Categories Customer Stories
In The Press
Staff Vid.ly Videos
Tips And Tricks
At Encoding.com, we have cloud-based video transcoding on our minds round-the-clock. However, we also recognize that not everyone is an expert on the topic. For those interested, we put together this handy Encoding 101 guide to answer 5 common introductory questions about cloud-based video transcoding. Enjoy!
What is Cloud-Based Video Transcoding?
Cloud-based video transcoding converts video for playback across a broad spectrum of media players, operating systems, devices and browsers using the infinitely scaleable, parallel processing capabilities of cloud computing. Users only pay for the transcoding volume they use as-a-service avoiding unnecessary infrastructure investments, development resources and ongoing R&D. Robust cloud-based encoding solutions provide value added services including editing and customization features, packaging options (e.g. digital rights management), closed captioning and more.
How do I use Cloud-Based Video Transcoding?
In the case of Encoding.com, the simplest solution is often Vid.ly Universal URL for enterprise-grade, hosted video delivery as-a-service. Users upload video via our browser-based interface or API and receive a universal embed code and URL for universal playback. Any time the hosted video is viewed, Vid.ly runs device detection to stream an optimized video format tailored to the viewer's unique playback environment. In addition, our easy-to-use browser based UI, well documented XML API, Watch Folder tool, and high-speed Desktop Uploader integrate seamlessly into any video workflow. Interested in some use cases? Check out how AOL and Revision3 are using cloud-based video transcoding.
Why do I need to transcode video in the Cloud?
You need to be profitable. Utilizing a transcoding solution that maximizes your audience and delivers superior quality is an imperative. Also, you need to minimize R&D costs required to remain current with the latest and greatest formats, bit rates, codecs, etc… while reducing your CAPEX and in-house management costs. Achieving profitability and self-sustainability are two key reasons why broadcasters, production houses, digital agency’s, VOD services and key players throughout the “video eco-system” often utilize cloud video transcoding to address their daily workflow requirements.
What opportunities does transcoding video in the cloud create?
You are in the business of providing engaging video programming and delivering a seamless user experience. A robust cloud-based encoding solution can further automate your workflow and free up valuable resources to focus on feature and performance enhancements: video player customization, content targeting, social media and community-building tools, language localization, and so much more.
What if I have already invested in on-site transcoding infrastructure?
Cloud-based encoding vs. investment in on-site encoding infrastructure is NOT a mutually exclusive decision. In fact, many businesses implement a hybrid model in which cloud transcoding is used to manage jobs that exceed the capacity of on-site infrastructure. Also, cloud-based encoding is popular for specific use cases such as transcoding a massive file library without bogging down on-site infrastructure.
Since launching our Universal Closed Captioning solution for delivery
to all devices, we have received many great questions from the
Encoding.com community. Here are answers to three frequent
questions. Thanks for all the interest and Keep asking questions!
What's the difference between closed captions and subtitles?
Closed captions as a concept is unique to the States; Europeans refer to them as “subtitles for the hard of hearing” and deliver them as such. There are some technical differences. The practical difference in North America (or Region 1 for all you DVD watchers) is viewers use their TV remote to turn on closed captions and use the remote for their DVD player to switch on subtitles. Most digital TVs make it dead simple to turn on the closed caption decoders. You will need to use the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad to turn on closed captions (ex: this is great for watching Breaking Bad on a noisy train). Your Android device probably depends on subtitles instead of closed captions.
How does player and authoring software create, store and read closed captions?
With two competitive mechanisms. Closed captions may be:
1. Stored in a video file: closed captions are either CEA-608 (analog) or CEA-708 (digital) tracks in a video file. 3GPP Timed Text is the standard for subtitles stored in MP4 and 3GP files. These formats are either stored as a data track or encoded in a video stream itself. Most DVDs distributed in America contain analog closed captions. Broadcasters use digital closed captions for all their programming. The HTTP Live Streaming format supports analog and digital closed captions. The most recent FCC regulations require closed captions stored in a video file.
2. Stored in a text file: SCC, SRT, DFXP, and SAMI files may contain closed captions. These formats provide timed textual information outside the video file. SCC is frequently used in authoring environments (ex: Avid, Premiere, Final Cut Pro). Browser-based video players (ex: Flash, Silverlight, HTML5) generally rely on sidecars to deliver closed captions. Video players native to Android generally require sidecars. (We’ve encountered no Android device that has a closed caption decoder.) Apple’s mobile devices can decode both analog and digital captions. Subtitles for the hard of hearing (and other users) are stored in a text file.
How do closed captions impact the bottom line directly?
Adding closed captions increases the value of a given video file by vastly increasing its addressable audience. Let’s review 4 ways that closed captions can expand your reach:
1. They are commonly used by the over 38 million Americans who are hard of hearing
2. They are commonly used in workplaces, in public or wherever it gets loud
3. As the Boomers age, more Americans will need closed captions
4. They are a popular learning tool for people studying to achieve advanced proficiency in American English
Big thanks to John McIlwain from Alum Rock Software for building this nifty iPhone/iPad app for monitoring your encoding.com queue on the go. Simply download and install the FREE app on your iOS device, plug in your API user ID and API key and take your encoding queue with you. Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad version 4.2 or later.
Take a look at what we just published on GitHub...an Objective C wrapper for our API that will jump start your iOS application video development. Now you caneasily create user video upload and share functions within your iOS applications that will utilize encoding.com to transcode and publish to your CDN. Download and enjoy!
We recently presented a webinar to Rackspace customers on how to link your Rackspace Cloud account with Encoding.com to create a simple, powerful, scalable and cost-effective video platform. In the presentation, we provide very specific step-by-step instructions to get you going.
The Rackspace team just posted the webinar so it’s now available for everyone to view.
Click here to view: http://bit.ly/b0iEBM Hope this helps!
[I recently provided this as a Guest Blog for Video Nuze]
For content publishers and consumers, there is chaos in the video ecosystem, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. You’ve been reading about HTML5 vs. Flash vs. Silverlight (and recently, WebM), Apple vs. Adobe, H.264 vs. VP8, iPhone vs. Android, Do-it-Yourself vs. OVP. Whether serving tens or thousands of videos, maximizing viewership with reasonably high-quality videos across web and mobile devices is the new imperative. With so many permutations of video codecs, formats, containers and features, it’s confusing to design a video workflow that’s cost-effective, flexible to change with the evolving formats and scalable to meet your growth requirements. With this post, I offer a couple of recommendations to help simplify the array of options currently available.
Case in point: Just when it appeared that H.264 was emerging as the video codec leader, primarily because of YouTube support and strong backing by Apple on its devices, Google went and threw an open-sourced VP8 codec into the ring via the recently announced WebM project, a new video format launched by Google with support from other leading industry players such as Mozilla, Opera Software, Brightcove and Encoding.com. While both H.264 and VP8 are good quality codecs, only VP8 is currently royalty-free and therefore, has a great opportunity to emerge as the new leader within the next year or two. However, for web distribution today, we recommend encoding your videos using the H.264 video codec in an .mp4 container. This is a high-quality output format already supported by Flash, and the leading HTML5 browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer v9.
WebM is a great shot in the arm for proponents of HTML5 who are pushing for plugin-less video viewing and a more seamless integration with rich media web applications. But the lack of unified HTML5 standards across browsers has hampered its growth. Adobe’s Flash, on the other hand, with deep market penetration and a robust feature set, remains the dominant technology for consuming web-based video. Our recommended approach for HTML5 supporters who want to ensure users can view your videos via a slick user experience is to write code, or utilize a commercial platform, to detect the user’s browser for HTML5 compatibility, and if not supported, launches a Flash player. If you want to get fancy, you can utilize the Flash Media Server to detect your users’ bandwidth connections during video playback and switch to a higher or lower bitrate version mid-stream to ensure the highest quality video is being served without causing buffering issues.
Adding to the complexity of video format options are the various mobile device requirements. Yes, Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android OS – the dominant mobile platforms for mobile video consumption – support our recommended encode format using the H.264 codec in an .mp4 container delivered via HTML5 in Safari and Chrome. However, if you’re delivering video via applications on the iPhone / iPad, Apple now requires publishers to prepare video in its proprietary and complex HTTP Streaming format. For this, we suggest utilizing a video encoding service or video platform to manage. To support the plethora of feature-phones already in the market, videos should be encoded to the 3GP format for the most universal coverage.
The “winners” in the video format battle will reap billions of dollars as their influence and market dominance in the video ecosystem rises. This simple truth means the utopia of a single, standardized video format across all web and mobile devices will not be realized – not soon, not ever. In other words, for the foreseeable future, you will need to support multiple video formats to capitalize on your revenue potential across the various internet-connected devices. The good news is that there is a mature ecosystem of video tools and service providers that can help. The availability of open-source content management systems, video encoding services and cloud storage providers has dramatically simplified the development effort required to create and manage a powerful, flexible and cost-efficient video workflow. I’ll provide a recommended “how-to” in a future post…