Q&A with 3ivx Founder Jan Devos by 4Video
You are the Managing Director of 3ivx, what can you tell IVM readers about your role in the company?
The company was founded in May 2000 outside of Antwerp in Belgium by myself and Stuart Espey. My responsibilities are for the day-to-day running of the company and business development whilst Stuart Espey, as Technical Director, has primary responsibility for technical matters including the design and development of the codec architecture.
A significant change at the end of 2002 was the relocation of the Research and Development Centre to Sydney, Australia. The company now correctly referred to as 3ivx Technologies is an Australian registered company although our customer base and development teams are located throughout the world.
What can you tell IVM readers about your company - how & why it all started in the beginning, and how you have evolved?
Video compression has for many years been a passion of mine. At the time (around the year 2000) there was a distinct lack of effective video compression technologies for personal computers. Searching via the Internet for like minded individuals I located Stuart Espey, who had a similar passion, combined with a deep technical understanding of the requirements. This was the beginning of 3ivx.
Our 4 main goals for the video codec were;
High Quality - So as to preserve as many visual details as possible for a given bitrate.
Efficiency - To optimize the codec for encoding and decoding speed, without sacrificing image quality.
Portability - To ensure that the codec will run on and be optimized for a variety of Operating Systems and Architectures, including Windows and Mac OS.
Interoperability - To enable play back of not only MPEG-4 video but also the various variants such as DivX 3, 4, 5 and XviD.
The initial versions consisted of video components only. In 2001 we initiated work on MPEG-4 Systems and MPEG-4 Audio which resulted in what we know now as the Audio filters and Media Splitter and Muxer.
Who has provided funding for the initial R&D and start up
A number of private individuals have funded, and continue to fund, the research and development costs. Naturally an enormous amount of hard work and countless sleepless nights went into making 3ivx into the product it is now.
What prompted you to move the company to Australia? Is it just because the weather is so great in Sydney year round and you guys like to surf?
There is a bit of that, Sydney is an incredible good city to live and do business in. There is in particular a strong appreciation of performing arts, including film, as well as a strong IT culture. From the attached picture, I think you will appreciate that it is rather special and is working well for us.
The first picture is from our head office overlooking Pittwater on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
The second one is overlooking the ocean with Avalon Beach on the right.
3ivx only employs a handful of video experts, of the dozen or so full time 3ivx employees what can you tell us about them and your companies culture? Do you guys work in suit/ ties & lab coats - or shorts & flip flops?
The contributors of 3ivx are located throughout the world. It is probably fair to say that at any one time not all are working and not all are sleeping. That been the nature of a global economy. As regards to clothing, this is a personal matter and sometimes I wonder whether all of our staff do own suits and ties. I certainly do as sometimes it is still expected.
A few things I am noticing - many are calling it 3 - Three IVX - when it should be pronounced Thrivex.
That's right. Many also write 3ivX while it should be 3ivx (or 3IVX).
Many also are confusing 3ivx as DIVX for the Mac - of course this is not the case. I have used the 3ivx 4.5 encoder ( Mac version) and it and it really is amazing.
This is definitely not the case. In fact our Windows software generates most of the revenue. Nevertheless we are strong believers in the Mac OS platforms. This resulted in a number of powerful Mac OS products that we made available and will continue to make available in the time to come.
The 3ivx Software is compatible with DivX on both Windows and Mac OS. As an example the Video Decoder components play back DivX 3, 4 and 5 video and the Video Encoder components generate video readable by DivX compatible decoders and devices (including DVD Players and Set-Top Boxes).
Why is 3ivx better than MPEG4 - yet at the same time MPEG4 compliant?
It is important to know that the MPEG-4 standard only standardizes the Decoder. This gives the implementer of the standard a great amount of liberty to research and develop encoder algorithms.
You can concentrate development efforts on Image Quality which is what DivX 5 has been focusing on, or on speed which is what you can say about Nero MPEG-4. With 3ivx we try to achieve a balance between quality and speed. Especially with the upcoming version 3ivx D4 4.6. The user gets a great amount of control to specify the desired quality versus speed while at the same time keeping the interface clean and straight forward to use.
Besides the Encoder there are various powerful features in the 3ivx Decoder components. These include playback of DivX 3 and other MPEG-4 variants as well as High Quality Post-Processing filters and extreme optimizations to take advantage of various architectures (such as MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3DNow!, ARMv4, AltiVec and VIS optimizations).
Going forward, what is your business plan? How do you intend on making a profit?
There are two main revenue streams, licensing of our products for bundling with third party applications and tailoring of our products to suit specific application areas.
1. Licensing. There are many possible market segments where audio and video compression can be useful. For different market segment we partner with companies that have experience in that specific segment. This results in the bundling of the 3ivx Software with third party applications. Typical market segments include Video Conferencing, Broadcasting, Medical Video Recording, Security Systems, etc.
2. Tailoring. To assist our clients and partners, we work closely with them to add the required function to the 3ivx Software. We are careful to ensure that we only perform the development when the requested functionality lies within our focus area, and is generally applicable. An example of a tailored development is the addition of Interlaced Decoding to the 3ivx Video Decoder component.
Many IVM viewers are involved in creating and deploying video for the Internet. What benefits can be gained by using the 3ivx encoder?
How much does the software cost? Where can someone get it?
The Image Quality of the MPEG-4 video generated with 3ivx is excellent. It is similar to video generated with the latest DivX and XviD versions using the same bitrate. 3ivx however, is significantly faster when encoding than DivX. Besides that, neither DivX nor XviD, have a complete MPEG-4 Toolset that handles both MPEG-4 Video, MPEG-4 Audio and the MP4 file format. Using MPEG-4 AAC Audio instead of MP3 results in additional bitrate savings. 3ivx encoded MPEG-4 Audio and Video can be played back by any MPEG-4 compatible player, including Mobile Phones, Set Top Boxes and QuickTime 6.
Our Mac OS X clients receive DiVA bundled with the 3ivx Software for transcoding MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 Video to MPEG-4. DiVA takes advantage of multiple processors and has an all YUV pipeline that avoids color transformation which results in faster encoding and a more accurate image.
The 3ivx Software is available from our online store. The 'Plus' version, for personal use is available as a decoder package for US$ 6.95 and US$ 19.95 for the full codec package. The 'Pro' veresion, for commercial and professional environments, is available as a decoder package for US$ 29.95 and US$ 99.95 for the full codec package.
Any tips you can provide in getting the best results and where can one go for support?
A couple of encoding tips:
- Crop off all black borders and garbled lines (such as synchronization lines in analog TV broadcasts)
- Deinterlace if necessary
- Encode to a size which is a multiple of 8 such as 640x272
- If you're not using Constant Quality mode, make sure to specify a data rate
The support section of our web-site has a lot of information and examples on how to use the 3ivx Software and what all the different configuration options mean. You can use our google powered search or manually browse the different sections of the support site. If you can't find an answer to your question, you can post a message detailing the problem onto the applicable forum.
Who in the heck is this guy on your website?
He's a nice guy. We think he might be a Wallaby.
Copyright 2004 IVM. Q&A exclusively for Internet Video Mag. Special Thanks to Jan Devos for his time. 4Video AKA Kevin Hicks is a video artist who resides in "Silicon Beach" Florida. A pioneer of Internet Video, he has followed it's evolution since 3 second postage stamp sized pixilated blurs. Well known in streaming media circles 4Video is one of IVM's favorite contributors. If your Internet Video is slow to download, has buffering issues etc... maybe it is time to get a