The term ‘signal acquisition’, when applied to video streaming, refers to the second stage of the five-stage process of getting a video ‘out there’ and available for viewers to watch.
The five stages are:
- Video and audio capture
- Signal acquisition
- Delivery (or distribution)
When a video is captured during the first stage, there is a process that then needs to be followed if the video and audio production is to be broadcast.
There are many types of content produced for broadcasting, such as:
- News reports
- Live events
- How-to tutorials
- Local band practice
- Live trading platforms
- Corporate video conferencing
- Branded advertising video
The sky is the limit, as today’s consumer demand for content means that high-quality, professional branded video broadcasts can be just as competitive as lower-budget, short pieces.
About signal acquisition and transmission
Before content is encoded, it needs to be transmitted (often referred to as “backhaul”), and this stage is all about signal acquisition. For distribution of a live video event, the backhaul is absolutely vital as any errors packet loss or disruption to the backhaul stream will significantly impact the end user streams
Uplinking is the term given to the process of sending the content signal to a satellite. Downlinking is the term used for the process of collection of the signal from the satellite by the service provider, who will then encode it ready for the distribution stage.
Other methods of signal acquisition include Bonded cellular, the use of a phone bridge, most useful for conference calling, or the increasingly more common direct connection from fibre connected venues.
Live video events generally require the lowest latency transit so that viewers are not faced with any delay (latency) when watching on multiple end user devices, and this is where the choice of service and platform provider determines the quality level of the end user streams.
Once video capture, signal acquisition and encoding is performed, the video or audio content is ready for distribution and ultimately ready for viewers to watch or use on their websites, or chosen viewing platforms. Distribution is often the most expensive step after production, particularly for live events when scalable large platforms (CDNs) are required.