The Streaming Toolbox: Valossa, Signiant, and Red5 Pro
As the volume of video content grows exponentially, we take a look this month at products that will help you figure out what's in your video, move production and archive files around faster, and send content out as a low-latency stream. Introducing Valossa, Signiant, and Red5 Pro.
A 4-year-old company whose video recognition and content intelligence technology can identify people, scenes, narration, sounds, keywords, logos, color, and emotions, Valossa is bringing visibility into media content with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Its initial focus is on moderation for content compliance and highlight creation, and it offers both user interface and API integration to media asset management, digital asset management, and other AI aggregator platforms.
As the amount of content is increasing, providing highlights makes content more discoverable, says Sami Niska, chief sales officer. While Netflix may have in-house teams of editors, the Valossa tool gives VOD platforms an affordable and fast tool to generate clips for TV shows and sports content. "Instead of a human cutting many versions of a trailers, AI can do it immediately and cut three or four different types of highlights," says Niska.
The technology can be configured many different ways, he says. Customers can focus on action, emotions, or key dialogue. "The same technology can be used for sports clips, finding all of the moments where there's a lot of emotions in the athletes' faces."
Other use cases include working with media libraries to tag content for easier search to improve the ROI, identifying key information within longer-form corporate content to surface relevant sound bites from presentation, and helping brands identify if their products are being discussed in a positive or negative way.
"We are currently piloting the technology with the media companies here in Nordics," Niska says. "The key focus has been on recorded content, but we also have a live version of our recognition technology. For YLE, the Finnish national broadcaster, we took the live TV stream of a comedy competition to capture emotions from the people’s faces and then drew conclusions." Customer access to the automatic clip creation tool should be available in early October.
Since the AI and ML image interpretation is only as good as the training the systems receive, Valossa is providing a way for customers to get customized training without having to become data scientists. Customers define the concepts they need to recognize, and Valosa sets up internal training tools. "We are providing this machine learning service," says Niska. "We have created this rapid bootstrapping process, which means that we can quickly and cost effectively built the first version of the model for customers to try. Then we can iteratively develop the model to meet their accuracy criteria."
Valossa offers a free trial account where users can try out analysis of their own content via a user interface, including a dashboard that provides a native report, metadata JSON, speech-to-text SRT file links, and access to highlights if created. Another screen in the dashboard provides detail about all visuals, full-text narration, and a range of insights for each clip. The company's primary focus is on API access, which allows customers to integrate Valossa as part of their toolsets. "We also do have mainly smaller customers who use the tool to make search inquiries into indexed content."
This was one of the most impressive tools I've tested so far.
Pricing: API pay-as-you-go pricing starting from: 0.05€ per minute per capability, or bundle capability (visual detection, visual moderation of inappropriate content, speech analysis, shot segmentation and more) at 0.15€ per minute. High-volume enterprise pricing on request.
Signiant Media Shuttle
Signiant’s Media Shuttle is an enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) product for intelligent data transfer, providing file delivery much faster than FTP. Media Shuttle moves petabytes of content every month, providing acceleration, error checking, and reporting.
This 15-year-old company’s growth rate seems to mirror the increases in media data rates over the years. "Our SaaS business grew by 46% last year," says Jon Finegold, chief marketing officer. "Over 500,000 individual professionals use one of our software products."
"We replace a ton of FTP with our Media Shuttle product," says Finegold. FTP was developed in the 70s and wasn't designed with today's file size and security issues. "A lot of the studios and broadcasters that we’re working with are actually banning FTP from their supply chains because of security breaches."
"We have something built into our transport architecture called checkpoint restart. If for some reason I unplugged my laptop from the internet halfway through the transfer and then reconnected it, it would automatically pick up the transfer where it left off. In media where you're dealing with potentially hundreds of gigabytes or even terabyte transfers, that's a pretty critical function," he says.
While Dropbox is an easy service to use, in the corporate environment visibility into personal accounts can be limited, and when people leave for another job, there is no access to whatever was stored there. Plus, it’s not great with large files, says Finegold.
"Cloud can be cost-prohibitive, so many of our customers want to use their own on-prem storage," says Finegold. "That could be storage in your own data center, or from AWS, Microsoft, or another cloud provider. Many of our customers have (multiple) portals pointing to different storage locations."
Media Shuttle has both drag-and-drop as well as API access. Another feature is file validations that allow users to set parameters such as only allowing H.264 1080p files (or any number of other settings). Media Shuttle's API integrates with dozens of different asset management and workflow systems.
How fast is Media Shuttle? It was very impressive when I got it working. The interface is very clunky (you download an app and install it, instead of working in a browser). The app installation took three tries, and I was only able to get the app working once. The second time I tried I could not transfer a file, probably because the app wouldn’t launch, and the browser version only allowed me to download.
Media Shuttle does not have a trial account and Signiant set me as a user in one of its demos, so I did not have full insight into all features.
Pricing: $7,500 per year for small- to medium-sized companies, $57,000 for enterprise services, and custom pricing for high volume.
Red5 Pro targets engineers building products and services using very low latency WebRTC streaming. "We do live streaming at scale and are focused on providing the lowest latency possible," says Chris Allen, CEO and cofounder. "Our sweet spot is on one-to-many live broadcast over IP. We can get millions of concurrent viewers with all under half a second latency.
"We let developers build on top of our tool set," he says. "We have a server-side infrastructure, which is kind of unique in that we didn’t go out and create our own data centers and build our own CDN." WebRTC is a stateless protocol, which means a chunk gets delivered and then the session history is gone, which makes it relatively easy to scale. Red5 Pro is taking advantage of the abundance and well-dispersed cloud services that have now been built out worldwide to create a WebRTC-based CDN. Customers use their own cloud accounts.
The Pro product has been in the market for three years. The company reverse-engineered RTMP, initially creating an open source alternative to the Flash communication server. "Fast-forward many years into the future and Flash is being phased out, so we saw a huge opportunity," says Allen. At Streaming Media East the company clocked 180 milliseconds from the New York Hilton Midtown roundtrip to Paris and back, says Allen. "Most of it is the network overhead. Our server infrastructure doesn't add too much. I view what we're doing as super disruptive," he says. "(If) your CDN is already built-out HTTP structures, why would you go out and try and recreate that?" One CDN has already come to Red5 Pro, however—the company is powering Limelight’s RTS streaming solution.
According to Allen, current users or testers of Red5 Pro include major sports broadcasters, lives sports betting, auctions, and the U.S. military.
Red5 Pro provides test accounts, but they generally take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to develop, and due to our own resource limitations, we were unable to test it at this time.
Pricing: Free trial. The Developer Pro account starts at $29.99 monthly for 1 instance and 100 unlimited connections, and services scale up to an annual enterprise pro account for $3,399 for 3 instances and as many unlimited connections as needed.
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Red5 Pro CEO discusses how Red5 Pro approaches WebRTC scalability in this clip from Streaming Media East Connect 2020.
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Companies and Suppliers Mentioned