VivoActive is a hybrid, a unique solution in its field, the world of video streaming. Like the more expensive server-reproducing VDOnet and Vosaic systems VivoActive creates a flow of compressed data for visualizing moving images, but it doesn't require special software for the server. Instead, the firm sells VivoActive Producer, a utility for $500 that translates AVI files into their compressed and exclusive format: Viw. The distribution of Vivo films is therefore simple: one merely adds VIVO type files (VIV) to the MIME environment of his server and adds tagged or embedded objects to the Web pages.
Those who wish to play the films, will have to download and install the Vivo plug-in or the ActiveX player which are available for Macintosh, PowerPC and Windows. Producer is presently available for Windows 95/ NT and in the forseeable future for MacOS. VivoActive Player played back the incoming video flows superbly, often starting up immediately after connection to a Web page that contained a Vivo incorporated file. The quality of the image depends both on the source of the original video and from the compression configurations used to convert the original AVI film into the Vivo format.
The company affirms that Producer is able to compress an uncompressed video file up to 98% so long as there are not too many changes of scene in the sequence. We were not able to obtain such spectacular results, but in the course of our tests, Producer managed to reduce files between 73/% and 87%, including those films that are not ideal candidates for compression (in a test run, Producer compressed an AVI file from 3MB into several Vivo files of sizes ranging between 800K and 400K, depending on the preset configurations).
Vivo's compression technique works best on videos that contain few image changes and little movement. Nevertheless we discovered that by tinkering with Producer's configuration parameters, we were able to create acceptable reproductions even for films full of action. An interesting function of the Vivo system is the incorporated autoplay setting which plays films as soon as the browser finds them on a page. The VivoActive Producer utility allows control over two settings: the expected rate of reception (between 14.4 Kbps for the low band and 112 Kbps for the high band inclusive) and the speed of visualization (from 1 to 15 frames: the faster the speed, the smoother the action). < P> The utility compresses AVI files, reducing the detail of the image to increase downloading speed and eliminating frames for reduced playing speeds. But if you aren't careful, you might end up with useless videos devoid of audio-video synch and full of blurred images. It is good policy therefore to try your Vivo files before publishing them. Fortunately, Producer is fairly simple to use even for the inexperienced. Since deterioration in the viewing quality of ViwActive Producer compressed files is practically inevitable, the package is not a good solution for films requiring high resolution. But for the publication of news-bulletins, especially for fixed Medium Shots, Vivo is an excellent utility.
Last updated 7-Jan-97
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