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CIT can broadcast your seminar, conference or meeting live to a world-wide audience over the Internet as a real-time streaming video. The event can be recorded and made available for viewers to watch at their convenience as an on-demand video or a downloadable file. CIT can also broadcast NIH-only or HHS-only content.

New VideoCast Features

In an effort to improve our service and offer the best technology, we have transformed NIH VideoCast into the next generation of streaming video at NIH. The service now offers a variety of new features, including a better video player, HD video, improved visuals, smartphone support, powerful search functions, a YouTube channel, Facebook recommend, Google + and Twitter tweet.

H.264 Video

The first hurdle to move NIH VideoCast into the next generation of streaming was to identify a technology to replace our old Real Networks player, which wasn’t easily available to all users. Our goal was to find a solution that “just works”.

					VideoCast player streaming h.264 video

The Adobe Flash player suggested itself as a possible solution, since it is already installed on a majority of computers. After a successful trial program, we chose the H.264 codec with video hardware acceleration built into the player for its sharper picture and smoother video at full screen. The new VideoCast player seamlessly incorporates alternate bitrates to support varying network connectivity. The higher bit rates improve motion and image clarity.

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High Definition Video

The next hurdle was to upgrade standard definition fiber and encoder infrastructure to high definition.

The VideoCast player demonstrating high-definition video
Click to see full size

HD video is noticeably better with details crisp and clear and better able to handle motion. The VideoCast HD video player provides a larger screen size with 1280 by 720 pixels along with a maximum sustained bitrate of 1840Kbps.

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Smartphones and Tablets

With the rise of popularity of smartphones and tablets, CIT now supports video streaming to mobile devices. With adaptive content video delivery optimized for mobile devices, the goal is to deliver high-quality, smooth video with multi-bitrate for live and on-demand streaming.

The VideoCast player on a tablet
Click to see full size

The VideoCast system produces multiple files from the same source that adapts to differing connection speeds and is transparent to the user with switching occurring behind the scenes.

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Intelligent Search and Concept Clouds

CIT has been streaming world-class seminars to a world-wide audience for more than two decades. We VideoCast hundreds of events live each year, and make them available for viewers to watch at their convenience on-demand. Unfortunately, this continuous creation of content made accessing specific information a daunting task for users. Without an easier way to quickly and efficiently sift through hours of video on various subject matters, crucial information stored in our VideoCast archives could remain essentially unavailable to the research community.

The new VideoCast search engine takes a big step towards solving the problem of finding specific items from a vast pool of video and audio content. With the new search engine’s search and voice recognition technology, users can now search not just textual elements such as VideoCast titles or event summaries but the actual audio portions from videos in the database. Researchers can search the video archives for the occurrence of scientific terms, and locate those within specific segments of the video. The goal is that the specific search results will take users to the exact part in the video where the searched term is used.

The new VideoCast intelligent search engine

Apart from in-video searching, another key enhancement to VideoCast search is the concept cloud. It provides visitors with a graphical representation of main search topics. Concepts related to the search are listed alphabetically with their font size indicating importance or relevance to the topic. Users can see at a glance which related topics are most relevant to their search term, and will be better able to extract targeted information from the video content.

The search engine's concept cloud
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As part of our outreach to the wider community, and to help connect NIH research with a bigger audience, CIT published the NIH VideoCast channel on YouTube. There are 625 videos available on this channel now, with more to follow.

The VideoCast YouTube channel

Working with HHS new media group, VideoCast is branded under the HHS YouTube umbrella. CIT collaborated with other NIH offices to share ideas for implementing social media at NIH.

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Future Goals

CIT is currently testing products and technologies to improve and update our service. We are looking at HTML5 streaming as an option to eventually phase out Adobe Flash player. We are working to change the downloadable video files to MP4. We are enhancing the handling of live captions for Section 508 and adding NIH-only and HHS-only events to smart phones. With these updates and others on the way, we are always looking for ways to better serve the NIH community.

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