What is AWS Elemental MediaConnect?

AWS Elemental MediaConnect is a reliable, secure, and flexible transport service for live video. Using MediaConnect, you can build live video processing workflows and securely share content with your partners and customers, all using the AWS Cloud. MediaConnect takes your high-quality video from one source and sends it to one or more destinations. MediaConnect adds a quality-of-service layer over standard IP transport, enabling uninterrupted live video connections by using packet recovery, and it supports industry-standard video encryption. By using the video replication feature, you can distribute your streams to multiple workflows within your own account or share your content with other AWS accounts. MediaConnect gives you visibility into your live video’s operational performance with real-time statistics and alerts. MediaConnect can be deployed in minutes, and is integrated with other AWS services such as AWS Elemental MediaLive. 

How do I get started using MediaConnect?

To use MediaConnect, you start by creating a flow using either the MediaConnect console or the MediaConnect API. A flow logically connects one video source with many destinations. You specify three details about your flow: 1) the transport protocol to use, 2) the type of encryption, and 3) the destinations. MediaConnect will return an ingest endpoint where you can send your live video as a single unicast transport stream. MediaConnect will then replicate and distribute the stream to every destination specified, whether inside or outside AWS.

Who can use MediaConnect?

MediaConnect is designed for video broadcasters, content owners, and content aggregators who expect a professional-grade solution that encompasses high quality of service, strong encryption, flexible routing, monitoring, and sharing capabilities. Before MediaConnect, customers found it difficult to send high-quality video to the cloud due to reliability, security, and cost concerns. With MediaConnect, content producers can send high-quality video feeds to AWS without sacrificing reliability or security while reducing costs and improving agility compared to satellite and fiber. Video distributors get a reliable way to receive live video in the AWS Cloud. MediaConnect can be used with either Direct Connect (DX) or using transmission over the public internet. 

Why should I choose MediaConnect over infrastructure providers such as satellite or fiber?

Satellite and fiber solutions have long lead times, have limited agility, require up-front commitments, and lack the scale to meet demand as workloads change over time. MediaConnect is a pay-as-you-go service with predictable costs where you can get started in minutes, not months. Because MediaConnect is an AWS service, it’s simple to build end-to-end workflows using other AWS services, and you benefit from integrated billing, monitoring, and support. In addition, MediaConnect is more flexible: start, stop, and change your configurations on demand. 

Why should I choose MediaConnect over existing solutions to improve IP transport quality of service?

MediaConnect has advantages over other existing solutions to improve IP transport quality of service because MediaConnect a) performs better over long distances, b) supports multiple protocols, c) offers both contribution and business-to-business distribution (on-premises-to-cloud, cloud-to-cloud, and cloud-to-on-premises) workflows, and d) doesn’t require customers to build their own solutions to enable security or sharing. 

Is MediaConnect a standalone service or is it dependent on other services?

MediaConnect can function as a standalone service or within a larger video workflow that includes other AWS services such as AWS Media Services. AWS Media Services is a family of services that form the foundation of cloud-based workflows. They offer the capabilities that you need to create, package, and deliver live or on-demand video to consumers around the world, all accessible through the AWS Management Console and APIs.

How does MediaConnect provide reliability for my live video flows?

MediaConnect lets you select from several video-specific, network-level protocols to maintain video quality. These protocols send additional information over the network so that packet loss doesn’t impact live video quality. Specifically, MediaConnect supports both an open standard (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers SMPTE-2022 Part 1 standard for Forward Error Correction for Real-Time Video/Audio Transport Over IP Networks), and a commercial protocol (Zixi), that is commonly used by broadcasters. MediaConnect also manages all the infrastructure for you, and recovers from any issues automatically.

How does MediaConnect provide security for my live video?

MediaConnect gives you the option to apply encryption to your video workflows. It supports trusted security methodologies like AES and Zixi encryption and decryption. Each output can be encrypted with a unique key as it leaves MediaConnect, giving you control over your content’s security. MediaConnect also lets you securely share your content with your customers and partners using entitlements which grant access to your video content.

How does MediaConnect provide operational visibility for my live video?

MediaConnect gives you metrics on both the health of the network carrying your video and the health of your video streams. On the network side, MediaConnect provides packet loss metrics that quantify the end-to-end network performance. MediaConnect will suggest when network conditions indicate that you might want to reduce the bitrate of the input stream to get a higher quality of service, or adjust the dimensions of the error correction parameter at the source of your video flow. Additional alarms (using the TR-101 290 broadcast standard) identify issues with the transport stream timing going across the network end-to-end. This tells you when you might want to investigate settings on your source encoder or network and adjust them to maximize quality.

What is the difference between AWS Elemental MediaConnect and AWS Ground Station?

AWS Elemental MediaConnect is a reliable, secure, and flexible transport service for live video that enables broadcasters and content owners to cost-effectively build video workflows and securely share live content with partners and customers. Whether you manage live 24x7 channels, stream live events, or need disaster recovery capabilities, MediaConnect gives you the tools to build your applications in the AWS Cloud.

AWS Ground Station enables you to control and ingest data from orbiting satellites without having to buy or build satellite ground station infrastructure. AWS Ground Station does this by integrating the ground station equipment like antennas, digitizers, and modems into our AWS Regions around the world. It’s as easy as onboarding your satellites and scheduling time to communicate with them. You have the option of conducting all of your satellite operations on the AWS Cloud, including the storing and processing of your satellite data and delivering your products using AWS services, or use AWS Ground Station just to downlink your satellite data and transport it to your own processing center.

Do I need to supply my own on-premises encoder to use MediaConnect?

MediaConnect ingests content from on-premises locations or from the cloud. For live video sources that originate on premises, such as from a broadcast center or an event location, a customer-supplied encoder is required to create the contribution video.

What is contribution video? What bitrates and formats can I use with MediaConnect?

Contribution video is lightly compressed, high-quality video, often referred to as mezzanine video, originating from a contribution encoder or playout system. MediaConnect supports the AVC (Advanced Video Codec) and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Codec) compression formats, and bitrates exceeding 120 Mbps (megabits per second).

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