only support H.320 (ISDN) but many vendors
are working to upgrade their products to support H.323 (LAN, Internet)
as well. In the H.320 space, this functionality is referred to as a multipoint
control unit (MCU). Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, although
they refer to somewhat different implementations.
Network Address Translation. A method that allows a host on a private network
to establish a connection to a host on
network by redirecting and re-addressing packets between the two hosts.
A unit of information sent across a (packet-switched) network. A packet generally
contains the destination address as well as the data to be sent.
Logical endpoints used by TCP and UDP networking protocols to distinguish specific data channels on a network interface.
Primary Rate Interface. An ISDN connection utilizing 23 64Kbps B
channels (bearer) and a single 16Kbps D Channel (Delta). Also commonally called a T1.
Abbreviation for Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera. A camera that can move sideways (Pan), up or down (Tilt) and
Zoom in or Zoom out to give more control over the picture displayed or transmitted. Comes with a remote
control for operating.
A standard related to CIF, QCIF (Quarter CIF), transfers one fourth the
amount of data and is suitable for videoconferencing systems on slower connections
or telephone lines.
A file-format and architecture developed by Apple for use with digital audio
and video. Available on most computing platforms. A future version (Quicktime3)
will support streaming.
A proprietary system for streaming audio (and now video) over the internet.
Before Real Audio, users had to download an entire audio file before they
could listen to it. Also supports real-time broadcast of audio and video programs.
Many radio stations now broadcast on the internet using Real Audio.
A transmission that occurs right away, without any perceptible delay. Very
important in videoconferencing, as much delay will make the system very unusable.
A method of carrying video information on a cable that separates luminance
and chrominance on separate wires, thereby providing higher video quality
than composite video. See also Chrominance, Luminance and Composite Video.
sensory rich information
Information that consists of multiple sensory data (video, audio, olfactory, and /or tactile.)
set-top videoconference device
A videoconference appliance which is designed to be placed on top of a TV (hence the name) typically,
although this is not the only way to use it. It mostly includes a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera, and is controlled
with a remote. Examples are a Polycom Viewstation, a Tandberg 880 or a Sony PCS-1600.
SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. SIP is a text-based protocol,
similar to HTTP, for initiating communication sessions such as
video and audio conferencing, telephony, instant messaging, presence, and
events notification (including uses in interactive gaming and virtual
Sending video or audio over a network as needed, such as Real Audio/Video
or Microsoft NetShow, instead of forcing the user to download the entire file
before viewing it. Typically a few seconds of data is sent ahead and buffered
in case of network transmission delays. (Although some data is buffered to
the hard drive, it is written to temporary storage and is gone once viewing
T.120 is an ITU-T standard (International Telecommunications Union) for document
conferencing. Document conferencing allows two or more people to concurrently
view and edit a document across a network.
T.120 is the commonly used name to refer to a family of distinct standards.
Many videoconferencing companies were developing their own implementations
of this until Microsoft released its free NetMeeting software. Now, many companies
are using NetMeeting, while perhaps enhancing it in some way.
Transmission Control Protocol. A connection oriented protocal layered on IP that offers
reliable communication, flow-control, and full-duplex connectivity.
Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol. It is the combined Ethernet protocol
standard that covers both network and transport layers.
Two or more people who are geographically distant having a meeting of some
sort across a telecommunications link. Includes audio, video, and/or data conferencing.
terminal end station
A terminal end station is the client endpoint that provides real-time, two-way
communications. This is often shortened to just terminal.
A device that does transcoding.
Converting a data stream from one format to another, such as MPEG 1 to H.263,
or an H.320 videoconferencing session to H.323.
Truespeech is a codec used for low bandwidth encoding of speech (not music).
It was created by the DSP Group. It is available on Microsoft Windows 98 among
User Datagram Protocol. A connectionless protocol that does not have any guarantee of delivery. The major
benefit of UDP is the connection uses much less bandwidth than TCP.
Sending each user their own copy of a video (or other data) stream. As opposed
to Multicast, where one copy is sent and whoever wants it listens to that
copy. It is the most commonly used method for videoconferencing and video
on demand today. Multicast, which is much more efficient, is slowly gaining
ground, but requires Internet Service Providers to support it.
Video Development Group. Currently consists of the University of Alabama
at Birmingham, Indiana University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University
of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville,
Australian National University, Southeastern University Research Association,
Ohio State University, CANARIE, and SURFNet.
Being able to view any of a number of videos when you want to. Used on the
internet and at hotels, cable systems, etc.
A computer server that has been designed to store large amounts of video
and stream it to users as required. Usually a video server has large amounts
of high-speed disks and a large amount of network bandwidth to allow for
many users to simultaneously view videos.
voice activated switching
Automatically switching the video feed to whoever is speaking in a multipoint
videoconference. Usually a function of the MCU (multipoint conferencing