Video: The Evolution of Video APIs

APIs underpin our modern internet and particularly our online streaming services which all. An API is a way for two different programs or services to communicate with each other; allowing access, sharing locations of videos, providing recommendations etc.

Phil Cluff from Mux, takes a look at the evolution of these APIs, showing the simple ones, the complex and how they have changed as time has gone on, culminating in advice to the APIs writers of today and tomorrow.

Security is a big deal and increasingly is in focus for video companies. Whilst the API itself is usually sent over secure means, the service still needs to authenticate users and the use of DRM needs to be considered. Phil talks about this and ultimately the question comes down to what you are trying to protect and your attack surface.

APIs tend to come in two types, explains Phil, Video Platform vs ‘Encoding’ APIs. Encoding APIs a more than pure encoding APIs, there is transcoding, packaging, file transfer and other features built in to most ‘encoding’ services. Video Platform APIs are typically for a whole platform so also include CDN, Analytics, Cataloguing, playback and much more

In terms of advice, Phil explains that APIs can enable ‘normal’ coders – meaning people who aren’t interested specifically in video – to use video in their programs. This can be done through well thought out APIs which make good decisions behind the scenes and use sensible defaults.

API is so important, asserts Phil, that it should be considered as part of the product so treated with similar care. It should be planned, resourced properly, be created as part of a dialogue with customers and, most importantly, revisited later to be upgraded and improved.

Phil finishes the talk with a number of other pieces of advice and answers questions from the floor.

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Speaker

Phil Cluff Phil Cluff
Streaming Specialist,
Mux

Video: Deep Neural Networks for Video Coding

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and related technologies aren’t going to go away…the real question is where they are best put to use. Here, Dan Grois from Comcast shows their transformative effect on video.

Some of us can have a passable attempt at explaining what neural networks, but to start to understand how this technology works understanding how our neural networks work is important and this is where Dan starts his talk. By walking us through the workings of our own bodies, he explains how we can get computers to mimic parts of this process. This all starts by creating a single neuron but Dan explains multi-layer perception by networking many together.

As we see examples of what these networks are able to do, piece by piece, we start to see how these can be applied to video. These techniques can be applied to many parts of the HEVC encoding process. For instance, extrapolating multiple reference frames, generating interpolation filters, predicting variations etc. Doing this we can achieve a 10% encoding improvements. Indeed, a Deep Neural Network (DNN) can totally replace the DCT (Discrete Cosine Transform) widely used in MPEG and beyond. Upsampling and downsampling can also be significantly improved – something that has already been successfully demonstrated in the market.

Dan isn’t shy of tackling the reason we haven’t seen the above gains widely in use; those of memory requirements and high computational costs. But this work is foundational in ensuring that these issues are overcome at the earliest opportunity and in optimising the approach to implementing them to the best extent possible to day.

The last part of the talk is an interesting look at the logical conclusion of this technology.

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Speaker

Dan Grois Dan Grois
Principal Researcher
Comcast

Video: Engineering a Live Streaming Workflow for Super Bowl LIII


Super Bowl 53 has come and gone with another victory for the New England Patriots. CBS Interactive responsible for streaming of this event built a new system to deal with all the online viewers. Previously they used one vendor for acquisition and encoding and another vendor for origin storage, service delivery and security. This time the encoders were located in CBS Broadcast Centre in New York and all other systems moved to AWS cloud. Such approach gave CBS full control over the streams.

Due to a very high volume of traffic (between 30 and 35 terabits) four different CDN vendors had to be engaged. A cloud storage service optimized for live streaming video not only provided performance, consistency, and low latency, but also allowed to manage multi-CDN delivery in effective way.

In this video Krystal presents a step-by-step approach to creating a hybrid cloud/on premise infrastructure for the Super Bowl, including ad insertion, Multi-CDN delivery, monitoring and operational visibility. She emphasizes importance of scaling infrastructure to meet audience demands, taking ownership of end to end workflow, performing rigorous testing and handling communication across multiple teams and vendors.

You can download the slides from here.

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Speaker

Krystal Mejia Krystal Mejia
Software Engineer,
CBS Interactive

Video: Versatile Video Coding (VVC) Standard on the Final Stretch

We’ve got used to a world of near-universal AVC/h.264 support, but in our desire to deliver better services, we need new codecs. VVC is nearing completion and is attracting increasing attention with its ability to deliver better compression than HEVC in a range of different situations.

Benjamin Bross from the Fraunhofer Institute talks at Mile High Video 2019 about what Versatile Video Coding (VVC) is and the different ways it achieves these results. Benjamin starts by introducing the codec, teasing us with details of machine learning which is used for block prediction and then explains the targets for the video codec.

Next we look at the bitrate curves showing how encoding has improved over the years and where we can expect VVC to fit in before showing results of testing the codec as it exists today which already shows improvement in compression. Encoding complexity and speed are also compared and as expected complexity has increased and speed has reduced. This is always a challenge at the beginning of a new codec standard, but is typically solved in due course. Benjamin also looks at the effect of resolution and frame rate on compression efficiency.

Every codec has sets of tools which can be tuned and used in certain combinations to deal with different types of content so as to optimise performance. VVC is no exception and Benjamin looks at some of the highlights:

  • Screen Content Coding – specific tools to encode computer graphics rather than ‘natural’ video. With the sharp edges on computer screens, different techniques can produce better results
  • Reference Picture Rescaling – allows resolution changes in the video stream. This can also be used to deliver multiple resolutions at the same time
  • Independent Sub Pictures – separate pictures available in same raster. Allows, for instance, sending large resolutions and allowing decoders to only decode part of the picture.

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Speaker

Benjamin Bross Benjamin Bross
Product Manager,
Fraunhofer HHI