What was new for AWS Elemental Media Services in 2019
At re:Invent 2019, the AWS Elemental team will present a review of the past year at the Twitch Launchpad. You can watch the live stream on Wednesday December 4th at 16:10 PST here https://twitch.tv/aws.
If you can’t wait for the Launchpad, or have watched it and want to learn more, in this post we have many more details about how AWS Elemental continued to improve the six AWS Elemental Media Services in 2019. We’ve added loads of new features to help you produce better quality video, and to improve your video solutions with better integration, more workflow options, and faster transcoding. We’ve also added support for more standards and protocols, given you more options for monetization, and made it easier to lower the latency of your live video streams.
Asking someone, “Do you want your video to look good?” is like asking “Is Baby Yoda cute?” The answer is obviously a simple one: “Yes!” But the definition of “good” is always changing. Higher resolutions provide more detail, High Dynamic Range (HDR) options enhance the viewing experience, object based audio formats continue to evolve, and new codecs make the aspiration to provide the “best” quality video a moving target. With AWS Elemental Media Services, we are always adding new features to support these new audio and video technologies to help you stay on the cutting edge.
First, AWS Elemental MediaLive can now be used to provide a managed, highly-available multi-program transport stream (MPTS) for broadcast distribution over satellite, cable or terrestrial networks with support for Statistical Multiplexing (Statmux) outputs.
MediaLive also added support for 4K/UHD, HEVC streams with HDR. Encoding with HEVC offers a number of advantages. While UHD video requires an advanced codec beyond H.264 (AVC), high frame rate (HFR) or HDR content in HD also benefit from HEVC’s advances in compression efficiency. In addition, benefits can be achieved with HD and SD content even if HDR and HFR are not needed. HEVC is 30-50% more efficient than AVC, resulting in significantly lower storage and Content Delivery Network (CDN) costs. This means you can improve video quality while reducing distribution costs, and be prepared to make the leap to next-generation UHD and HDR content.
AWS Elemental MediaConvert expanded support on the audio side with support for processing up to 64 audio tracks and encoding into the immersive Dolby Atmos format. On top of the existing 4K/UHD resolution, HDR10 and HLG HDR support, you can now encode up to 8K/UHD resolution content and process video with Dolby Vision for HDR.
Improving your video workflows
When you are designing or building your live or video-on-demand workflows, you want to have the tools to make it the best it can be. Throughout 2019, Media Services improved integration with AWS tooling services including tagging and CloudFormation, and added new features to make it easy to monitor and prioritize jobs, transcode faster, accept more inputs, and package VOD content.
Let’s start with MediaConvert, which added Accelerated Transcoding in April 2019. This feature increases the processing speed of file-based video encoding jobs by up to 25 times compared with normal transcoding. There were also improvements made for both prioritizing and tracking the status of jobs, giving you more control of and visibility into your file-based video processing.
AWS Elemental MediaPackage added support for video-on-demand (VOD) content. The same just-in-time packaging, encryption, and origination features that are available for live channels are also available for VOD content. To complement this, a feature that simplifies creating segment accurate Live to VOD assets was also added. And to top things off, MediaPackage reduced pricing by 40-60% across all regions.
Not to be outdone, MediaLive added a new channel type option with a lower cost called “Single-pipeline” channels, an alternative to “Standard” channels. MediaLive Single-pipeline channels have one input and a single encoding pipeline delivering a single channel output, rather than the redundant dual Availability Zone (AZ) pipelines that are provided with a Standard channel. MediaLive also added enhanced support for file-based inputs, giving you more option for live channel playout.
Supporting more standards
AWS Elemental MediaConnect launched at re:Invent in 2018 and during 2019 added support for additional transport formats. In July, support for Zixi pull was added to the existing Zixi push support. Zixi pull allows MediaConnect to support a broader range of off-the-shelf integrated receiver/decoders (IRDs). In September, support for the Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) standard was added, broadening device support when bringing streams back on-premises.
AWS Elemental MediaConvert added the option to ingest video files from HTTP and HTTPS sources. With the ability to transcode content from sources other than Amazon S3, you are no longer required to build logic to copy files into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) first. MediaConvert also broadened its support for captioning and subtitle formats by added support for Internet Media Subtitles and Captions (IMSC) 1.1 text profile captions. IMSC is a file format that uses XML to describe text, timing, layout, and styling for subtitles and captions.
MediaConvert did not stop there. A new feature, IMF (Interoperable Master Format) package ingest was also added. By taking advantage of IMF, you can reduce asset storage and management costs, and simplify business-to-business distribution workflows for your file-based content.
Providing more monetization options
AWS Elemental MediaTailor also joined the service improvements party, increasing the ways you can monetize your live video streams and supporting additional distribution formats. Using MediaTailor with AWS Elemental MediaPackage, you can access a broad range of variant DASH outputs and features. This added functionality enables support for live streams on more devices. It also continues to allow personalized, dynamic ad insertion. And in September, MediaTailor added the ability for content owners to insert pre-roll advertisements before stream starts. Pre-roll ads overwrite the beginning of the live streams with personalized ads to monetize every stream start without requiring any ad-marker/SCTE infrastructure.
Lowering live video latency
Before we wrap up, we can’t forget AWS Elemental MediaStore. MediaStore gives you the performance, consistency, and low latency required to deliver live streaming video content, and in 2019 added features that enable even lower latency for end to end live video delivery with support for chunked object transfer (or chunked transfer encoding for video). When using chunked object transfer to deliver segmented objects, your video segments are split into smaller chunks that can be played before the complete segment is delivered.
Available in more AWS Regions
And finally, we continued to expand the availability of the Media Services by adding availability in 16 new AWS regions. Visit the AWS global region table for a full list of AWS Regions where all the AWS Elemental Media Services are available.
Thanks for reading our summary of the many of the new features and improvements to the AWS Media Services that were added in 2019. If you are worried that you missed something, or want to make sure you stay up to date on the latest new features, keep checking the AWS What’s New posts for the AWS Media services.