Consumer demand for high quality, low-latency live and video-on-demand (VOD) content along with new viewing experiences across thousands of devices is surging. Production studios, broadcasters, multichannel video programming distributors, over-the-top (OTT) TV providers and Pay TV operators are working rapidly to keep pace. As a result, we expect three key trends to capture the attention of 2018 IBC Show attendees: low-latency live video streaming, video quality with bandwidth savings, and machine learning-enhanced video workflows.
No More Ruined Viewing Surprises: Addressing Video Latency
Suppose you are watching a football game via your over-the-top (OTT) streaming service. Meanwhile, your next-door neighbour is watching the same game on traditional TV, celebrating goals and agonizing over penalties that you have to wait another 30 seconds to see. Or perhaps you are watching a live talent competition, when your Twitter or Facebook feed – typically generated by TV viewers – ruins the surprise 15 seconds before you see it.
For viewers, the big problem with video latency is the frustration of viewing the action after instead of when it happens. Over time, video latency frustrations for viewers become video latency problems for content providers. With time-sensitive video content – such as TV sports, games, and news, or pure OTT content like e-sports and interactive shows – viewers expect to watch events as they unfold. In the world of real-time entertainment, video latency problems do not merely ruin surprises; if left unresolved, they damage the confidence viewers have in their OTT content providers.
With the move to AWS Elemental cloud-based video processing and distribution, OTT providers can take a holistic view of the workflow and take advantage of opportunities to minimize latency at each stage. Consequently, they are able to realize better-than-broadcast latencies for live events. As one example, a cloud-based video workflow allows content providers to locate each end of the workflow close to its respective edge. Content is ingested into the cloud close to the source, and then distributed through content delivery network (CDN) resources nearest the user. This helps maximize performance and minimize latency across the workflow.
Managing video quality requirements is an ongoing challenge and will be a topic of much interest at the 2018 IBC Show. For streaming content, the information contained in encoded video is inherently variable: different content and scenes carry different amounts of information in every single frame. Previously, content providers were required to set their video workflows to a single constant bitrate, potentially making trade-offs between video quality and bandwidth consumption.
At IBC 2018, AWS Elemental will demonstrate Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate (QVBR) control. This is a video compression technique that automatically adjusts to the complexity of source content, maintaining high-quality video while reducing storage and distribution requirements and therefore, costs associated with storage and CDN usage. Integrated into AWS Elemental encoding on-premises or in the cloud, QVBR automatically adjusts quantization to maintain a consistent viewing experience based on a target quality level determined by the content provider. We invite attendees to see QVBR in action for themselves at IBC Stand 5.C80.
Machine learning-enhanced video workflows
Recent cloud-based machine learning (ML) advancements, such as object identification and natural language processing-enabled media tools, have significantly progressed in their ability to enable next-generation content chains. Media companies are shifting their operations to cloud-based, intelligent video workflows. As a result, they are able to automate time-consuming, repetitive data-driven tasks so that they can stay ahead of consumer demands and deliver timely, personalized content.
Another aspect of ML-enabled media workflows is the concept of “content lakes,” or having all content and related metadata in a unified location and proximal to scalable, cost-effective, and easy-to-use cloud-based AI services. This makes searching, identifying, and moving large volumes of content across a range of media workflows simpler and more efficient, which is vital with ballooning content demands from consumers and exponentially increasing file sizes due to advanced video formats and resolutions. These content lakes will open new opportunities to improve efficiencies across the video workflow, as well as unlocking new approaches to monetizing streaming content. At IBC this year in Stand 5.C80, AWS will showcase a number of ML applications for automated metadata extraction and analysis, automated transcription and translation, and advanced sports graphics creation.
Visit AWS at IBC 2018, stand 5.C80.