ATEME transcodes the future with TITAN Live's Dolby AC-4 in the cloud

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ATEME transforms video delivery. Based in France and working worldwide, the company specialises in video compression solutions that take programme content and format it for broadcasters, cable companies, and satellite and internet distributors, enabling it to work through any business model.

ATEME prides itself on innovation. One of its flagship software products, TITAN Live, is hardware agnostic. It can transcode video using commodity servers or even using any cloud infrastructure.

We talked to Thomas Burnichon, ATEME's director of technology, about the recent addition of support for the Dolby AC-4 audio encoding format, and what the future may hold for his company and the industry.

How would you describe ATEME?

We're about 30 years old, over 300 people strong, with more than 50% of the company workforce geared towards R&D. We are growing profitably and fast - at an average over 20 percent a year - and winning the market, thanks to technology disruption and innovative engagement models. We work with anyone who takes video content and sends it on, through traditional and novel channels, and we use innovation and agility to make that affordable at any scale.

Tell us about TITAN Live.

Our TITAN platform transcodes programme material into distribution formats, and is also used by contributors to meet delivery requirements.

The cool thing about TITAN Live is it can be on-premises in its own hardware, but it's a software-only solution that can run in the cloud - ideal for low capex and for users who need flexibility and density. It's bringing all the advantages of cloud to the industry, and with Dolby AC-4 it's got the tools for the next generation of streamed content packaging and distribution.

Why include Dolby AC-4 now?

Demand from customers and our sense of how the market is evolving. The initial traction with Dolby AC-4 is more in distribution, hence adding it to TITAN Live. A lot of programming doesn't have Dolby AC-4 at the moment - things like ad breaks aren't immersive yet, but the whole workflow has to support the option, to adapt as the content models change.

Dolby AC-4 does have immediate advantages such as high performance at lower bit rates and lowering cost of delivery. New use cases, such as letting users lift dialogue above background music, are going to catch up quickly. We're ready - our customers will be ready too. Expect a lot more Dolby AC-4 in Europe this year.

How long did it take to add Dolby AC-4 to TITAN Live, and what was your experience of working with Dolby?

It was quick. We did it in two steps, an initial sprint to get to a demonstrable state, then the fully productised version. We worked together very closely, Dolby incorporated our feedback, we followed their advice, and the back-and-forth was really collaborative. It took two to three months to get to a working system.

Then came testing for various use cases, including feedback from early clients, and that took between 6 and 12 months. The Dolby validation team were really good to work with, as we could test on individual items rather than having to parcel everything up on one big test wrapped up in metres of paperwork with a huge rework afterwards. It matched our internal agile methodology perfectly.

How will you develop your products in the future?

We depend on multiple inputs such as signals from clients, but we also look at what future needs will be. Our clients can rely on us being able to respond rapidly.

Given our size, we can't do everything in advance. Dolby works well in advance. In fact, Dolby has this depth of vision and market evolution, and will invest in long-term trends. We let them do that. As good partners do, we complement each other.

We bring things to market very quickly when we need to, so we make sure we're closely aligned technically and commercially with Dolby. We help them create solutions that people like us need, and they create the core technology that drives the market's long-term strategy.