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Desktop Video AGOCG Report

Initial questionnaire results

The results of the questionnaire are presented in summary form below, representing a total of 21 usable responses. The questionnaire blank is presented as Appendix 1.

1.How often do you use desktop video as a medium?

2.What uses do you have for desktop video?

The `other' responses included `software testing' and `image capture of various kinds'.

3a.What platform(s) do you use? (If more than one, could you please complete the questionnaire for each.)

3b.If your platform has in built video capabilities, have you experienced any problems related to this? If so, what are they?

No equipment with in built video capabilities had any problems with this feature. The machines offering this as part of their intrinsic functionality were the Macintosh and the Silicon Graphics machines. The PC compatible machines do not have in built video capabilities.

3c.Would you recommend your computer to other users, and why?

No users would actively not recommend their platform and configuration to other users, but the degree of support varied. Macs are considered to be good entry level machines because they are easy to use, reliable and flexible. The speed of the processor and amount of memory appear to be the most important issues in selecting a platform rather than the manufacturer.

4a.What other DTV related hardware do you use? (Tick as many as appropriate)

A variety of ancillary equipment is used with this hardware, particularly audio capture and replay boards and video digitisation and display boards. Soundblaster and Videoblaster appear to be the most commonly used of these.

4b.Have you experienced any limitations with this hardware? If so, what are they? (e.g., flicker, lines etc.)

Problems are varied across different configurations of equipment and sometimes without any obvious reason. Smeared frame grabs, speed and frame size, flicker were all cited as problems, some of which are intrinsic to the QuickTime format. Problems like reliability are a little harder to diagnose with any confidence. Support for colour is also a limitation for some add-ons.

4c.Would you recommend your hardware to other users, and why?

Macintosh users seem very happy with their hardware in terms of cost and ease of use. Only one user would definitely not recommend his hardware, a Sun user who felt that the set up was too expensive. Users are often reluctant to speak disparagingly about the equipment that they have invested in, hence the low number of negative comments. Also it appears that most users have not used their equipment to an advanced level and so limitations may not have manifested themselves at this stage. VideoBlaster and SoundBlaster work competently, and cost has come through as a major consideration value for money is the key.

5a.What software do you use for DTV control?

5b.Have you experienced any limitations with this software? If so, what are they? (e.g. window size, frame rate, colour)

Many users had experienced all of the example problems of window size, frame rate and colour. It seems that most expected this and are simply tolerating the problems at this relatively early stage in the development of DTV.

5c.Would you recommend this software to other users, and why?

Nearly all users were happy to recommend their software as it usually came free with the machine they were using, and so again cost becomes a principal factor. Video for Windows and QuickTime users were happy that these would become the standard software for DTV control.

6a.What software do you use for videotelephony, if any?

Only six respondents use videotelephony software, of which one uses ESF2F, one uses CUSeeMe (Shareware), one used DEC in house software, and the remainder used bespoke software written to fit their requirements.

6bHave you experienced any limitations with this software? If so, what are they? (e.g. window size, frame rate, colour)

Problems with this software were of a technical nature, including interoperating with ISDN and working with different CODECs.

6c.Would you recommend this software to other users, and why?

No one piece of videotelephony software stands out as particularly recommended. The DEC software is rated highly by the DEC employee, but its availability is a limitation.

7a.What authoring software do you use, if any? (indicate as many as appropriate)

7bHave you experienced any limitations with this software? If so, what are they? (e.g. window size, frame rate, colour)

No problems were recorded for any of the specific authoring tools.

7c.Would you recommend this software to other users, and why?

Every respondent was happy to recommend the software which they were using on the grounds of price, power and ease of use. Authorware Pro is particularly recommended for non programmers but it is expensive.

8a.What software do you use for other DTV uses? (e.g. watching TV, training, presentations, surveillance, etc.)

The only other software used was an internal research tool at DEC, Video Monitor and Timbuktu.

8bHave you experienced any limitations with this software? If so, what are they? (e.g. window size, frame rate, colour)

The DEC software is not available outside of the company, the frame grabbing is poor with VideoMonitor, and Timbuktu has a slow screen refresh rate.

8c.Would you recommend this software to other users, and why?

Video monitor was considered excellent for watching video images on a Macintosh desktop. Timbuktu was very useful for remote training as it is possible to control another person's machine from one's own while issuing information via telephone.

9a.Is the video image generated locally or remotely?

Of all the respondents, 11 generated their images locally, one remotely, and five had the capability for both. Four did not answer this question.

9b.If remotely, then what telecoms link is your computer on?

Every single respondent used Ethernet, in conjunction with another telecoms link. These included, existing telecoms network, ISDN, ATM and FDDI.

9cOver what area? Dedicated lines, Local Area Network, Metropolitan AN, Wide AN

Of the 10 respondents to this question, three had world wide connections, three had wide area network connections, two had local area networking.

10.What is the source of the video image?

11.Which type of connection is used to input the video?

12.How easy was it to get the equipment configured to your requirements, both in terms of hardware and software? (Who did it?, manufacturer, distributor, on site technician, etc?)

Most respondents installed and configured the equipment themselves; question 15 reveals that many of those who returned the questionnaire were in fact the local gurus of their site. Reactions varied markedly to the question of how easy or difficult it was to do. Two users of Sun Sparcstations had quite differing views, one replied "Easy to install and configure, I did it myself," while the other felt that it was "Tricky." Support from manufacturers and distributors appeared to be scarce.

13.How do you feel about your overall set up, in terms of achieving your tasks?

Most respondents were happy with their configuration and set up as it stood at the moment, but everybody was aware that further advances would soon be made. The anticipation of more complete standards is evident, and one respondent described his system as `Pre Model T Ford'. In terms of achieving current goals, all systems were up to the tasks even if, in some cases, video quality could be improved.

14.Do you have any intentions of buying other related hardware/ software? (Please specify)

Most respondents were looking to develop their systems further by the addition of software and hardware. Some respondents are looking to upgrade their video quality, moving to digital Betacam, while others want to improve the flexibility of their authoring tools, moving to, for example, Avid MediaSuite Pro or Adobe Premiere.

15.What is the source of help for using the equipment?

16.How do you rate the user support/ help for the equipment that you have used?

One of the key points to emerge from this questionnaire is the lack of user support for DTV set ups. There was a strong feeling of disappointment with the degree of user support offered only two users didn't express dissatisfaction with it. Other comments included `On the whole rather poor', and `Adequate but would have to pay for complete Authorware help'.

17.Please add any further comments which you feel may be of interest but have not been covered in the questionnaire.

A number of points were raised by this last question, giving a general impression that people are awaiting rigid standards before DTV will really take off. The extended comments are included in Appendix 2

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