Skip to main content
Log in

Inter-destination multimedia synchronization: schemes, use cases and standardization

  • Regular Paper
  • Published:
Multimedia Systems Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Traditionally, the media consumption model has been a passive and isolated activity. However, the advent of media streaming technologies, interactive social applications, and synchronous communications, as well as the convergence between these three developments, point to an evolution towards dynamic shared media experiences. In this new model, geographically distributed groups of consumers, independently of their location and the nature of their end-devices, can be immersed in a common virtual networked environment in which they can share multimedia services, interact and collaborate in real-time within the context of simultaneous media content consumption. In most of these multimedia services and applications, apart from the well-known intra and inter-stream synchronization techniques that are important inside the consumers’ playout devices, also the synchronization of the playout processes between several distributed receivers, known as multipoint, group or Inter-destination multimedia synchronization (IDMS), becomes essential. Due to the increasing popularity of social networking, this type of multimedia synchronization has gained in popularity in recent years. Although Social TV is perhaps the most prominent use case in which IDMS is useful, in this paper we present up to 19 use cases for IDMS, each one having its own synchronization requirements. Different approaches used in the (recent) past by researchers to achieve IDMS are described and compared. As further proof of the significance of IDMS nowadays, relevant organizations’ (such as ETSI TISPAN and IETF AVTCORE Group) efforts on IDMS standardization (in which authors have been and are participating actively), defining architectures and protocols, are summarized.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Multimedia information can be modeled as streams that are made up of a time sequence of finite MUs (also called in other works Media Data Units or MDU, Information Units or IU, and Logical Data Units, or LDU).

  2. A cluster can be considered as a collection of computing and communication end-systems sharing either the same local environment or a media experience as a logical group.


  4., Interactive Networked Experiences in Multimedia for You, FP7-ICT-2007-1-216647.



3D tele-immersion


Audio video transport


Audio/video transport core maintenance




Cable modem termination system


Computer-supported collaborative workspaces


Distributed control scheme


Distributed multimedia presentations


Digital subscriber line access multiplexer


European Telecommunications Standards Institute


High definition


Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol


Internet draft


Inter-destination multimedia synchronization


Internet Engineering Task Force


IP Multimedia Subsystem


Internet Protocol Television




Media Synchronization Application Server


Media unit


Next generation networks


Network Time Protocol


Quality of experience


Quality of service


Request for comments


(RTCP) Receiver report


Real-Time Transport Protocol


RTP Control Protocol


Real Time Streaming Protocol


Synchronization client


Service control function


Standard definition


Session Description Protocol


Session Initiation Protocol


(RTCP) Sender report


Synchronization maestro scheme


Synchronization source


International Atomic Time


Telecoms and Internet Converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking


User equipment


Coordinated Universal Time


Virtual-time rendering


Working group


(RTCP) Extended report


  1. Kernchen, R., Meissner, S., Moessner, K., Cesar, P., Vaishnavi, I., Boussard, M., Hesselman, C.: Intelligent multimedia presentation in ubiquitous multidevice scenarios. IEEE Multimedia 17(2), 52–63 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Vaishnavi, I., Cesar, P., Bulterman, D., Friedrich, O., Gunkel, S., Geerts, D.: From IPTV to synchronous shared experiences challenges in design: distributed media synchronization. Signal Process Image Commun 26(7), 370–377 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Geerts, D., Vaishnavi, I., Mekuria, R., Van Deventer, O., Cesar, P.: Are we in sync?: synchronization requirements for watching on-line video together, CHI ‘11, New York, USA (2011)

  4. Boronat, F., Lloret, J., García, M.: Multimedia group and inter-stream synchronization techniques: a comparative study. Inf. Syst. 34(1), 108–131 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Chen, M.: A low-latency lip-synchronized videoconferencing system. In: SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI’03, ACM, pp. 464–471, New York (2003)

  6. Ishibashi, Y., Tasaka, S., Ogawa, H.: Media synchronization quality of reactive control schemes. IEICE Trans. Commun. E86-B(10), 3103–3113 (2003)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ademoye, O.A., Ghinea, G.: Synchronization of olfaction-enhanced multimedia. IEEE Trans. Multimedia 11(3), 561–565 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cesar, P., Bulterman, D.C.A., Jansen, J., Geerts, D., Knoche, H., Seager, W.: Fragment, tag, enrich, and send: enhancing social sharing of video. ACM Trans. Multimedia Comput. Commun. Appl. 5(3), Article 19, 27 pages (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Van Deventer, M.O., Stokking, H., Niamut, O.A., Walraven, F.A., Klos, V.B.: Advanced Interactive Television Service Require Synchronization, IWSSIP 2008. Bratislava, June (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Premchaiswadi, W., Tungkasthan, A., Jongsawat, N.: Enhancing learning systems by using virtual interactive classrooms and web-based collaborative work. In: Proceedings of the IEEE Education Engineering Conference (EDUCON 2010), pp. 1531–1537. Madrid, Spain (2010)

  11. Diot, C., Gautier, L.: A distributed architecture for multiplayer interactive applications on the internet. IEEE Netw 13(4), 6–15 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Mauve, M., Vogel, J., Hilt, V., Effelsberg, W.: Local-lag and timewarp: providing consistency for replicated continuous applications. IEEE Trans. Multimedia 6(1), 45–57 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Hosoya, K., Ishibashi, Y., Sugawara, S., Psannis, K.E.: Group synchronization control considering difference of conversation roles. In: IEEE 13th International Symposium on Consumer Electronics, ISCE ‘09, pp. 948–952 (2009)

  14. Roccetti, M., Ferretti, S., Palazzi, C.: The brave new world of multiplayer online games: synchronization issues with smart solution. In: 11th IEEE Symposium on Object Oriented Real-Time Distributed Computing (ISORC), pp. 587–592 (2008)

  15. Ott, D.E., Mayer-Patel, K.: An open architecture for transport-level protocol coordination in distributed multimedia applications. ACM Trans. Multimedia Comput. Commun. Appl. 3(3), 17 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Boronat, F., Montagud, M., Guerri, J.C.: Multimedia group synchronization approach for one-way cluster-to-cluster applications. In: IEEE 34th Conference on Local Computer Networks, LCN 2009, pp. 177–184, Zürich (2009)

  17. Boronat, F., Montagud, M., Vidal, V.: Smooth control of adaptive media playout to acquire IDMS in cluster-based applications. In: IEEE LCN 2011, pp. 617–625, Bonn (2011)

  18. Huang, Z., Wu, W., Nahrstedt, K., Rivas, R., Arefin, A.: SyncCast: synchronized dissemination in multi-site interactive 3D tele-immersion. In: Proceedings of MMSys, USA (2011)

  19. Kim, S.-J., Kuester, F., Kim, K.: A global timestamp-based approach for enhanced data consistency and fairness in collaborative virtual environments. ACM/Springer Multimedia Syst. J. 10(3), 220–229 (2005)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Schooler, E.: Distributed music: a foray into networked performance. In: International Network Music Festival, Santa Monica, CA (1993)

  21. Miyashita, Y., Ishibashi, Y., Fukushima, N., Sugawara, S., Psannis K.E.: QoE assessment of group synchronization in networked chorus with voice and video. In: Proceedings of IEEE TENCON’11, pp. 393–397 (2011)

  22. Hesselman, C., Abbadessa, D., Van Der Beek, W., et al.: Sharing enriched multimedia experiences across heterogeneous network infrastructures. IEEE Commun. Mag. 48(6), 54–65 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Montpetit, M., Klym, N., Mirlacher, T.: The future of IPTV—Connected, mobile, personal and social. Multimedia Tools Appl J 53(3), 519–532 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Cesar, P., Bulterman, D.C.A., Jansen, J.: Leveraging the user impact: an architecture for secondary screens usage in an interactive television environment. ACM/Springer Multimedia Syst. 15(3), 127–142 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Lukosch, S.: Transparent latecomer support for synchronous groupware. In: Proceedings of 9th International Workshop on Groupware (CRIWG), Grenoble, France, pp. 26–41 (2003)

  26. Steinmetz, R.: Human perception of jitter and media synchronization. IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun. 14(1), 61–72 (1996)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Stokking, H., Van Deventer, M.O., Niamut, O.A., Walraven, F.A., Mekuria, R.N.: IPTV inter-destination synchronization: a network-based approach, ICIN’2010, Berlin (2010)

  28. Mekuria, R.N.: Inter-destination media synchronization for TV broadcasts, Master Thesis, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Network architecture and Services, Delft University of Technology (2011)

  29. Pitt Ian, CS2511: Usability engineering lecture notes, localisation of sound sources.

  30. Nielsen, J.: Response times: the three important limits. (1994)

  31. ITU-T Rec G. 1010: End-User Multimedia QoS Categories. International Telecommunication Union, Geneva (2001)

    Google Scholar 

  32. Biersack, E., Geyer, W.: Synchronized delivery and playout of distributed stored multimedia streams. ACM/Springer Multimedia Syst 7(1), 70–90 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Xie, Y., Liu, C., Lee, M.J., Saadawi, T.N.: Adaptive multimedia synchronization in a teleconference system. ACM/Springer Multimedia Syst. 7(4), 326–337 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Laoutaris, N., Stavrakakis, I.: Intrastream synchronization for continuous media streams: a survey of playout schedulers. IEEE Netw. Mag. 16(3), 30–40 (2002)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Ishibashi, Y., Tsuji, A., Tasaka, S.: A group synchronization mechanism for stored media in multicast communications. In: Proceedings of the INFOCOM ‘97, Washington (1997)

  36. Ishibashi, Y., Tasaka, S.: A group synchronization mechanism for live media in multicast communications. IEEE GLOBECOM’97, pp. 746–752 (1997)

  37. Boronat, F., Guerri, J.C., Lloret, J.: An RTP/RTCP based approach for multimedia group and inter-stream synchronization. Multimedia Tools Appl. J. 40(2), 285–319 (2008)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Ishibashi, I., Tasaka, S.: A distributed control scheme for group synchronization in multicast communications. In: Proceedings of International Symposium Communications, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, pp. 317–323 (1999)

  39. Lu, Y., Fallica, B., Kuipers, F.A., Kooij, R.E., Van Mieghem, P.: Assessing the quality of experience of SopCast. Int. J. Internet Protoc. Technol 4(1), 11–19 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Shamma, D.A., Bastea-Forte, M., Joubert, N., Liu, Y.: Enhancing online personal connections through synchronized sharing of online video, ACM CHI’08 Extended Abstracts, Florence (2008)

  41. Ishibashi, Y., Tasaka, S.: A distributed control scheme for causality and media synchronization in networked multimedia games. In: Proceedings of 11th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks, pp. 144–149, Miami, USA (2002)

  42. Ishibashi, Y., Tomaru, K., Tasaka, S., Inazumi, K.: Group synchronization in networked virtual environments. In: Proceedings of the 38th IEEE International Conference on Communications, pp. 885–890, Alaska, USA (2003)

  43. Tasaka, S., Ishibashi, Y., Hayashi, M.: Inter–destination synchronization quality in an integrated wired and wireless network with handover. IEEE GLOBECOM 2, 1560–1565 (2002)

    Google Scholar 

  44. Kurokawa, Y., Ishibashi, Y., Asano, T.: Group synchronization control in a remote haptic drawing system. In: Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Multimedia and Expo, pp. 572–575, Beijing, China (2007)

  45. Hashimoto, T., Ishibashi, Y.: Group Synchronization Control over Haptic Media in a Networked Real-Time Game with Collaborative Work, Netgames’06, Singapore (2006)

  46. Nunome, T., Tasaka, S.: Inter-destination synchronization quality in a multicast mobile ad hoc network. In: Proceedings of IEEE 16th International Symposium on Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications, pp. 1366–1370, Berlin, Germany (2005)

  47. Brandenburg, R., van Stokking, H., Van Deventer, M.O., Boronat, F., Montagud, M., Gross, K.: RTCP for inter-destination media synchronization, draft-brandenburg-avtcore-rtcp-for-idms-03.txt. In: IETF Audio/Video Transport Core Maintenance Working Group, Internet Draft, March 9 (2012)

  48. ETSI TS 181 016 V3.3.1 (2009-07) Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); Service Layer Requirements to integrate NGN Services and IPTV

  49. ETSI TS 182 027 V3.5.1 (2011-03) Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); IPTV Architecture; IPTV functions supported by the IMS subsystem

  50. ETSI TS 183 063 V3.5.2 (2011-03) Telecommunications and Internet converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networking (TISPAN); IMS-based IPTV stage 3 specification

  51. Brandenburg van, R., et al.: RTCP XR Block Type for inter-destination media synchronization, draft-brandenburg-avt-rtcp-for-idms-00.txt. In: IETF Audio/Video Transport Working Group, Internet Draft, Sept 24, 2010

  52. Williams, A., et al.: RTP Clock Source Signalling, draft-williams-avtcore-clksrc-00. In: IETF Audio/Video Transport Working Group, Internet Draft, February 28, 2012

Download references


This work has been financed, partially, by Universitat Politècnica de Valencia (UPV), under its R&D Support Program in PAID-05-11-002-331 Project and in PAID-01-10, and by TNO, under its Future Internet Use Research & Innovation Program. The authors also want to thank Kevin Gross for providing some of the use cases included in Sect. 1.2.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fernando Boronat.

Additional information

Communicated by T. Plagemann.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Montagud, M., Boronat, F., Stokking, H. et al. Inter-destination multimedia synchronization: schemes, use cases and standardization. Multimedia Systems 18, 459–482 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: