Standards are important, but sometimes stan- dards bodies move slower than the pace of in- novation. The streaming industry can respond
to this in one of two ways: Wait until a standard is
ratified, or use a technology that solves a short-term
problem, hoping the technology itself becomes adopted widely enough to become a de facto standard.
We asked survey respondents to rank the top 20
technologies from a list of more than 30. The following technologies rose to the top of overall responses
when judged in terms of their impact on the streaming media industry.
THE TOP OF THE TOP 20
The following technologies received voting at a
threshold above 50% of the overall vote. Unless otherwise indicated, the definitions come from the Streaming Media Glossary ( streamingmedia.com/glossary).
Percentage vote: 100%
Definition. FFmpeg’s website calls it “a complete, cross-
platform solution to record, convert, and stream au-
dio and video,” which pretty much sums it up. The
intent of FFmpeg is to provide encoding, transcod-
ing, and decoding of a variety of media content in
various codecs. The original FFmpeg also included
a server version, ffserver, but it was dropped when
it was deemed too “hard for users to deploy and run
due to reliability issues, lack of knowledgeable peo-
ple to help and confusing configuration file syntax,”
according to developers.
Why it matters. The success of FFmpeg cannot be
understated, and FFmpeg was the only technology
to receive a unanimous vote. As more and more codecs are integrated into FFmpeg, the entire digital
media industry moves closer to an open-source encoding and transcoding solution that is robust and
universally accepted. For instance, version 3. 3 “
Hilbert” includes the Apple Pixlet decoder and New-Tek SpeedHQ decoder, two proprietary codecs that
had been kept at arm’s length from the industry as
part of the proprietary push by each company to
own its portion of the video production ecosystem,
and version 3. 4 “Cantor” includes a New Tek NDI interface connector and spec-compliant VP9 muxing
support in MP4.
20 for 20: Top
the Last 20 Years
A look at 20 major technologies
that have dominated—and
streaming media industry
By Tim Siglin