Processing is merely transforming raw video footage by manipulating the captured data. Adding effects, joining clips and encoding to more distributable formats are all common ways to process video. Electronic editing systems have heeded scissors and manual labor. For long dedicated hardware solutions were needed to handle processing. Real-time signal processing had to first cope with analogue video signals and then digital video at high data rates.
Even though processing raw 4k high definition video in real-time still requires acceleration the revolutionary day will come soon. Modern processors will be able handle everything thrown at them; multiple streams and advanced visual effects on multiple layers. Even though new technology will make life easier it is very common to run into change resistance in the industry. Impediment exists even though most signal processing units have been based on programmable logic for long. People’s fear is really not based on fact, but on vested interests.

Expensive broadcast-quality equipment has functioned as a protective barrier to entry. Old seasoned professional in the field have not just learned to trust hardware based solutions, but the expensive price has also kept competition at bay. New people to industry had not had access to systems so they could not really challenge the old-timers without practice. Now the upcoming wonder kids were brought up with computers and are getting access to tools through trial software and moderate prices.

Software packages themselves have developed over the years. Even though consolidation is imminent there are still multiple vendors. Each software house has had to match the competitors’ features in order to stay a float. The one area where the systems do not shine is extendability. Interfaces for integrating additional third party functionality are sparse. The companies naturally want to sell new versions by leaving functionality to later releases, but there are also technical reasons.

Video processing packages have background in different operating systems (unix/mac/pc). In order to grow their market potential vendors have attempted to port their code to multiple platforms. Each platforms would have provided a different media API to work with and thus standard portable code has often been used. The components have actually been written as platform independent manner as possible. Since no standard has existed and because few operating system functions were used each editing system for example has its own wrapper format for their filters.

Consequently today it is impossible to develop a single filter compatible with all video editing platforms. Of course once the core algorithm has been implemented wrapping up is really not all that big of a deal. However it takes valuable time and resources from the real work. Working with multiple platforms is a real problem for the small companies that specialize in video filter development. As filter developers can only dream of standard wrappers other alternatives have to be sought to improve extendability. Standard open interfaces between filters is one thing to work towards.

If we look at the history of video filters it is obvious that progress has been made. Originally filters just took data from one source and molded into another format. Then it had to be possible to manually tweak the parameters inside the editor’s native user interface. Today you should be able to add effects based on real-time data from multiple sources interfaced to the editor. A standard interface based on XML-RPC or such could greatly reduce the troubles in integrating multiple systems in the production chain.

All in all it must be said that the video processing technology has advanced hugely in the latest years. Everyone in the industry must come to grips with not just the visible changes, but also the changes brought by the step by step democratization of video productions. The Pandora’s box has been opened and there is hope that through more direct competition real talent gets to shine again.

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