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Connesta Enables Cloud-Based Video Switching, Announces Teradek Partnership

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Buyers of Teradek’s on-camera encoders now have a new option to produce their live streams. Under an agreement with Connesta, the developer of a cloud-based video switcher called Cloud Control Room (CCR), purchasers of all Teradek encoders receive a three-month free subscription to CCR, worth about $1,800 at CCR’s lowest pricing tier. The agreement is a significant technology validation for Connesta, and a great introduction to a new group of very likely users of Connesta’s platform.

Connesta was founded in June 2011 by a group of Israeli entrepreneurs, including Eli Doron, who founded Radvision in 1992. Private investors provided initial funding of $1.2M. I originally met Doron at Streaming Media West in 2013, and he gave me an extensive demonstration of the product via Skype from NAB this morning.

The premise underlying CCR is simple. As more video sources move to the cloud, it makes sense to produce those streams in the cloud. Connesta is seeking bundling/licensing arrangements with multiple camcorder vendors, many of which are integrating H.264 encoders into their camcorders with USB slots for 4G modems. CCR can also use input from mobile phones, as well as from live encoders/transcoders like Adobe Flash Live Media Encoder and Wowza Streaming Engine and Transcoder.

The CCR editor can accept an unlimited number of live and VOD inputs. You can broadcast your screen for software demos and the like by downloading a small utility from Connesta. CCR can also broadcast input from Instagram; just insert a hashtag and CCR will load all pictures and video for single or sequential display. 

All sources appear on the left side of the program. To make them live, you drag them into the tray beneath the preview and program windows. Today, the only way to upload titles is to prepare them in advance as graphics files with an alpha channel and upload them to the editor; ditto for onscreen graphics. While you can display two feeds side-by-side, there is no picture-in-picture or greenscreen capability, though a text editor and more advanced editing functionality is coming.

In use, CCR works like most video switchers, you can click each source into the live program view directly, but only with a cut transition. Alternatively, you can send the source to the preview window first, and then take it live with your choice of transition effect.

Figure 1. Connesta’s Cloud Control Room (CCR). Sources are on the left, live sources in the tray beneath the preview/program windows. The last source on the right is a live Instagram feed.

Delivery options are a very key strength. CCR comes with output presets for Ustream, though you can send your streams to any RTMP-capable service or services. In this regard, it’s easy to see how a broadcaster might use CCR to switch several live inputs, and direct the result to multiple affiliates or licensors of the content. It’s also a very simple solution for broadcasting a live event to multiple sources simultaneously, which often can’t easily be performed from terrestrial locations because of program limitations or bandwidth restrictions.

Obviously, you can operate CCR from any location using virtually any speed internet connection, another great advantage over traditional video mixers. Note that you can integrate Connesta with Brightcove, Ooyala, and Kaltura, so you can pull content from these sources and deliver your final output to them for further distribution.

Doron stated that the early adopters of CCR are primarily sports-related, with a sweet spot being events like marathons and bike races, which are broadcast from diverse locations. In Israel, Connesta counts several radio and TV stations as customers, as well as several universities and the Israeli Defense Force. He estimates current volume at about one production a day, though it’s been growing, and he predicts that agreements like that with Teradek will stimulate usage.

From my perspective, the case for live cloud switching of mobile sources seems much stronger than the case for cloud-based editing of existing content. It seems certain that in 5-10 years, perhaps sooner, a substantial portion of live events will be mixed in this fashion. The only question is how we get there from here, and where Connesta fits in along the way.

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