Video: Cloud Services for Media and Entertainment: Production and Post-Production

My content producers and broadcasters have been forced into the cloud. Some have chosen remote controlling their on-prem kit but many have found that the cloud has brought them benefits beyond simply keeping their existing workflows working during the pandemic.

This video from SMPTE’s New York section looks at how people moved production to the cloud and how they intend to keep it there. The first talk from WarnerMedia’s Greg Anderson discussing the engineering skills needed to be up to the task concluding that there are more areas of knowledge in play than one engineer can bring to to the table from the foundational elements such as security, virtulisation nad networking, to DevOps skills like continuous integration and development (CI/CD), Active Directory and databases.

The good news is that whichever of the 3 levels of engineer that Greg introduces, from beginner to expert, the entry points are pretty easy to access to start your journey and upskilling. Within the company, Greg says that leaders can help accelerate the transition to cloud by allowing teams a development/PoC account which provides a ‘modest’ allowance each month for experimentation, learning and prooving ideas. Not only does that give engineers good exposure to cloud skills, but it gives managers experience in modelling, monitoring and analysing costs.

Greg finishes by talking through their work with implementing a cloud workflow for HBO MAX which is currently on a private cloud and on the way to being in the public cloud. The current system provides for 300 concurrent users doing Edit, Design, Engineering and QC workflows with asset management and ingest. They are looking to the public cloud to consolidate real estate and standardise the tech stack amongst many other drivers outlined by Greg.

Scott Bounds Architect at Microsoft Azure talks about content creation in the cloud. The objectives for Azure is to allow worldwide collaboration, speed up the time to market, allow scaling of content creation and bring improvements in security, reliability and access of data.

This starts for many by using hybrid workflows rather than a full switch to the cloud. After all, Scott says that rough cut editing, motion graphics and VFX are all fairly easy to implement in the cloud whereas colour grading, online and finishing are still best for most companies if they stay on-prem. Scott talks about implementing workstations in the cloud allowing GPU-powered workstations to be used using the remote KVM technology PCoIP to connect in. This type of workflow can be automated using Azure scripting and Terraform.

John Whitehead is part of the New York Times’ Multimedia Infrastructure Engineering team which have recently moved their live production to the cloud. Much of the output of the NYT is live events programming such as covering press conferences. John introduces their internet-centric microservices architecture which was already being worked on before the pandemic started.

The standard workflow was to have a stream coming into MCR which would then get routed to an Elemental encoder for sending into the cloud and distributed with Fastly. To be production-friendly the had created some simple-to-use web frontends for routing. For full-time remote production, John explains they wanted to improve their production quality by adding a vision mixer, graphics and closed captions. John details the solution they chose which comprised cloud-first solutions rather than running windows in the cloud.

The NYT was pushed into the cloud by Covid, but it was felt to be low risk and something they were considering doing anyway. The pandemic forced them to consider that perhaps the technologies they were waiting for had already arrived and ended up saving on Capex and received immediate returns on their investment.

Finishing up the presentations is Anshul Kapoor from Google Cloud who presents market analysis on the current state of cloud adoption and the market conditions. He says that one manifestation of the current crisis is that new live-events content is reduced if not postponed which is making people look to their archives. Some people have not yet done their archiving process, whilst some already have a digital archive. Google and other cloud providers can offer vast scale in order to process and manage archives but also machine learning in order to process, make sense and make searchable all the content.

The video ends with an extensive Q&A with the presenters.

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Speakers

Greg Anderson Greg Anderson
Senior Systems Engineer,
WarnerMedia
Scott Bounds Scott Bounds
Media Cloud Architect,
Microsoft
John Whitehead John Whitehead
Senior Engineer, Multimedia Infrastructure Engineering,
New York Times
Anshul Kapoor Anshul Kapoor
Business Development,
Google Cloud

Video: AV1 Commercial Readiness Panel

With two years of development and deployments under its belt, AV1 is still emerging on to the codec scene. That’s not to say that it’s no in use billions of times a year, but compared to the incumbents, there’s still some distance to go. Known as very slow to encode and computationally impractical, today’s panel is here to say that’s old news and AV1 is now a real-time codec.

Brought together by Jill Boyce with Intel, we hear from Amazon, Facebook, Googles, Amazon, Twitch, Netflix and Tencent in this panel. Intel and Netflix have been collaborating on the SVT-AV1 encoder and decoder framework for two years. The SVT-AV1 encoder’s goal was to be a high-performance and scalable encoder and decoder, using parallelisation to achieve this aim.

Yueshi Shen from Amazon and Twitch is first to present, explaining that for them, AV1 is a key technology in the 5G area. They have put together a 1440p, 120fps games demo which has been enabled by AV1. They feel that this resolution and framerate will be a critical feature for Twitch in the next two years as computer games increasingly extend beyond typical broadcast boundaries. Another key feature is achieving an end-to-end latency of 1.5 seconds which, he says, will partly be achieved using AV1. His company has been working with SOC vendors to accelerate the adoption of AV1 decoders as their proliferation is key to a successful transition to AV1 across the board. Simultaneously, AWS has been adding AV1 capability to MediaConvert and is planning to continue AV1 integration in other turnkey content solutions.

David Ronca from Facebook says that AV1 gives them the opportunity to reduce video egress bandwidth whilst also helping increase quality. For them, SVT-AV1 has brought using AV1 into the practical domain and they are able to run AV1 payloads in production as well as launch a large-scale decoder test across a large set of mobile devices.

Matt Frost represent’s Google Chrome and Android’s point of view on AV1. Early adopters, having been streaming partly using AV1 since 2018 in resolution small and large, they have recently added support in Duo, their Android video-conferencing application. As with all such services, the pandemic has shown how important they can be and how important it is that they can scale. Their move to AV1 streaming has had favourable results which is the start of the return on their investment in the technology.

Google’s involvement with the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), along with the other founding companies, was born out of a belief that in order to achieve the scales needed for video applications, the only sensible future was with cheap-to-deploy codecs, so it made a lot of sense to invest time in the royalty-free AV1.

Andrey Norkin from Netflix explains that they believe AV1 will bring a better experience to their members. Netflix has been using AV1 in streaming since February 2020 on android devices using a software decoder. This has allowed them to get better quality at lower bitrates than VP9 Testing AV1 on other platforms. Intent on only using 10-bit encodes across all devices, Andrey explains that this mode gives the best efficiency. As well as being founding members of AoM, Netflix has also developed AVIF which is an image format based on AV1. According to Andrey, they see better performance than most other formats out there. As AVIF works better with text on pictures than other formats, Netflix are intending to use it in their UI.

Tencent’s Shan Liu explains that they are part of the AoM because video compression is key for most Tencent businesses in their vast empire. Tencent cloud has already launched an AV1 transcoding service and support AV1 in VoD.

The panel discusses low-latency use of AV1, with Dave Ronca explaining that, with the performance improvements of the encoder and decoders along-side the ability to tune the decode speed of AV1 by turning on and off certain tools, real-time AV1 are now possible. Amazon is paying attention to low-end, sub $300 handsets, according to Yueshi, as they believe this will be where the most 5G growth will occur so site recent tests showing decoding AV1 in only 3.5 cores on a mobile SOC as encouraging as it’s standard to have 8 or more. They have now moved to researching battery life.

The panel finishes with a Q&A touching on encoding speed, the VVC and LCEVC codecs, the Sisvel AV1 patent pool, the next ramp-up in deployments and the roadmap for SVT-AV1.

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Speakers

Yueshi Shen Yueshi Shen
Principle Engineer
AWS & Twitch
David Ronca David Ronca
Video Infrastructure Team,
Facebook
Matt Frost Matt Frost
Product Manager, Chome Media Technologies,
Google
Andrey Norkin Andrey Norkin
Emerging Technologies Team
Netflix
Shan Liu Dr Shan Liu
Chief Scientist & General Manager,
Tencent Media Lab
Jill Boyce Jill Boyce
Intel

Video: Pervasive video deep-links

Google have launched a new initiative allowing publishers to highlight key moments in a video so that search results can jump straight to that moment. Whether you have a video that looks at 3 topics, one which poses questions and provides answers or one which has a big reveal and reaction shots, this could help increase engagement.

The plan is the content creators tell Google about these moments so Paul Smith from theMoment.tv takes to the stage at San Francisco Video Tech to explain how. After looking at a live demo, Paul takes a dive into the webpage code that makes it happen. Hidden in the tag, he shows the script which has its type set to application/ld+json. This holds the metadata for the video as a whole such as the thumbnail URL and the content URL. However it also then defines the highlighted ‘parts’ of the video with URLs for those.

Whiles the programme is currently limited to a small set of content publishers, everyone can benefit from these insights on google video search. It will also look at YouTube descriptions in which some people give links to specific times such as different tracks in a music mix, and bring those into the search results.

Paul looks at what this means for website and player writers. On suggestion is the need to scroll the page to the correct video and make the different videos on a page clearly signposted. Paul also looks towards the future at what could be done to better integrate with this feature. For example updating the player UI to see and create moments or improve the ability to seek to sub-second accuracy. Intriguingly he suggests that it may be advantageous to synchronise segment timings with the beginning of moments for popular video. Certainly food for thought.

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Speaker

Paul Smith Paul Smith
Founder,
theMoment.tv

Video: A Technical Overview of AV1

If there’s any talk that cuts through the AV1 hype, it must be this one. The talk from the @Scale conference starts by re-introducing AV1 and AoM but then moves quickly on to encoding techniques and the toolsets now available in AV1.

Starting by looking at the evolution from VP9 to AV1, Google engineer Yue Chen looks at:

  • Extended Reference Frames
  • Motion Vector Prediction
  • Dynamic Motion Vector Referencing
  • Overlapped Block Motion Compensation
  • Masked Compound Prediction
  • Warped Motion Compensation
  • Transform (TX) Coding, Kernels & Block Partitioning
  • Entropy Coding
  • AV1 Symbol Coding
  • Level-map TX Coefficient Coding
  • Restoration and Post-Processing
  • Constrained Dire. Enhancement Filtering
  • In-loop restoration & super resolution
  • Film Grain Synthesis

The talk finishes by looking at Compression Efficiency of AV1 against both HEVC (x.265) & VP9 (libvpx) then coding complexity in terms of speed plus what’s next on the roadmap!

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Speaker

Yue Chen Yue Chen
Senior AV1 Engineer,
Google