Archive for ‘Technology’

August 14th, 2013

Playing DRM Content in Native Applications (Video)

by Michael Dale

 

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is an important tool for premium and private content. The need for enforcing content license terms and for ensuring control over content monetization is of major concern when coming to provide an online media service that is available in an over-the-top / multi-platform environment. To help clients delivery to these multiple devices Kaltura has enhanced its native application developer tools ( SDKs ) for iOS and Android to support secured delivery.  

Significant attention and effort must be invested to make sure that content is protected for preventing unauthorized content distribution and enforcing corporate and educational viewing licenses.  

Kaltura provides multiple layers of content security: from a strictly secured infrastructure, through secured API sessions, a robust set of conditional access controls and multiple secured content delivery options. The addition of DRM technology to this security stack enables maximum protection of content by encrypting media assets, and by relying on a per-session license for playback. Playback is enabled only upon receiving this dedicated license which can be obtained only as part of a controlled environment through pre-defined rules.

Kaltura’s video platform is integrated today with Google Widevine’s DRM technology for content protection and with a near-term plan to enable a multi-DRM service as part of its video platform.

Playing DRM Content in Native Applications - Google Widevine

 

Kaltura’s integrated DRM service enables:

  1. Media Encryption as an integral part of the content ingestion process.
  2. License protected playback flow from multiple devices.
  3. Integrating with standard policy setting, license issuing flows and client-side protections provided by the DRM technology provider.
  4. Utilizing Kaltura’s Access Controls as an out-of-the-box authorization system integrated within the DRM license issuing flow.
  5. Enabling service-specific business logic for authorizing user/content entitlements as part of the DRM license issuing flow through Kaltura Access Control’s authorized session (KS) validation.
  6. Integrated Content Management – Encrypted content is seamlessly managed along-side with non-encrypted content from the same KMC account.

More details on Kaltura’s integrated service for DRM with Google Widevine are provided in this article on Kaltura’s Knowledge Center

In addition to the out-of-the-box support for DRM protected playback in PC environments using flash and the widevine extension, Kaltura recently introduced DRM support to its mobile reference applications and SDKs. These enhancements enable developers to secure content in the iOS and Android platforms. These tools have been integrated with the kaltura reference apps for easy integration into your native app projects. Here Eliza and Josh share how to get DRM up and running for iOS.

August 12th, 2013

Vine Goes Mainstream: the Evolution of the 6 Second Revolution (Video)

by Asef.Ahmed

vine-twitterIn 2011, the social medium of images was the new hot thing with Instagram established and Snapchat in its infant stages. Despite the popularity of these apps, many people were still wondering: what’s next?

Fast forward two years, with the world experiencing Vine-fever and the recent launch of Instagram Video, video, now more than ever, is king. But what is it that makes apps like Vine so popular? Can a six second video truly be a work of art or is it just a reflection of our generation’s shortened attention spans? Perhaps, just like mainstream media, it is a bit of both. As Vine becomes decreasingly recognized as just another internet gimmick, it evolves into a form of expression that greatly mimics traditional media (or, perhaps, it is also the other way around). Consequently, Vine, like digital media in general, has started occupying six different realms of mainstream media.

 

1. Vine Awards at Film Festivals

Yes, Vines are being awarded at film festivals. The Tribeca Film Festival, cofounded by Robert Deniro, created #6SecondFilms to honor Vines. Seriously, what more artistic validation could Vines need than that from the Godfather himself. The Vines were separated into four categories: genre, series, animate, and auteur (Described as “[Vines that]told a story or script that was truly unique. A tiny, concentrated expression of the filmaker’s vision”) and were judged by an esteemed panel that included the King himself, Goldberg.

Here is this year’s winner in the “auteur” category titled “There is No Sunny Side to this Story”:

 

2. Celebrity Stars

Just like Twitter and Facebook, celebrities from Tyra Banks to Terminator have adopted Vine. However, what differentiates Vine from the other social media platforms is that celebrities have adopted it as a way to express art. Sure, there are some stars that prefer to just shoot a six second clip of whatever they are currently doing or an inane video that has little substance,  but there is a large number of them, like Goldberg, that actually use Vine to tell stories. These artists see Vine as a challenge. They recognize what Vine truly is (or can really be): the haiku of digital media. Like a haiku, a Vine is simple, short and restricted, yet, paradoxically  complicated, beautiful, and free for those same reasons. Take a look at one of Goldberg’s Vines, “Latency.”

 

3. Instructional Promotions

We’ve recently covered the use cases instructional videos and Vine provides another unique method. Companies are using Vine to promote their products while giving nifty tips. Lowe’s has launched their “#lowesfixinsix” campaign that illustrates simple life hacks. Lowe’s has achieved a marketer’s dream by compressing incredibly useful information into one absurdly brief, yet engaging clip. For example, you can learn how to prep your grill for the summer in six quick seconds.

 

4. Advertisements

The vast majority of companies that use social media do it for promotional purposes. However, one of the main concerns with publishing video is making sure that your content is engaging. Companies do not want to invest a substantial amount of money into an advertisement and see that viewers are tuning out. Vine, similarly to twitter,  solves this problem by accepting our attention spans for what they are: weak. Many companies, like Microsoft, have gotten creative and found ways to use Vine to create short yet informative content. Take a look at this episode from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer advertisement campaign “Not Your Father’s Browser” for IE 10. 

 

5. Journalism

Now, much more than ever, we are linked to the news in an almost inescapable fashion. Twitter has helped revolutionize modern journalism by providing instantaneous coverage of events around the world. Any action, catastrophe, election result is immediately uploaded to our feeds. Vine, similarly, provides the swift impact of twitter but also allows the viewer to survey what’s happening. The most famous example of Vine broadcast journalism was done by the Turkish Pulse, who captured the immediate aftermath of the tragic bombing of the U.S. embassy in Turkey. The Vine not only provides the viewer with the information of what happened (that there was a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey) but also gives the user a sense of the moment, similarly to traditional news coverage.

 

6. Sports

Vine is still in its early stages with broadcasting sports entertainment. Due to the legal ramifications of distributing content that is protected and owned by various leagues, there are not any Vines of actual games or matches. This is extremely unfortunate because Vine would be the perfect medium to relay a thunderous dunk, game winning goal, last-second touchdown, or any important athletic play. However, there have been some breeches into the sports industry with Vines capturing pre-game warm-ups. Look at this one from the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Vine is often dubbed as the “Twitter of video”, which is not far from the truth (Vine is even owned by Twitter). However, the impact of Vine can be so much more. With a 140 character limit, Twitter, like Vine, limits its users. But if a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then at 30 frames per second, Vine is worth at least 180,000 of them.

July 17th, 2013

3 Ways MOOCs Benefit Teachers

by Asef.Ahmed

MOOCbetterwordbubbleMOOCs, massive online open courses, such as Coursera and MIT and Harvard’s EDx have been the talk of the educational town for the past few months. While the concept is not an entirely novel phenomenon, recent technological innovations in streaming video in addition to the backing of several top universities have made them wildly popular; validating the “M” in MOOC (Coursera alone has about 4 million users).

MOOCs have been a controversial topic with some educational experts seeing them as the rebirth of higher education and others; like Amherst’s Stephen A. George (who recently led the faculty’s rejection of partnering edX) who regard it more as its demise. The majority of the debate on MOOCs centers on the (supposed) benefits that face students. But don’t teachers stand to be impacted just as much if not more than students? Why then is the dialogue so student-centric? Today, we are going to focus on our thoroughly underappreciated and unrecognized teachers and discuss how MOOCs can benefit them as well.

 

1. MOOCs Allow Participating Professors to Rethink Their Course

Typically, a professor who has taught the same course for a few years has his lectures, syllabus, and material more or less set in stone. By joining a MOOC, teachers can look at their course with completely new eyes. Take Professor Gregory Nagy of Harvard University. For the past 35 years, Nagy has been teaching his very popular class “Concepts of the Hero in Classical Greek Civilization”. Nagy has moved his class to the online realm offering his course, re-dubbed “The Ancient Greek Hero”, on edX. The course forced Nagy to completely rethink his course that he has been teaching for the better part of half a century by dividing his lectures into 24, 1 hour long, segments and further subdividing those sections into dramatic clips. Nagy claims, “I had this real revelation…and I thought, My God, Greg, you’ve been spoiled by the system!”

Additionally, colleagues who teach similar courses can see how experts like Nagy teach their material. This helps professors by indirectly giving them teaching tips and ways to structure their course as well as directly providing them with knowledge they may not have known that they can apply to their own lectures.

 

2. MOOCs Encourage Teachers to Become Tech Savvy

MOOC_poster_mathplourdeMOOCs are not just a tool to teach students; they are also being used to educate teachers. New Teacher Center (NTC) has partnered with Coursera to offer a high quality solution to develop young K-12 teachers. NTC plans on providing courses such as “First Year Teaching-Success from the Start“, that provide lessons and strategies aimed at “setting and communicating expectations to students”, “building positive relationships with and between students”, “behavioral preventions and interventions”, “organizing the learning environment”, and “establishing and maintaining routines and procedures that support student learning.” NTC is also rolling out more subject related courses such as Literacy Design Collaborative” and “Math Design Collaborative” that focus primarily on developing teaching  skills for their respective concentrations.

NTC Founder and CEO Ellen Moir says that she started NTC because she saw an unfortunate number of the best and brightest new teachers quit their profession due to a lack of adequate support. She believes that through MOOCs, NTC can reach a much wider array of teachers that could not be previously reached. She writes, ” In the future teachers will increasingly take responsibility for their own professional learning and it is our job to ensure they have easy access to high-quality professional development opportunities. This is a step in that direction.”

 

3. MOOCs Provide Analytics that Improve Learning

MIT physics professor David Pritchard has been using data from MOOCs to see how students use their course material. Pritchard’s findings suggest that students are more likely to use videos as a tool to aid in homework problems but are more often utilizing the online textbook for exams. This raises significant questions about the effectiveness of textbook learning.

Pritchard is not the only professor gathering data from MOOCs. Experimenting professors love MOOCs as they provide an absurdly large sample size in a naturally randomized setting. Professors, like Pritchard, are using A/B testing where one fraction receives one educational experience and the other fraction receives a different kind and then measure the difference in performance (course completement, grades, etc.) to show which educational experience is more effective.

But how do they gather this data? MOOCs track every click. This means that when a student pauses, rewinds, clicks one answer, fast forwards, etc. it is being recorded. The massive amounts of data that this provides on student behavior is staggering. President of edX  Anarat Angarwal estimates that his first course alone received 230 million clicks- providing enough data to  fill 110,000 research books by Pritchard’s estimations.

Check out Coursera co-founder and Stanford Professor Daphne Koller explains the benefits of data gathering in this TED talk clip.

(14:05-16:00)

July 9th, 2013

Collaborating with Customers and Colleagues: How We Learn at Kaltura

by Charlotte.Copeman

I came across a great article this week on the importance of “soft skills” for graduates. It’s a great read and really resonated with me in my role at Kaltura.

Having a highly technical team is a great asset to any technology company, but team work and communication are the skills that bring your technology to life.

Education is a really hot topic at Kaltura, both for training internally and for training customers. It’s great to provide great technology and a strong set of features for your customers, but features don’t grow a business or school, application of those features is what makes your customers soar.

video.kaltura.comExternally, we have a great Community Team that provide a range custom training to customers, from how to upload your videos to how to troubleshoot your server. They also provide a knowledge centre, free training videos, a forum, meetups and free webinars. Customers can call on these sessions at any time in their customer lifecycle and they can either help to refresh your team’s knowledge or to provide you with a whole new skill set. As they say “knowledge is power” and the more we can educate our customers, the more they can grow.

Internally, technical information is shared with the whole team as it grows and develops and we’re all kept well informed of upgrades with core technology, upgrades with partners in exchange.kaltura.com and upgrades with Kaltura Building Blocks and plugins. What makes our internal learning different is the education on why and how a customer would use these.

There’s a big focus on use cases, formal case studies and also on working closely with the Product Team to not only learn about new features but also to feedback from customers. We all learn a huge amount about our technology by listening to our customers, inviting regular feedback on roadmap ideas and also on customer’s experience of using Kaltura. There are both formal and informal channels for feedback, ranging from CEO calls with customers to regular catch-up calls with a customer’s Account Manager and all of these help to make Kaltura stronger every year.

In any organization, when overwhelmed with email, updating written records, responding to customer requests and managing internal information flow, it can be difficult to take time out to process your learning and experience. So how do we manage this information? How do you keep your team working together towards the greater good?

“Soft skills” include a wide skill set that comes with experience. For some, it comes naturally, for others, they are learned as are any other skill. “Team work” is an often-used phrase in organisations, but it takes hard work to build true collaboration, particularly when you have a global team. It’s also essential to remember that your “team” isn’t just internal: your team is built from developers, sales teams, product managers, support teams, billing teams…but most important, customers. If you view customers as part of your team, your organization becomes truly world-class.

As we begin Q3 in our calendar, there are a number of initiatives that are taking place:

Know Your Team

Kino-300x206-2We’ve just completed a great internal global project at Kaltura called “The Point of You”. Each global team was set a challenge to create a video showcasing your team members and the work that each individual does. The value of this is that you not only learn about the role of each team, but you also learn about the individuals that work in that team. Needless to say, most teams took a fun approach to their video task, ranging from Star Wars themes to James Bond, and whilst this was great fun to do, it was also hugely educational for Kaltura as a global company. The videos gave every single employee an opportunity to show their personality and tell you what they do and why they do it. Because the videos were fun, they were engaging and the outcome was a huge strengthening of collaboration and team relationships.

Q3 Kickoff

Each internal Kaltura team approaches the kickoff of a new quarter differently. There are no hard and fast rules, but each team works on a project that benefits Kaltura as a whole. We are usually paired up with colleagues and set a task. Some teams work on improving customer communication, others work on how to improve internal communications between teams, others work on how we recognize our individual achievements and how we work together to strengthen our personal career growth…there are no strict guidelines on what we work to improve, but the challenge itself helps us to grow as both individuals and teams and the close teamwork and open sharing makes us the solid global team that we are today.

Implementation Feedback

Once a customer implementation has been completed, it’s easy to put a “tick in the box”, mark it as done and hand the customer over to their Account Manager. At Kaltura, we think it’s important to revisit that customer after a period of time, when they have had a chance to use the technology for some time and perform a review of their experience. The Professional Services Team and the Product Teams set up both formal and informal customer reviews, and use this opportunity to discuss in detail what the customer experience was like and how we can improve. What were we great at, where can we improve, what features would you like to see on the roadmap? It’s this constant circle of collaboration with customers that helps us to both decide on the roadmap and to improve our internal processes.

CEO Calls

Your customers often get to speak to multiple teams in your organization, but if they had a chance to speak to “The Boss”, what would they tell them? We truly value our customers and every member of the Kaltura team has direct contact with customers, including “The Boss”! We recently had a number of calls set up with customers to speak to Ron, our CEO. Rather than setting up calls with customers who had a smooth ride, we tried to focus on customers who had very specific requirements and challenged us to the best of our ability. The calls have been invaluable and the reason they have been so successful is that once the calls had happened, there were action items for all. We set up follow-up calls with Product, Account Management, Professional Services and many other teams so that the customer could continue the conversation and we all learned from their great feedback.

International Teams

We truly are a global team and that doesn’t just mean that we have offices around the world. I work in the EMEA London office and we have team members from the US, Israel, the UK, France, Austria, Germany, Spain and Holland. Not only do we have team members from around the world in every office, but movement between the offices is strongly encouraged. All staff have the opportunity to work in other global offices and this is incredible for both sharing your experience and also for sharing international experience. Business in the US is different to business in Germany, different again to business in Israel, and by having your team members move between your global offices, they bring the benefit of their experience to the wider team.

Do You Know The Answer To…

We have an internal forum that anyone can send a question out to, and anyone can answer. It doesn’t matter which team you work in, a question lands in all of our inboxes and we can all reach out to help a colleague. This also works in reverse, because as you read through these, you learn something new every day and have a huge body of knowledge to refer to.

Internal MediaSpace

Kaltura Internal MediaSpaceWe’ve all heard the phrase “eating your own dog food” (or if you haven’t, I’ll explain!). What this means is that if you believe in your product, use it! We have our own implementation of MediaSpace called KINO (Kaltura Internal Knowledge) to share knowledge and training internally. We have a number of galleries that each have permissions based on your team membership and these can be used to share video on new features, new releases, what your team is doing this month, training sessions on new technologies…there are no rules and you can upload any video that will help to educate your fellow team members. In addition, there are channels that are open to all where we share and learn with the whole company.

As is written in the article:

“The world’s top employers are picker than ever. And they want to see more than high marks and the right degree. They want graduates with so-called soft skills — those who can work well in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changes in technology and business conditions and interact with colleagues from different countries and cultures.”

We continue to learn and grow at Kaltura, but the focus placed on team collaboration, written and spoken communication, sharing technology updates, business insight and working within a truly global team is taking us from strength to strength.

Oh…and most important…we use video ;)

 

 

June 19th, 2013

5 Industries that are Excelling via Instructional Video

by Asef.Ahmed

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 12.00.36 PM“How to tie a tie” is the first thing that Google autosuggests once you type in the words “how to”. The first search result is a YouTube video that was watched over 14 million times. This is just one example of how video triumphs any other media. Texts or still images are just not enough when you need to pick up the complexity of the Windsor Knot.

These days, major media outlets and large enterprises produce highly professional (yet simple) instructional videos to improve customer engagement, increase views, improve SEO and in some cases comply with various authority requirements.

Before we go into specific examples, what are the benefits of instructional videos?

1.     Video is always available: Many consumers (myself included) typically throw instructions for various medicines or other products straight in to the trash as soon as they open the package only to regret it later. Having instructional videos online for your product allows the user to always have access to instructions to help them.

2.     Video meets special needs: Using online video will improve communications with customers who have difficulty reading for medical or other reasons.

3.     Video messaging connects better with customers:  Videos are more engaging. The use of instructional video has been shown to increase the probability that the consumer will follow instructions and reduces the risk of handling errors more than written instructions alone.

 

Industries Using Instructional Video

1. Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical providers are required by the EU and FDA in the U.S. to provide some training mechanism for patients and healthcare professionals to get market approval. As a result, pharmaceutical companies have been complimenting their instructions with videos that help ensure that patients and doctors have adequate knowledge to avoid misusing medication.

Watch Rune Bergendorf explain how NNIT uses instructional videos:

2. “Ready to Assemble” Companies

Companies such as IKEA have found that video greatly facilitates the challenge of assembling a product from its bare parts. IKEA’s product videos address the common criticism that their instructions are infuriatingly difficult to follow. Their videos’ charming animations, bright soundtracks, and helpful tips will alleviate your stress and exasperation (and will certainly leave you less inclined to smash the coffee table you are trying to build). Check out their video of how to assemble a “MALM Bed frame”.

3. Education

E-learning is a rapidly growing industry. Many universities have begun to use online video as a mechanism to enhance their students learning experience. Additionally, organizations such as Khan Academy provide a website filled with instructional videos that explain concepts and themes for various subjects. For those that are not familiar with the non-profit website that boasts over 4,200 lectures and 240 million lessons delivered, Khan Academy provides a virtual classroom experience with educational videos for student and teachers alike. Additionally, Khan Academy not only provides easy to follow videos but also further engages their users with creative gimmicks such as video lessons with Lebron James.

4. Engineering Software/Hardware

Higher tech products can be difficult to use. Many companies, including Texas Instruments, have begun to supplement their products with training tutorials. The Texas Instruments training videos are tailored towards professionals in the industry and provide an in depth technical examination of their products and how to use them.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

5. Golf

Yes, golf. If you search “best video instructions” on Google, you will find that the first 9 search results are golf related. Instructional golf videos are a means of attracting people to the sport (thus leading them to purchase golf gear) who normally would not play because of the prohibitively high cost of golf lessons.What is really great about these videos is that they whittle down what could be an hour long golf lesson into a series of short videos. Now you can learn how to add more yards to your drive in under two minutes.

For more information on instructional videos, check out the Kaltura Video Summit 2013 presentations, including a presentation by NNIT on their use case.

June 11th, 2013

7 Reasons Virtual Conferences Will Transform Industries Worldwide

by Michal Tsur

image001Until a couple of years ago, I never seriously considered attending or launching a virtual conference. It seemed to me that I would miss out on the main benefits that I found in face-to-face conferences – networking, meeting new people and enjoying the exhibit hall browsing experience. But after attending and later exhibiting at Campus Technology’s virtual conference, my perception started to change, and we subsequently decided to try hosting one at my company, Kaltura.

In the past, hosting major conferences was a luxury typically affordable to only large corporations and businesses with deep pockets. Today, organizations of all sizes are empowered by the Web and the reduction in production costs to host their own conferences – virtually (provided that they can create interesting, valuable and engaging content).

Last December, we conducted our first Kaltura Education Video Summit, a virtual conference that showcased speeches and discussions with industry leaders and decision-makers in education, learning and training. The summit allowed users to connect and network with leaders in the education industry via a virtual, interactive environment. With just a few clicks, attendees could meet thought leaders, collaborate with peers, and download information – all from the comfort of their office or home. We even had a virtual exhibit hall, where companies had “booths” that attendees could stop by.

The event was extremely successful. Thousands of people signed up for the live event, which featured speakers from the likes of Yale Law School, Oracle, Cornell University, and more. Thousands more viewed the on-demand content after the live event. Following last year’s success, we are now conducting a bigger virtual summit this year, tommorow.

Watch a sneak preview of the 2013 Kaltura Virtual Summit:

Virtual conferences are not only an amazing marketing tool, but also a great networking and learning experience for audiences attending them. They are actually fun and engaging, and are environmentally friendly.

Virtual Conferences are here to stay for many reasons:

Easy and cost effective for organizers and participants. The main cost associated with a virtual conference is that of producing the content for the conference and delivering such content in an engaging and interactive way. My company teamed up with InterCall, an industry leader in virtual conference environments and webcasting, to create our summit, which in turn allowed us to focus on the content. Audiences from around the globe could easily join our summit at no cost.

Anywhere, anytime. People can attend virtual events from anywhere in the world, and if they can’t make the live event, they can still benefit from the VOD content later. All you need in order to attend is a connected device and decent Internet connection. . .

Networking made easy. Attendees of a physical conference often need to scour exhibition rooms and corridors searching for nametags and tracking down industry leaders with whom they want to speak. With a virtual conference, these physical barriers are stripped away. Attendees have immediate access to fellow attendees, as well as speakers and exhibitors, with just a few clicks of the mouse..

Accelerates pipeline deals. Feedback from our virtual summit clearly showed that organizations that were deliberating using our technology found the virtual event extremely helpful and accelerated their decision to close the deal. Learning from the sessions, and having access to their peers, resulted in a faster decision.

Valuable analytics. Virtual conferences offer analytics that cannot be typically gathered accurately in a physical event. You can see for example which sessions attendees watched, which virtual booths they visited, what resources they downloaded from booths, and with whom they spoke.

Environmentally friendly. A virtual conference does not involve travel. Additionally, all collateral (brochures, data-sheets, and give-aways) are virtual, hence avoiding all printed material in conferences that anyhow gets trashed later on.

As businesses look for new ways to engage audiences and push branded content, virtual conferences will undoubtedly become more popular and will help transform the way we do business in our increasingly global village for years to come.

 

This article was published in the Huffington Post.

May 29th, 2013

Delivering on the Promise of HTML5 Video

by Michael Dale

HTML5-logo.svgEarlier this month the Web standards body, W3C, announced the first draft of the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification, which will allow content providers to add content protection to HTML5 videos for the first time. While EME will not handle the encryption process or Digital Rights Management (DRM) system, it will provide a standard for third-party plug-ins to support DRM in the web browser. The news elicited a mixed response from web platform commentators but there is no doubting its significance for the digital TV community.

Right now, the appetite for HTML5 video is strong, as a platform for a consistent, cross-device viewing experience. Developed with the new breed of mobile and OTT-capable devices in mind, HTML5 makes it possible, in theory, to standardise playback on any device, via the browser, and eliminates the need for plug-ins to create rich video playback experiences.

While ideal for basic video playback, HTML5 has a way to go before it becomes a fully-fledged solution for the most demanding use cases of online video delivery. In the interim, workaround tools, and online video platforms have emerged to help content producers and developers deliver on the multi-platform promise.

Historically, support for multiple platforms meant delivering a basic experience for a limited number of platforms, and supporting multiple codecs like H.264 and WebM (for browsers that did not ship with H.264).Today, the already complex HTML5 platform landscape of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla has been further complicated by other entrants, including Amazon and Sony (PlayStation) and makers of Smart TVs and Set-top boxes. Across all of these platforms, differences in implementations are emerging based on entrenched platform interests and device limitations.

Content protection and adaptive streaming are incredibly important to the digital TV community, but are two areas in which browser vendors have had difficulty in standardising around a single solution. While almost all contemporary online web platforms support HTML5, content providers are still typically choosing other options when DRM or adaptive streaming is required: Flash for desktop applications, and native apps for mobile devices.

Outside of premium DRM content, sophisticated, open source player libraries and platforms have helped streamline the process of online HTML5 and native video delivery. Modern video platforms work across “native”, HTML5 and Flash. For example, a single ad tag campaign from Google DART for Publishers (DFP) configured in a platform “player” can consolidate ad delivery across desktop Flash and HTML5, mobile HTML5, native iOS and native Android.

For multi-platform video, choosing a player that supports HTML5, Flash and increasingly native delivery, is important in order to provide ultimate flexibility. Consider the breadth of plug-ins the player supports, how well documented those features are, and how easily they can be integrated into the player.

Speed of loading is very important and fast HTML5 players are also helping push adoption. A recent study showed that many viewers begin abandoning videos if they don’t load within two seconds. There are many tricks to building a fast player that performs quickly, but it’s important to choose one that performs not only in benchmarks, but also in ‘real-world’ pages, where lots of other resources are competing to be loaded.

A player should also offer full integration with all the major ad networks and analytics providers in order to maintain a high level of flexibility and choice. How flexible the player is in terms of enabling you to customise the experience is also an important factor.  A library that supports easy customisation and skinning is critical if you are to succeed in meeting your brand and web presence goals.

Finally, it’s important to choose a player library that helps you negotiate the complex set of different HTML5 platforms. For example, you need to be free to choose between native or HTML-based controls for playback on iOS, and between Flash and HTML5 on a per platform basis (e.g. for Windows 8 and Android). It’s important that the library is closely integrated with a platform so that it can leverage all the back-end features that can help make the cross-platform experience work better, like creating video flavours for each device, and providing access to metadata management tools.

By 2014, we should see Flash fallbacks decrease in relevance as content producers can lead with HTML5 while still supporting those important business goals of high quality video delivery and branding. This is predicated on the imminent arrival of a number of new technologies and standards that will boost the appeal of HTML5. DRM for HTML5 video is one, but another major enhancement due out soon is the MediaStream API, which will enable improved live video event broadcast support and HTML5 as well as robust adaptive streaming.

In conclusion, HTML5 video is maturing quickly, overcoming some of its traditional challenges and should finally deliver on its early promise of providing rich content experiences across all screens.

This blog post was originally published on videonet.

Learn more:

Why you should learn HTML5

May 23rd, 2013

Online Video Monetisation Models: Which Will Prevail?

by Iddo Shai

Monetization Logo 2Two interesting reports have surfaced in recent weeks relating to online video monetisation.

First, the New York Times (NYT) decided to stop restricting access to its online videocontent for non-subscribers. While these non-subscribers are still limited to 10 articles per month, videos no longer count as part of that quota.

Second, according to a number of reports, YouTube is planning to start charging a fee of between $1.99-$5.00 per month for some of its specialist video channels. Some early reports suggest that some of YouTube’s most popular content providers, including Machinima and Fullscreen, have been approached by the company to come up with ideas for new paid channels.

Looking at those two news items, it is hard to see a clear trend. Why is NYT giving away its content for free while YouTube – which is owned by Google, a company that has always championed ‘free’ content – looks poised to start charging per channel?

However, I believe that these two developments imply a clear vision for monetising online video. But before I jump to the bottom line, let’s take a look at the different monetisation models available for online video.

Free

Ads: sponsored content, pre-rolls, mid-rolls, post-rolls

Services: New York Times, Hulu, some YouTube, Crackle

Paid-for ad banners have been the most popular video monetisation strategy since YouTube introduced online video to the masses in 2005. Initially, YouTube struggled to get sponsors to buy video ads on the site (cats playing piano while making risotto never translated to CPMs) but once professionally-produced content came along, online video was able to adopt the traditional commercial TV model of free content supported by quality advertising. Now CPMs are part of the game and, with Hulu introducing a more personalised ad strategy, these ads can potentially generate significant value for both Hulu and its advertisers.

Pros: it’s free!

Cons:  The viewing experience is constantly interrupted; ad personalisation is only in its early stages: some viewers note that Ad Tailor keeps showing the same ads no matter what.

Is an ad-supported model right for you as a video provider?

If you are a huge brand that has the potential to serve 400K ads per month or more, then this approach may work for you. If you are a smaller publisher, you would be better off using ad networks such as Adapt.tv or Tremor Video.

Flat fee, a la carte

Ads: none

Services: Netflix, LoveFilm, Amazon Prime, Qello

Netflix’s aggressive pricing approach has set a very high entry point for any content aggregator. Even with the recent cut the service has about 60,000 titles. Amazon is lagging behind with about 17,000 (and counting). The key here is licensing quality content – and this task has become significantly more difficult in the last three years, since the large studios and broadcasters started building their own digital hubs (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Hulu, Crackle, CBS.com, Vudu). However, Netflix keeps growing its user base thanks to exclusive content productions.

Pros: Premium content; exclusive content; no ads.

Cons:  Relatively old titles; only available via streaming.

Is this strategy right for you as a video provider?

Probably not, unless you have a vast amount of available cash (like Apple and Microsoft) or if you are in a position to license thousands of titles that would appeal to a very specific niche that is currently underserved by other services (e.g. Qello).

Pay as you go

Ads: none

Services: iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo, chill.com, Vudu, VHX

iTunes pioneered this monetisation model and its popularity has grown in the last year. With the decrease in streaming costs, it’s quite easy to set up a paid content website based on platforms like Kaltura. Using DRM (digital rights management) technologies like Widevine, the content is rights-protected and can be securely streamed across the web. Most websites using this business model operate on a revenue-share basis and pocket 10%-30% of the transaction fee.

Pros: Premium content; supports downloading and offline viewing; new releases.

Cons: More expensive.

Is this strategy right for you as a video provider?

This is the most popular monetisation option, since there is a clear business model and a relatively low barrier to entry. The technology is easy, accessible and very robust, however with giants like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and even Vimeo  playing in this field, competition is fierce for new entrants.

Subscription Per Channel

Ads: ?

Services: YouTube (according to various reports)

If YouTube does decide to roll out subscription channels, it could transform the way we consume online video. The idea of paying $1.99-$5/month for an ‘a la carte’ online channel may seem appealing to many if the content is well curated and professionally produced. This move could potentially persuade basic TV channels to offer more content online too, perhaps targeted at special interest groups (e.g. fans of niche sports, gardeners, classical music lovers etc.). However, cord cutting would need to become a much stronger trend for that to happen.

Pros: A highly focused ‘a la carte’ service; low price; offline viewing (maybe).

Cons: Content may be limited.

So Which Model Will Prevail?

The entire industry is still waiting for a game-changing device that will truly disrupt the way we watch online video content in our living room. Apple’s highly anticipated TV was supposed to do just that, but it has never seen the light of day. Eventually, a smart, accessible, intuitive device will come along and streamed channels will move to our living room’s big screen.

Today, a satellite TV subscription in the UK averages out at about £47 per month, while an average cable bill in the US is around $130. If even a small percentage of this revenue eventually finds its way to new online channels, it will signify a major shift.

In terms of which models will prevail, I believe that we will always have a blend of services because video content is so diverse, both in terms of length and in production value. However, once the playing field is leveled, and watching online content on your main TV is commonplace, I think that paid-for, ‘a la carte’ channels will prove to be highly appealing for both viewers and providers. Viewers who cut the cord can then begin building their own TV packages of channels based on their own interests.

I also believe that many producers will choose to keep complete control over their content and use tailored and flexible platforms such as Kaltura, as opposed to being limited by a huge platform like YouTube.

On the other hand, free content models – like the one employed by the New York Times – will always have a place. Furthermore, the advent of new Smart TVs will make it much easier to interact with the content – and even be rewarded by advertisers. Would you take a five-minute survey in order to watch a free episode of Mad Men?

To sum up, we are living in the early days of the online television revolution. As new models are introduced and new players (like the New York Times) start to become great producers, it’s clear that this revolution is real and in time will transform the industry.

This blog post was originally published on Fourth Source.

 

April 26th, 2013

BlabDroid: The Personal Filmmaking Robot – An Interview with the Designer

by Iddo Shai

blabdroid-kickstarterWe have been following Alexander Reben and his robots since MIT’s Open Documentary Lab. After our previous blog post of Alex and his robots, we received a lot of great feedback which led us to visit Alex and talk to him about the future of human interaction. The idea is simple, can we emotionally connect to an extremely cute and adorable box? Apparently, the answer is yes and results in some pretty intense moments.

This week Alex and his gang of robots were busy at work – shooting all around Tribeca Festival. At the same time, Alex and his partner Brent Hoff launched a Kickstarter campaign to further develop the robots and bring them to the masses.

Join us in supporting Alex’s innovative project!

Watch below an exclusive interview with Alex and one of his innovative robots, about the history of the project, and hopes for its future.

Learn more about blabdroid at http://blabdroid.com/

April 17th, 2013

Plugins-Free WebRTC Based Peer 2 Peer Video Delivery – HTML5 Video

by Zohar Babin

Peer5 LogoPeer-to-peer has always been a disruptive technology, enabling new applications and high efficiency. It has become an essential building block for distributed, scalable services such as Skype, Bittorrent and more. Until today, the P2P has been absent in the rich world of the Web. Various plugins tried to fill this gap but lacked standard conformance and sometimes were even intrusive. For years, enterprises could only develop client-server systems, which have increased latency and are expensive to scale. Luckily, we now have a new P2P API which is part of the HTML5 standard — It’s called WebRTC.

According to Peer5, it won’t be long before WebRTC will transform the way we communicate online; “it’s the technological breakthrough that will enable a truly plugins-free web experience – from audio and video collaboration to recording solutions and more” says Hadar Weiss, Peer5 CTO, “so far, the missing piece in the WebRTC puzzle has been the development of the  DataChannels API, the browser feature that facilitates direct delivery of raw data between two or more users without a need for a server.”

Harnessing the power of WebRTC, Peer5 is set to bring hassle-free, peer-assisted video delivery to everyone with nothing more than a modern web browser (Currently on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox).

By building on top the DataChannels API, Peer5’s player plugin creates a peer-assisted network where viewers seamlessly share parts of the streamed video to enhance video delivery and reduce network bandwidth.

With the Peer5 solution now a part of Kaltura’s Tech Partners Program, a cutting-edge HTML5 innovation will be available with the first live demo of WebRTC-based video delivery, exclusively for members of the Kaltura community.

Peer5 Player Screenshot

We invite you for a sneak preview of this new disruptive technology and experience the first ever plugin-free, large-scale peer-assisted streaming of video from multiple sources around the world, where all registered participants will enter the live demo together, and watch as the video plays seamlessly from multiple peers.

To join the live demo, register at: http://kaltura2013.peer5.com