Video: Web Media Standards

The internet has been a continuing story of proprietary technologies being overtaken by open technologies, from the precursors to TCP/IP, to Flash/RTMP video delivery, to HLS. Understanding the history of why these technologies appear, why they are subsumed by open standards and how boost in popularity that happens at that transition is important to help us make decisions now and foresee how the technology landscape may look in five or ten years’ time.

This talk, by Jonn Simmons, is a talk of two halves. Looking first at the history of how our standards coalesced into what we have today will fill in many blanks and make the purpose of current technologies like MPEG DASH & CMAF clearer. He then looks at how we can understand what we have today in light of similar situations in the past answering the question whether we are at an inflexion point in technology.

John first looks at the importance of making DRM-protected content portable in the same way as non-protected content was easy to move between computers and systems. This was in response to a WIPO analysis which, as many would agree, concluded that this was essential to enable legal video use on the internet. In 2008, Mircosoft analysed all the elements needed, beyond the simple encryption, to allow such media to be portable. It would require HTML extensions for delivery, DRM signalling, authentication, a standard protocol for Adaptive Delivery (also known as ABR) and an adaptive container format. We then take a walk through the timeline staring in 2009 through to 2018 seeing the beginnings and published availability of such technologies Common Encryption, MPEG DASH and CMAF.

Milestones for Web Media Portability

John then walks through these key technologies starting with the importance of Common Encryption (also known as CENC). Previously all the DRM methods had their own container formats. Harmonisation of DRM is, likely, never going to happen so we’ll always have Apple’s own, Google’s own, Microsoft’s and plenty of others. For streaming providers, it’s a major problem to deliver all the different formats and makes for messy, duplicative workflows. Common Encryption allows for one container format which can contain any DRM information allowing for a single workflow with different inputs. On the player side, the player can, now, simply accept a single stream of DRM information, authenticate with the appropriate service and decode the video.

CMAF is another key technology called out by John in enabling portability of media. It was co-developed with Apple to enable a common media format for HLS and DASH. We’ve covered this before on The Broadcast Knowledge starting with the ISO BMFF format on which DASH and CMAF are based, Will Law’s famous ‘Chunky Monkey’ talk and many more. We recently covered FuboTV’s talk on how they distribute HLS & DASH multi-codec encoding and packaging.

Also highlighted by John. are the JavasScript Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions which allow interaction from browsers/JavaScript with both ABR/Adaptive Streaming and DRM. He then talks about CTA WAVE which is a project that specifically aims to improve streamed media experiences on consumer devices, CTA being the Consumer Technology Association who are behind the annual CES exhibition in Las Vegas.

What is often less apparent is the current work happening developing new standards and specifications. John calls out a number of different projects within W3C and MPEG such as Low latency support for CMAF, MSE and codec switching in MSE. Work on ad signalling period boundaries and SCTE-35 is making its debut into JavaScript with some ongoing work to create the link between ad markers and JS applications. He also calls out VVC and AV1 mappings into CMAF.

In the second part of the presentation, John asked ‘where will we end up?’ John draws upon two examples. One is the number of TCP/IP hosts between 1980 and 1992. He shows it was clear that when TCP/IP was publicly available there was an exponential increase in adoption of TCP/IP, moving on from proprietary network interfaces available in the years before. Similarly with websites between 1990 and 1997. Exponential growth happened after 1993 when the standard was set for Web Clients. This did take a few years to have a marked effect, but the number of websites moved from a flat ‘less than 100’ number to 600, then 10,000 in 1994 increasing to a quarter of a million by 1995 and then over one million in 1996. This shows the difference between the power ‘walled garden’ environments and the open internet.

John sees media technology today as still having a number of ‘traditional’ walled gardens such as DISH and Sky TV. He sees people self-serving multiple walled gardens to create their own larger pool of media options, typically known as ‘cord cutters’. He, therefore, sees two options for the future. One is ever larger walled gardens where large companies aggregate the content of smaller content owners/providers. The other option is having cloud services that act as a one-stop-shop for your media, but dynamically authenticate against whichever service is needed. This is a much more open environment without the need to be separately subscribing to each and every outlet in the traditional sense.

Watch now!
Speakers

John Simmons John Simmons
W3C Evangelist, Media & Entertainment
W3C

Video: A 360-degree view on Video Piracy

There will always be piracy, but that’s no reason not to fight against it. And the entertainment industry always has, sometimes effectively, and sometimes farcically (such as the DeCSS debacle at the turn of the century). One of the traditional cat and mouse games, this set of short talks gives a rounded view of the types of protection, types of piracy and methods of detection.

Recorded at the Milan Video Tech meetup, Senior Consultant at VideoDeveloper.io, Andrea Fassina, introduces the first speaker who is Ilker Ürgenc from Akamai with a rounded overview of the threat service for programme producers, broadcasters and streaming providers who starts by looking at piracy rates around the world and its impacts.

When people talk about anti-piracy measures, their mind typically goes straight to DRM. DRM is the most ‘tangible’ aspect of content protection as most people have had to deal with it, or rather the consequences of not being able to watch something both at home and at work. But Ilker’s point is that the protection has to go much further than DRM. It needs to be about protecting against screen recording, against phishing and hacking the production systems or contribution streams. The whole chain needs protections which Ilker details as a protective ecosystem. His solutions, apart from IT best practices are fingerprinting, content watermarking and stream monitoring.

Next up is Matteo Freddi from CHILI who talks about protecting streams whether they be HLS, DASH or other protocols. He starts with outlining the DRMs compatible with the different Microsoft Smoothstreaming, HLS and MPEG DASH in terms of the streaming specifications before bringing us down to earth by looking at what’s actually supported by the different manufacturer devices such as Roku, Apple TV etc. Players are implemented either natively within an OS or through programming interfaces (APIs). APIs allow for a wider ecosystem of players, but they don’t offer some of the tight integrations OSes can provide. Further, Matteo explains how this also affects how easily they can process DRM.

Finally, we have Steve Epstein from Synamedia, who details the techniques which allow providers to protect against misuse of accounts, resharing and restreaming of content. Steve looks at techniques to minimise credential stuffing, watermarking and active monitoring of the streaming service in order to identify misuse of accounts such as multiple simultaneous logins, logins from different parts of the world.

Watch now!
Speakers

Ilker Ürgenc Ilker Ürgenc
Senior Technical Media Solutions Specialist,
Akamai Technologies
Matteo Freddi Matteo Freddi
Head of Technology Operations,
CHILI
Steve Epstein Steve Epstein
Distinguished Engineer – Analytics, Data Science, & Cybersecurity,
Synamedia
Andrea Fassina Moderator:Andrea Fassina
Senior Consultant
videodeveloper.io

Video: Integrating CMAF Into A VOD Workflow

CMAF is often seen as the best hope for streaming to match the latency of broadcast. Fully standards based, many see this as the best route over Apple’s LL-HLS. Another benefit of it over LL-HLS is that it’s already a completed standard with growing support.

This talk from Tomas Bacik starts by explaining CMAF to us. Standing for the Common Media Application Format, it’s based on the standardised ISOBMFF container format and whilst CMAF isn’t by default low-latency, it is flexible enough to deliver just that. However, as Tomas from CDN77 points out, there are other major benefits in terms of its use of the Common Encryption format, reduces storage fees and more.

MPEG DASH is a commonly found streaming format based on ISO BMFF. It has always had the benefit of supporting other codecs such as HEVC and AV1 over HLS which is an AVC-only specification. CMAF is an extension of MPEG DASH which goes one step further in that it can deal with both HLS-style manifest files (.hls) as well as MPEG DASH format (.mpd) inheriting, of course, the multi-codec ability of DASH itself.

Next is central theme of the talk, looking at VoD workflows showing how CMAF fits in and, indeed, changes workflows for the better. CMAF directly impacts packaging, storage and CDN which is where we focus now. Given that some devices can play HLS and some can play DASH, if you try to serve both, you will double your requirements of packaging, storage etc. Dynamic packaging allows for immediately repackaging your chunks into either HLS or DASH as needed. Whilst this reduces the storage requirements, it increases processing and also increases the time to first byte. As you might expect, using CMAF throughout, Tomas explains in this talk, allows you to package once and store once which solves these problems.

Tomas continues by explaining the DRM abilities of CMAF including AES-CBC and finishes by taking questions from the audience.

Watch now!
See Streamflow’s blog post supporting the talk
Speakers

Tomas Bacik Tomas Bacik
VP of Product Development, Streamflow by CDN77
CDN77

Webinar: Securing Live Streams

Piracy in France cost €1.2bn in 2017 and worldwide the loss has been valued up to US$52 billion. Even if these numbers are inflated, over-counted or similar, it’s clear there is a lot of money at stake in online streaming. There are a number of ways of getting to protect your content, encryption, Digital Rights Management (DRM) and tokenisation are three key ones and this webinar will examine what works best in the real world.

All these technologies used together don’t always stop piracy 100%, but they can significantly impact the ease of pirating and the quality of the final material.

Date: Thursday January 30th – 10a.m. PT / 1p.m. / 18:00 GMT

It’s important to understand the difference between encryption and Digital Rights Management. In general DRM relies on encryption, whereby encryption is a way of making sure that decodable video only lands in the hands of people who have been given the encryption key. This means that people who are snooping on traffic between the video provider and consumer can’t see what the video is and can be accomplished in a similar way to secure web pages which are secured against eavesdroppers. The problem with encryption is, however, that it doesn’t intrinsically decide who is allowed to decode the video meaning anyone with the decryption key can video the content. Often this is fine, but if you want to run a pay-TV service, even ignoring content, it’s much better to target customer by customer who can video the video. And this is where DRM comes in.

DRM is multi-faceted and controls the way in which consumers can view/use the content as much as whether they can access it to start with. DRM, for instance, can determine that a display device can show the work, but a recorder is not allowed to make a recording. It can also determine access based on location. Another aspect of DRM is tracking in the form of insertion of watermarks and metadata which mean that if a work is pirated, there is a way to work back to the original subscriber to determine the source of the leak.

Tokenisation is a method in which the player requests access to the material and is passed a token, by means of a response from the server after it has checked if the player is allowed access. Because of the way this token is created, it is not possible for another player to use it to access the content which means that sharing a URI won’t allow another user access to the video. Without some form of access control, once one subscriber has received a URI to access the video, they could pass that to another user who could also then access it.

What’s the best way to use these technologies? What are the pros and cons and what are the other methods of securing media? These questions and more will be discussed in this Streaming Video Alliance webinar on January 30th.

Register now!
Speakers

Peter Cossack Peter Cossack
Vice President Cybersecurity services,
Irdeto
Kei Foo Kei Foo
Director of Advanced Video Engineering,
Charter Communications
Orly Amsalem Orly Amsalem
Product Manager, AI/ML based video security and anti-piracy solutions ,
Synamedia
Marvin Van Schalkwyk Marvin Van Schalkwyk
Senior Solutions Architect,
FriendMTS
Jason Thibeault Jason Thibeault
Executive Director,
Streaming Media Alliance