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7 Essential Tools for Every Creator's Streaming Toolbox

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Cuomo, a former video editor, says the company designed Vimond IO with all the traditional tools an editor would expect: fast-forward, rewind, frame-by-frame inspector, audio level control for all clips, external microphone support to record additional voiceover, overlay guides for users to move the focus to ensure the story is within viewable space, and the ability to easily place and scale graphics as the video resizes.

“Our main focus is news and sports [editing], up to five minutes,” he says. On top of the features noted above, there is collaboration capability, where more than one person can concurrently edit the same file. “If I were to assign you the URL, you could go into the same story and do changes as long as you have Google Chrome and an internet connection,” says Cuomo.

“With IO, you can extract the goal from a soccer game as it happens and then publish to social media or your pages,” he says. “Then when the game is over, you can collect all the tapes and create a highlight summary with voiceover and graphics.” With Vimond IO, a user can create multiple versions of the same story in one go, in multiple aspect ratios, in an adaptive bitrate format based on whatever encoding ladder the customer has chosen.

Clips can be created from live or library content. Other common use cases include live streaming archives and compliance edits. “We have customers that use this solution as an archive so they have their 24/7 streams running here all the time,” Cuomo says. The result is an archive for the live content that can later be used for VOD.

One longer-form use case: SVOD service Iflix uses the tool to create promos and do compliance edits for each country it distributes in.

“[Customers don’t have] to update anything, because we manage everything and we work under a continuous deployment,” says Cuomo. “Customers are always on the latest version.” Vimond IO supports Wowza, AWS Media Live, and Zixi (HLS [HTTP Live Streaming], RTMP [Real-Time Messaging Protocol], and Zixi protocols). Source content must be stored in AWS. “We have a great focus on removing technical aspects from the users,” says Cuomo. The result is less confusion for end users, lower costs than previous OpEx solutions, remote collaboration ability, and the ability to quickly deliver content out to multiple environments.

Pros: Easy-to-use, cloud-based, collaborative editing tool with a basic set of features to get content out quickly to multiple platforms; standalone capability means you can add to existing workflow.

Cons: Only support for AWS

Pricing: By input (minutes live ingest and/or file import) and output (minutes rendered). Customers can have multiple users or multiple workspaces without extra costs.

Vimond IO is a fully collaborative, cloud-based application for editing live or video- on-demand (VOD) content for instant output to multiple destinations.

Applicaster’s Zapp

Consumer Application Creation Platform

Zapp is a platform for creating consumer apps for PC, mobile, connected TV, and other streaming devices for live or VOD delivery. The company’s focus is to make app development faster and more cost effective by providing standardized app building blocks to reach multiple platforms.

“[We] are addressing the commonalities that all customers need, whether they are AVOD, [ad-supported video on demand], TVOD [transitional video on demand], SVOD, etc., and leaving them to do only that 20% or 15% that make their property unique in an absolute way,” says Jonathan Laor, CEO and co-founder of Applicaster. “It really is a seven-figure savings, because we’re taking six, seven, or eight team members and reducing it to the cost of one.”

Applicaster used a recent $60 million investment to try to flatten out the common strategic R&D needs it saw in media companies. Zapp’s premise is that using the platform frees up time to experiment and identify what really resonates with viewers, says Laor. Its infrastructure is open for developers to add the pieces they need. There are a number of third-party companies in the marketplace that offer different functionality, including payment solutions, video players, and customer managements.

“It gives customers the ability to scale at their pace and focus on real competitive IP and not just keeping up with new strategies or how to compete with Netflix or whatever the reference competitor is,” Laor says. So what’s the time to completed app? “It’s really a matter of hours or minutes, but that’s not to say that our customers launch in hours or minutes,” he says. “I have some customers that took almost a year, not because of the limitation of technology, [but] because we gave them all these opportunities to test things.

“If we’re asked for a recommendation, we normally say replicate the business model your users know you for; don’t rebrand yourself as something new at first,” Laor adds. He sees new media companies leaning toward subscription because they don’t have the audience to support substantial ad revenue.

The Zapp platform enabled Mexican broadcaster Televisa to incorporate an audio synchronization experience to the finale of The Voice and offer a branded experience associated with the voting. “Televisa had a sponsor come in at the last minute, and the customer needed to make a change to the app. Most American broadcasters will tell the sponsor to start their relationship at the upfronts 6 to 18 months in advance,” says Laor. With Zapp, Televisa was able to get the features to market within 4 weeks.

Pros: Great opportunity to create apps and very quickly get to market, ability to easily iterate by testing features and approaches with real users

Cons: This is a licensing agreement for a key business technology. Applicaster did not provide a demo account, so we have no further insight into the product.

Pricing: Per app, per platform. Customers can have unlimited users; they do not charge by API calls or usage.

Applicaster’s Zapp is a platform for creating consumer apps for PC, mobile, connected TV, and other streaming devices for live or video-on-demand (VOD) delivery. The company’s focus is to make app development faster and more cost effective by providing standardized app building blocks to reach multiple platforms.

Wildmoka

Cloud Video Production Platform

Wildmoka is a cloud-based video production platform that can ingest as many streams as you want in parallel and output content to multiple destinations, including an OVP, CMS, or social network, with varying graphics and size requirements.

The core of its business is to take either a live stream or file, then ingest, transcode, edit, and apply any required on-screen graphics in a web-based tool. “It’s a tool made for non-technical people,” says Matthieu Loreille, CMO of Wildmoka. Journalists and others can take a stream or a file, extract what they want, add graphics, and post it with very few clicks. Wildmoka continually updates all the social media configurations, so consumers don’t need to configure that. Mobile streaming is done via RTMP.

“It’s really major broadcasters and rights-owners that are using our platform; the people that have a very large amount of content to distribute to digital over-the-top platforms and to social networks,” says Loreille. One use case is sports tournaments, which are limited on what they can show on linear TV, but have a lot of content. This year, France Television decided to live stream all 3 weeks, or 841 matches, of the French Open tennis tournament.

France Television tested what length worked with viewers, allowing them to select from 2,000 hours of content within 3,000 video clips. Some clips were up to 20 minutes in length, and the French Television OTT platform monetized live content with pre- and mid-roll. “They ended up having 25.4 million views [on their OTT channel], a 75% increase over last year,” says Loreille. “On social, they had 27 million views.”

Wildmoka also has automatic sports clipping capability, which has preconfigured templates to automatically generate clips using AI & ML, requiring “zero human touch,” says Loreille. This enables broadcasters to provide instant access to key sports events. “[One customer] was using it for viewers who receive a Google alert based on teams and specific players they opted to follow.”

Wildmoka services sports, news, radio, and entertainment markets, and Loreille says the company has close to zero customer churn. The company just announced support as a publisher within Avid MediaCentral.

Pros: Full-service production platform, including support for owned and operated or social media platforms; automated AI and ML sports clipping capabilities are impressive

Cons: Focus is primarily on tier one companies. Wildmoka did not provide a demo account, so we have no further insight into the product.

Pricing: Charges per MB of ingested streams.

Wildmoka is a cloud-based video production platform that can ingest as many streams as you want in parallel and output content to multiple destinations, including an OVP, CMS, or social network, with varying graphics and size requirements.

Make.TV

Digital Master Control Room

Make.TV’s Live Video Cloud is delivering the next-generation, cloud-based master control room for broadcasters focusing on ingest, routing, and transmission. “Our technology takes care of ingesting the feed close to the contributor so they don’t run into the first-mile peering issues,” says co-founder and CEO Andreas Jacobi.

“Customers do not need to be technical anymore [to do] this kind of routing,” says Jacobi. One U.S. sports league distributes 28–40 professional feeds to more than 10 different outlets in at least three different versions. This is a few hundred different feeds to transmit through the public internet. The issue is getting broadcast quality delivered without adding latency or frame drift, as well as simultaneous delivery to an on-prem downlink station, where this feed is then taken and routed back for satellite transmission. Make.TV guarantees a 20-millisecond delay, says Jacobi. “We are able to reroute in real time without frame drops if we are running into network issues.”

Live content is recorded and available after the streaming as a VOD file. Customers can use VOD files to schedule a linear channel. “We also have customers who are using their library to stream a 24/7 live stream and then sometimes are switching to live content,” Jacobi says.

With traditional broadcasters (primarily) using on-prem master control rooms, Make.TV is enabling some of its news and sport customers to keep cloud-based content in the cloud (and not add an extra transport point before distribution). Also, having a hybrid solution provides an opportunity to test out cloud delivery before the eventual move to IP-based delivery.

Esports customer ESL ingests up to 600 hours of live video content daily, worldwide. “We support inbound signaling for SCTE [Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers] for digital distribution on Twitch, Facebook, YouTube and Mixer. They have an integrated API connection with these destinations to control the ad server on all of these platforms out of one single dashboard,” Jacobi says. Make.TV also has customers that include user-generated content within their productions. Contributors post via a mobile social media link or QR code that lets them do WebRTC streaming with very low latency.

“A cloud-based environment for routing and monitoring is so much cheaper because customers pay only for use,” Jacobi says. Make.TV supports a multi-cloud environment supporting AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Confirming signals output without any frame drop is the most common question the company gets, and the answer is yes, it does that.

Pros: Multi-cloud, ability to provide impressive low-latency distribution

Cons: Interface could use mild refinements.

Pricing: Annual or hourly rates, $1,000/month for annual contract. Live playback of any number of live sources (price per 12 channels—$56/hour or $2,800/ month). Other rates for low-latency pass through or transcoded output. Additional data charges for outgoing traffic, recording, and storing incoming video.

Make.TV’s Live Video Cloud is delivering the next-generation, cloud-based master control room for broadcasters focusing on ingest, routing, and transmission.

The author will demo some of these tools, plus a few others, at the Off-the-Shelf Streaming Tools workshop at Streaming Media West on Monday, Nov. 18. Registration is open now.

[This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "What’s in Your Streaming Toolbox?"]

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