Archive for ‘Technology’

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

March 13th, 2013

The New York HTML5 Hackfest Meetup Notes – March 2013

by Zohar Babin

Thank you for joining us last night at The NYC JavaScript & HTML5 Monthly Hackfest and for the amazing AlleyNYC for hosting us. We had a great fun (as always), and learned a lot.

For those who missed the meetup, here is a quick summary -

We’ve opened the evening with (pizza and drinks) Michael Dale, Player Framework Product Manager at Kaltura. Michael gave a presentation of the state of HTML5 video and writing a player framework, giving a walk-through of Kaltura’s HTML5 Player Framework and launching the evening into a hackfest of player plugins creation.

Following after, Costa Michailidis shared the beauty of SVG based web application design in a 5 minutes lightning talk about SGV. Judging by the exciting feedback this lightning talk received, we’ll have to followup with an in-depth SVG session in a future meetup!

We talked about HTML5 video, popcorn.js, mwEmbed, SVG and hacked on player plugins.

html5hackfest-alleynyc

March 13th, 2013

What to Produce First – Viral Videos or Product Videos? Best Practices For Your Online Video Marketing Strategy (Video)

by Iddo Shai

sxsw-kaltura-logo-2013_Many companies wish that their videos would go viral. There’s no doubt that you know you’ve created the ultimate marketing campaign, when your viewers do much of the distribution for you. However, most companies have a limited video production budget. So what is more important and how should they prioritize their video production queue?

Usually there are 3 options for videos:

  1. Funny, viral videos that increase brand recognition and make your company look cool and exciting.
  2. Slick product videos that help in sales pitches.
  3. Engaging tutorials to support your current customer base and demo specific features for prospects.

But it doesn’t end there. Let’s say my company chose to produce a great viral video –

  1. How do we market it?
  2. Which metadata should we use?
  3. Should we buy ads on YouTube or should we find other ways to increase views?

We asked Bettina Hein, Founder and CEO of Pixability, for her advice. Hein and her company have much experience in getting maximum views on YouTube by analyzing video analytics and other data.

 

For more information take a look at this presentation that the Pixability team used for their SXSW session:

Mythbusting: Engineering a Viral Video from Pixability Inc.
March 11th, 2013

Creating Engaging (and Very Funny) Content Using Robots (Video)

by Iddo Shai

“Robots will take over.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 11.10.30 AMHow many times have you heard that prediction before? However, it’s been more than 35 years since we first met R2-D2 and we don’t really see many robots strolling down the streets these days. But what if you could have robots shooting engaging videos like vox pop with random people or funny company videos featuring your employees? Well, that is actually possible today.

Here is an incredibly cute video that was screened by our friends at the MIT Open Documentary Lab during their great SXSW session, which focused on innovative documentary filmmaking. The star here is ”Boxie” – a robot that was designed by Alex Reben with the MIT Media Lab. Take a look and stay tuned for more great videos from SXSW 2013!

March 10th, 2013

Storytelling Meets HTML5 (Video)

by Iddo Shai

sxsw-kaltura-logo-2013_

During the first 5 days of SXSW the interactive and the film tracks are taking place concurrently. This is a unique opportunity for content creators, entrepreneurs and programmers to re-imagine the way we tell stories online. One of the most exciting technologies in this space is Zeega - an open-source HTML5 platform that aspires to “remake the Internet” by allowing creators to easily mash together text, video, animation and sound.

We chatted with Zeega’s CEO, Jesse Shapins about all of this. Watch the video to see some very original content being created on Zeega today. And of course stay tuned for the latest on video technology showcased here at SXSW 2013.

To watch the full Zeega presentations featured in this video:

1. How I Got to Boston

2. Jesus Rocks

March 9th, 2013

Creating a Social TV Experience (Video)

by Iddo Shai

sxsw-kaltura-logo-2013_Hello from Austin, TX where SXSW Interactive 2013 is now in full swing. Yes, it’s raining (not exactly what we were promised) but inside the Austin Convention Center it’s dry and incredibly interesting. In the coming days we will share with you some of the most innovative video technologies and trends that we see here in the festival.

Let’s start with OVEE, which has taken on one of the biggest challenge of online TV – making the online experience truly social. In the case of OVEE, it was PBS that wanted to create a digital version of their community screenings, where people come together in different cities to watch and discuss PBS programming.

The result of this initiative is OVEE, which was financed by PBS (and therefore by the American tax-payers) and cost about 1.5 million to date. With OVEE one can quickly setup group screenings, share the link with others and then chat, show polls and use webcam streams to create a true social experience. Theoretically, the OVEE platform could be linked to any video stream (e.g. from Kaltura or YouTube), although for now it is only available for PBS programming.

You can see exactly how OVEE works in this short interview with Dennis Palmieri, Director of Innovation & Media Strategies, ITVS Independent Television Service. Stay tuned for more SXSW 2013 coverage!