Streaming Media East '15: Benchmarking Your Video Workflow

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At the Streaming Media East 2015 show today, Tim Napoleon, chief strategist at AllDigital, led a panel through a conversation around the results of a recent survey the company conducted asking industry experts about streaming video workflows, giving attendees a chance to see where their workflows stack up to their peers'.

One of the first questions asked survey respondents hit at the heart of performance issues: “For live streaming, what would your ideal delay in stream propagation time be?”

Almost half of respondents said an ideal propagation was less than five seconds, 30% said zero and about 18% said less than ten seconds. 

“Horse racing would be an example of a sport that requires a very fast propagation,” said Lionel Bringuier, director of product management for video delivery products at Elemental Technologies.

“Especially if your horse is winning,” quipped Napoleon.

The focus then shifted to whether a formal video-on-demand (VOD) package needs to be created before putting clips of sporting events or breaking news on a company’s website. “One workflow we’re seeing is a need to get assets up before a package is finished, “said Ken Zamkow, VP, Marketing at LiveU. “In some instances, we have customers using LiveU to get their assets up within seconds of recording, using a simple in/out/publish interface.”

“Especially for live content, one thing that’s made a big difference is the ability to stream a low-bitrate stream to YouTube,” said Grant Nodine, senior VP of Technology with the National Hockey League. Nodine said that the company then watches which clips the fans choose to create from the low-bitrate stream.

Another question centered on the amount of time it takes to move VOD assets from the source location to the cloud: “For video-on-demand workflows, how long does it take to transport 1GB of data from source to cloud destination?”

A little under one-quarter of respondents (23%) said it takes them less than a minute, while 36% said less than five minutes. More surprisingly, over 40% said it takes more than five minutes to move 1 GB of data from the venue to a cloud destination.

“The ideal is to be able to move more than 70 GB over an hour,” said Napoleon, which relates to the the “less than a minute” answer.

“8Mbps is fairly consistent now for LTE,” said LiveU’s Zamkow, “which is much different than just a few years ago.”

“What we’ve seen out of the LiveU type of product in the last few years has been much better,” said NHL’s Nodine, “and that’s due in large part to better Wi-Fi in the arenas. That lets us separate the data signals from fan’s mobile and Wi-Fi connections.”

Bringuier talked about mini contribution, where the ingest is in an Elemental encoder with H.265 (HEVC) but then the ingested content is transcoded to H.264 so that it can be delivered to the much larger established user base that can play back H.264 but not HEVC.

Another question asked “How long does it currently take to encode 1 hour of source mezzanine material into playback files?”

About 15% of respondents said it takes less than five minutes, or six times faster than real time, where a bit over one-third of respondents said it takes less than 30 minutes, and just under 30% said it takes 30-60 minutes (or just slightly faster than real time).

“There are more and more formats, and you have to support them,” said Bringuier.

When asked what process causes the biggest delay in publishing content, the results were surprising: 45% said encoding, 19% said delivery, and 36% said quality control (QC) was the biggest workflow process that caused trouble in getting content published.

“File-based QC is still kind of slow and expensive,” said Nodine. “I’m thinking of pushing my transcoding power to the edge, rather than doing it centrally.”

By this Nodine was referring to the idea of having transcodes at the arenas, so that the NHL doesn’t need to move hundreds of gigabytes of AVC-Intra—an H.264 format that is typically recorded at 100Mbps, used primarily for broadcast acquisition—from each arena.

Finally, a question was asked about whether on-premise, cloud, or hybrid solutions provided the fastest workflow.

Almost half said a hybrid approach was the fastest approach, with the remaining responses equally split between on-premise and cloud-only solutions.

“For our circumstances, though, we find the cloud meets our needs,” said Zamkow, “and eliminates points of failure.”
“We can see the cloud sometimes as a disaster recovery solution,” said Bringuier.

The complete esults of the AllDigital survey will be available, in a PDF form, for Streaming Media East 2015 attendees. The show continues until tomorrow, May 13, at the New York Hilton Midtown.


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