MPEG-DASH and H265: How do I use MPEG DASH, Part 2

October 18, 2014 7:42 am Tags: , No Comments 4 karma points

MPEG-DASH and H265 – How do I use MPEG DASH?

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A good solid overview of using MPEG DASH, compiled and ready for you to learn all about the streaming video codec and how to deploy it online

 

Great articles from Streaming Media that give a good solid overview of using MPEG DASH, compiled and ready for you to learn all about DASH.

1. DASH: Our Future?

2. Interoperability and Compatibility

3. Streaming Video Source Extensions and HTML5 Video

4. MPEG-DASH – Propagation

5. The Importance of Cross-Platform Playback

6. Get Online Live Video Right All The Time

7. Integrate Live Video Into Your Company Strategy

8. Optimizing Revenue Security with H265 MPEG DASH

9. MPEG-DASH: Breaking Through

 

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Media Source Extensions and HTML5 Video

By Jeff Tapper and Nathan Weber

 

Since the early days of the internet, there has been tremendous interest in using the vast network to distribute video content. From the beginning, the only way to achieve this was through a proprietary plug-in. One of the first was the RealPlayer, followed by Microsoft’s ActiveMovie and Apple’s QuickTime. In 2002, Macromedia Flash (later acquired by Adobe) became a de facto standard for video streaming, and in 2007 Microsoft’s Silverlight entered the streaming market as well.

 

With the introduction of HTML5 in 2012, a new approach became possible with the video tag. At its core, the video tag allowed for web developers to specify the URL of a video file, which could be downloaded and played. Each browser manufacturer made its own choices about which video codecs and containers it would support. Some browsers settled on WebM/VP8, while others decided on MP4/H.264. There were additional flavors that also had fledgling support, such as OGG and others.

 

Even with these developments, there was still a problem: Most browsers would only play back content via progressive download. A video tag could only use a single, whole, web-hosted video file for its source. Once a page

 

loaded, the browser began downloading that file, playing it back as it received more content. There are some drawbacks to progressive download. Progressive download cannot dynamically increase or decrease the quality based on what the user’s browser can handle (known as adaptive bitrate or ABR). Once a video has completely downloaded, the entire file is in the browser’s cache, which means users can redistribute the video. Seeking to a later point in the video is slow and tedious, requiring either additional server infrastructure or simply downloading the file up to the seek point. Finally, there is no support for live playback, since the browser expects the specified file to be complete.

 

Apple sought to solve some of these problems by supporting HTTP Live Streaming (HLS),  Apple’s ABR specification, in Safari for Mac OS. Instead of using a video file as a source, you could instead use the URL of an HLS manifest (an .m3u8 file). The manifest could in turn specify the various bitrates available, as well as the URLs to the specific files to be downloaded. Even better, HLS allows the content to be divided into many smaller files (or segments), so the browser can adapt between one bitrate and another with each new segment request. The HLS implementation was unfortunately only available in one browser and on only one platform. Additionally, developers had little to no control over playback decisions. Once the browser received the manifest url, it alone decided which bitrate to play, how much content to buffer, how aggressively it should switch from one rendition to another, etc. With HLS in Safari for Mac OS we did indeed have true streaming video (as opposed to progressive download) directly to the browser without a plugin, but experienced developers were griping about the lack of control afforded to them.

 

WHAT ARE MEDIA SOURCE EXTENSIONS?

 

In January of 2013, the W3C introduced a working draft specifying something called Media Source Extensions (MSE). The idea behind MSE was to provide a programmatic interface to the HTML video tag so developers could build robust streaming applications using only HTML and JavaScript. Since these are the primary languages used by web developers, they could now use their existing skills to build video applications without relying on plugins like Flash and Silverlight and their proprietary languages, ActionScript and C#.

 

HOW DOES MSE WORK?

 

MSE provides access to the underlying media buffer of the video tag. Developers can create a Source-Buffer instance for each type of media that will be streamed (audio, video) and then attach it to a video tag. Once the buffers are created, bytes (loaded from outside MSE) are handed to the buffer. MSE then parses the media data and loads the corresponding content into the buffer.

 

This means developers can download parts of a larger video file and have them playback individually, effectively allowing for HTTP Streaming directly into a browser.

 

WHAT BROWSERS SUPPORT MSE?

 

Initially, MSE support in browsers was very limited, but with each passing month, more and more browsers are now supporting the technology.

 

Google Chrome: Google Chrome was the first major browser to support MSE in Chrome v.23 (released in November 2012).

 

Microsoft Internet Explorer: Next was Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 11, although this support only existed in IE11 for Windows 8.1. Hopefully IE11 for Windows 7 and 8 will soon support MSE as well, but, as of this writing, that support does not yet exist.

 

Firefox: Firefox v33, which will be released in October, 2014, promises to have initial support for MSE.

 

Safari: At Apple’s WWDC in the spring of 2014, they announced that Safari will also support MSE while continuing its support for HLS.

 

WHAT CONTENT CAN I PLAY IN MSE?

 

Like browser support of progressive download, each manufacturer determines the container and codecs that its video tag will support with MSE. As of this writing, all of the MSE compliant browsers currently support MP4/H.264, as well as any of the other formats they already supported for progressive download.

 

USING MSE

 

It is not particularly difficult to start using Media Source Extensions. Only a few key steps are needed:

 

1. Identify the mimeType of the content and the codec used on it. This is needed when creating the source buffer.

 

Create SourceBuffer instances, and add event listeners to them.

 

Load the initialization segment, and pass it to the corresponding SourceBuffer instance.

 

Load media bytes, and pass them to the SourceBuffer instance. Use the same code as the initialization loading, except substitute the fragment URL in place of the initialization segment URL. Repeat until all of the fragments are loaded.

 

Below is an example of how to implement this in JavaScript:

 

EXISTING MSE PROJECTS (DASH.JS)

 

While building an MSE project may seem daunting, there are available open source projects to ease the process. One such project is dash.js (http://github. com/dash-industry-forum/dash.js).

 

dash.js was conceived as an extensible open source project. It allows the simple use cases to be handled simply while allowing extensive customization for complex cases through its robust Dependency Injection framework.

 

Using dash.js can be as simple as: 1) creating an HTML page with a video tag, 2) including the dash.all.js script file, and 3) passing it the needed information, as seen here:

 

The magic is happening within the startVideo function. First, an instance of the MediaPlayer class is created and passed a reference to the DashContext class which is a file that maps the dependency injection for the player. In the context class, each of the specific classes providing functionality can be changed or overridden. Next, the startup method is called on the media player. Then the HTML video element is passed to the player and the player is told to autoplay, which means it will begin as soon as a source is set.

 

Lastly, the URL for the manifest is passed to the player in the attachSource method. With these 5 lines of JavaScript, you now have a fully functional streaming HTML5 video player.

 

DIGGING DEEPER INTO DASH.JS

 

While it is great that a video player can be implemented so easily, many developers need to customize the player to their specific needs. To do that, you will need a deeper understanding of the dash.js project.

 

Understanding the Class Structure

 

The root of dash.js is the MediaPlayer class. It initializes the player framework and links the innards of the dash.js framework to the outside world. Once a stream is started, the contents of the stream are handled by the StreamController class.

 

StreamController initializes a MediaSource instance (the core class which provides the interface to MSE) and creates one Stream object for each stream in the DASH manifest. Generally, a single stream in a DASH manifest has one video, one (active) audio, and a caption set. The Stream object creates BufferController instances for each applicable type of media in the stream, which means, at least generally, there will be two and possibly three BufferController instances per stream.

 

Each BufferController loads the fragments for the stream and appends the contents to the SourceBuffer, the buffer of the MediaSource as provided by MSE.

 

Understanding and Customizing the Buffering Rules

 

The BufferController class controls when buffering should occur. The player periodically asks the BufferController whether or not more data should be downloaded. The shouldBufferMore() function receives the current buffer length (the amount of data waiting to be played) and a delay value (a number of seconds the buffer should contain before playing). Using these values, a boolean is returned indicating whether or not more data should be loaded.

 

You may to create a custom implementation of the “bufferExtensions” object if you find the need to alter or extend this functionality. The default implementation is BufferExtensions.js.

“Today, YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu, and many others are streaming significant quantities of video with Media Source Extensions and without plugins.”

Understanding and Customizing the Adaptive Bitrate Logic

 

Dash.js uses two basic rules for choosing which video fragment to download. The download ration rule verifies that the length of a fragment is longer than the time it takes to download that fragment. If it takes longer to download than to play, the player will eventually end up stalling while it waits for a download to complete. The insufficient buffer rule verifies that the buffer hasn’t been running empty too often. If the buffer is constantly being empty and waiting for bytes the player is stuttering. In this case we’d want to switch to lower bitrate fragments, so (hopefully) the buffer won’t run dry so often.

 

While these two rules are more than enough to get you started, they are rudimentary, and you will probably want to create a more robust set of rules for your own application. You can do this by building a custom implementation of the “abrRulesCollection” object. The default implementation is BaseRulesCollection.js.

 

Understanding and Customizing the Context

 

A context object is passed into the MediaPlayer when it is created. As stated earlier, the context handles dependency injection mapping, defining how various parts of the framework should work. It is possible to create a custom context to replace the default implementation of every class in the framework. It is fairly common to create custom instances of AbrRuleCollections and BufferExtensions in this way.

 

To do this, you would create a new context class, create an instance of it, and pass that instance to the MediaPlayer. You should generally extend the DashContext to ensure that any mappings you don’t plan on implementing still have their default implementation.

 

In the setup function you’ll want to define your custom implementations.

 

Here is an example:

 

Wrapping things up

 

Media Source Extensions offer a new approach to building streaming video and audio applications in HTML without using plugins. With each passing day, the number of browsers that support these extensions is growing. By the end of 2014, there will be nearly as many browsers that can play video through MSE as there are that can play it through the use of a plugin.

 

Today, YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu, and many others are streaming significant quantities of video with Media Source Extensions and without plugins. By some measurements, over 30% of video traffic on the internet today is already using this technology. As support for MSE grows, it is safe to assume that this number will grow along with it.

 

 


 

MPEG-DASH : Now Playing on a Screen Near You

By Chris Knowlton, VP and Streaming Industry Evangelist, Wowza® Media Systems

MPEG-DASH, the international standard for adaptive streaming, has gotten increasing attention in the last few years. Is the attention warranted? Let’s take a look – both at reasons why you might care and how a DASH deployment might affect you.

FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DASH NOW

1. DASH is an international standard

For many years, customers and much of the streaming media ecosystem have been heavily dependent on streaming formats developed by just a few well-known companies. Problematically, the technologies were usually proprietary and non-interoperable, their continued evolution was slow, and support for them was limited or even discontinued as priorities shifted.

 

Consequently, industry vendors and customers have often been apprehensive about betting their businesses on newer non-interoperable adaptive streaming formats, such as Apple HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS), and Microsoft Smooth Streaming. Although some specifications have been published for each of these formats, none is an industry standard. However, using attributes from all three of those formats, a new international standard was created: Moving Picture Experts Group Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP, commonly known as MPEG-DASH, or just DASH.

 

DASH was ratified as a standard in November, 2011, largely thanks to concerted technical input and cooperation from dozens of industry-leading broadcast, video, software, hardware, and services organizations, including Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft. Almost all of these organizations, with the notable exception of Apple, became founding members of the DASH Industry Forum (http://dashif.org), which was created to help accelerate DASH adoption. (Wowza Media Systems is also a founding Contributor Member of the DASH Industry Forum.) In April 2012, DASH was subsequently published as the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 23009-1 standard.

 

Having an international standard helps eliminate dependencies on vendor-centric formats and increases market confidence in embracing streaming technology. To ensure interoperability for industry adoption, the DASH Industry Forum published “Guidelines for Implementation: DASH-IF Interoperability Points.” The guidelines define specific DASH encoding profiles, codecs (e.g., H.264/ AAC), and many other key attributes needed to deliver both on-demand and live streaming products and services. Indeed, hundreds of companies have incorporated DASH support into their products.

 

2. DASH has all the features you love

 

DASH draws on many of the best aspects of the adaptive streaming formats from Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft. Better yet, because DASH is the latest iteration in adaptive streaming, it helps eliminate feature inconsistencies sometimes found when using multiple vendor-centric formats.

 

As you might expect, DASH provides dynamic adaptive streaming, allowing users on lower-bandwidth connections, fluctuating mobile connections, or older hardware to have an uninterrupted playback experience. For premium content providers, DASH supports business-critical features such as ad insertion, closed captioning, and Common Encryption. (Common Encryption enables a single title to be encrypted and stored just once while controlling access to the content using one or more DRM platforms, such as Microsoft PlayReady, Google Widevine, and Adobe Access.) Highly scalable, DASH inherits the ability to use existing HTTP caching infrastructures and content delivery networks to easily reach far-flung viewers and scale for the largest audiences.

 

3. DASH is on TV

 

DASH isn’t just emulating premium TV experiences, it’s one of the technologies powering them. Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) is a standard for connected TVs and set-top boxes that seamlessly blends delivery of broadcast TV with IP-based content delivered over the Internet. The goal is to allow HbbTV viewers to enjoy rich experiences on their TVs using a single remote to access content, including traditional linear broadcasts, online video services, programming guides, interactive advertising, catch­up TV, video on demand, games, social networking, and more.

 

A critical aspect to the increasing adoption of HbbTV is that it’s based on several existing IPTV, broadcast, and streaming standards. HbbTV itself was approved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) as ETSI TS 102 796 in June, 2010.

 

The DASH standard also offers many features that viewers associate with premium TV experiences, such as HD video quality, the ability to pause a live stream or replay the last few seconds, and multi-track capabilities (including multiple video angles, audio tracks, and subtitle languages). In fact, many broadcasters have embraced adaptive streaming to deliver TV-like experiences to their subscribers on any device. With consumers increasingly able to enjoy great experiences on their traditional TVs and connected devices, the lines between TV broadcast and streaming video are increasingly blurred.

 

In November, 2012, a new version of the HbbTV standard (HbbTV 1.5) was approved. This update incorporated MPEG-DASH as the designated format for delivering adaptive streaming content to Internet-connected TV devices.

 

HbbTV is sometimes promoted as a pan-European specification and is heavily adopted throughout Europe. HbbTV is also gaining acceptance outside of Europe, with deployments planned or underway in countries such as South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States. In addition, numerous name-brand TV and set-top-box manufacturers are producing HbbTV-enabled devices, providing choices and healthy competition in markets where HbbTV has been rolled out.

 

As HbbTV adoption continues, taking MPEG-DASH with it into more real-world deployments in Europe and beyond, it further bolsters the use of DASH as the standard of choice for streaming media.

 

4. DASH plays nice with HTML5

 

If you’ve read our blog posts on HTML5 (www.wowza.com/blog), you know it has not been the Holy Grail for video playback experiences. Streaming isn’t even officially supported in the core standard, and until recently, successful playback of video file downloads was hit or miss depending on the browser and operating system you were using. However, combining HTML5 and MPEG-DASH would bring together the latest industry standards for both web-based development and video delivery in a powerful way.

 

Fortunately, the W3C HTML Working Group has been developing extensions to HTML5 that make this a reality. The Media Source Extensions (MSE) specification defines a JavaScript API that lets HTML5-compliant browsers support live adaptive streaming, live pause, instant replay, and other modern streaming features. The Encryption Media Extensions (EME) API, which defines how to handle encrypted media files or streams, enables playback of premium or confidential content using HTML5-based web browsers.

 

With high demand for interoperable HTML5 video streaming, we’re seeing early MSE and EME feature adoption in web browsers, operating systems, applications, and devices. Services such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and the BBC have been testing DASH with these HTML5 extensions for some time.

 

Full functionality and interoperability for HTML5 streaming across devices and browsers likely won’t arrive for several years. That’s okay – keep reading to learn about how you can get started with both HTML5 and DASH today.

 

DEPLOYING DASH

 

If you’ve read this far, you might be starting to wonder how to deploy MPEG-DASH as part of your streaming infrastructure. Let’s walk through the major elements of a streaming workflow and talk about each.

 

Content Source

 

For most folks, no changes are required. You can likely keep capturing and storing your analog or digital audio and video content the way you always have. This applies whether you use an analog camera that feeds an encoder, a mobile digital encoding app such as Wowza® GoCoder™, or a network IP camera designed for home monitoring, electronic news gathering, or a similar purpose.

 

Encoder

 

As with the content source, if you have an encoder already, it probably doesn’t need to change. This is especially true if you handle delivery with a streaming media server or online streaming service that can repackage (and, if needed, transcode) your encoded files or streams to MPEG-DASH on the fly.

 

Streaming Server or Service

 

You may find that your media server software or service provider already supports DASH output. Several products on the market, including Wowza Streaming Engine™ server software, allow you to ingest a file or stream from your existing encoder and repackage it instantly to a DASH stream.

 

If your encoder supports most use cases, it sends a single, best-possible­quality SD or HD stream to your server or service. For the full benefit of DASH streaming, you’ll need to create several versions of your stream, each at a different quality level. This allows the adaptive nature of DASH to come into play, providing a dynamically-adjusting, continuous playback experience for viewers regardless of changing network bandwidth and local conditions that might otherwise cause the stream to stall.

 

To create multiple stream versions, you’ll need either 1) a modern encoder that’s designed to create multiple quality levels for adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming and a high-bandwidth connection to your media server, or 2) a media streaming server or service that can transcode the incoming single stream into a set of ABR streams. For example, Wowza Streaming Engine provides a one-to-many transcoding capability (plus overlays and other features) through the optional Wowza Transcoder AddOn.

 

Player

 

The lack of robust, supported, and widely adopted media players has often been cited as a roadblock to broad DASH adoption. DASH + HTML5 may someday be the answer, but we’re not there yet. Fortunately, there are many solutions that can be implemented today.

 

The starting point for most people is the open-source DASH Industry Forum reference player, dash.js, which allows DASH playback in any browser that supports Media Source Extensions. As an open-source reference player, it may not be stable enough to put into production “as-is” for high-value content, but it provides a great starting point as a test player and for JavaScript developers.

 

Another open-source option is the GPAC Osmo4 player. It’s also possible to play DASH content in older browsers and many devices using a customized Flash player. Learn more about some of the available DASH player options at www.dashif.org/software.

 

If you want someone else to do much or all of the player development work for you, there are many additional DASH playback options available, including offerings from many of the other vendors highlighted in this Streaming Media MPEG-DASH Superguide. They cover a wide range of scenarios, allowing protected DASH playback on HTML5 browsers, Flash, Silverlight, Google Chromecast, set-top boxes, smart TVs, and more.

 

More player options are on the horizon. For example, the JW Player team is working to add DASH to its highly popular player. When available, it’ll provide buyers with a low-cost, cross-platform DASH player that includes easy configuration, customization, analytics, and ad insertion.

 

Whichever player options you choose, delivering content to the growing number of DASH-capable media players will set you on a path to eliminating one or more older streaming formats and start simplifying your long-term streaming media infrastructure requirements.

 

Storage

 

For recorded live events and VOD assets, storage requirements can grow rapidly as you add support for more formats. Whether you need to significantly increase storage capacity as a result of supporting DASH depends on at least two factors:

 

Are you adding DASH as yet another streaming format, or will it end up replacing one or more older formats, especially as DASH player options and reach increase?

 

Perhaps more importantly, are you storing your VOD assets as a single set of quality-differentiated MP4 files per title and repackaging those into your various supported ABR formats on the fly as you deliver them? Most DASH-enabled servers and services support this storage-effective approach. If you aren’t, consider this as your starting point, and you may actually be able to decrease storage requirements.

 

Summary

 

Since its ratification in November 2011, DASH has been a hot topic of conversation in the streaming world. While adoption has been slower than anticipated, it has clear benefits for content providers and consumers. Many of the technical challenges are being resolved, and some of the best-known industry vendors and service providers are moving with speed to embrace DASH. DASH adoption appears to be poised to accelerate rapidly in 2015, bolstered by the incorporation of DASH as the adaptive streaming format in other connected TV and web standards. You can safely expect that many of today’s multi-format streaming workflows will be replaced by MPEG-DASH­centric workflows that provide the best qualities of adaptive streaming, increase feature parity across screens, maintain any-screen reach, and reduce deployment complexity.

 


 

The Importance of Cross-Platform Playback

As more and more vendors adopt DASH, an emerging consideration is how to reach the most consumers given the range of different hardware and software in use today. In this article, we focus on browser-capable platforms from personal computers to mobile apps and casting devices, as this is where we see the future of video distribution heading.

Traditionally, vendors have had to support a variety of video formats and associated players for content to be compatible with the multitude of video-enabled devices available to consumers. Those interested in delivering content to several platforms now have MPEG-DASH to simplify the process. The importance is scalability: DASH makes video delivery easier on content providers, as only one set of assets is needed for distribution. The benefits increase when used in conjunction with Common Encryption, with which a single DASH encode

becomes DRM agnostic and can be used with multiple DRM systems. Browser-based playback is changing as well. While plugins such as Flash and

encrypted-media) to employ DRM. However, even with every other major browser moving to support MSE and EME, the time until consumers will be Silverlight were recently the predominant player technologies, the future will be plugin-free as browser vendors seek to increase security and performance. In order to natively enable protected video in HTML5, Google and Microsoft have already added browser support for new W3C JavaScript API specifications: Media Source Extensions (MSE, www.w3.org/ TR/media-source) to facilitate adaptive streaming, and Encrypted Media Extensions

 

This means that when the goal is to reach the largest audience with protected content, providers are required to use multiple players, which of course can lead to associated setup and maintenance costs. The fragmented player market can also lead to trade-offs when selecting solutions as well. Do you focus only on forward-facing technology and risk excluding a portion of your consumer base? Will the choice of player technology restrict which DRM systems can be used? Will you have vendor lock-in? And of course, what works today may not work tomorrow, as exemplified by Google’s phase-out of Silverlight in its Chrome browser.

 

Cross-platform playback remains a barrier to entry when considering DASH adoption. As delivering secured playback remains complex, a single-player solution is then valuable for DASH to become an even more attractive format. To address this cross-platform player issue, we at castLabs have developed a solution.

 

DASH EVERYWHERE

 

Available as an add-on for the popular video.js player, DASH Everywhere is based on open technologies to avoid vendor or technological lock-in. Developers don’t need to consider platform specifics any longer, as the player automatically utilizes the best available technology for playback. This means it uses HTML5 and MSE/EME on modern browsers while falling-back to Flash with Adobe Access or Silverlight with PlayReady for older browsers. This alleviates the burden of reaching the largest audience with protected content by accounting for those who do not, or cannot, use up-to-date browser applications.

 

DASH Everywhere also seamlessly integrates with our cloud-based service, DRMtoday. The multi-DRM licensing service supports Common Encryption and provides content security using PlayReady, Access, CMLA-OMA, and Marlin, as well as Widevine (both Classic and Modular). This ensures protected playback is possible across virtually all consumer platforms and devices.

 

DASH Everywhere takes the complexity out of player implementations as it “just works” with only a few lines of code needed to deliver seamless VoD and live streaming DASH experiences. After all, DASH exists to simplify the whole video distribution process in the first place, so a simplified player makes sense.

 

INDIVIDUAL DASH PLAYERS

 

We additionally provide adaptive streaming players to target individual platforms such as HTML5, Flash, Silverlight, and Android/iOS devices. We also supply a native DASH library that enables other devices, including HDMI dongles and connected TVs.

 

OPEN-SOURCE TOOLS

As a DASH-IF member, we are also advocates for the promotion of the DASH standard. To contribute to its adoption, we have released two attractive format open-source projects for the community: DASH.as and DASH. encrypt. DASH.as is an ActionScript player based on DASH.js for the Adobe Flash plugin. DASH.encrypt is a Java based video segmenting tool for generating DASH content and associated manifests. It also includes a feature to encrypt streams for DRM protection. Both can be found on our website castlabs.com.

 

Live Online Video: Getting It Right Every Time : Integrate Live Video Into Your Communication Strategy

THE DEMAND FOR ONLINE VIDEO HAS CHANGED

Do you want to get more from online video?

 

Perhaps you want a higher level of engagement, more customers – or the increased ability to integrate socially and go viral. If so, live streaming video may be the answer. Already, live streaming has become popular with executives, who are the largest fans and were the earliest adopters of this technology.

 

In fact, C-level executives are using online video at more than triple the adoption rate of associate-level employees, according to a report titled “Executive Visions on Video in the Workplace” published by Wainhouse Research. The report surveyed 1,007 U.S. executives during the fourth quarter of 2013 and found that a staggering 78 percent of executives find online video to be effective for business communications.

 

But even more interesting, the report found that live video is preferred across all industries, with 72 percent of respondents favoring live video versus on-demand video. Although research shows that streaming a live event is the clear favorite, does this really benefit your business?

 

SOLVING COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES

 

You need an effective way to connect with your audience, even when you can’t physically be in front of them. This is increasingly important as companies attempt to reach their audiences on a larger scale without sacrificing engagement. Live streaming is used in a variety of situations, including:

 

New product launches.

 

A company is launching a new product; however, the product has many nuances. As a result, a longer time than usual is needed to successfully explain the various features and capabilities of the product. Engagement is key to avoid losing the audience in all the important details.

 

Branded event.

The company needs to release a branded message, and holding the event in a single location will limit attendance. You need to reach a large group that spans the country or even the world.

Internal employee communications.

A new strategy or exciting news is on the horizon. Employees are in multiple locations, and you need a simple and effective way to communicate your message, engage the audience and answer live questions.

Before live streaming, you might have used webinars or similar technology to address these situations. But like all solutions, webinars have drawbacks that can adversely affect engagement.

 

WEBINARS DON’T WORK ANYMORE

 

For many years, webinar solutions such as WebEx and Adobe Connect have been used to communicate with audiences. However, traditional webinars aren’t working as well as they once did. Sign-up rates and attendance have slowly eroded, according to the Content Marketing Institute. And for companies that want to reach their audience more effectively, this presents a problem.

 

Without a live streaming experience, it’s too easy for people to “tune out” during an online video. They aren’t actively engaged, and once you lose the audience, it’s diicult to recover. For example, most webinar tools show engagement levels of your audience by whether they’ve placed a browser over the webinar window. If you view this engagement level, you will learn that at the highest peak of audience attendance, only 30 to 50 percent of that audience is actually watching your webinar.

 

For the company attempting to explain a new product, deliver a branded message or communicate with employees, capturing and keeping attention is critical.

 

ENGAGING, SCALABLE SOLUTIONS

 

Many executives have started gravitating to live video because it looks better and is naturally more engaging. Audience members don’t turn away and multitask during an in-person live event, and they mimic this behavior during a live streaming event.

 

In addition, live streaming solutions, such as the options offered by Ustream, provide something that webinars can’t match – scalability. There is no limit to how many people can attend your live event, whether it gets a modest 20 viewers or goes viral and captures 20 million viewers.

 

The ability to pair scalability with social integration is a powerful tool. Viewers can tweet directly from the view page and share with other viewers in social chat or feed streams. The audience grows quickly through viral sharing, and user-friendly technology allows the tech- savvy and the less experienced user to deliver a flawless live streaming event with ease. Live video also produces a recorded asset that is easier to reuse than a webinar.

 

10 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL STREAMING

 

Launching a live streaming event is exciting, as viewers get engaged and share the event socially – and the outcome exceeds your expectations. However, to get the most from your live streaming event, it helps to have a few tips to ensure that it’s flawless – from start to finish.

1 Test early and test often.

 

Use the actual equipment from the actual location with the actual subject matter. When this isn’t possible, work with whatever combinations you can until you arrive on-site – and then do additional testing.

2 Know your upload bandwidth.

 

Ensure that you have enough bandwidth to create high-quality live streaming video for your event. This usually means ensuring you are on a wired connection that is not shared with many other users.

3 Know your equipment.

 

Avoid purchasing brand-new video equipment that you don’t have a chance

to use until the day of the event. Practice with equipment you already own, and give yourself enough time to get comfortable with the technology before it’s time for the event.

4 Have great lighting.

 

Without good lighting, your camera can introduce noise – which will result in a low-quality, blocky or pixelated image. Bring in some lighting, or use a bright room and have on-camera subjects face towards the light source to avoid unflattering shadows.

5 Have great audio.

Without intelligible audio, your live streaming event will be unwatchable. Avoid audio challenges by getting a mic on your presenter mic or even taking a feed from a PA system if there’s one in use. Your camera’s onboard mic often won’t pick up a good enough signal.

6 Get backups for your backups.

Record a local copy of your broadcast using Ustream Producer software; also record the output from each camera if possible. Have extra mics, extra batteries, extra cables, and ideally, a secondary audio system, spare camera, and backup encoding setup.

7 Promote your event.

 

Promote your event at least three different times in three different ways. Send reminders one week, one day, one hour and five minutes before the live event. Use email, social media and pre-registration forms, or even call attendees directly. Ask high-profile participants to tweet about the event from their personal accounts.

8 Make it interactive.

 

Make the event more engaging by holding behind-the-scenes, interactive chats and Q&A with real-time questions from the audience through Twitter. Stream the event for as long as possible before and after the main action: longer streams gain higher attendance and generate more social media buzz.

 

9 Go live early.

 

Start your stream 15 to 60 minutes early to ensure that everything is working correctly from end to end. Viewers who show up early will start spreading the word about your live streaming event.

10 Keep on streaming.

 

Re-stream your event ‘as live’ just as TV broadcasters often do. Make the recording available as video-on-demand as quickly as possible. The best window of time to maximize your audience is immediately after the live event ends. Keep the player on the same web page and available via the same URL as your original live stream.

 

DO YOU WANT TO EXTEND YOUR REACH?

 

The popularity of live streaming video is growing quickly because it’s highly engaging, effective and scalable. If you’re interested in leveraging live, online video to extend the reach of your communications, we can help. For more information, simply email sales@ustream. tv today. New to streaming? See how easy it is to get start by watching this in-depth video guide.

DASHingAhead: Optimizing Revenue Security With MPEG-DASH

By Petr Peterka & Niels Thorwirth, Verimatrix

 

Today’s pay-TV operators face many challenges, including continually adapting their services to rising subscriber expectations. Operators are increasingly targeting multiple screens—e.g., TVs, PCs, and various mobile devices—in their attempts to offer competitive services and reach the widest possible audience, anywhere and anytime. However, maximizing the monetization of content across a multi-network environment comes with several challenges, including managing multiple digital rights management (DRM) systems.

Managing the interplay between multiple DRM systems has long been asserted as one of the most significant barriers to successfully deploying a multi-network, multiscreen delivery environment. In fact, DRM schemes in general are often regarded as presenting many challenges for large-scale media distribution, leading some to suggest that the approach in general may be counterproductive. Interoperability, in particular, has been a difficult technical problem when dealing with a set of technologies that are, in general, highly proprietary in nature and kept closely guarded as an additional layer of security.

MPEG-DASH: A STATUS UPDATE

Leveraging an open DRM scheme, such as the ISO/IEC standard MPEG­DASH, promises to ease the process of addressing the unique requirements

of different devices types, giving them the potential to open up the universe of multi-network, multiscreen delivery and greatly accelerate the growth of new revenue streams based on this paradigm.

The DASH file specification certainly has the potential to unify the adaptive streaming world. Application standards HbbTV, 3GPP, and DECE have embraced MPEG-DASH, and it is anticipated that broadcast standards will likely follow suit as well.

This publication of implementation guidelines also helps promote adoption of the specification. The DASH Industry Forum (DASH-IF) recently published its “DASH-IF Interoperability Points V3.0” (dashif.org/w/2014/08/DASH­IF-IOP-v2.90.pdf) Implementation Guidelines for community review. These guidelines include Interoperability Points for on-demand, live and time-shift streaming using the AVC/H.264 and HEVC/H.265 codecs, and support default HE-AAC and optional multichannel audio codecs and different closed caption formats, as well as an informative update on common encryption (CENC) to support various DRM systems.

Industry-wide collaboration in the creation of the DASH standard is a large part of its success. Membership in the DASH-IF has grown to 74 member companies, including Google, from the original six founding charter members in 2012.

The specification is becoming increasingly popular as it matures. Many large over-the-top (OTT) video distributors—including Netflix and Hulu—have implemented DASH, and YouTube is following suit as well, albeit with a player dependent approach featuring either ISO BMFF H.264 or WebM VP9-based DASH profiles. It also leverages CENC with multiple DRMs for transactional content.

The DASH-IF also organizes the dash. js project (github.com/Dash-Industry­Forum/dash.js/wiki), a powerful open source Dash Media Player that shows DASH capabilities within a suitably extended desktop browser environment and provides a platform to build interoperable players.

BENEFITS OF DASH

MPEG-DASH offers a number of technical and commercial benefits:

• It is decoupling the technical issues of delivery formats and video compression from the more typically proprietary issues of a protection regime. In the world of DASH, no longer does the technology of delivery have to develop in lockstep with the release cycle of a presentation engine or security vendor. This has been true for the de facto standard of HTTP live streaming (HLS) for some while, but is now being formalized with a broader base of technology;

It’s not blue sky technology—the standard acknowledges adoption of existing commercial offerings in its profiles and an implied transition to full standards compliance over a period of time;

It represents a drive for a single delivery protocol standard, which helps reduce balkanization of streaming support in CE devices. More broadly available device-neutral services and less proprietary silo implementations in devices such as connected TVs should help the market grow overall;

It provides a vendor-neutral option to address the obvious current shortcomings of video support in HTML5—the adoption of which itself is an important dynamic.

LEVERAGING DASH FOR ENHANCED REVENUE SECURITY

Today’s leading-edge content security strategies are characterized by the transition from a security architecture with DRM technologies in multiple competing “silos” to a more unified approach across network types and stream formats. The foundation of such an approach is that the typical DRM silos are unified via a higher-level cross-DRM “rights management” abstraction, which enables the DRM servers to operate unimpeded.

This type of approach can be augmented by the adoption of a non-proprietary, open DRM framework like MPEG-DASH. Such a framework is particularly attractive as it offers operators an ideal mix of unification and flexibility—media delivery formats are unified and device authentication and key management processes for secure delivery remain flexible. In addition, this type of standardization can greatly accelerate the growth of new services and revenue streams for operators by opening up the universe of multi-network, multi-

screen and delivery to a new range of standards compliant smart CE devices.

It is also important to remember that rights management between the pay-TV and OTT environments should be carefully controlled, since glitches in this aspect of delivery cause havoc on the management of overall subscriber expectations. Most importantly, a single security platform clearly opens up the potential for flexible business models that can help upsell OTT content for premium services and cross-sell over multi-network, multiscreen distribution.

Standardizing on MPEG-DASH offers the potential to open up the universe of multi-network, multiscreen, and multi-operator delivery, beyond proprietary content silos. And, by doing so, it could greatly accelerate the growth of new services and revenue streams for multi-network operators. In combination with a robust protection mechanism, a whole new generation of premium services is likely to become available in the market.

THE VERIMATRIX APPROACH

Verimatrix, by virtue of long engagement with DECE and other industry initiatives related to DASH, anticipated the need for more efficient, state-of-the-art approaches to the management of content protection. Consequently, content distributors of every description can implement the company’s rigorous multi-network and multi-device protection mechanisms with full confidence that they will be able to benefit from these new developments in adaptive streaming and electronic sell-through.

Verimatrix VCAS™ Ultra offers a robust solution for these multi-platform challenges by providing DRM and content consumption transparency across networks and devices. By providing DASH support that is merged with existing Verimatrix and PlayReady DRMs, Verimatrix has extended VCAS’

ability to enable content delivery to millions of consumer devices without complex client security integrations. This is having a profound and positive impact on the time-to-market for operators eager to extend their service reach beyond their managed networks. Consumers are benefitting from the ease of use and transparency that follows from not having to be concerned with different DRMs. Users don’t even need to be aware what particular DRM is in use for each device.

Such an approach offers operators a way to future-proof their OTT video strategies, with enhanced security HLS, Smooth Streaming, and MPEG-DASH using an “integrate once” single security authority architecture. In addition, it easy to deploy and provides cost-effective OTT support for both pay-TV and free-to-air (FTA) broadcasters.

In Summary

As we look toward the future, one thing remains relatively certain: there’s no better way to futureproof an early­to-market multi-device service strategy than by adopting architectures that accommodate a multi-DRM approach. Moreover, open DRM standards can go a long way to help enable the type of consumer choice that all digital TV operators are aiming for.


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