Streaming Forum Preview: How to Encode for Multiple Screen Delivery

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Encoding for multiple screen delivery is a topic so broad you could literally write a book about. I should know, because I did, Producing Streaming Video for Multiple Screen Delivery. That awkwardly transparent attempt at establishing credibility aside, how does one cover such a broad topic in just 45 minutes, which I'll do at the Streaming Forum in London on June 25? To paraphrase a famous quote from the 1960s U.S. detective drama Dragnet, by sticking to “just the facts” (ma ‘am). Be prepared to process mounds of critical data in a very short period of time.

At a high level, the goal is to most efficiently produce a single set of files that will play on computers, mobile devices, and over-the-top devices. While there are many technologies that can deliver to these platforms, there’s only one codec, H.264. So the presentation starts there, detailing the critical compatibility-related H.264 configuration options and the playback requirements for all three targets. 

Sounds cut and dried, but it’s not. Go one route, and customize parameters for each platform, and you could end up with dozens of files, escalating your encoding and administrative burdens significantly. Or, you could encode one set of files for the lowest common denominator platform that play everywhere and cuts encoding and administration costs by as much as a third. What’s the loss in quality? Well, not as much as you might think, but you’ll be able to see for yourself at the session.

Next I’ll cover HTML 5, which is an exceptionally simple way to distribute single files to computer and mobile devices. There are a couple of catches, though, like the fact that not all computers are running HTML5-compatible browers, and that HTML5 doesn’t yet support several features critical to many producers, like adaptive streaming, DRM, or pervasive support for closed captioning. You can address the first problem pretty simply (cough, cough, Flash fallback), and I’ll show you a great tool for doing so, but if you need any of the listed features, you’ll have to find another technology.

While there are multiple candidates like HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Flash Dynamic Streaming over HTTP (HDS), Smooth Streaming and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), they don’t all play natively on all target platforms. You can take the app route, and dramatically boost your distribution costs, but there’s one technology of the four that can take you almost all of the way there, if you choose the right off the shelf player technology. As you’re undoubtedly guessing, I’ll identify this technology at the session.

If you do need to implement multiple adaptive streaming technologies to reach your targets, you’ll want to know what transmuxing is, and which products and services can perform it. I’ll cover that too. And while delivering to iOS devices is fairly simple, Android is anything but. So I’ll detail the approaches that publishers are taking for Android and what’s reasonable to expect from a compatibility perspective.

Along the way, I’ll identify technologies you can use to implement this on your own, and services that can do it for you. So whether you want to make or buy, you’ll know where to start.

Basically, if video is mission-critical to your organization, you need the ability to deliver to computers, mobile and OTT devices. After this 45-minute session, you’ll walk away knowing how to do just that. I know—I wrote the book on it!

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