The Rackspace Cloud
Overview of Encoding.com’s integration with CloudFiles and CloudServers
Introduction to Cloud Transcoding with the Rackspace Cloud and Encoding.com
Video encoding or transcoding is the process of converting digital media to the correct format, size, and quality for playback/streaming on the Internet or mobile devices. Until Encoding.com was launched, the video transcoding market was served only by inflexible, complicated, and expensive hardware or software solutions that required in-house technical resources to set up and maintain. Encoding.com provides a flexible cloud based video transcoding service that is deeply integrated with the Rackspace Cloud Files storage location. Within minutes of signing up for our service, clients have access (via API, Watch Folder or Web Interface) to a studio-class video encoding platform with virtually limitless on demand capacity and a simple pay-as-you-go billing model.
Although we have an integration method for all skill sets, our general workflow remains the same in all cases. In a single request, you provide Encoding.com three pieces of information to begin a job:
Where your source video is located. This can be directly from your hard drive, an FTP/SFTP location or your Rackspace Cloud Files container.
What formats you want your video encoded into. You can use our preset encoding profiles or use the dozens of encoding controls available to generate as many output versions as you require whether it’s different formats, sizes, or bitrates. Additionally, we can generate thumbnail still images at different points within the video.
Where you want the encoded video sent when it’s finished. This can be an FTP/SFTP location, directly back to your private Cloud Files container or public CDN-Enabled Cloud Files container.
Encoding.com offers a wide variety of integration methods to ensure you can encode your video utilizing our platform in a way that best fits your technical skills and requirements:
Web Interface: A simple browse and upload feature available via our online encoding service allow easy access to test our service, experiment with settings and enables you to upload an individual video from your desktop.
Watch Folder: With easy configuration within our web interface, you can set up a watch folder which will watch your SFTP/FTP or Cloud Files container at the time frequency of your choice. All new videos added to the watched location from our last check will be encoded into your specified encoding settings and sent to the destination of your choice. You can have an unlimited number of watch folders for different encoding profiles.
XML API: The Encoding.com API is our most sophisticated integration method and allows you to seamlessly integrate cloud-based transcoding services directly into your own applications. Common use cases include user generated video sites, premium video portals, content management systems, and desktop applications. The API offers sophisticated features like realtime job status updates and a XML call back to notify you when a job is complete.
Which format should I choose? Before you can decide which format to encode your video into, you must decide where you would like to play back the video. Encoding.com supports encoding profiles for both mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, Zune, PSP, etc) as well for all major internet media players. There are three major internet video players and each requires a different video format: Windows Media, Quicktime, and Flash Media Players. While Encoding.com supports encoding profiles for all three video players, we will focus on the Flash Media Player as it the player with the most penetration among global Internet users and is designed to work seamlessly with the Rackspace/Limelight CDN service. The Flash Media Player is installed in over 98% of Internet user’s browsers. Flash Media Player 9.0.x and later, which was released in December 2007, supports three video formats. Below is an overview of the available Flash video codecs:
Good FLV (H.263) This is the first generation FLV codec which offers fast encode time, universal compatibility with all versions of Flash, but does not offer the highest quality when compared to VP6 or H.264 codecs. Use the “Flash up to 9″ encoding output option to generate this format with Encoding.com.
Better FLV (VP6) This is a proprietary FLV codec which offers better quality than H.263. Use the “VP6″ encoding output option to generate this format with Encoding.com. Both Height and Width (HxW) must be a multiple of 16 when using the VP6 codec. For example 320×240 are both divisible by 16.
Best .MOV/FLV/.MP4 (H.264) The new developing standard in Internet and mobile video, H.264 has been adopted as the standard for the BlueRay player, Apple iPhone/iPod, and is rapidly gaining penetration as the standard for Internet video. H.264 produces high quality video with reasonable file sizes but average encode times are generally longer than FLV or VP6. Currently, its main drawback is that it is only supported in Flash Player 9 which currently has a 96-97% adoption rate among mature markets. Use the “Flash 9 H.264″ encoding output option to generate this format with Encoding.com
Cloud Servers, Cloud Files, and CDN Enabled Cloud Files account with Encoding.com:
There are a variety of innovative ways that Encoding.com uses the Rackspace Cloud to power its service and make it easy for other Rackspace customers to integrate with Encoding.com.
Advanced CloudFiles Integration Using the web interface, watch folder or API, you can specify your CloudFiles account as either source or destination locations. Please see our collection of help articles on using CloudFiles with Encoding.com.
Automatic CloudFiles CDN Enabled Distribution With Limelight Networks’ service, Cloud Files brings a powerful and easy way to publish content over a world-class, industry leading CDN. A Cloud Files user automatically gets access to this network. Users simply have to mark containers for publishing to CDN and they are readily accessible through the Limelight Networks CDN. The propagation of content to the edge locations is done automatically behind the scene. Users do not have to plan or write any new code to utilize this facility. This workflow is a perfect compliment to Encoding.com as encoded videos can be sent directly to CDN enabled Cloud Files containers automatically producing a http streaming URL to the video. In The Rackspace web control panel, it is a matter of creating a Container (the storage compartment for data), uploading Objects (the files to serve over CDN), and marking the Container as “public”. The Container is then assigned a unique URL which can be combined with Object names to embed in web pages, email messages, blog posts, etc. For example, you could encode a video with Encoding.com and have it sent directly to a Container called “video”. When this Container is published, it will be assigned a unique URL like “http://c0000532.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com″ You could then publish a CDN enabled public link like “http://c0000532.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/my_movie.flv.”. When that link is accessed, the video is automatically streamed using HTTP progressive from the CDN; it’s that simple!
Encoding Software Choices: Cloud Integration: You need to be profitable. Utilizing a transcode solution that maximizes your audience and delivers superior quality is an imperative. At the same time, it is now possible with cloud-based encoding to stay 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 should be tackled from both directions.
Many of you have already invested in your internal hardware/software encoding infrastructure and may wonder why change. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Your marketing VP approves an MRD requiring all content to be available for the iPhone… yesterday. Your head of sales delivers several new distribution deals all with various and stringent specifications [think Hulu] but your CEO has frozen your CAPEX budget. Or, your PR firm lands a feature story on the Morning Show next week announcing your funniest Twitter moment video contest. If the video production system breaks down, you know where the fingers will be pointed.
You are in the business of providing engaging video programming and delivering a seamless user experience. A robust outsourced cloud-based encoding solution can further automate your workflow and free up valuable resources to focus on feature and performance enhancements: player customization, content targeting, social media and community-building tools, language localization, and so much more.
Encoding Software Choices: There are a variety of open source and paid encoding software packages on the market from which to choose. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks depending on the video use case. Encoding.com maintains dozens of separately compiled encoding engines and makes them all available via our simple integration methods. So, you can choose what format you want without having to worry about which encoding software is best suited for which job.
Encoding.com is the global leader in studio-class media transcoding services, delivering over 3.5 million encoded videos. Encoding.com makes video transcoding into all popular formats easy, cost-effective and instantly scalable for global enterprises and SMBs and is now serving over 400 business customers including MTV Networks, CarDomain, HP, Red Bull, and Brightcove. Encoding.com was formally recognized for its innovative integration with Amazon Web Services by being selected as an Amazon Startup Challenge Finalist. Encoding.com is a venture-backed, privately held company with offices in Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California.