Obama Inauguration on Linux and PowerPC Macs! Plus codec details

Moonlight/Silverlight 1.0 player!

As I mentioned on Friday, the official streaming feed of Barak Obama’s Presidential Inauguration Committee will be using Silverlight 2.

However, using managed code in the player leaves out Linux users of the Moonlight 1.0 beta, as well as PowerPC Mac users. We’ve heard a lot of requests to add support for those platforms, and so we teamed up with the Moonlight team at Novell and they’ve created a Silverlight 1.0 version of the player that works great in both Moonlight and PowerPC Macs. Miguel de Icaza has details from his side.

We kicked the project off this afternoon before the event, so pardon us if it’s a little rough. The only significant limitation is that the SL1 player can only do the 500 Kbps stream – lacking managed code, making a manifest XML parser in JavaScript didn’t seem like something we should start testing only nine hours before the event goes live.

But anyway, thanks to Joseph, Larry, Geoff, Rusty and especially Aaron at Novell for pulling this together so quickly and so well, and Mio at iStreamPlanet for making the last minute encoder tweaks to make it Silverlight 1.0 compatible. On the Microsoft side, Brian Goldfarb and Eric Schmidt did a great job making the call and making it happen. Just go to www.pic2009.org in the morning and the updated player should be available around 6 am EST (11 am GMT).

That something like this could come together on such short notice is a testament to the chops and passion of the Moonlight team and the great platform we’re both implementing. I’m glad we got this chance to demonstrate how serious we are about this collaboration (although I wouldn’t have minded starting a day earlier…).

Update: The Silverlight 1.0 compatible player is low live at:

http://www.pic2009.org/page/content/linuxplayer

Note that this player is only for Silverlight 1.0 and doesn't work with Internet Explorer. The Silverlight 2.0 player for Windows or Intel Mac is at:

http://www.pic2009.org/page/content/live

(And yes, that would have been easy to fix, but we're rather out of time!)

Tech Specs

And as I promised earlier, I got the tech details on how the streams are encoded. Note there is manual stream selection in the lower right corner;

Hardware

There are quite a few encoders to handle the different streams, data rates, and to provide failover backups. All systems are quad-core, and use hardware preprocessing.

  • Onsite configuration: Dell Precision workstations with Osprey 230 capture cards
  • Offsite configuration: Dell 2950 with Digital Rapids capture cards.

Software

The encoders are running Windows XP and use Windows Media Encoder, with my recommended tweaks and registry key settings applied.

Codecs

  • Video: Window Media Video 9 Advanced Profile (aka VC-1 Advanced Profile)
  • Audio: Windows Media Audio 9.2

The audio was originally going to be WMA 10 Pro for improved efficiency, but we fell back to WMA 9.2 in order to have Silverlight 1.0 compatibility. Fortunately the audio feeds are either mono or might as well be, so we can win some efficiency back by encoding in mono.

300 Kbps streams

  • Video: 480x360, 29.97 fps, 259 Kbps
  • Audio: 44.1 KHz mono, 32 Kbps

500 Kbps streams

  • Video: 480x360, 29.97 fps, 442 Kbps
  • Audio: 44.1 KHz mono, 48 Kbps

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