Video: Hardware Transcoding Solutions For The Cloud

Hardware encoding is more pervasive with Intel’s Quick Sync embedding CUDA GPUs inside GPUs plus NVIDIA GPUs have MPEG NVENC encoding support so how does it compare with software encoding? For HEVC, can Xilinx’s FPGA solution be a boost in terms of quality or cost compared to software encoding?

Jan Ozer has stepped up to the plate to put this all to the test analysing how many real-time encodes are possible on various cloud computing instances, the cost implications and the quality of the output. Jan’s analytical and systematic approach brings us data rather than anecdotes giving confidence in the outcomes and the ability to test it for yourself.

Over and above these elements, Jan also looks at the bit rate stability of the encodes which can be important for systems which are sensitive to variations such services running at scale. We see that the hardware AVC solutions perform better than x264.

Jan takes us through the way he set up these tests whilst sharing the relevant ffmpeg commands. Finally he shares BD plots and example images which exemplify the differences between the codecs.

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Download the slides

Jan Ozer Jan Ozer
Principal, Streaming Learning Center
Contributing Editor, Streaming Media

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.

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See Streamflow’s blog post supporting the talk

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

Video: Open Source Streaming

Open source software can be found powering streaming solutions everywhere. Veterans of the industry on this panel at Streaming Media West, give us their views on how to successfully use open source in on-air projects whilst minimising risk.

The Streaming Video Alliance’s Jason Thibeault starts by finding out how much the panelists and their companies use open source in their work and expands upon that to ask how much the support model matters. After all, some projects have paid support but based on free software whereas others have free community-provided support. The feeling is that it really depends on the community; is it large and is it active? Not least of the considerations is that, in a corporate setting, if the community is quick to accuse, is it right to ask your staff to go through layers of ‘your a newbie’ and other types of pushback each time they need to get an answer?

Another key question is whether we give should back to the open source community and, if so, how. The panels discusses the difficulties in contributing code but also covers the importance of other ways of contributing – particularly when the maintainer is one individual. Contribution of money is an obvious, but often forgotten way to help but writing documentation is also really helpful as is contributing on the support forums. This all makes for a vibrant community and increases the chances that other companies will adopt the project into their workflows…which then makes the community all the stronger.

With turn-key proprietary solutions ready to to be deployed, Jason asks whether open source actually saves money on the occasions that you can, indeed, find a proprietary solution that fits your requirements.

Lastly, the panel talks about the difficulty in balancing adherence to the standards compared with the speed at which open source communities can move. They can easily deliver the full extent of the standard to date and then move on to fixing the remaining problems so far not addressed by the developing standard. Whilst this is good, they risk implementing in ways which may cause issues in the future when the standard finally catches up.

The panel session finishes with questions from the audience.

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Steve Heffernan Steve Heffernan
Head of Product
Yuriy Reznik Yuriy Reznik
Head of Research,
Rob Dillon Rob Dillon
Dillon Media Ventures
Rema Morgan-Aluko Rema Morgan-Aluko
Engineering Dango
Jason Thibeault Jason Thibeault
Executive Director,
Streaming Video Alliance

Video: Multiple Codec Live Streaming At Twitch

Twitch is constantly searching for better and lower cost ways of streaming and its move to include VP9 was one of the most high profile ways of doing this. In this talk, a team of Twitch engineers examine the reasons for this and other moves.

Tarek Amara first takes to the stage to introduce Twitch and its scale before looking at the codecs available, the fragmentation of support but also the drivers to improve the video delivered to viewers both in terms of frame rate and resolution in addition to quality. The discussion turns to the reasons to implement of VP9 and we see that if HEVC were chosen instead, less than 3% of people would be able to receive it.

Nagendra Babu explains the basic architecture employed at Twitch before going on to explain the challenges they met in testing and developing the backend and app. He also talks about the difficulty of running multiple transcodes in the cloud. FPGAs are in important tool for Twitch, and Nagendra discusses how they deal with their programming.

The last speaker is Nikhil who talks about the format of VP9 being FMP4 delivered by transport stream and then outlines the pros and cons of Fragmented FMP4 before handing the floor to the audience.

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Tarek Amara Tarek Amara
Principal Video Specialist,
Nikhil Purushe Nikhil Purushe
Senior Software Engineer,
Nagendra Babu Nagendra Babu
Senior Software Engineer,