Compressing Data and Industries: The Historical and Cultural Role of Digital Video Compression

by Nichols, Patrick, BA

Abstract (Summary)
Over the past three decades, video media in the United States have shifted from analog to digital—a shift which has not only altered traditional video media such as film and television but has helped usher in entirely new ways to create and distribute video through the emergence of the Internet and personal electronic devices. The increased use of digital video has been marked by a convergence of industries and is described as a democratizing force which gives consumers an unlimited choice of video content and the freedom to view it whenever and wherever they desire. This paper examines the technological and historical development of video compression in order to analyze its role in facilitating the cultural and economic trends associated with digitization. For this study, I focused on MPEG-2 and H.264, the most common video compression techniques, by analyzing how their technical compositions have influenced the way in which each system has been utilized in distinct industries. The rapid adoption of both compression types by content producers and electronics manufacturers can be attributed to their architectures, which are standardized and robust yet still accommodate a variety of video sizes and resolutions. A constantly evolving technology, video compression is central in the ongoing competition for control over digital video markets and Internet-based applications. As the line between “tech” companies and video content producers blurs, large corporations like Google and Apple will gain greater power over how video is constructed and broadcast, which may call into question digital video’s democratic nature.
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Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Michael Palm

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Other

Keywords:Compression, H.264, MPEG-2, Digital Video, Digitization, Digital Convergence, YouTube, DVD, Digital TV


Date of Publication:05/03/2012

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