NAB 2019: Encoding.com Talks About its 2019 Global Media Format Report
Jan Ozer: I'm at the Encoding.com booth at NAB with Greg Heil, who is founder and CEO of Encoding.com.
Greg Heil: How are you? Thanks for having me.
Jan Ozer: My pleasure. So we're going to spend a little bit of time talking about the 2019 Global Media Format Report that Encoding.com just launched and then get in to some of the new services that Encoding.com has started shipping or providing within the last few months. So, tell us about the Global Media Format Report. What went into it and what were the key findings?
Greg Heil: Sure. It's a report that we've published, I think this is the sixth year, and what we've done is aggregated and anonymized all of the customer data from all of the media and entertainment companies that process media through us to try to give the industry some insight that separates the buzz of what's happening from a marketing perspective in the industry and what's live in production workflows today. And what we've seen is that some of the next generation codecs that have promise and that a lot of people at this show are talking about don't necessarily make it to production workflows as quick as everyone assumes. So, we're still seeing a lot of legacy H.264 workflows and have seen a real big uptick this year, for the first time, on 2018 data and HEVC data. So, up to 12%, which is double 2017.
Jan Ozer: But still it was very low in HLS. So, does that mean it was all going to smart TVs and DASH?
Greg Heil: Yeah, I think the first driver of HEVC is 4K content that's going directly to smart TV OSs, yep.
Jan Ozer: And you had a pretty funny comment about AV1. I guess you're not seeing a lot of demand or uptick in that?
Greg Heil: Yeah, I think it has a lot of promise and we're agnostic to codecs. We'll support anything that has adoption. I just don't think it's an inevitability that something that is a better codec will be adopted. There's a lot of politics that go into whether or not a codec makes it to real hardware adoption. And if you want not having a lot of hardware decoding out there and no HDR supports and no DRM, it's got a ways to go.
Jan Ozer: One of the major marketing or developmental focuses you've taken has been the whole moving workflow to the cloud. Explain how that works, as briefly as you can, and what additions you've made to that over the past 12 months.
Greg Heil: Yeah, sure. So, if I were to describe us in a nutshell, what we do or what our value proposition is to the market, it's helping customers migrate on-premises workflows that are running on hardware and software to the cloud. And to do so means we've had to migrate many different tools and encoding engines, open source and commercial, to the cloud to support that initiative. And that's why we're not involved at all in the data layer. We are more of an orchestration company and right now we have 45 different commercial and open source tools that are all living behind an API and they're driven directly from customer demand. So, a customer is trying to turn off of a big hardware farm and they say, gosh, I've really got to have a way to insert Nielsen watermarks, can you license the TIC server from Nielsen? And that's the way we've gotten from a few encoding engines to over 40.
Jan Ozer: Do you have any sense of what percentage of your business is that type of operation, as compared to pure transcoding and packaging?
Greg Heil: Pure transcoding and packaging verse like broadcast workflows or?
Jan Ozer: Well, just the entire work, I mean, do you even price it differently or is it all--
Greg Heil: Well, no. I mean, in a lot of cases the first workflows to move from on-premises to the cloud have been what we call OTT workflows or a high-quality mezzanine asset to an HLS and DASH. That made more sense, initially, to migrate to the cloud and now we've seen customers want to move upstream to the more intermediate codecs and what they're using to create mezzanine assets and distribute to virtual MVPDs.
Jan Ozer: Okay, and you talked about support for ProRes. What are you doing there and why is it a big deal?
Greg Heil: Yeah, that's an important codec. It's an extremely high-quality and well-supported codec. And it's used as a lot of media and entertainment companies will take a ProRes file and use that to distribute that mezzanine asset to a provider that's going to then turn it into an OTT format or for other uses. So, we are licensed through Apple to not only encode but decode into the ProRes formats all of the flavors and that's actually using Apple's ProRes library.
Jan Ozer: And that's pretty unusual, right? They don't usually license encode?
Greg Heil: It is, decode is a lot more popular and readily available than encode. So we're very proud to have that license.
Jan Ozer: Okay, and you've also got a great name for a faster HLS service?
Greg Heil: We do have a faster HLS service called Ludicrous Mode. And Ludicrous Mode is our brand for parallel split and stitch processing of HLS, which is great for priority assets and runs at about .2/.3 of real time.
Jan Ozer: Is there any quality hit associated with the split and stitch?
Greg Heil: Zero. Really we're just throwing more compute, we're splitting the asset apart and sending it out to, which we did in some cases before on the individual bitrate ladders already, but this is one step further in breaking it into segments and processing it in parallel and then assembling it afterwards. Zero quality hit, same output. Validated by our big production workflows and QC solutions.
Jan Ozer: Okay, so, and if this is too proprietary let me know, but are you doing the single pass once on one machine? Because the whole ability to, if you're doing two pass encoding. I guess single pass encoding is simple, it's going to be the same. But if you're doing two-pass, how would that work in a distributed environment?
Greg Heil: Yeah. We'll distribute two-pass. So we're breaking the segments apart and then doing two pass. But you're doing two pass on a six second segment as opposed to a hour length movie.
Jan Ozer: Okay. Listen, thanks for taking the time again and thanks for sending out that report. I mean, it's really helpful, I think, to everybody in the industry.
Greg Heil: Excellent, thank you very much.
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The annual Global Media Format Report is out from Encoding.com, and it's essential reading for streaming produceres looking for hard data on the state of video formats, codecs, and DRM.
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