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: The Future of SSAI on OTT Devices

Whether it’s to thwart ad blockers or to compensate for unreliable players, server-side ad insertion (SSAI) has an important role for many ad-based services. Phil Cluff is here to look at today’s difficulties and to look into the future.

Talking at the August Seattle Video Tech meet up, Phil looks at how we got where we are and why SSAI came about in the first place. He then looks at the manifest-manipulation method of doing this before seeing how well OTT devices actually support it showing inconsistent support for DRM in DASH and HLS. Smart TVs are a big problem delivering consistent viewing with all being different and even the new ones being delivered into the market now are few compared to the older, 5+ year-old TVs.

One solution to levelling the playing field is to distribute Chromecasts which works fairly well in allowing any device to be come a streaming device. Another option is to use server-side sitting SSAI meaning the video stream itself has the advert in it. One problem with this approach is the impracticality to target individual users. HbbTV and ATSC 3.0 are other ways to deliver adverts to the television.

Beacons are a way of players singling back to the ad networks that adverts were actually shown so Phil takes a look at how these will change as time moves on before opening up to questions from the floor.

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Speakers

Phil Cuff Phil Cluff
Streaming Specialist,
Mux

Video: From WebRTC to RTMP

With the demise of RTMP, what can WebRTC – its closest equivalent – learn from it? RTC stands for Real-Time Communications and hails from the video/voice teleconferencing world. RTC traditionally has ultra-low latency (think sub-second; real-time) so as broadcasters and streaming companies look to reduce latency it’s the obvious technology to look at. However, RTC comes from a background of small meetings, mixed resolutions, mixed bandwidths and so the protocols underpinning it can be lacking what broadcast-style streamers need.

Nick Chadwick from MUX looks at the pros and cons of the venerable RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol). What was in it that was used and unused? What did need that it didn’t have? What gap is being left by its phasing out?

Filling these increasing gaps is the focus of the streaming community and whether that comes through WebRTC, fragmented MP4 delivered over web sockets, Low-Latency HLS, Apple’s Low-Latency HLS, SASH, CMAF or something else…it still needs to be fulfilled.

Nick finishes with two demos which show the capabilities of WebRTC which outstrip RTMP – live mixing on a browser. WebRTC clearly has a future for more adventurous services which don’t simply want to deliver a linear channel to sofa-dwelling humans. But surely Nick’s message is WebRTC needs to step up to the plate for broadcasters in general to enable them to achieve <1 second end-to-end latency in a way which is compatible with broadcast workflows.

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Speaker

Nick Chadwick Nick Chadwick
Software Engineer,
Mux

Video: Per-Title Encoding, @Scale Conference

Per-title encoding with machine learning is the topic of thie video from MUX.

Nick Chadwick explains that rather than using the same set of parameters to encode every video, the smart money is to find the best balance of bitrate and resolution for each video. By analysing a large number of combinations of bitrate and resolution, Nick shows you can build what he calls a ‘convex hull’ when graphing against quality. This allows you to find the optimal settings.

Doing this en mass is difficult, and Nick spends some time looking at the different ways of implementing it. In the end, Nick and data scientist Ben Dodson built a system which optimses bitrate for each title using neural nets trained on data sets. This resulted in 84% of videos looking better using this method rather than a static ladder.

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Speaker

Nick Chadwick Nick Chadwick
Software Engineer,
Mux