Stein Erik Sørhaug
December 15, 2021

Orchestrate Streaming Perfection Using Vimond

This blog is the first in a series where we'll talk about video in streaming.   I know your first thought reading that will be; wait isn't streaming all video?  And yes, eventually it is.  But it's just one of many building blocks that goes into a successful streaming service.   


This series will walk through a progression of topics, the first focusing on the basic video component of any AVOD, TVOD, or SVOD service,  VOD: a video on demand asset. Specifically discussing the process of uploading, transcoding, packaging, and distributing content for playback.   In the follow-on blogs we’ll then look into live content with a touch on the drivers such as the rights deals moving premier sports to streaming, the esports explosion, and the legalization of gambling and it’s factor in driving low-latency.  


We’ll then build to the exciting point our industry has reached in terms of creating low cost TV like channels for streaming built out of VOD assets using manifest manipulation ultimately being able to personalize these, at scale, at low costs.   We will detail how these channels open up both new advertising revenue streams as well the ability to promote your own content with a familiar lean back viewing experience.   And as people who follow Vimond know, this is something we’ve actively led the thought leadership charge on.   


When it comes to managing VOD assets Vimond has taken a flexible approach.    With varied customer implementations and architectures.   Sometimes we provide a video pipeline, while sometimes our customers bring their own.

For example, a customer like Streamotion with their Kayo, Binge, and Flash services came to us with their own video pipeline in place leaving us as the central core CMS to focus on the content management, organization, metadata, and experience APIs.  And we are happy to work in that environment with customers leveraging their own solutions using AWS Media Services, BitMovin, or Harmonic VOS360, through metadata pointers, to name a few.   


Other customers like Comcast for example have taken advantage of the Vimond VIA VOD Orchestrator.   We provide a flexible feed based mechanism and configurable control plane, on top of AWS Media Services to handle their video at scale.  And we offer a premium high end video pipeline for VOD assets. 


So what does the VIA VOD Orchestrator do?   It provides 4 main functions:

All of these functions leverage various AWS Media Services.  This gives us the ability to punch way above our humble Norwegian size - with AWS scale to boot.   


Transcoding

For Encoding we leverage AWS MediaConvert.   Meaning all the input and output formats MediaConvert supports are also supported by Vimond VOD Orchestrator.   “The service supports the AVC, HEVC, AV1, Apple ProRes, and MPEG-2 compression standards, including support for advanced color sampling (10-bit 4:2:2). It supports a broad range of adaptive bitrate packaging formats including CMAF, Apple HLS, DASH ISO, and Microsoft Smooth Streaming. AWS Elemental MediaConvert also supports processing and conversion of 4K and 8K resolution sources, and high dynamic range (HDR) video content including Dolby Vision."   


Packaging

For Packaging, as needed, we leverage AWS MediaPackage.  “AWS Elemental MediaPackage reliably prepares and protects your video for delivery over the Internet. From a single video input, AWS Elemental MediaPackage creates video streams formatted to play on connected TVs, mobile phones, computers, tablets, and game consoles”  MediaPackage also allows you to apply DRM to your valuable content supporting Apple FairPlay, Widevine, and Microsoft PlayReady using AES-128 encryption as well as support for Secure Packager and Encoder Key Exchange (SPEKE) which allows for multi-key content encryption.  


Distribution

Distribution is the step of moving these assets to the CDN.  While Cloudfront was our initial launch partner with this product, other CDNs are being added.  


Playback

The final step in the video pipeline is through our Content Delivery APIs and Play Service where assets can easily be called from end consumer OTT or streaming applications for customer viewing pleasure. 


All of these steps are then detailed in a simple to view, but detailed, monitoring interface showing you the progress of your asset as it moves through the video pipeline.  


Monitoring dashboard in VIA Orchestrate



And now comes the really cool part.   

We can create multiple video pipelines, controlled through our feed ingestion mechanism allowing for different types of content to be encoded, packaged, and distributed differently based on your requirements.  Creating specific pipelines for purpose.   A great use case for this would be; rather than encode all your titles with HDR profiles, or for 4K, you can create a pipeline specific to only your premium titles.   Let's say you are starting with AVC compression for the broad reach of your content, you can experiment with HVEC or AV1 for certain destinations or devices without impacting your broadly reaching AVC solution.  You can apply high end features like Dolby Audio, Dolby HDR10+, Watermarking, Audio Normalization and so on.   This method allows you to keep costs in control, while pushing the envelope of technology and end user experiences.  It is all configurable, and with AWS scale and Vimond reliability.  


But there's more.   Because we work with a wide variety of streaming services, some with the need to accelerate content up in an encoding queue, we have a fastlane option too.   Picture this, war breaks out in Taiwan, or some big trial reaches its verdict, and you need to get the videos on that story processed faster than your other queued news.  With VIA VOD Orchestrator you can.  And with high end Dolby Audio with HDR10+ if need be to give that true immersive ``you were there” viewing experience.   Or, maybe you just needed to get that new episode of Yellowstone, The Expanse, or Dexter out ahead of the less popular titles.   It's all the same to us and VIA VOD Orchestrator passes this ease of use along to you as well.  


Next up in this series, we’ll talk about Live, but in the meantime, do reach out to us and let's talk about how VIA VOD Orchestrator can make your life easier right now.    


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