AmberFin: Not All Video Encoders Are the Same

For publishers who plan on charging for online video, quality is key. Yet, not enough attention is being paid to quality all through the video workflow. Addressing the need for higher quality standards was a panel at the recent Streaming Media Europe conference in London. One of the topics the panel took on was encoding: aren't all encoders the same?

"There is no right and wrong to encoding," answered Bruce Devlin, CTO of AmberFin. "Encoders have to make the decision about whether or not that bit of a video is mostly like a face or is it mostly like something moving vertically? Or is it mostly like something that's moving apart? Or is it mostly like something that looks like vertical detail? Each one of those decisions that it makes, and it makes millions of these decisions every second, each one of those decisions adds to the overall quality of the encode. For easy material, such as head and shoulders shot of a news reader, there's very little difference between the various encoders."

To test the quality of video encoders, the people at AmberFin ran their own quality tests. They arrived at some eye-opening results about what video is the most challenging.

"We did some encode quality tests of a range of Hollywood movie titles for streaming and it was very surprising. We thought the really difficult stuff was going to be stuff like Iron Man and The Avengers -- really high-speed movie titles, and we were wrong," Devlin said. "The hardest movie to encode was The Hangover, because The Hangover was shot in a kind of dirty, grubby kind of look, and some of the scenes, mostly the fun scenes, especially that one with the goat that I never understood, they were actually very hard to encode because they're kind of real-life scenes of shower curtains and dirty floors, and if you didn't encode them well the scene just looked wrong. Those were the ones that were actually the most telling about whether an encoder was good or bad."

To hear more about ensuring quality of service and experience with online video, watch the full panel discussion below.

Quality of Service and Quality of Experience in the OTT Video Ecosystem

Moderator: Philip Haggar, Founder,
Bruce Devlin, CTO, AmberFin
Jonathan Wood, Segment Head - Digital Media, Interxion

When launching multi-screen OTT video services, operators, broadcasters and content owners are facing new paradigms in quality management. They do not control the access networks and do not own the devices, so they cannot guarantee the quality of the services actually delivered to their subscribers. But Quality of Experience and Quality of Service are crucial to the success of any online video initiative. This session will look at the challenges and solutions available to service providers, CDNs, and operators.


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