What was new from AWS Elemental in 2018
2017 was a big year for AWS Elemental, with the release five new services to the AWS Management Console. 2018 had one more new service, but that in no way means that it was a quiet year in the AWS Elemental Media Services world.
In case you missed all the excitement across the year, here are the highlights of all the shiny new things that happened during 2018.
AWS Elemental MediaConnect
Let’s start with the big one. After the five launches at re:Invent 2017, at re:Invent 2018 a sixth AWS Elemental Media Service was added to extend the options you can use to build media workflows on AWS with managed services. AWS Elemental MediaConnect is a reliable, secure, and flexible transport service for live video. MediaConnect was launched on the 27th November 2018 at the Twitch Launchpad in the re:Invent Expo hall. You can watch the event here.
What about the other services?
As I said, they have not been idle.
First off, all of the services expanded the number of regions that they are available in. AWS Elemental MediaLive and MediaPackage added six regions. AWS Elemental MediaConvert add five. AWS Elemental MediaTailor added four and AWS Elemental MediaStore added three. Check here for the latest on regional availability.
I’m not going to list all the other new features launched here, but I’ve picked out 10 highlights to, well, highlight, in case you have not been keeping up to date.
AWS Elemental MediaConvert added a Basic tier. The new lower cost Basic tier is intended for simple web distribution use cases. The Basic tier supports outputs using the AVC codec and single-pass transcoding, with rates starting at $0.0075/minute. The existing Professional tier still offers the full suite of professional video processing features designed for broadcast and multiscreen delivery of high-quality video outputs. The Professional tier includes creation of MPEG-2, AVC, HEVC, and Apple ProRes outputs, dual-pass and high-quality encoding, and other advanced features, with rates starting at $0.0120/minute.
Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate (QVBR) encoding added to AWS Elemental MediaConvert and MediaLive. QVBR is a new video rate control mode, designed to let you deliver a consistently high-quality video viewing experience while reducing overall distribution bitrates. QVBR is a video compression technique that automatically adjusts output bitrates to the complexity of source content and will only use the bits required to maintain a defined level of quality. This means by using QVBR encoding, you can save on distribution costs, while maintaining, or increasing video quality for your viewers.
Reserve Transcode Slots (RTS) for AWS Elemental MediaConvert. This reserved pricing model lowers costs for predictable, non-urgent media workloads. By purchasing reserved transcoding slots, you get access to fixed parallel processing capacity for a set monthly rate, with an annual commitment. Each slot can run one video transcoding job at a time, and you can purchase multiple slots.
RTMP and RTMPS outputs for AWS Elemental MediaLive. RTMP and the secure (over SSL/TLS version) RTMPS is the preferred protocol for sending live streams to popular social media platforms. With support added to MediaLive, you can send live channel content to social and sharing platforms in a secure and reliable way while continuing to stream to your own website, app or network.
Scheduled actions for AWS Elemental MediaLive channels. With a set of releases, MediaLive added functionality that provided more playout-like features for your live channels. The service could already pass-though any SCTE-35 markers that were in the video source (SCTE-35 markers are used to signal opportunities to insert ads or local programming into streams). We added the option to insert ad markers, and to add and remove static graphics overlays according to a schedule based on UTC timecode. This was followed by the feature that let you use the same scheduling method and API to trigger input switching for your live channel. This feature also added the option to use a video file as the input (either following to the next input when it ended, or looping).
Highly available, redundant, reliable live streaming made easier with AWS Elemental MediaLive and MediaPackage. Two features released over the year made the already highly available services even better and worked together to make providing audiences a faultless, highly available viewing experience much easier. First, MediaPackage added redundant inputs. This meant a live video channel could be configured with two input sources. This allows MediaPackage to switch between inputs if an issue is detected with the primary input. Second, MediaLive followed with a feature that synchronized the video segments of its two redundant encoding pipelines if timecode is embedded in the source video. Both features used in combination allow a live channel to seamlessly failover across the two channel pipelines provided by MediaLive and the redundant inputs used by a MediaPackage channel. The result is a highly available, multi-AZ, live channel from a single endpoint and a better-quality viewing experience for your audiences.
Reserve pricing for AWS Elemental MediaLive. MediaLive made it easy to make reservations for live channel inputs, outputs, and add-on functionality direct from the AWS management console or via API. This means it is easy to choose the pricing model that works best for your live channel. With a 12-month commitment, Reserved pricing provides up to 75% discount compared to On-Demand pricing.
Multi-Period DASH support for AWS Elemental MediaPackage and MediaTailor. MediaPackage added support for Multi-period DASH. This is in addition to support for Apple HLS, including CMAF HLS, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, and ISO-DASH endpoints. This was followed by Multi-period DASH support in AWS Elemental MediaTailor which enables personalized dynamic ad insertion for a broader range of playback devices.
AWS Elemental MediaTailor supports the Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) standard. VPAID allows video publishers to serve highly interactive video ads and collect viewing metrics from their monetized streams. You can now use MediaTailor to serve a combination of server-side stitched linear ads, using the VAST standard, and client-side inserted interactive ads, using the VPAID standard, in the same stream. MediaTailor also supports Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP).
Last on the list, but by no means least – we haven’t heard about AWS Elemental MediaStore yet. MediaStore improved the optimized live video origin service by increasing the object file-size limit to 25 megabytes (MB). This means you can originate higher-bitrate content and support Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4K quality live video streams with predictable latency and scaling to the demand of audience size while providing consistent quality and viewing experience. MediaStore also added the option to add a lifecycle policy to delete objects in containers or folders, so video segments that make up your live streams are automatically deleted after a period of time that you define, helping optimize your storage footprint and minimize cost.
Stay tuned for more
So that is just some of what the AWS Elemental team delivered over 2018. In total there were over 50 new feature and region launches plus the launch of AWS Elemental MediaConnect. Check out AWS Media Services for more details and keep checking AWS What’s New posts to get the latest on new feature and service launches by AWS.