Meet TMMI, the brand-new company with a 25-year history.
More than twenty-five years ago, two Georgia Tech University mathematics professors, Alan Sloan and Michael Barnsley, teamed up through their company, Iterated Systems, Inc., to create a new practical algorithm to compress digital images based on fractal theory. Outside of academic and certain scientific circles, their efforts were greeted with a wide variety of skepticism and some yawns.
Fractal what? At the time, digital video was still in its infancy and generally considered more of a problem than a solution. Since they developed the algorithm originally to compress still images, not video, Barnsley and Sloan decided to work with TMMI on creating a video codec. Eventually TMMI acquired all the rights to TRUDEF™ because Iterated didn’t want to invest any more money and time on video.
Back then, computers were slow and streaming video was but a dream. Tape was the dominant media and no one was sure if the new CD-ROMs were ever going to catch on. DVD’s weren’t even yet in production. Besides, there was no way to maintain quality at higher resolution and keep the digital files small enough to transmit or store efficiently. Something had to give.
But fractals? Common sense said they were interesting in theory, but not a practical application. Digital video was all about the pixels. It’s just data! And there were limits to how many pixels could be packed onto a drive through a distribution channel or displayed on a screen, no matter how big.
Back then, they were right.
Simply put, fractal theory is counterintuitive and complicated. More important, it works. And TMMI, in a matter of months, hopes to show just how well it works in the marketplace.
Who is TMMI and why will everybody want their new fractal compression technology, TRUDEF™?
Lurking far down in the pink sheets was TMMI, a company that nobody had paid much attention to since the early nineties. It was started by ex-rocker, Phillip “Taylor” Kramer, bassist for Iron Butterfly, who later became an aerospace engineer, choosing technology as an alternate path from the “mundane” world of rock. It was a dream, dreamed up by a dreamer, who disappeared as the dream turned into a nightmare. Kramer ultimately vanished in 1995 and his body turned up years later in a macabre twist to an already bizarre plot.
Being ahead of its time meant that TMMI became battered by management miscues, money troubles and legal headaches. A few false starts with potential strategic partners and half-baked schemes didn’t help matters either. The past 17 years saw TMMI go dormant, waiting for computers to catch up with the company’s unique digital video compression technology. It was a tough time.
Despite this catalog of past difficulties and troubles – technology too advanced for under-powered computers, bankruptcy, intrigue, neglect – many TMMI shareholders, who understood that fractal compression was a different solution and wasn’t just about packing pixels, never lost faith. They stayed loyal even as TMMI shares declined in value, because they understood its future value, once the DOS-based codec could be updated to work on modern operating systems and compression/speed ratios could be reduced to the level needed for commercial acceptance. It appears their loyalty is about to be rewarded.
In November of 2012, TMMI announced the completion of its first version of Microsoft Media Foundation 2012 library, supporting TRUDEF™ Video playback in Windows Vista, 7 and 8. This means TRUDEF™ Fractal video can be now played in Microsoft’s stand-alone Windows Media Player, WMP Plugins for IE9, Firefox and Google Chrome browsers.
TMMI has reconstructed the TRUDEF™ .FVF (‘Fractal Video File’) and the .FIF (‘Fractal Intra Frame’) file extensions. These file extensions are modernized versions of the original 1990′s fractal file extensions used in the initial development and the shipped commercial video products. TRUDEF™ “.FVF” now supports videos compressed with the TRUDEF™ Fractal compression system and a wide variety of commonly used audio formats. It can be made up of either Fractal Intra Frames (‘Key Frames’) or a combination of Key Frames and P-frames (‘Predicted picture’). [TMMI's recently announced completion of Microsoft Media Foundation TRUDEFTM Fractal Codec 2012 library supports direct playback of .FVF fractal video files in Microsoft Media Foundation-compatible media players. It also displays single .FIF fractal Intra Frames.]
These are major milestones in proving that TRUDEF™ works in today’s high definition market and is likely to make it a viable top down solution for the video industry from cameras, Production/Post Production, Archiving, Digital Cinema, Blu-ray, to Broadcasting and Internet Streaming.
Comebacks don’t happen everyday.
“Back from Oblivion” stories are a fascinating because they are rare. But in a classic case of a company rising from the ashes, TMMI is clearly on the ultimate comeback path. It’s a path that intersects at the nexus of quality, bandwidth and storage capacity. A core group of TMMI investors led the way, attracting new investors and campaigning for shareholders to vote in a management change in the fall of 2011. In October, they elected a slate of new directors, including Chairman Gerard Cavanaugh as CEO and Michael Kozole as Chief Financial Officer.
That was only the beginning. As of January, 2012, the company had raised sufficient funds for a clean-up effort and to explore the mystery of its fractal codec based on Iterated System’s patented technology. The company’s lead outside counsel and TMMI Secretary and Director Stan Ford dug in to investigate and clean up the legal and administrative mess that was the legacy of the previous management. Much of that work included the tasks of confirming and securing TMMI’s exclusive, perpetual rights. This covers worldwide, non-transferable rights for Evaluation, Full-Use and Distribution licenses in the technology, opening the door for securing additional intellectual property protection.
CFO Mike Kozole got to work tracking down past financials, filing long overdue quarterly statements not filed by previous management that had to be compiled from historical data; and cataloging the results of recent activity and information supplied by those passionate shareholders who initiated the change in TMMI’s board and management.
For the first time in decades, TMMI’s most recent financials are current, including 2010 and 2011, as well as the first three quarters of 2012.
What does TMMI have that everybody wants?
Everybody is streaming something these days and it’s only going to get more crowded. Bandwidth demand has been escalating at an exponential rate primarily due to streaming media outlets like Google, Apple, Netflix, and Amazon being joined by cablevision distribution giants like Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner and as well as sports programmers, media networks and production stalwarts like NewCorp, Disney and CBS intersecting with streaming media specialists such as Netflix, Dyle and Hulu. Worlds collide at the point of a pixel.
Regardless of where they got their start – as gadget companies, software monopolists, broadcasters, film-makers, telephone utilities, merchandisers or cartoonists – these giants are all pouring more content through overloaded pipes. They are struggling to accommodate the content provider, program producers, advertisers and most important, impatient consumers, who believe that they can see the difference in quality.
“Better pictures that take up less bandwidth capacity”. That is the holy grail of streaming media and HDTV. In that case, TMMI rebirth couldn’t have been timed better. As screen size, bandwidth and consumer expectations of quality scale up at a rate far in excess of any forecasts, new developments occur daily to show that potential opportunity continues to explode. Competition among camera manufacturers like Panasonic, ARRI, RED, Sony and Canon has intensified as film has been abandoned by even the most ardent past supporters. With increasing frequency, there’s talk of 2k moving up to 4k and even 8k. Bigger screens are cropping up everywhere.
With more computer processing power, bigger HDTV screens, and transmission technology improving every day, only software wasn’t keeping up with all the new hardware. Where was the high resolution content’ Viewers have high expectations and will remain loyal only as long as they can get the quality picture they want at a price they are willing to pay. So the next advancement in video compression better be incredible.
“Incredible” takes extra effort. Over the past twelve months TMMI’s development team has made significant strides updating its proprietary TRUDEF™ codec to make fractal video compression a near-term, potentially viable commercial reality – so much so that already TMMI has shown “up-rezzed” motion picture clips to potential strategic partners in private demonstrations going from 2K to 4K and beyond.
TRUDEF™’s remarkable potential advantage is that its fractal algorithm makes digital video resolution independent – meaning it can scale up the resolution of motion pictures to a higher resolution without making the file size bigger. TRUDEF™ keeps the larger HD picture quality intact as it gets bigger – without adding additional unwanted artifacts – keeping the digital file small.
Even hardened skeptics, who stated, “this defies the laws of physics” prior to seeing the results in private demonstrations, have become believers. Since TRUDEF™ depends on advanced mathematics rather than code efficiencies, bigger is now demonstrably better.
Out of the Lab.
TMMI’s development team has done the hard work in its lab proving that the technology works. They’ve made great progress researching and updating the codec from DOS, enabling the company to modernize the technology and make private demonstrations possible to move the product from the lab phase through an agile development process to address real-time encoding issues and on to beta tests and its goal of commercialization.
Much of the recent programming work has focused on updating and enhancing the company’s exclusive proprietary codec transferred by license to TMMI from Iterated Systems in 1993. On top of that, developers cracked difficult bit mapping issues and hidden coding errors that kept working against them.
Going forward, the contributions of TMMI’s programmers will run the gamut from expanding intellectual property rights through reviewing possible new patent filings on top of the dozens of Iterated Systems’ patents on which the TRUDEF™ is based; to enhancing the company’s profile within the many business sectors in which the company will operate; to countering the “mystery science” reputation that had shadowed TMMI through the nineties. In addition, a major re-branding of the company is now underway to reflect the company’s open and optimistic attitude.
Seeing is Believing
Rather than defying the laws of physics, TRUDEF™ does what other great disruptive technologies have done before – it applies those laws in ways that few, if any, have attempted to explore, using math instructions to control the ubiquitous pixel. In private demonstrations that have been held for a few select companies, TMMI engineers compressed challenging raw footage from a variety of acquisition sources using TRUDEF™ fractal technology to compress it with negligible loss to color, detail and intentional artifacts like film grain.
Since beginning private demonstrations of TRUDEF™ in mid-October, TMMI’s development team continues to make excellent progress on the codec, preparing it for commercialization. Getting the decoder to work in real time will be an exciting milestone and clearly the goal that proves that TRUDEF™ is at long last commercially operational.
The numbers in detail underscore how disruptive TRUDEF™ could be to the market. In one time lapse 4K motion picture, shown as part of the October demonstrations, the result was quite remarkable in both image quality and detail. The potential economic benefits in just one sample became self-evident in reviewing comparative file sizes in content shown in private demonstrations.
Each RAW 8 bit 3840×2176 frame is 24.48MB.
Each TRUDEF™ 8 bit 1920×1088 frame is approximately 1.5MB, but can be viewed at 2x the resolution at 3840×2176.
A 48 minute 4K resolution movie already compressed with a competing high end professional codec to a file size of 338GB was converted back to RAW frames totaling 1.7TB in size to simulate original RAW footage. It was then compressed using TRUDEF™ to 118GB. The results were indistinguishable to the trained eye from the original. Upon seeing it unfold, one high-level technology representative of a senior content carrier quickly went from skeptic to true believer.
Once out of the lab, TRUDEF™ is expected to support 16-bit color per channel. Although the codec’s viability has been limited to a working model, lab resources will continue to be focused on achieving real-time compression.
TRUDEF™ fractal compression technology works differently from any current compression product. Instead of rounding up all the pixels and cramming them into a massive data stack or throwing away color data to save space, TRUDEF™ analyzes, sorts, compresses, distributes and then reiterates the image through a proprietary algorithm that makes TRUDEF™ video resolution independent. This makes it possible to “up-res” video while maintaining image quality and reducing bandwidth throughout the workflow and distribution process.
The advantages mean TRUDEF™ has the clear potential to become the standard for image acquisition (cameras), production, and post-production in digital cinema. For the professional market that means a more streamlined workflow with no transcoding or further compression to achieve the highest quality. While TRUDEF™ could certainly create a great advantage for the multi-billion dollar professional cinema market, that’s just for starters.
The further one travels along the content distribution path, the greater the need for compression. Once established as the preferred method for digital workflow, it’s a short hop to become the best choice for image quality, bandwidth efficiency and reduced storage space. Internet streaming video, cable carriers, mobile devices and HDTV broadcasting are all sectors where TRUDEF™ presents a compelling story. One potential side effect is in the distribution energy savings realized, a key expense issue no longer overlooked by internet, cable and television engineers. Considering cinema, sports, broadcasting, defense, security, space and education, this may develop into a trillion dollar global market.
Quality, Bandwidth and Storage are the 3 circles in TRUDEF™’s digital video Venn diagram. The circles may vary in size according to the industry. One constant is that TRUDEF™ will always be in the sweet spot.
The demonstration results have shown experts that TMMI has exceptional technology which could bring immense value to their operations. At the same time, TMMI developers are currently compressing challenging test footage for other entities to be reviewed with them within the next 30 days.
These are exciting times for TMMI. Bandwidth demand is accelerating at a dizzying rate, stressing capacity at every level of verticals as diverse as cinema, sports, news, cable, TV, streaming media, defense, security, space exploration and medicine – that could make the company’s technology not only relevant, but necessary. TRUDEF™’s unique technology can be applied regardless of investment in existing hardware from the camera all the way to the set-top box, so TMMI may be at the center of content development, production, workflow, transmission, exhibition and storage. Any and all of those sectors can benefit from what TMMI has to offer.
TMMI has also established an Advisory Board that includes: former Georgia Tech Mathematics Professor Alan Sloan, PhD, co-inventor of the fractal codec and co-founder of Iterated Systems, which licensed the technology exclusively to TMMI in perpetuity; Mung Chiang, PhD, Princeton Professor, computer scientist, heads a team of PhD’s searching for global bandwidth solutions; Hal Lipman, Emmy Award-winning former executive with NFLFilms; Cinematographer and creative consultant Garrett Brown, Oscar Award-winning inventor of the Steadicam SkyCam, SwimCam and DiveCam; Richard Fox, Managing Partner with Cross Atlantic Capital, Leonard DeRoma, Managing Partner with Wildwood Capital; Charles M. Hallinan, CEO of Hallinan Capital Corporation; and Charlie Wright, Head of Fall River Investments. Recently, the company added its own TOP GUN to its advisory board, reservist F-18 pilot, Lt. Col. Thomas Mackie, USMC. He is CEO of G-Force Leadership, a management consultancy.
Timing is everything
With a clear path now ahead of it, TMMI continues its current build of the TRUDEF™ fractal compression technology. The company is ramping up implementation of its B2B strategy within each sector and is exploring the B2C potential.
All options are on the table. TMMI is currently looking at strong joint venture and strategic partners before cultivating customers. The company is eager to develop a relationship with a strong strategic partner, giving them a competitive head start in their respective market. Partnering with the right player could leverage their participation into a faster time-to-market for TRUDEF, which could result in a more robust presence and an accelerated rollout.
TRUDEF™ BLOG -http://trudefblog.us
TMMI is a technology company headquartered in the US, specializing in video image management and compression. Founded in 1990, the company is dedicated to improving bandwidth utilization and video image quality. TMMI develops digital video compression technology that provides end-to-end workflow and distribution solutions for cinema, sports, mobile, streaming media, cable, medical imaging, security, defense, space exploration and education. TRUDEF™ fractal technology offers users enhanced image quality, reduced bandwidth utilization and digital media storage requirements.