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Toshiba's Powerful Authoring Tool Delivers Moving Images Extracted from Motion Pictures to Web Sites

12 July, 2001


People, Vehicles, Other Images Can Quickly, Easily be Delivered to Web Pages as MPEG-4 Video Images

Tokyo--Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has developed authoring software that gives web page designers, content developers and presentation makers the ability to quickly and easily extract irregularly shaped objects from motion pictures and deliver it to a web site as an MPEG-4 video.

Current systems for extracting non-rectangular objects from moving pictures--a walking person or a flying bird, for example--are complex and difficult. They require extensive training and know-how, and the whole process takes time. Toshiba's new software is much less demanding on the user and allows objects to be extracted in about the tenth of the time taken by present software systems. Once extracted, objects can be encoded to MPEG-4 video and displayed on Web browsers equipped with a required plug-in. The new system opens the way to the fast authoring and delivery of more attractive multimedia content over the Internet.

The high hurdle in object extraction is the precise indication of the boundaries of the object--the point where an eagle ends and the sky it is flying through begins. Achieving this has required time-consuming frame-by-frame indication, as automatic extraction was too imprecise. Toshiba has achieved high precision automated extraction, and saves the objects as MPEG-4 video, which supports high compression rate encoding of arbitrarily shaped objects.

Toshiba's software consists of authoring and rendering packages. The authoring software imports video files, extracts desired objects and saves them as MPEG-4 video files. These files are stored on web servers with other content files. Manual operation is confined to indicating the rough boundary of the object in the first frame. In successive frames, the indication is done automatically. In a process known as "Robust Estimation" the software first analyzes spatial local motion between frames and then the motion of the object, based on the local motion. This gives rough estimates of the position and shape of the object. Precise boundaries are determined by the fractal method for quantifying change. This method achieves faster extraction and with greater precision than any other method.

The rendering software that displays the MPEG-4 video object in html files is viewed with Web browsers. Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator versions of the plug-in are supported. Users experience the object as another integrated part of the web site being visited.

Toshiba is now developing a business plan for promoting the new package in the marketplace.


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